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…)
Granted, we still have seen no sign of Drax, but the release of both Starlord and Gamora a few months back did nothing but build an incredible anticipation for the arrival of the characters all of us really wanted. I mean, those others are great and all, but anyone who fell in love with the film certainly fell in love with Rocket Raccoon & Groot ($359.99). And the Hot Toys 1/6-scale figures perfectly capture the galactic duo, right down to the whiskers on Rocket and the exquisite detailing of Groot’s bark. The sculpting is complemented by the by-now expected incredible paint-ops. These guys are simply wonderful. As far as accessories, you get a swappable angry face for Groot, Rocket’s really big gun, and not one, but two variations on little potted Groot. Awesome.
Now that we have cleared the Elmo storm that threatened to capsize the venerable institution known as Sesame Street, we’re able to refocus on the show’s true heart and icon, Big Bird, and the incredibly gifted performer who gave soul to both the bird and his emotional counterpoint, Oscar The Grouch, Caroll Spinney. The vehicle for this celebration is the brilliant documentary I Am Big Bird (Cinedigm, Not Rated, DVD-$19.97 SRP), and to say anything more beyond a hearty push for you to go see it, immediately, should not be needed. So go see it. Bonus materials include a far-too-small clutch of additional scenes.
To say that Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros., Rated R, 3D Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP) is better than it has any right to be is not an exaggeration. That it is better by a long, long, longshot - I’d daresay it’s even great - is simply astonishing. These kinds of reboots aren’t supposed to work, but leave it to mastermind George Miller to craft the perfect gonzo revival of his original apocalyptic vision. Bonus materials include behind-the-scenes featurettes.
While the recent must-have sets culled episodes from the show’s later seasons, we thankfully cleared whatever red tape hampered the release of The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$59.95 SRP) so we can finally view selections from the venerable show’s first 5 seasons. While I wish it was comprehensive, the 6-disc set contains 16 uncut episodes from across those 5 years, along with bonus material from Carol & the gang., including featurettes, interviews, and a blooper reel.
As slaves to all of our USB rechargeable devices, it would be supremely helpful to be able to figure out which ports and cables will juice those devices to full capacity in the fastest time possible. Well, now you can figure out the answers to all of those important questions and do something about it with the Power Practical Meter and Fast Charge Cable (Thinkgeek, $9.99). That’ll sort ya.
While the legendary Carl Barks will always be foremost among the many comics creators working with Disney’s ducks, not the least for his creation of Scrooge McDuck, the second position in my heart goes to Don Rosa. Taking his inspiration from Barks, Rosa was able to craft incredible epics for a new generation of fans, full of intricate details and mythology that embraced the legacy of Barks’ classics. The fine folks at Fantagraphics have been following up their wonderful Carl Barks Library releases with the third volume in their Don Rosa Library, Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: Treasure Under Glass (Fantagraphics, $29.99 SRP), which collects another batch of Rosa’s Duck Family work, along with additional essays and insights. And it is GREAT.
The folks controlling the mighty Carson archive have dipped back into the vaults for a series I sincerely hope has some legs, because I’m loving their The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson: Featured Guest Series (Carson Entertainment, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP each), which devote an entire disc just to episodes featuring a specific luminary. The first three volumes in the series spotlight Don Rickles, Robin Williams, and David Letterman. These releases include the full, uncut shows, along with commercials. They truly are wonderful. Now, can we please, please, PLEASE get a Jim Henson-centric volume? PLEASE?
Pixar has had two of them already, but this is the first time that the modern shorts from the House of Mouse get their own spotlight with the Walt Disney Short Films Collection (Walt Disney, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP), which brings together a dozen shorts from the last 20 years, some for the first time on home video. Included in the collection are some real gems, especially Goofy’s How To Hook Up Your Home Theater. There’s also a bonus featurette on the process of making a short.
Listen, I never thought we’d see any seasons, let alone get to the point where we’d see the release of the second and final season of Don Rickles short-lived 70s sitcom CPO Sharkey (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$29.95 SRP), where Rickles did his best take on a Navy veteran who was one part Bilko and one part Archie Bunker, forced to deal with new recruits. As if that weren’t Rickles enough, Time Life has gone and sweetened the pot with The Don Rickles TV Specials: Volume 1 (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$ SRP), featuring two uncut network specials from the 70s packed with guest stars. Here’s hoping Volume 2 comes quickly.
It’s rare to get a science fiction film that doesn’t fall apart under its own pretension (I’m looking at you, Tomorrowland), so it was a pleasant surprise to find Ex Machina (Lionsgate, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$24.99 SRP), which manages to present a fresh spin on old AI tropes that give us a thriller centered around what makes something truly sentient. Bonus materials include featurettes and interviews.
It’s unfortunate that it’s not a Blu-Ray release, because it is a beautifully shot series, but The Last Man On Earth: The Complete First Season (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$29.98 SRP) is still worth picking up because its tale of the titular man, played by Will Forte, is a sublime bit of post-apocalyptic farce. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, deleted scenes, a Q&A panel, and a gag reel.
I’m still not a fan of the character design and animation, but the first season of Star Wars Rebels (Walt Disney, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$45.99 SRP) managed the nigh impossible - it made me interested in Star Wars again. No small task, considering how smothered my enthusiasm was by the prequels. Taking place in the gap between those prequels and A New Hope, it shows the rise of what would become the Rebellion. Bonus materials include a clutch of featurettes.
And if that’s not enough Star Wars to keep your adrenaline going, why not enjoy the delightfully daft take on the canon with LEGO Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles (Walt Disney, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP), which features 4 complete stories starring Luke, ghost Obi-Wan, and everyone’s favorite green Jedi master. Bonus materials include featurettes and an alternate ending.
For years, Berkeley Breathed, creator of the legendary Bloom County and Outland, swore that there would never be a comprehensive release of the strips he produced during his college years. Despite pleading fans desperate to complete their collections with these proto-Breathed rarities, he was adamant it would never happen. Well, guess what? He changed his mind. So now, the fine folks at IDW, who have released the complete runs of Bloom County, Outland, and Opus, have now released Academia Waltz (IDW, $39.99 SRP), and it brings together all of those college strips, plus additional bonus material.
As we barrel towards the holiday season, are you looking for the perfect gift for the Harry Potter fan in your life? And a practical one, at that? How about the Harry Potter: Gryffindor Deluxe Stationary Set (Insight Editions, $34.95 SRP)? The box contains a 192-page blank journal featuring the Gryffindor house heraldry, a wax stamp (with two wax sticks), letter-writing paper, envelopes, and a paperweight. It’s a pretty sweet little set full of things you can actually use.
Warners opens their vault to bring a trio of catalogue releases to Blu-Ray for the first time, with the high definition debut of Free Willy (Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), Blast From The Past (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP), and my personal favorite, Innerspace (Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP). Blast From The Past includes the theatrical trailer, while Free Willy sports the Michael Jackson music video, an interview, trailers, and a montage. Finally, Innerspace contains an audio commentary and the theatrical trailer.
Cartoon Network is the current home for some absolutely wonderful creator-driven animation, and the perfect example of that is the beautifully executed miniseries Over The Garden Wall (Cartoon Network, Not Rated, DVD-$14.97 SRP) about a pair of brothers lost in a strange forest. And that’s all I’m going to tell you, so go watch it. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, and the original pilot.
After he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, music legend Glen Campbell decided to embark on a national goodbye tour across America. What was supposed to have only been 5 week tour turned into a year-and-half, and the poignantly triumphant documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (Virgil Films, Rated PG, DVD-$19.99 SRP) charts his journey through the tour and the mounting challenges his disease.
As they mine their IP catalogue, I was not terribly fond of Disney’s recent dour live action take on Maleficent. Maybe that’s why I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I wound up enjoying director Kenneth Branagh’s take on Cinderella (Walt Disney, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$36.99 SRP), which actually manages to be pleasantly evocative of their animated original while comfortable making the transition to live action. Bonus materials include featurettes and the animated Frozen Fever short.
Keen for the kind of middling heist movie you might have seen on a lazy Saturday afternoon on HBO? And makes the unlikely pairing of Hayden Cristensen and Adrian Brody? Look no further than American Heist (Lionsgate, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$24.99 SRP). It’s your classic “one last heist” tale, with the pair playing criminal brothers, one of whom has tried to turn his life around while the other was in jail. And now… Yeah… One last heist.
If there’s one thing we can thank the new Goosebumps movie for, it’s that it got Sony to release a trio of high-def special editions for their modern kiddie classics The Indian In The Cupboard, Zathura and Jumanji (Sony, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$19.99 SRP each). All three contain new bonus materials, including featurettes and a sneak peek at Goosebumps.
It got off to a bit of a rough start, but there’s a very definite quirky charm to be found in Clarence: Dust Buddies (Cartoon Network, Not Rated, DVD-$14.97 SRP), the second collection of episodes from the Cartoon Network series. The disc contains 12 episodes, but sadly no bonus features.
Disney animator/director Eric Goldberg, best known for his work on Genie in Aladdin, was recently tasked with creating as series of black & white portraits in the style of the legendary Al Hirshfeld, featuring classic Disney characters from Mickey to Baymax and beyond. Those portraits have been collected in An Animator’s Gallery: Eric Goldberg Draws The Disney Characters (Disney Editions, $40 SRP).
Fans of DC superheroes in their animated incarnations have a one-two power punch of titles to pick from, with the wonderful romp that is LEGO DC Superheroes: Justice League - Attack Of The Legion Of Doom (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$ SRP), which is all the fun we’ve come to expect from a LEGO anything, and the kiddie-friendly Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$24.98 SRP). While Monster Mayhem is packed with bonus shorts, the sole feature on Doom is a featurette on sound design –but it does come with a nifty Trickster minifig!
Ten years after it failed to find an audience during its initial run on HBO but managed to build a healthy cult following, Lisa Kudrow returned as B-list TV star Valerie Cherish in The Comeback (HBO, Not Rated, DVD-$19.98 SRP), the entire 21-episode run of which is now collected in one place, along with audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and a featurette.
The fourth season of Once Upon A Time (ABC Studios, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$45.99 SRP) is the one in which Disney woke up and realized it was high time they stuck their moneymaker into the franchise, heralding the arrival of the Frozen crew to the shenanigans in Stroybrooke. It was awkward. But then they also brought Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella. So, there was that, too. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers, and deleted scenes.
We’re 5 seasons in to The Walking Dead (Anchor Bay, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$69.98 SRP) and Team Rick are no closer to doing anything right or finding any permanent happiness in their depressing march towards their eventual deaths. Yeah, that about sums it up. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, featurettes, and deleted scenes.
On a scale of sane to crazy, the first season of Gotham (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$60.10 SRP) buries the needle. The drama is a modern spin on classic camp that owes more to the 60s Batman than to any other genre show currently on television, which is aided and abetted by a cast that surely understands they’re in a bizarro universe just this side of Schumacher. Which is to say watch this hot mess. It’s mesmerizing. Bonus materials include featurettes, unaired scenes, and a gag reel.
You want a solid B movie starring formerly “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as a fixer alongside war veteran turned assassin Michael Jai White? Well, that’s Chain Of Command (Lionsgate, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$19.99 SRP), which manages to hit all of the schlock sweet spots, from ham-fisted dialogue to delightfully wooden performances, all wrapped up in a ludicrous plot.
Based on the Thomas Hardy novel, Far From The Madding Crowd (Fox, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP) casts impossibly delightful Carey Mulligan as headstrong Victorian Bathsheba Everdene, an independent woman sorting through the advances of a trio of suitors. Bonus materials include featurettes, deleted scenes, an extended ending, and more.
Take an in-depth look at director Joe Wright’s cinematic trip to Neverland in The Art Of Pan (Insight Editions, $45 SRP), packed with interviews and art taking readers on a magical journey through the film’s production.
For the first time in almost 30 years, Jeff Lynne’s ELO performed live for a massive audience in London, captured in the concert film Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Live In Hyde Park (Eagle Vision, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$19.98 SRP). As a bonus, the disc also include a documentary on the history of Jeff & ELO, plus a bonus interview.
The comedy was, by design, of the truly cornpone caliber, but the real joy of digging into the 3-disc Hee Haw Collection (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$12.95 SRP) is the time capsule of legendary musical acts. Performers featured in the set include Tennessee Ernie Ford, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, and more, plus bonus interviews.
The best I can say about the comedic teaming of Reese Witherspoon and Sophia Vergara in Hot Pursuit (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP) is that it’s at least watcahable, if uneven and ultimately disposable. Still, Witherspoon’s uptight police officer transporting federal witness Vergara is probably as close to seeing Officer Flick as we’ll get. Bonus materials include featurettes, a gag reel, and an alternate ending.
Aquatic evildoers beware, for The Adventures of Spongebob Squarepants (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP) collects the episodes featuring undersea heroes Mermaidman and Barnacleboy! Ha!
The story of newlywed senior citizens Alan (Sir Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) continues in Last Tango In Halifax: Season 3 (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$34.98 SRP), as the pair of childhood sweethearts building a better-late-than-never life together faces complications from revelations about Alan’s past, as well as drama from their adult daughters.
While the rest of the show would manage to make even Aaron Spelling slightly embarrassed, the first season of The Royals (Lionsgate, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP) was quite canny in casting Elizabeth Hurley as the Queen of its bickering, backstabbing dynasty. It’s trashy in all the right ways.
The premise of The Returned (Lionsgate, Not Rated, DVD-$26.98 SRP), based on a French series, is an intriguing one, as the dead of a small town mysteriously return, sometimes years after their passing, as if nothing had happened. It’s just a shame that this adaptation took so long to find its footing and finally do something with that premise, because by the time it did, it had already lost most viewers. Still, despite its cancellation, it’s worth giving this first and only season a spin, if only to see glimmers of what might have been.
Kids in need of a lesson can learn one with their Nickelodeon friends with Let’s Learn Kindness (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), featuring episodes from Wallykazam, Bubble Guppies, Dora The Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues, and Ni Hao Kai-Lan. Then they can hang with Dora classic for a batch of big tales in Dora The Explorer: Dora’s Double-Length Adventures (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$16.99 SRP) and the older skewing Dora And Friends: Doggie Day (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP).
We’re nearing the end of the summer, so you know what that means - It’s time to binge-watch all of the DVD releases of your favorite TV shows in order to prime for their return in the coming weeks. With that in mind, dig into The Good Wife: The Sixth Season (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$55.98 SRP), Criminal Minds: The Tenth Season (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$55.98 SRP), and Elementary: The Third Season (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$55.98 SRP). All three releases contain commentaries, featurettes, gag reels, and more.
Nickelodeon has a pair of new compilation releases to keep the kiddies occupied, and with titles like Celebrate Fall (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP) and Puppy Palooza (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), you can guess what the episodes in each are centered around. Shows in the sets include PAW Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Fresh Beat Band, Wallykazam, Blaze And The Monster Machines, Dora The Explorer, Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi, and Mutt & Stuff.
Holidays mean we’re increasingly bombarded by themed collections of nearly every known intellectual property, which means that we even get Power Rangers: Trickster Treat (Lionsgate, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), which bundles together a handful of ostensibly Halloween themed episodes culled from the various Power Rangers iterations.
Dig in to two nifty series from the Beeb with the release of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Season 1 (BBC, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$ SRP) and Orphan Black: Season Three (BBC, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$34.98 SRP). Both sport an array of bonus features, including commentaries and featurettes, but sadly there’s no crossover special. Yet.
Fans of the ever-growing NCIS franchise can binge to their heart’s content on the previous seasons of all three of the currently running shows with NCIS: The Twelfth Season (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$34.99 SRP), NCIS: Los Angeles (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$34.99 SRP), and NCIS: New Orleans (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$ SRP). Bonus materials include audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, and more.
Because I have absolutely nothing to hide and have no shame about it, I’ll admit that I had Care Bears as a kid. Both figures and stuffed animals. I also had Get-Along Gang figures. And a Shirt Tales doll. Which is all to say, don’t judge me. And I won’t judge you if you want to pick up Care Bears: Mystery In Care-A-Lot (Lionsgate, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), a Halloween-themed tale of bears. Caring. About things. NO JUDGEMENT.
There is an audience for Entourage: The Movie (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$44.95 SRP). I suppose. It’s probably the same audience who watched Entourage: The TV Show on HBO. And, presumably, enjoyed it. So, for them, there’s this big screen continuation of the tinsletown misadventures of Vincent Chase and his merry men. Plus that guy that Jeremy Piven plays. The jerk. Of course, I speak of Piven. I hear his character’s awful, too. Bonus materials include a clutch of featurettes, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
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…
Leave a Reply