The weekend’s here. You’ve just been paid, and it’s burning a hole in your pocket. What’s a pop culture geek to do? In hopes of steering you in the right direction to blow some of that hard-earned cash, it’s time for the FRED Weekend Shopping Guide - your spotlight on the things you didn’t even know you wanted…
(Please support FRED by using the links below to make any impulse purchases - it helps to keep us going…)
Though it’s sometimes been derided by comedy purists who claim it’s a corpse-heavy lowbrow sketch show, but I’ll openly declare those unfortunate souls snobbish fools, because The Carol Burnett Show is one of the best comedy sketch shows ever to hit the small screen. It may not have been as intellectually clever as Monty Python, but the writing was sharp, the comedy was funny, and the performers - Burnett, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, & Lyle Waggoner - were a dream ensemble. Most of all, though, you got the sense that the main cast, and all of the guest stars who would pop up over the years, were genuinely enjoying the experience of performing this comedy together for the audience there in the studio and at home. And the only way to experience it is via the long overdue 22-disc box set The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$199.95 SRP), featuring 50 uncut episodes, episodes of the The Garry Moore Show (including Carol’s TV debut), rare comedy sketches, interviews (from the cast as well as guests & fans like Betty White, Carl Reiner, Bernadette Peters, and Amy Poehler), and 13 featurettes looking at specific sketches and more. Honestly, this is a set you should give your eye teeth for, but seeing as how you can buy it instead, do that.
First it was Star Wars, and we were all delighted. Then came Harry Potter and Indiana Jones, and we were all ecstatic. And Batman and Superman? Giddy. But I never anticipated that one day the fine folks at LEGO would give us brick versions of the Lord of the Rings films. I doubt Tolkien ever envisioned it, either, but here we are, with playsets aplenty featuring everyone’s favorite Fellowship. Right off the bat we’ve got some major highlights - Gandalf Arrives ($12.99), Attack On Weathertop ($59.99), The Mines Of Moria ($79.99), The Battle Of Helm’s Deep ($129.99) against the Uruk-hai Army ($29.99), and Shelob Attacks ($19.99). Can a LEGO Balrog be far behind? If it is, you can be sure Thinkgeek will stock it.
Tick another one of the list of classic Disney films that haven’t made it to high definition, as the Mouse House polishes up the glass slipper and drops Cinderella (Walt Disney, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP) in their patented never looked or sounded better fashion. In addition to a brand new Tangled short, most of the bonus features from the previous DVD Platinum Edition carry over, including an alternate opening sequence, featurettes, and more.
Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP) would be a really wonderful movie if it knew what movie it wanted to be. Is it a comedy? Is it a farce? Is it a gothic horror? Soap opera? It’s all over the place, and it suffers, sadly, as much of Burton’s work has ever since Big Fish - his last truly wonderful film. Is it a nice looking film? Sure. Is there some fun to be had? Yes. But it could have been so much more if it had just hewn closer to adapting and streamlining the gothic soap opera of the original show. Bonus materials include featurettes and deleted scenes.
If there’s anyone that could hold the title of 5th Beatle, it would be the man who gets his own remarkable documentary in Produced By George Martin (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$19.98 SRP). From producing the Goons in the 50’s to The Beatles in the 60’s to founding the legendary Air Studios, his story is a corker. The disc features an additional 52 minutes of interviews.
And speaking of Beatles-related documentaries, the great thing about the documentary Beatles Stories (Julukesy Films, Not Rated, DVD-$19.95 SRP) is that it captures how fandom is universal, as it features loads of interviews with celebrities who have had encounters with the Fab Four - with everyone from Brian Wilson to Henry Winkler providing their anecdotes.
I’m a sucker for the band Queen and its dynamic frontman Freddie Mercury, and Rhys Thomas has produced a pair of brilliant docs that should be on your viewing list - Queen: Days Of Our Lives (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$19.98 SRP) and the Freddie-specific Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$19.98 SRP). Both are absolutely brilliant. Loving, unflinchingly honest, celebratory portraits.
Of all the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp teamings - and there have been some stinkers - my favorite by a mile, Ed Wood (Touchstone, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP), finally makes its debut in high definition. In addition to a lovely transfer, we also get a carry over of all the bonus materials from the last DVD special edition, including an audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, and a music video.
Disney has kept the new-to-hi-def catalogue floodgates open, dropping another clutch of titles that have been on the desired list… And some that I’m sure have fans. Definitely sure. So what titles are we talking about? How about the still-unsettling comedy-horror Arachnophobia (Hollywood Pictures, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP), Dennis Quaid & Sharon stone in the thriller Cold Creek Manor (Touchstone, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP), the psychotically naughty nanny classic The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (Hollywood Pictures, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP), the still-disappointing-but-now-trumped Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd (Hollywood Pictures, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$20.00 SRP), and the family witch-flick Hocus Pocus (Walt Disney, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$26.50 SRP), starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. Arachnophobia sports a pair of featurettes and the Venezuela sequence. and Cold Creek has an audio commentary, featurettes, an alternate ending, and deleted scenes.
Although already released on Blu-Ray, the new 25th anniversary edition of The Princess Bride (MGM, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$19.99 SRP) does add in a brand new 2-part retrospective documentary featuring the entire cast reminiscing on the film, in addition to the previously released audio commentaries and featurettes. Worth getting? Sure.
Go inside HBO’s hit adaptation of George RR Martin’s epic Game Of Thrones with the lushly illustrated and info-packed Inside HBO’s Game Of Thrones (Chronicle Books, $40.00 SRP), which will take you to Westeros and beyond, explaining how all of the players fit together into the larger story and how the show was produced.
Stephen Fry is brilliant as the titular country solicitor Peter Kingdom in Kingdom (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$34.98 SRP), who travels the Norfolk countryside solving cases all while contemplating the mysterious disappearance of his brother. Just check it out. The DVD also includes a bonus behind-the-scenes documentary.
Fans were left high and dry when only the first two seasons were released, but now you can get all 3 seasons of the beautifully odd Sarah Silverman Program ( Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$49.97 SRP), which is packed full of commentaries, featurettes, music, and more. See? Sometimes dreams do come true.
It’s not the best of the Stephen King adaptations, but there’s still enough creepy quality to be had in Pet Sematary (Paramount, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$22.98 SRP), with the highlight being Fred Gwynne’s Jud Crandall. And now it’s made the transition to high definition with an audio commentary and a trio of featurettes.
Yes, it’s been 7 seasons, but we’re still no closer to finding out How I Met Your Mother (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP). And yeah, it’s getting a bit frustrating. You can keep your relationship hoo-ha, your ducky ties, and your umbrellas - just finally, finally let me know the answer to the gimmick. Then I’ll keep watching I Met Your Mother. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
If you want to risk potential cute-blindness, take your chances and partake of the first season of New Girl (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP), starring devastatingly cute Zooey Deschanel as a girl on the rebound who moves in with a trio of bachelors. Cute comedy ensues! Bonus materials include audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted/extended scenes, and a gag reel.
It’s always nice to come across a documentary that illuminates a little slice of history that is both crucial and largely overlooked, and such is the case with Whittle: The Jet Pioneer (Shelter Island, Not Rated, DVD-$24.98 SRP), the story of Sir Frank Whittle’s invention of the jet engine during World War II.
Honestly, you don’t know what you’re missing until you see a very fine martial arts film like Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate (Vivendi, Rated R, 3D Blu-Ray-$29.93 SRP) in glorious 3D right in your very own home theater, and this Jet Li actioner has enough of a story to make the whole package enjoyable. Bonus materials include featurettes and interviews.
This week’s theatrical score pick brings Music From The Batman Trilogy (Silva Screen Records, $17.42 SRP), which finds the London Music Works performing selections from across the trio of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films, originally composed by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard.
Still as delightfully deadpan as ever, Demetri Martin returns with his second standup special Demetri Martin: Standup Comedian (Comedy Central, Not Rated, DVD-$14.95 SRP), which is more of the same, but new. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, an audio commentary on the audio commentary, rejected concepts, joke variations, and The List.
After suffering many years in the crappy public domain release wilderness, you can now get a spiffy, official 2-volume set collection the entirety of Bonanza: Season 4 (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$58.98 $RP), featuring all 34 episodes of Cartwright clannery. The sets also contain audio commentaries, original Chevy commercials, bumpers, and more.
If you’re new to the whole sex thing or just could use a few pointers, you might want to pick up a pair of 5-disc collections dedicated to just that - The Lover’s Guide: The Original Collection & The Lover’s Guide: The Essential Collection (True Mind, Not Rated, DVD-$49.98 SRP each). Focusing on everything from positions and orgasms to sex plan and masturbation, the whole lot can be found in these somewhat dated, but still practical guides.
We’re yet another step closer to completing the seemingly-infinite run of Roy Clarke’s Last Of The Summer Wine (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$34.98 SRP) with the release of the 1993 Vintage (season). The 2-disc set contains all 9 episodes, plus the 1993 special.
Hard to believe we’re already up to the fourth season of the new 90210 (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$45.98 SRP), which finds everyone moving on from high school and right into a whole new set of catty dramas. Bet you didn’t expect that. Bonus materials include commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, a music video, and a gag reel.
While I do love the MEGO-style figures that they’ve been doing up to this point, I admit I had been secretly holding out hope that Biff Bang Pow would be able to make classic 3 3/4′ figures from the Venture Bros. license. And guess what? THEY HAVE! First out of the gate is the big man himself, Brock Samson (Biff Bang Pow, $9.99). The articulation is old-school Star Wars limited, but the sculpt is great, and it exists. My only real complaint is I wish the pain job was a little cleaner, which is hopefully something that can be addressed going forward. You also might want to snap up the Comic-Con Exclusive Brock ($14.99) while you can, as it features Samson in his blood-splattered white shirt. I can’t wait to see the rest of the cast.
So there you have it… my humble suggestions for what to watch, listen to, play with, or waste money on this coming weekend. See ya next week…
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