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…)
The magic wonder-wand has touched Glen Larson’s original, non-grimdark tale of galactic refugees on the run from the Cylon empire, giving fans Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection (Universal, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$149.98 SRP). Not only has every episode been remastered, but fans also get the option of watching it in either the original 1.33 or newly created 1.85 widescreen ratios. Both options look great, and the set lives up to its “Definitive” claim, as it also includes Galactica 1980 and Battlestar Galactica: The Movie. Bonus materials include a commentary o the pilot, deleted scenes, featurettes, and more.
Pulled from the sequence in Iron Man 2 where he has to save himself from being poisoned by his original design, the Tony Stark with Arc Reactor Creation Accessories (Sideshow, $199.99) gets bonus points for not being another of the 50 bazillion Iron Man suits featured in the films, and also for being a pretty good likeness of Robert Downey Jr. As for accessories - you know, outside of Tony’s ever-ready sunglasses - the biggies are the arc reactor, arc reactor core holder, and the pretty keen prototype for Captain America’s shield.
He may have been one of the stiffest, most awkward hosts ever to have risen to television prominence, but it was on the strength of his legendary (and soon-to-be-legendary) guests that he became an icon, and those incredible guests are why The Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$59.95 SRP) is a marvelous time warp. The 6-dvd set contains dozens of appearances from across the show’s 23-year run, including Elvis, The Beatles, Bobby Darin, Carol Burnett, The Smothers Brothers, and many more. Bonus materials include exclusive interviews with guests and the only surviving on-camera interview with Ed and Sylvia Sullivan.
For those that missed the boat on the stellar prop replica put out by Master Replicas ages ago but wanted something more robust than the plastic alternatives currently available, Thinkgeek’s Star Trek Phaser Remote Replica (Thinkgeek, $149.99) is exactly what you desire. As a screen-accurate reproduction of both the Type I and Type II phaser as featured in Star Trek: TOS, it’s pretty darn spot-on. That it also functions as a universal remote control is just downright super science. And glorious. Yes. Glorious super science.
Amazing we got to his centennial before getting a near-definitive documentary on a legend, but better now than never comes Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles (Cohen, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$34.98 SRP), a wonderful snapshot of the man and his remarkable work.
In the fallow period between the end of the Smothers Brothers’ show and the paunch of Saturday Night Live, the only destination on your dial to catch the hippest music and comedy acts was NBC’s Friday night staple, The Midnight Special (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$29.95 SRP). Now, you can relive a healthy clutch of episodes via this 3-disc set, featuring a line-up of acts including Van Morrison, Santana, Heart, Jim Croce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, and more.
The 75th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s final UK film, Jamaica Inn (Cohen, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.98 SRP) features a brilliant new 4k restoration and a brilliant performance from Charles Laughton. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, a video essay, and the 2014 re-release trailer.
I loved to draw when I was a kid, and I would often find myself doodling beloved cartoon and comic characters. It should come as no surprise, then, that I own many dog-eared and much-loved “How To Draw” books released over the years by the folks at Walter Foster. For years, they’ve had Learn To Draw Mickey Mouse And His Friends (Walter Foster, $9.95 SRP), which featured step-by-step instructions on how to draw the modern versions of Disney’s core characters - Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, and Daisy. Ah, but now they’ve plussed it with a brand new hardcover collector’s edition, Learn To Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through The Decades (Walter Foster, $19.95 SRP), which shows you how to draw those selfsame characters at various points in their graphic evolution, from the earliest black & white designs from 20s all the way to the modern era, as well as including other rare artwork. Both titles are great.
As someone who has observed firsthand the kind of downward mental spiral the befalls Julianne Moore’s character after she’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s as the titular character in Still Alice (Sony, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$34.99 SRP), it’s remarkable how much subtlety and nuance Moore brings to her portrayal of a linguistics professor, mother, and wife who slowly feels herself slipping away. Bonus materials include featurettes and a trio of deleted scenes.
Take a collection of musicians including Elvis Costello, T Bone Burnett, Marcus Mumford, and more, add in a batch of recently discovered Bob Dylan lyrics, and as those artists to set them to music - that’s exactly the remarkable process Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$19.98 SRP) documents.
While it’s not necessary to read Before Tomorrowland (Disney Press, $12.15 SRP) before you see Tomorrowland, doing so certainly helps to make sense of the backstory behind the creation of the distant interstellar colony featured in the film, and the secret society of geniuses that created it.
The wonderful work that Criterion has been doing with their restoration and high definition release of the Charlie Chaplin library continues with the release of one of Chaplin’s later works, Limelight (Criterion, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.95 SRP), where he stars as a fading vaudevillian (and also is the only film featuring both Chaplin and Buster Keaton). Bonus materials include interviews, a video essay, a documentary, an archival recording of Chaplin, two short films, an outtake, and a pair of trailers.
Diamond Select and Art Asylum continue their stellar work releasing Star Trek’s various iconic ships of the line with their beautiful scale replica of the U.S.S. Excelsior (Diamond Select, $60 SRP). First glimpsed as a state-of-the-art rival to the Enterprise in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, the ship as it’s represented in this model eventually came under the command of Captain Sulu in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and as such, the usual complement of sound effects here features 10 phrases spoken by George Takei’s Sulu, and a trio of ship SFX. There’s also a nifty light feature on the nacelles. The ships are really great, and a perfect addition to any shelf, desk, or table.
The story behind Star Trek’s adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s script for the now-legendary episode The City On The Edge Of Forever, and Ellison” intense dissatisfaction with the changes the staff made to his vision, is well-known within the fan community. Thanks to IDW, those fans can now experience his version with the graphic novel adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s The City On The Edge Of Forever: The Original Teleplay (IDW, $24.99 SRP). While many of the elements are similar in a funhouse mirror kind of way, it’s a fascinating exercise and a unique tale well told, and given a brand new life.
It’s a shame that American Sniper (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP) is as off-puttingly strident as it is, because it is a strong piece of filmmaking from director Clint Eastwood, anchored by Bradley Cooper’s performance as the titular solider who has trouble re-assimilating to civilian life after two tours in Iraq. Bonus materials include a pair of making-of featurettes.
Only the BBC could produce a show like Call The Midwife (BBC, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$44.98 SRP), about a midwife from a privileged background who joins an order of nursing nuns in poverty-stricken East London in the 1950s. Nearing the 1960s in the show’s fourth season, social change approaches as new nurses arrive on the scene.
You can never have too many books exploring that legendary galaxy far, far away, so just try to refrain from devouring Ultimate Star Wars (DK, $40 SRP), a massive tome exploring the characters, creatures, locations, technology, and vehicles with photos, art, and information. Nerds! You know you want it!
Listen, I shouldn’t have to sell you on watching a film called Icetastrophe (Alchemy, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP), about a small town and a meteorite that threatens humanity. And it’s a low-budget cheese-fest. How does that not sell itself? Seriously!
It’s certainly not a classic, but there’s certainly laughs to be found in the first season of CPO Sharkey (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$29.98 SRP), a largely forgotten 70s sitcom that starred Don Rickles as the Navy’s caustic answer to both Sgt. Bilko and Archie Bunker, with an often un-PC bent. The bonus features are limited to a single Tonight Show clip, but it’s a real gem, as it features Johnny Carson dropping in on the set of Sharkey to have words with Rickles.
Better late than never comes Breaking Bad: The Official Book (Sterling, $19.95 SRP), which is the perfect companion compendium to a modern television classic. With in-depth looks into every episode and character plus exclusive insights from the cast and crew (plus a brand new interview with creator Vince Gilligan), it’s definitely an addictive read.
Scott Glenn has always been an actor capable of holding my attention in anything he’s in, and he remains so as a serial killer hiding out in a small town as The Barber (Arc Entertainment, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$20.99 SRP). But when the son of a detective - who took his own life in frustration at his inability to solve the case - arrives in town, his carefully constructed cover is jeopardized.
Rescued from the mists of time, the classic newspaper strip adventures of the man of steel and the dark knight detective continue with Superman: The Silver Age Dailies 1963-1966 (IDW, $49.99 SRP) and Batman And Robin: The Silver Age Dailies And Sundays 1968-1969 (IDW, $49.99 SRP), which is the second of three volumes collecting the strip that was relaunched to coattail the success of the TV series. Oh, and while you’re at it, pick up the deluxe Superman: Sunday Pages 1946-1949 (IDW, $49.99 SRP), which are presented in all of their large format glory.
If, like me, you still mourn the passing of quality history-based content on The History Channel, the photo and info-dense World War II: The Definitive Visual History (DK, $40 SRP) is just the comprehensive coffee table paperweight for you. Presented by the Smithsonian, it covers the entire conflict, from the Blitzkrieg to the Atom Bomb.
It’s a bit frustrating that Nickelodeon still hasn’t given their beautiful new Ninja Turtles series proper high definition season sets like Cartoon Network has been doing for Adventure Time, because the show certainly deserves it. Until then, we’re getting standard definition single-disc releases like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Pulverizer Power (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$9.98 SRP), which features a trio of previously-released episodes featuring the titular misbegotten young man, who eventually winds up becoming Mutagen Man. And, in a weird curveball, they’re also dropping a 3-episode single disc release from the 2003 series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Search For Splinter (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$9.98 SRP).
Fish out of water culture clash comedy is always fertile territory, and Greg Poehler’s Welcome To Sweden (E1, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP) is a sharp, witty venture into that territory focusing on Poehler’s Bruce, a New Yorker who follows his Swedish girlfriend home. The show smartly builds its characters first and hangs the culture comedy on it. Give it a spin.
Well, I mean, the best you can say for the direct-to-video animated special Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$24.98 SRP) is that it’s an unapologetically middling confection intended mostly to sell toys, and also has the good sense to cast Dana Snyder as the voice of The Penguin. So, it has that going for it. Bonus materials include DC Nation shorts, 2 bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault, and a Penguin featurette.
History buffs with fond memories of parking in front of the pre-Aliens and idiots heyday of The History Channel will lose themselves in Historic Tanks & Battles Of WWII (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, DVD-$17.98 SRP), a 3-disc collection of documentaries that are just what the title says.
A Russian family man tries to extricate itself from under the thumb of a corrupt mayor in the gripping import Leviathan (Sony, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$34.99 SRP), but his attempts to fight back with the help of an old friend has unintended consequences. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, a featurette, Q&A, and deleted scenes.
When 3 soldiers - one Lebanese, one Israeli, and one American - are accidentally trapped together when a lockdown mechanism is triggered in a secret base, the trio are forced to either work together or die together in the dramedy Bordering On Bad Behavior (Inception, Not Rated, DVD-$26.98 SRP). And it stars Tom Sizemore. You can’t go wrong with Tom Sizemore. Right?
Kiddies can learn their math skills with Team Umizoomi: Meet Shark Car (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), featuring a quartet of episodes focusing on numbers, shapes, measurements, and more. And with that out of the way, they can tackle niceties with Max & Ruby: Sharing & Caring (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP). For just entertainment value, the kids can then dive into Bubble Guppies: The Puppy And The Ring (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), Team Umizoomi: Umi Space Heroes (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$12.98 SRP), Dora’s Explorer Girls: Our First Concert (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$12.99 SRP), and Dora The Explorer: Dora Saves Fairytale Land (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$12.98 SRP).
Strawberry Shortcake and her friends both human and furry star in various canine-themed tales in Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Best In Show (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), featuring a trio of four-legged tails.
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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