Saturday, February 11, 2012
Digital Digest: New Amazon Prime Content; Busy May for Shout! Factory; Beavis and Butt-head - Volume Four DVD/Blu-ray Disc Review
Welcome to Digital Digest! This week has been a very busy week for news on the home media front, including several DVD announcements and even more content available from the ever-expanding Amazon Prime service. And of course, like most weeks, we have a DVD (and Blu-ray this time) review, with Beavis and Butt-head - Volume Four (DVD/Blu-ray). Let's get going!
Amazon Prime, the subscription service from Amazon.com which allows you to get free two-day shipping on many items and streaming video for many series, has announced yet another deal to their ever-expanding empire this week. This time, the deal is with Viacom. Admittedly, many of the series included are current Nickelodeon cartoons and certain awful MTV series that we only ever mention here mostly as a joke (GTL, anybody?), but the latest deal does include the TV Land series Hot in Cleveland (no other TV Land series are included, though, yet). Still, the more deals that they sign means more content, which means that they'll likely only expand even further. We will of course, keep you updated as they continue to expand. In the meantime, you can read more about the current new additions here.
Speaking of Amazon Prime, though, there are other additions that have been placed on there in recent months which we have failed to mention, simply because either there was no news announcement or we just overlooked it. Specifically, there are many cartoons from Cookie Jar Entertainment now included on the service, including the complete series of Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget. You can also find series from Classic Media including Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and Rocky and Bullwinkle. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, we suggest you head on over there now to see the current offerings, as they often change, and as hard as we attempt to report them, it is difficult to track down all of them.
News on the DVD front this week appeared to be light earlier in the week, but Shout! Factory had a glut of news on Friday, with the biggest being their announcement for Route 66 - The Complete Series. The set will be released on May 22, but if you buy it directly from Shout! Factory, you can get it a month earlier, on April 22. Special features for the 24 disc set have not yet been finalized, but the Shout! Factory website indicates that it will include Paley Festival panel footage, rare commercials, and a Great Cars: Corvette bonus DVD. The first three seasons were previously released by Infinity Entertainment, with some vintage commercials as special features, but some of the episodes were syndicated versions. It remains to be seen if Shout! Factory will include only unedited episodes, but given that they are likely aware of the situation, it probably will not be an issue. You can order the set directly from Shout! Factory by clicking here, or you can order from Amazon.com (which will ship the DVD set a month later, but at a slightly lower price) by clicking here.
In the wake of this news, TVShowsOnDVD.com uncovered even more Shout! Factory releases, with something for all of the first four Tuesdays in May. These begin with Kojak - Season Four (May 1), and continue with Fantasy Island - The Complete Second Season (May 8), Hazel - The Complete Third Season (May 15), and S.W.A.T. - The Final Season (May 22). Both Fantasy Island and S.W.A.T. are new releases for Shout! Factory, and the other two releases are follow-ups of previous Shout! Factory releases.
It appears that Lionsgate's releases of series from ABC Studios is going to continue in the next few months, with a few re-releases of sets that were already released by Disney. Of note for sitcom fans, they will be re-releasing both seasons of Samantha Who?, which was previously released by ABC Studios, but is now out of print. Both Samantha Who? - The Complete First Season and Samantha Who? - The Complete Second and Final Season will become available on May 1. You can read more about this and the other series that are on the way here.
Finally, CBS Home Entertainment is moving ahead with the classic Robert Urich series Vega$, with Vega$ - The Third Season, Volume 1. The three disc set will contain the first eleven episodes of the final season of the classic series.
UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW
Tuesday (February 14) has more Urkel coming to DVD, with Warner Home Video's release of Family Matters - The Complete Second Season. Timeless Media Group brings an interesting (and rare) release with the early 90s sci-fi comedy series They Came From Outer Space - The Complete Television Series. We hope to have reviews of both of these sets very soon. In the animated realm, we have Beavis and Butt-head - Volume Four (DVD/Blu-ray), which we have a review of today in Digital Digest. Additionally, Shout! Factory continues Rocko's Modern Life, with Rocko's Modern Life - Season Two.
BLOG FEATURE REVIEW
Blog DVD/Blu-ray Disc Review: Beavis and Butt-head - Volume Four (MTV Home Entertainment, $22.99 DVD/$26.99 Blu-ray)
America's favorite teenage morons are back! Beavis and Butt-head was Mike Judge's popular MTV cartoon series from the '90s that created much controversy (perhaps the most controversial series that had ever aired on basic cable at that point in time, but has certainly been surpassed since then). After just a few brief years on the air, the series ended and Judge went on to his next series, King of the Hill. But now that that series has come to an end, Judge has gone back to his roots with all new episodes of America's favorite culture critics, and the first batch of these new episodes from 2011 are now making their debut on DVD, and Blu-ray Disc as well. The set also marks the first time that a complete season of the series has ever been released in an unedited form.
The set begins with "Werewolves of Highland," where the boys jump right into the current decade by becoming engulfed in Twilight mania. The boys have a misunderstanding about wedding engagement in "Daughter's Hand." In "Tech Support," the boys get a job (accidentally) that even they are capable of handling. Beavis transforms back into his classic alter-ego from the original series in "Holy Cornholio." In "Drones," the boys cause chaos in the middle east during what seems to be an innocent field trip. The boys decide to make their own documentary about obesity in "Supersize Me." Butt-head realizes that it pays to use the toilet at work in "Bathroom Break."
The entire town of Highland is evacuated due to a train derailment in "Doomsday," but one pair of citizens doesn't get the alert to leave. Beavis and Butt-head turn to religion when they learn it could get them out of learning evolution in "Dumb Design." Beavis has a little accident while trying to photocopy his rear-end in "Copy Machine." Beavis and Butt-head become bounty hunters (with poor results) in "Bounty Hunters." In "Massage," the duo decides that they want their own massage parlor. The boys learn that an abortion clinic isn't quite what they think it is in "Whorehouse." The season ends with "Going Down," where Beavis and Butt-head get trapped in an elevator.
The episode included, with runtimes, are as follows:
1. "Werewolves of Highland/Crying" (21:01)
2. "Daughter's Hand/Tech Support" (20:51)
3. "Holy Cornholio" (21:25)
4. "Drones" (21:02)
5. "Supersize Me/Bathroom Break" (20:43)
6. "The Rat/Spill" (20:39)
7. "Doomsday/Dumb Design" (21:04)
8. "Copy Machine/Holding" (20:53)
9. "Used Car/Bounty Hunters" (21:19)
10. "Time Machine/Massage" (20:32)
11. "School Test/Snitchers" (21:23)
12. "Whorehouse/Going Down" (21:03)
Both the DVD and Blu-ray come in very similar (and basic) packaging, using standard cases for their respective formats. On the cover, there is a picture of Beavis and Butt-head with a red background, and nothing more. The back of the case has a photo of both of them on the sofa and a VERY brief description of the set. Inside the case, you'll find the discs, which have a black outline photo of Beavis and Butt-head. The Blu-ray disc only has one disc, but the DVD has two discs, with episodes 1-6 on Disc 1, and episodes 7-12 on Disc 2. The Blu-ray disc also has an insert with the disclaimer that the episodes are presented in their original 4x3 aspect ratio, which we'll discuss a bit more in a minute.
Despite one set being a DVD and the other being a Blu-ray, the menus on each respective set aren't that much different. The main menu has a split screen, with still photos on one side of the screen, and video on the other side of the screen. The theme song plays in the background. The options on the main menu include Play All, Episodes, Special Features (Blu-ray and Disc 2 of the DVD), and Set Up (Blu-ray only). Selecting Episodes will take you to a submenu on the DVD set where you can view four episodes per screen, with two still photo per full episode (one corresponding to each half of the episode). The Blu-ray set isn't much different, except it places these as a pop-up menu over the main menu. Special Features are presented the same way that the episodes are presented on both the DVD and Blu-ray. Set Up, which is only on the Blu-ray set, allows you to turn on English subtitles. Chapters are placed throughout all of the episodes on both sets.
The video and audio quality on both releases is excellent, and in fact, this is where I want to make a rare and unusual rant about making a series available on both DVD and Blu-ray. The animation on this series is not really what I would consider to be high-definition. In fact, the episodes on both sets are presented in full-screen, as they aired on MTV. In looking at this set, I'm not sure where the need existed for a Blu-ray release of the set. The DVD is perfectly adequate, and the Blu-ray just seems to be completely unnecessary. Blu-ray releases, if the format is to thrive, should be reserved for series where it'll actually make a difference. This release does not give Blu-ray that opportunity. In any event, everything seems to be fine about the video and audio quality, and as mentioned, the episodes are presented in full-screen. The DVD set includes closed-captioning for the episodes, while the Blu-ray includes English subtitles.
There are a few meager special features on the set, though they honestly weren't that great, with the exception of the first one. That one is "2011 San Diego Comic-Con Panel" (19:15), which, if you've seen these on the many releases of other series (primarily Fox series), you'll know that these are excellent to watch. They give a nice behind-the-scenes insight with those involved with the series. Beavis & Butt-Head interruptions was just plain painful to watch. These are just promotional pieces featuring the boys talking on the phone to cast members of (I hate saying the name of this show) Jersey Shore. The runtimes for these are 1:05, 0:55, 0:51, and 1:59. My advice? Don't even watch them. Finally, there is a "Silence Your Cell Phone" clip (0:17), reminding people to turn off their cell phones at the movies. I'm guessing that this must run before some movies in some theaters, but personally I've never seen it.
For fans of the series, old and new, this set is definitely worth owning. I'm certainly glad that the series is back on the air, and in my opinion, it is actually still a decent show to watch, although it is unfortunate that they do less music critiquing now. It is also great to see that this series is available as a complete and unedited season for the first time ever. It is too bad, though, that we will likely never see this treatment for the earlier episodes of the series, and are stuck with only having 2/3 of the cartoons and nearly none of the music videos. I feel that the DVD set of this release is perhaps better than the Blu-ray, because this series doesn't have anything to offer with Blu-ray. But then again, the Blu-ray isn't that much more expensive for this set. In any event, the Great Cornholio commands you to pick this DVD (or Blu-ray, if you insist) up today!
To purchase the DVD release, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
CLICK OF THE WEEK
I Love TV Intros (www.ilovetvintros.com) - Love is in the air with Valentine's Day coming up in just a few days, and we really planned to bring you a great Honeymooners website as the Click of the Week... but that was thwarted because it turns out that the original pick has malware all over the website (likely unbeknownst to the webmaster). But since we don't have that pick, we've got a great follow-up to the WaveThemes.org, the site that we brought you last week. Suppose, for a moment, that you want more than just a WAV file of a theme song from a series, and instead, want full video openings instead. Well, you COULD do a frantic YouTube search, or you could check out I Love TV Intros.
I Love TV Intros is a very simple website with one mission: to bring you video clips of various TV series from all eras, with a no-frills design. You can go through the website using the alphabetic listing or view series listed by era, and get a list of many different TV series, with video clips of the opening credits playing as soon as you click on the series title. It really is as simple as that. It isn't a bloated website with advertisements everywhere, or a website that will cause your computer to constantly crash (at least it didn't for me). While there are many different series represented here, it is, of course, far from inclusive of a lot of series. And one big drawback is the lack of multiple versions of theme songs for many series. But still, you will find just about every popular TV series here, many less popular series, and some you've never even heard of, and it is all represented in a nice and organized fashion.
That's all for this week. Until next time, keep it digital!