Saturday, September 24, 2011
Digital Digest: The Red Green Show - The Geezer Years DVD Review; CSI - The Eleventh Season DVD Review
"Programming for Acorn TV is refreshed weekly, with each season available for five weeks. There are 10 seasons and more than 60 hours of programming offered at any given time. Each week content will rotate with two new seasons added. As Acorn TV continues to expand, the programming offering will evolve based on audience preferences."
Get ready to head back to the Possum Lodge for more mayhem, half-baked ideas, and crazy contraptions. In the popular Canadian series, Red Green (Steve Smith) and his friends worked together on a series about home improvement and the outdoors, in a world where the crazy ideas somehow managed to work out every single time. The popular Canadian comedy series (seen on PBS in the United States), The Red Green Show, is back on DVD for three more seasons (seasons 10-12) of fun in The Red Green Show - The Geezer Years.
DVD Review - The Red Green Show - The Geezer Years
The Red Green Show - The Geezer Years (Acorn Media, $79.99) concludes the classic Canadian series (aired on PBS in the United States) with the final 55 episodes of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth seasons of The Red Green Show. It may not be a series that just jumps out at fans immediately, but the series has been a cult classic throughout Canada, and has garnered fans in the United States as well. The series stars Steve Smith as Red Green, who is the master of all things Canadian, manly, and, well of course, duct taped! The comedy series spoofs home improvement and outdoor life series as Red Green and his gang (featuring Ranger Gord, Bill Smith, Hap Shaughnessy, and Red's nephew Harold) as they get into more mayhem, contraptions, and unintended consequences, for the final three years at the Possum Lodge.
Finally, in the fifteenth season (and sadly, the very end of the series), Red demonstrates driving with no hands in "Rules of Engagement." The guys get free cell phones in "Cell Hell," but is this technology really going to make their lives better? The lodge "classes it up" as the members begin to drive golf carts in "Cart Blanche." In "Mad You Say?," Harold begins to worry (with good reason) about some suspiciously cheap beef. The world needs bigger crayons, right? That is what the guys are thinking in "The Bigger the Better." Red tries to solve the local drought problem in "Rain Man." The series ends with a bang as Harold gets married in "Do as I Do."
The episodes appear to be unedited, with an almost uniform runtime of 22:14 for basically EVERY episode. Exact runtimes are as follows:
1. "You've Got Oil" (22:14)
7. "The String Ball" (22:13)
13. "Spokesman Red" (22:14)
1. "Red's Hot Sauce" (22:13)
7. "The Grapes of Wrath" (22:13)
13. "Lodge Luau" (22:13)
1. "Rules of Engagement" (22:14)
7. "New Yorkshire Puddings" (22:13)
13. "The Big Retreat" (22:14)
Acorn has remained fairly consistent with the packaging, again using three Viva-packs inside of a large outer cardboard box. On the cover, we have Red inside of yet another kludge (this time, a golf cart). Inside the box, each individual season has the same artwork that is seen on the outer box. The only thing that really varies is the season description on the back of each case. Inside each Viva-pack, we have the three discs with, you guessed it, the same artwork as seen on the cover. There is also an insert listing all of the episodes, along with a brief description.
The menus on the set are just like the previous sets, with the main menu having the same artwork seen on the cover, a Play All option, and a list of all of the episodes on the disc--that is, on the discs that don't have any special features. The discs containing special features have an Episode Selection option and an option for the bonus feature. In the background of the main menu, we have the theme song playing. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
The video and audio quality of the set is decent, but it isn't perfect. However, that isn't a problem with this series, as it is supposed to be a parody of a really bad/low budget series. It would just be wrong to put this on Blu-ray, for instance. The audio is presented in stereo, and each episode on the set is closed-captioned.
The set isn't really loaded with special features, but there are definitely some, including one really good one on Disc 3 of season 13. In "Hindsight is 20/20" (59:39), we get to see a very thorough look back at the series history (up to the 2003 season) with interviews from the stars and a series of clips from the series. It is definitely the best special feature we've seen on these sets. Aside from this feature, each season has an introduction by Steve Smith, but they are pretty short. We get a 32 second introduction on season 13, a 42 second introduction on season 14, and 59 second introduction on season 15. Like the season 12 introduction on the previous release, it isn't particularly insightful, and leaves you wanting a whole lot more, but still, it is nice that he participates on the set.
The series ran for fifteen seasons, which is a very long time in television, yet somehow managed to stay fresh and funny throughout each of those seasons. Honestly, it probably could have gone on even longer if the cast wasn't just burned out on doing the series after fifteen years (which is definitely understandable). For those who have never seen the series, it takes a little getting used to, but it is a series that really hooks you in once you get it. I'd suggest those who have never seen it to check it out on a local PBS affiliate to get a feel for it, and then if you like it, check out more of the episodes on DVD. It is hard to compare the series to any other series, as it has a unique style of comedy that seems to be made just for this series, but it is definitely a hilarious and enjoyable series for those looking for something a bit different.
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DVD Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Eleventh Season (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Video, $69.99)
by Todd Fuller
Sin City proves just as sinful as ever in Season 11 of the procedural drama that started it all. Kicking off the season, we find Dr. Ray Langston (Tony winner, Emmy winner and Academy Award nominee Laurence Fishburne) navigating his way back after being stabbed by a serial killer who was assisting the crime lab at the end of Season 10. Along with veterans Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle and Greg Sanders (Emmy winner Marg Helgenberger, George Eads, Jorja Fox and Eric Szmanda), the team unravels a collection of crimes as mind-bending and breathtaking as ever. A convention of vampires and werewolves. A house of hoarders. And a slew of surprise guests including teen sensation Justin Bieber, Ann-Margret, Marlee Matlin and Elliott Gould. In its riveting eleventh season, the Emmy and People's Choice Award-winning series continues to raise the bar and make a killing.
This 6-disc set contains all 22 sizzling episodes from the eleventh (2010-11) season of the long-running crime drama. The episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1, English Stereo and Spanish audio available. It has a total running time of approximately 16 hours, 2 minutes. The attractive packaging has photos of Marg Helgenberger, Laurence Fishburne and George Eads on the front cover, with part of the Las Vegas skyline in the background. There is an embossed CSI: Crime Scene Investigation logo in the center of the box. As with Season 10, they use a cardboard box that holds a clear plastic snapcase. Marg Helgenberger, Wallace Langham, Eric Szmanda, David Berman, Jorja Fox, Robert David Hall, Paul Guilfoyle, George Eads and Laurence Fishburne are pictured on the back of the box. A short synopsis of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs are provided. There is a clear plastic snapcase that slides out from the right of the outer cardboard box. The snapcase has the same cover art, photos and information as the cardboard box. Opening up the snapcase, there is a content locator which lists the episodes and the special features on the inside cover. Discs 1 and 6 are held in embedded holders in the front and back of the case, while Discs 2-5 are held in back-to-back in plastic trays. The discs have the CSI logo on them and part of the city and lights in the background. Episode titles and the special features are listed on the discs. Once again, they don't use the Crime Scene: Do Not Cross tape around the packaging. I always thought that was a nice touch, but I guess they dropped it with the switch in packaging.
The menus are stylish and easy to navigate. There are no previews on this release, so it jumps right to the main menus. The main menu opens with some views of Las Vegas that lead to a montage of video clips from the show. A nice instrumental cue plays in the background and then the sequence loops. Options for Episode Selection, Set Up and Special Features are available at the bottom of the screen. Episode titles are listed vertically in blue boxes on the Episode Selection menu. You can choose English 5.1, English Stereo or Español audio on the Set Up menu. English subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are available. Some options and special features are not rated any may not be subtitled. As you would expect from such a recent show, the video and audio quality is outstanding. They do a lot of nighttime shooting and make the show look dark and like a theatrical film. There is no disclaimer on the back of the box about any of the episodes possibly being edited or any of the music being changed. Episodes are presented in their original broadcast order and numbered by the production number. The broadcast and production order differed for episodes 3-6 this season. Running times are between 42-44 minutes in length. Hopefully we'll see some seasons released on Blu-Ray in the U.S. at some point.
Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the runtimes:
Episode 1101 "Shockwaves" (43:13)
Episode 1102 "Pool Shark" (42:33)
Episode 1104 "Blood Moon" (44:03)
Episode 1103 "Sqweegel" (44:13)
Episode 1106 "House of Hoarders" (44:33)
Episode 1105 "Cold Blooded" (44:13)
Episode 1107 "Dump & Grind" (43:13)
Episode 1108 "Fracked" (44:13)
Episode 1109 "Wild Life" (43:23)
Episode 1110 "418/427" (43:23)
Episode 1111 "Man Up" (43:23)
Episode 1112 "A Kiss Before Frying" (44:13)
Episode 1113 "The Two Mrs. Grissoms" (43:13)
Episode 1114 "All That Cremains" (44:33)
Episode 1115 "Targets of Obsession" (43:33)
Episode 1116 "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead" (42:33)
Episode 1117 "The List" (44:33)
Episode 1118 "Hitting for the Cycle" (43:43)
Episode 1119 "Unleashed" (44:33)
Episode 1120 "Father of the Bride" (44:13)
Episode 1121 "Cello and Goodbye" (43:13)
Episode 1122 "In a Dark, Dark House" (44:13)
A nice amount and mixture of special features are spread out over the 6 discs. There seems to be a few more featurettes this season than in the last few releases. Once again, there are only 2 audio commentaries on this set. This has been the norm with all of the CSI franchise releases recently. There are two deleted scenes included. Here is the breakdown by disc:
Getting Personal: Season 11 of CSI (28:11) - This is the most extensive featurette on this release and details the eleventh season. They went back to the style of the earlier seasons by adding more humor and made it more about the team. Some of the topics covered include the character's personal stories and highlights of the season, the hoarders and cycle episodes, Bill Irwin as Nate Haskell, and having fun this season. Interviews include the Creator of CSI/Executive Producer Anthony E. Zuiker, Executive Producer Louis Shaw Milito, Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Executive Producer Don McGill, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads, Paul Guilfoyle, Eric Szmanda, Jorja Fox, Wallace Langham, David Berman, Robert David Hall and Writer Tom Mularz. Laurence Fishburne is notably absent from the interviews.
Las Vegas Headliners (22:21) - Many of this season's guest stars are detailed in this featurette. They talk about Justin Bieber guest starring in two episodes, Marlee Matlin as Grissom's ex-girlfriend, Carrot Top, Dita Von Teese in the burlesque episode, Elliott Gould and Ann-Margret. Interviews include Jorja Fox, George Eads, David Berman, Robert David Hall, Justin Bieber, Executive Producer Don McGill, Marg Helgenberger, Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Eric Szmanda, Marlee Matlin, Dita Von Teese, Wallace Langham, Ann-Margret, Creator of CSI/Executive Producer Anthony E. Zuiker and Paul Guilfoyle.
Audio Commentary by George Eads, Director Alec Smight and Writer Christopher Barbour on "House of Hoarders"
Something Twisted This Way Comes (9:21) - This featurette focuses on the "Sqweegel" episode. It's about a forensic-proof killer. They talk about the development of the episode and working with Daniel Browning Smith (the world's most flexible man) as Sqweegel. Interviews include Creator of CSI/Executive Producer Anthony E. Zuiker, Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Daniel Browning Smith, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads, David Berman and Eric Szmanda.
Cold-Blooded Killers (9:26) - This featurette focuses on the "Cold Blooded" episode that dealt with the Walking with Dinosaurs experience. They talk about the idea for the episode and working with the dinosaurs. Interviews Writer Tom Mularz, Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Director/Executive Producer Louis Shaw Milito and Wallace Langham.
Deleted Scene for "Fracked" (1:20) - Greg, Ray, Nick and Frankie watch a TV news report.
Deleted Scene for "Man Up" (1:13) - Mandy talks to Catherine about some evidence.
Audio Commentary by Eric Szmanda, Dita Von Teese and Brad Tanenbaum on "A Kiss Before Frying"
Dita Von Teese Burlesque Performance (3:50) - The stunning Dita Von Teese's full performance from the "A Kiss Before Frying" episode.
Intelligent Design: Creating Aeron's Legion (7:06) - This episode focuses on the episode "Hitting for the Cycle." They talk about the creation of the game for this episode. Interviews include Eric Szmanda, Senior Pixel Pusher/CEO Symbient Paul LeBlanc and 2D/3D Animator/Programmer Symbient Trevor Phillips.
An Underground Perspective (7:28) - This featurette focuses on "The List" episode. They talk about the production of the episode and the building of the underground tunnel set. Interviews include George Eads, Director/Executive Producer Louis Shaw Milito, Production Designer Daniel Novotny, Eric Szmanda, Marg Helgenberger.
CSI continues to be a highly entertaining series. They celebrated their 250th episode this season. This was one of the better seasons in recent years. They went back to the style of the early seasons and focused more on the team and the characters. Some more humor was included in some of these episodes. Memorable episodes this season included "Sqweegel," "House of Hoarders," "Cold Blooded," "Bump & Grind," "The Two Mrs. Grissoms," and "Unleashed." The "House of Hoarders" episode was one of my favorites. The set was amazing and looked very realistic.
This is another excellent set. There seems to be a few more special features than normal on this release. Unfortunately, Laurence Fishburne wasn't part of any of the interviews. It will be sad to leave him the series, but the show will go on. Ted Danson should add more humor to the show and will probably re-energize them a bit. Watch CSI on their new night on Wednesdays at 10pm on CBS.
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
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Television Obscurities (www.tvobscurities.com) - We all love websites that bring us unique content that we haven't seen before, and a little bit of the obscure, and with a name like Television Obscurities, you know that you must be getting the obscure. The website isn't just a website that merely tells the stories about the long-lost and forgotten memories of television (though it does do that, and very well, I'll add), but it also poses questions to the public in hopes of finding answers and video to help rebuild some of the obscure past of television, particularly the earlier days of television.
That's all for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!
New on DVD/Blu-ray (May)
05/03 - Mad About You - The Complete Series
05/03 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season One
05/10 - Newhart - The Complete Fifth Season
05/17 - Angie Tribeca - The Complete First Season
05/17 - The Facts of Life - The Final (Ninth) Season
05/24 - The Wonder Years - Season Five
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