Saturday, September 06, 2008
Blog DVD Reviews: Pushing Daisies - The Complete First Season (9/16) and CSI: Miami - The Sixth Season (9/9)
See Pavan's Blog DVD Review of Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season and Todd's Blog DVD Review of CSI: Miami: The Sixth Season:
Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season (Warner, $29.99) brings the first season of the new comedic drama that is enchanting, original, different, and entertaining!
Pushing Daisies centers on the life of Ned, a pie-maker gifted with the mysterious ability to bring dead things back to life by touching them. There are a couple of conditions to this somewhat unwanted talent, however. Ned quickly learns that if something is revived for more than exactly one minute, something of similar "life value" in the vicinity drops dead, as a form of balance. Additionally, if he touches the revived thing a second time, it falls dead again - permanently. Ned discovered his gift as a child by resurrecting his Golden Retriever, Digby, after the dog is hit by a truck...now Ned can never touch his dog again. And later he found his childhood sweetheart (Charlotte "Chuck" Charles) dead and resurrected her...and he can never touch her again, either. The pie-maker has now teamed up with private eye Emerson Cod in solving homicides by bringing them back to life for a minute to get clues.
The series will return for a second season in its Wednesdays at 8:00pm timeslot on ABC this coming season and stars Lee Pace as Ned, Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, Chi McBride as Emerson Cod, Ellen Greene as Vivian Charles, Swoosie Kurtz as Lily Charles, and Kristin Chenoweth as Olive Snook. The series is narrated by Jim Dale. Among the specials guests are Paul Reubens, Raul Esparza, Joe McHale and Molly Shannon.
This first season is very good. However, only 9 episodes aired this past past fall because of the writers' strike. The series did not return following the conclusion of the strike in the spring, as ABC wanted to give it a better promotion platform this fall. The series has been nominated for 12 Emmys including one for Lee Pace and Kristin Chenoweth. Some classic episodes include the series pilot titled cleverly "Pie-lette," where the story begins. It was one of the better pilot episodes of this past season. In "Dummy," in the present, Ned, Emerson and Chuck visit the morgue to inspect the body of a victim of a car accident. In "Smell of Success," Ned, Emerson, and Chuck's next case involves an olfactory assistant who was killed when her scratch-'n'-sniff book combusted. In one of my favorite episodes thus far, "Smell of Success," business at the Pie Hole plummets when a new candy store opens in town. In the first season finale, "Corpsicle," Chuck learns the most shocking secret of her life and refuses to forgive Ned. Those episodes really stand out, but they are all very good. The episodes run usually between 41-43 minutes or so...unedited of course with all the great music intact. There are about 7 or 8 chapter stops per episode. The video is digitally mastered and is in widescreen and looks very good! The audio is great and sounds very good, as it is in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This is from the 2007-08 season, so it had better be good.
Packaging has a thin outer box that you can remove from the top or bottom. The outer box has we have a nice blue sky with nice white fluffy clouds (show logo in the clouds) setting with Ned & Chuck's head lying down on the nice looking grass with a nice flower in the middle. The back cover has information on the series and has a nice cast photo with our main six and Digby the dog. There is also a section detailing the special features and credits & technical specifications also. Then inside is the nice case itself. The case is like a menu for The Pie Hole! The Pie Hole logo is on the front of the case with a nice tan background, similar to a pie crust. The back of the case lists different types of pies available like apple, cherry, and peach. Opening the case, we get an episode booklet on the left side. The episode booklet is very creative. It is designed exactly like a menu! It has nice photos, episode numbers, titles, original airdates, writers, directors and a synopsis of the episode. But that's not all! It has nice quotes from the press, like real restaurants would with food critics. As for the discs, a little white holder holds discs one and two, then you can flip that and you get disc three on the right panel of the case. The artwork on each disc is very cool! They are shaped in different pies! Very clever, Warner! Disc one has episodes 1-3 with artwork of an apple pie. Disc two has episodes 4-6 and has artwork of I believe a blueberry pie. Disc three has episodes 7-9 and has artwork of I believe a pumpkin pie. Damn I'm hungry now!
The menu screen is basic but it works. The closing theme is playing in the background with Chuck in a red dress and Ned in a suit in a grassy setting with a nice blue sky and fluffy white clouds. There are auto-trailers on discs one and three before the main menu starts...disc one has a pirating disclaimer video and disc three has a season two promo for the show on ABC. The options on the main menu are Play, Episodes, Languages and Pie Time: Time for Pie (disc three only). Languages section has the aunts on disc one, Olive & Emerson on disc two and another shot of Ned & Chuck on disc three. We have the option of audio in English or Portugues and subtitles in English, French, Portugues or Spanish. The Episodes option has three screenshots on the left and the episodes are listed in he middle. We have an option to turn on or off the recaps before episode episode, as they can get annoying if you're watching these straight through. Pie Time: Time for Pie option is only on disc three and it has those extras. All of the sub-menus have different background music.
Moving on to the Pie Time: Time for Pie. It is a very different and interesting way of presenting special features, and like the show, it pulls it off well! Pie Time: Time for Pie is described as a delicious interactive featurette with flavorful , fresh-baked pie slices as your entree as cast/creative team members are dishing forkful of series secrets. There are nine pies on this screen and each of the nine is representing an episode. The pies are rotating in circles clockwise with the theme song playing in the background. The pies are labeled by episode title...and when we select "a pie" a nice phrase from the show is uttered via audio before you get to the pie. When an episode is selected, you see pie slices! Each episode has multiple slices. A fork is your selector. Warner has really done a good job on this. Each slice of a pie has information on the episode you chose. "Pie-lette" has three slices. One about the director Barry Sonnenfeld (3:23) with interviews with creator Bryan Fuller, producer Bruce Cohen, Sonnenfeld himself and producer Dan Jinks. The second slice is about The Pie Hole (1:44) with the designer Michael Wylie. The third slice (2:52) has Lee Pace and Bryan Fuller's favorite scenes from the pilot as they discuss. Episodes 2-6 each has two slices each with similar type of interviews. You'll learn a lot. Episodes 7 and 9 has just one slice, but you should be full by now. Episode 8 has three slices. Among the other people interviewed in all of the remaining slices are Kristin Chenoweth and visual effects gurus Elizabeth Castro & William Powloski.
I highly recommend you watch this series and buy this DVD set. The show is not nominated for 12 Emmys for nothing. Yes, 30 Rock has 15, but like a handful of those are for special guest stars...so this series really has the most and deserves it. It is such a shame the writers' strike ruined the momentum and limited the episodes to only 9, but I have a great feeling we will get a nice full season worth of great episodes this year that will make up for that! Warner Home Video has done a great job with this set, with the nice disc "pies," the creative episode booklet menu, and the very different pie special feature. I urge you all to buy this DVD because not only you'll like the show, but you'll also eat some nice pie! Don't try to eat the discs, though...use your imagination like Pushing Daisies! You better buy the DVD or Emerson Cod will say, "oh hell no!"
-- Reviewed by Pavan
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C.S.I.: Miami - The Sixth Season (Paramount Home Video/CBS DVD, $79.99)
Set against a backdrop of blue skies, turquoise water, and Art Deco hotels, CSI: Miami is hotter than ever, as criminologist Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and his team return for their edgiest season yet, all captured in this 21-episode collection. Horatio battles the mother of his son, a deadly seductress from his past, while the rest of the team (Adam Rodriguez, Eva La Rue, Rex Linn, Jonathan Togo, and Khandi Alexander) works to rescue Calleigh (Emily Procter) from kidnappers! Catch all the action in this provocative Sixth Season of CSI: Miami.
This 6-disc set contains all 21 episodes of the sixth (2007-08) season. The episodes are presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio. It has a total running time of approximately 15 hours, 14 minutes. The attractive packaging features a holofoil photo of David Caruso wearing his trademark sunglasses (you can see the Miami skyline on them) on the cover. There is an orange background, and the set has an overall orange and black color scheme. This was the second consecutive season that featured only David Caruso on the cover. For the first time, this set comes with a outer cardboard sleeve and 3 slim cases with black edges. Previous seasons have used digibook packaging. On the back of the cardboard sleeve, there is a large photo of David Caruso without the sunglasses and photos of La Rue, Togo, Rodriguez, Alexander, Linn and Procter standing. A synopsis of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs are noted. Slim case #1 holds discs 1 & 2 and features a photo of Procter and Caruso with sunglasses. Slim case #2 holds discs 3 & 4 and has a photo of Alexander and Rodriguez. Slim case #3 rounds out the set with discs 5 & 6 and has a photos of Togo, Linn and La Rue. The episodes are listed on the back of the slim cases. Inside the slim cases, there is just black space. Some episode summaries or additional photos would have been nice. The discs are very plain looking with a silver background and just the show logo.
The menus are very stylish and easy to navigate. They have a montage a video clips, with some instrumental music playing in the background. Options are available for Episode Selection, Set Up, Previews (only on Disc 1), and Special Features (only on Disc 6). On the Set Up menu, you can choose either Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or Spanish 2.0 Surround. Closed captioning is available for all of the episodes. As you would expect from such a recent show, the video and audio quality is outstanding. This is the second time that the show has lacked "Complete" in the title. The episodes have running times of 42-44 minutes in length. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the music has been changed, so these episodes appear to be complete.
Unfortunately, there are fewer special features on this set than on the previous releases. There are only 2 audio commentaries this time and 4 featurettes. Here is the breakdown by disc:
Audio Commentary on Episode 608 "Permanent Vacation" by Director Eagle Egilsson and Writers Barry O'Brien and Krystal Houghton
Audio Commentary on Episode 612 "Raising Caine" by Elizabeth Berkley and Rex Linn - Elizabeth Berkley makes her first appearance on the show.
Four-Sight: Directing CSI: Miami (16:46) - This featurette highlights four of the directors of the series: Sam Hill, Matt Earl Beesley, Eagle Egilsson and Gina Lamar. They talk about how they got their start on the series, their directing traits and specialities and the differences between them, and their other duties on the show. Interviews include Producer Don Tardino, Script Supervisor Will Alovis, Supervising Producer Barry O'Brien, Co-Executive Producer Sunil Nayar, Director Sam Hill, Scripy Supervisor Claudia Yarmy, Rex Linn, Jonathan Togo, Director Matt Earl Beesley, Director Eagle Egilsson, Adam Rodriguez, Director Gina Lamar and Emily Procter.
Playing Dead (6:11) - This featurette details the process of how actors are made to look like they are dead, how they apply the make-up, and how they make the incisions and gunshot wounds. As they say, it isn't easy plaing dead. This is a pretty time consuming process, but the end results look very realistic. Interviews include Department Head Make-up Cheri Montesanto, Producer Don Tardino, Co-Executive Producer Sunil Nayar, Khandi Alexander, Supervising Producer Barry O'Brien, and Jon Briddell.
The Real Women of the MDPD (16:28) - Emily Procter does a short introduction on this featurette which focuses on the real women of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Many different jobs are detailed, including the units for underwater recovery, marine patrol, k-9, police surivial and firearms. They also show some surivival techniques for female officers and building searches techniques. These are some tough women that can hold their own. More women are becoming parts of specialized units. Inteviews include Sgt. Monica Diaz, Ofc. Grace Green, Ofc. Laurel Huff, Ofc. David Macias, Ofc. Veronica Dixon-Ferguson, Ofc. Yolanda Bloom, Ofc. Marlene Trujillo, Ofc. Victor Gatell, and Det. Roy Rutland.
Analyzing Season 6 (13:20) - This featurette gives an overview of the season. This was a real transitional year, and they talk about how they went into the heart of the characters. They comment on Horatio's son and the introduction of Elizabeth Berkley's character. This was a decent segment, although there won't be anything really new if you've already watched all of the episodes. Interviews include David Caruso, Co-Executive Producer Sunil Nayar, Supervising Producer Barry O'Brien, Emily Procter, Evan Ellingson (Horatio's son), Rex Linn, Adam Rodriquez, Eva La Rue, Jonathan Togo and Rex Linn. Where was Elizabeth Berkley?
Final Comments: Has it really been six seasons already for CSI: Miami? They continue to make the show fresh and edgy. It's the #1 most watched show in the world, so they must be doing something right. They weren't affected by the strike as much as some other shows, as they were still able to produce 21 episodes this season. Memorable episodes this season included "Bang, Bang, Your Debt," "Stand Your Debt," "Miami Confidential," "Raising Caine," and the explosive season finale: "Going Ballistic."
Although it was a thrilling season, this DVD set isn't as impressive as some of the previous seasons. There are fewer audio commentaries and featurettes. Maybe they are just running out of ideas they haven't already covered. The packaging, while still pretty nice, isn't as attractive as the earlier seasons. At least they include all the original music on these CSI sets, unlike a lot of other CBS DVD shows. Who shot Horatio Caine? Tune in for the season premiere on September 22 on CBS!
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
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New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April)
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
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