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page updated: 10/13/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 10/2/03 - 9/4/03)


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10/2/03

Well, the chat last night over at IGN DVD went very well. We had a lot of readers on hand and the chat ran for over two hours. In addition to Todd and myself, Matt Rowe, Adam Jahnke and Jeff Kleist were on hand to answer questions about upcoming titles on DVD and other DVD-related subjects. If you missed it, never fear... it may become a regular thing. We'll let you know. Thanks to all of you who dropped by and participated.

Now then... we have a rundown on some of Disney's early 2004 DVD releases. On 1/6, look for Ciao, Professore!, Get Bruce!, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, The Innocent, The Little Twins: The Magic of Giving, The Lovers on the Bridge, MicroCosmos, Moondance, Revenge of the Musketeers, Ridicule, Sonatine, Strawberry & Chocolate, Talk of Angels, Torrents of Spring and Unzipped. 1/27 will see the release of the Alice in Wonderland: Special Edition and the Pocahontas: Special Edition. Then on 2/3, look for more catalog titles including In the Army Now, Fire Birds, Hawk's Vengeance, Mask of Death, Perfect Harmony, The Rage, Ruby Bridges, Selma Lord Selma and Welcome to Sarajevo.

Ready for Fox's The Shield: Season Two? Hope so. It's coming on 1/6 (SRP $59.98). Extras on the 4-disc set will include an audio commentary for one episode on each disc (featuring the likes of Shawn Ryan, Michael Chiklis, Benito Martinez, Glenn Mazzara, Kurt Sutter, Scott Rosenbaum, Kim Clements, Barbara Fiorentino, Rebecca Mangieri, Kevin Reilly and Eric Shrier), 38 deleted scenes (with an introduction by Shawn Ryan) , the Scene Evolution: Connie Gets Shot feature with commentary, 3 featurettes (Wrap Day, Director's Roundtable and Raising the Barn) and a teaser for Season Three. Here's the cover art...

The Shield: Season TwoMI-5: Volume OneTenacious D: The Complete Masterworks

As you've probably guessed, that middle one is the cover art for the BBC's MI-5: Volume One (a.k.a. Spooks to you Brits), coming from Warner on 1/13 (SRP $49.98). The 3-disc set will include audio commentaries on all the episodes, biographies, deleted scenes, numerous behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews and more.

And if you skipped right to door Number Three, yes... that is the cover for Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks, which is due on store shelves on 11/4. According to the band's official site:

"This highly provocative DVD contains:

• the legendary and epic recital at London's Brixton Academy that was by chance recorded on November 3, 2002 - tracks include Wonderboy, Explosivo, Kyle Quit the Band, Friendship, Kielbasa, Dio, The Cosmic Shame, F*ck Her Gently, Tribute and the ever popular Live Short Films that have been screened during The D's shows.

• the groundbreaking, hard to get (legally), HBO episodes which tell tale of The D in their early days on the road to stardom.

• But that's not all! A bonus second disc will be gifted to the first twelve million loyal Tenacious D apostles who purchase this D-VD. This second disc includes an intimate portrait of Jack and Kyle and their life of carnal debauchery on the road. Lucky owners of the DVD will catch rare and gruesome behind the scenes glimpses of the making of the Tribute & Wonderboy videos as well as never before seen footage of The D as they perform their secret backstage rituals."


Are we not happy? Gettin' your freak on with a little rock-a-delic D goodness never hurt anyone. Well... not too badly at least.

In other news this morning, it looks as if DVD has been banned by Oscar. It seems the Hollywood studios and the MPAA are discontinuing the practice of sending out screening copies of Oscar nominated films to Academy voters on DVD in an effort to stem digital piracy. Click here for more on this via Yahoo.

Any Star Trek fans out there? Gotta say, I'd almost given up on Enterprise last season, but the third season has really been great so far. Admittedly we're only four episodes in, but I haven't enjoyed this show so much since... well, ever. If only they'd get rid of that absolutely awful country-rock theme song. Damn, what the hell were they thinking when they picked that thing? Since I'm speaking of Trek, how about a little DVD update? As you know, the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Special Collector's Edition is due on 10/14. You'll be pleased to learn that the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Special Collector's Edition is now expected to be released by Paramount sometime in late January. The first season of Star Trek: Voyager should arrive on DVD sometime in February, with new seasons every couple of months throughout 2004. The Star Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition is also likely for later in 2004. There are still no plans yet to bring The Animated Series or Enterprise to DVD, and there's no new word on the possibility of releasing The Original Series in season box sets. Finally, don't expect that Borg Megacube containing the entire Next Generation series on DVD (all 48 discs) to be released in Region 1. That's going to be R2 only - Paramount has no plans for it here in the States. And at a UK retail price of £450.99, that's probably a good thing. Bet it talks when you open it: "Your wallet has been assimilated... resistance is futile..."

That's all for now. Stay tuned.

(LATE UPDATE - 10/1/03 - 2:30 PM PDT)

We've got an easier way for all of you to join the live chat tonight with IGN DVD. Rather than download special IRC software, simply log onto this link:

http://www.ign.com/chat/auditorium.html

Select a nickname, then just type: /join #dvd

This is a java applet chat room, so you don't have to download anything to participate. It's very easy to use. The chat will start at 5 PM PDT and should run for a couple of hours. Hope to see you online tonight! ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/1/03 - 10:30 AM PDT)

As promised, we've got two new DVD reviews for you today. The first, as you might be expecting, is a look at Warner's forthcoming The Matrix Reloaded 2-disc set. And the second is a quick look at Image Entertainment's new DVD version of The Alien Saga documentary. Both titles are set to street on 10/14, and both reviews are written by yours truly, so enjoy.

Also this morning, we have a review from our own Matt Rowe (over at TAP) of another SACD release... Donovan's Storyteller. Definitely worth a look.

We've got a couple of other bits of DVD news for you today. First of all, Artisan is going back to the well for another DVD version of one of their films. This time, it's the Dirty Dancing: Ultimate Edition 2-disc set. Set to street on 12/9, the set will include newly remastered anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio, a commentary track with the producers, costumer designers and choreographers, interviews with Jennifer Gray and other cast members (but not Patrick Swayze), a featurette on the director, Jennifer Gray's screen test footage, a trivia track and more. SRP is $19.98. Personally, I wish Artisan would dip back into the Speed Racer well and release the rest of that animated series on DVD. Just a suggestion.

According to several industry trades, Disney's self-destructing EZ-D discs are intriguing to customers, but few are biting on them. At least that's the early word out of Austin, Texas retailers in the second week of the test run.

Speaking of Disney, the studio has announced the DVD release of their recent remake of Freaky Friday for 12/16 (SRP $29.99). Also, Trimark is going to be releasing Milcho Manchevski's recent take on the western, Dust, starring Joseph Finnes and David Wenham. Look for it on 10/14 (SRP $24.99).

And here's something that's going to make you TV on DVD fans happy. 20th Century Fox is expecting to release the classic Lost in Space: Season One on DVD on January 6th (SRP $79.98). Extras on the 8-disc set will include the unaired pilot episode No Place to Hide, plus a "CBS Network presentation" featurette. Oh, come on... you know you want to say it: Danger Will Robinson... danger, danger!

Around the site today, since it's October 1st, we have a new Artist of the Month. His name is Todd White and I think you'll really like his stuff. He has celebrity clients including Hugh Hefner and Vin Diesel, and his Hollywood Collection is a must see. According to Todd: "Each character depicts the subtleties of what one shows and what one hides - masked masculinity to flowered feminity." Todd sells originals and giclee prints of his work, so be sure to check out his site at artofwhite.com.

Finally this morning, if you have a business or product and you've ever wondered about advertising it on The Bits, Sarah's put together a few different ad packages that are perfect for small businesses. They're very affordable. Click here to check them out and email Sarah if you're interested or have any questions. You'll be supporting The Bits and building your own business at the same time!

Don't forget to join us tonight at 5 PM PDT for our live chat with IGN DVD. Click here for details on how to participate (you'll need an IRC client, such as mIRC - just FYI). See you there!

9/30/03

We're working hard on a number of new DVD reviews for you, including Warner's forthcoming The Matrix Reloaded, which just arrived here at The Bits. We're going to post them all tomorrow morning, so be sure to check back for that. The reason for the delay is two-fold. First, we aren't allowed to post the Matrix review until tomorrow. Gotta play by the rules.

But the bigger reason, is that we had a very nice surprise here at The Digital Bits this morning. We just got the very first copies of our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD! So, as you might expect for a couple of guys who just wrote their first book, we're wasting a lot of time just walking around holding it and thumbing through it. They arrived via UPS - 10 copies hot off the presses - and they're everything we hoped they would be. The front and back cover is gorgeous - this thing should really stand out on store shelves. The paper is a nice glossy stock, so it really feels great in your hand. Also, since it uses glossy stock, the book is also less bulky despite its being a whopping 426 pages long. It has very much the same dimensions as a keep case, just a little larger. All the images and diagrams look exactly how we wanted them to... heck, we've even got a features grid on the back! We can't tell you how thrilled we are about this thing we worked our butts off on for a year. We really wanted our first book to be something special, and I'm pleased to say it's everything we hoped for. We hope you enjoy it and we can't wait to see what you think. By the way, Amazon should have the book in stock any day now. We'll let you know as soon as it's ready to ship.

Watch for those reviews tomorrow morning. And don't forget, Todd and I are going to be participating in a live, online chat over at IGN DVD tomorrow as well (at 5 PM PDT). Click here for details on how to participate. We'll be talking about DVD, as well as the book, and you can ask us questions about whatever you like. You'll need an IRC client, such as mIRC. Join the IGN server by using the command /server chat1.ign.com. The channel name is #DVD. Hope to see you there!

Stay tuned!

9/29/03

Everyone have a great weekend? My Vikings won on Sunday, saw the new trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King... life is good. By the way, if you want to see the trailer for yourself, it should be online at the official site soon. It's also up now at this link at Apple.com in Quicktime format.

We've got some new cover art for you today. Warner has revealed the details on their Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth Season DVD set. The set is due to street on 1/6 (SRP $99.98). All 22 episodes from the season will be included on 6 discs in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include an introduction by series creator J. Michael Straczynski, audio commentary on a few episodes by Straczynski and series stars Bruce Boxleitner, Jerry Doyle, Peter Jurasik and Patricia Tallman, the Celestial Sounds music featurette, the No Surrender, No Retreat "DVD Suite", The Universe of Babylon 5 featurette, personnel and data files, a gag reel, episode previews and more. Here's a look at the cover art...

Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth SeasonBad Boys II: Special EditionGigli

And yes... that is Columbia TriStar's artwork for the Bad Boys II: Special Edition (SRP $28.95) and their temp art for Gigli ($26.96), both of which are set to street on 12/9. It looks like Gigli will basically be a movie-only edition (no surprise there), but Bad Boys II will feature two discs of extras, including deleted scenes, a Production Diaries featurette, a Visual Effects featurette, the La-la-la music video by Jay-Z, a scene deconstruction, storyboards, promos and much more. We'll have full details when they become available. Both DVDs will offer video in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen. Note that a 2-pack of both the Bad Boys and Bad Boys II special editions will also be available (SRP $43.95).

There's some more great new Fox news as well today. In addition to My Darling Clementine, which we mentioned on Friday, 20th Century Fox is also releasing The Diary of Anne Frank (on 2/4), Peyton Place (3/2) and The Grapes of Wrath (4/6) as part of their Studio Classics series. All will have audio commentary and Movietone newsreel footage. Thanks to Bits reader Edgar A. for the reminder.

And how about this? We haven't even gotten fully converted to HDTV yet, when along comes an even better system. Matt and I found this over the weekend, on the online site e4engineering.com, and we thought it would interest you. It seems there's a new prototype for high-definition TV, from Japanese broadcaster NHK, called ultra high-definition video (UHDV). It would boost the resolution to a whopping 4,000 scan lines! By comparision, the best HDTV is 1080 lines, and the HD masters that Hollywood creates for its films are generally around 2,000 scan lines. Check this out from the article:

"NHK researcher Dr. Kohji Mitani said the project team had shot a three-minute demonstration video by attaching the camera to the front of a vehicle and driving it around the streets.

The footage was then shown to members of the public on a 4x7m wide-angle screen provoking, according to Mitani, gasps of astonishment. Some viewers even experienced nausea because of the ultra realistic visual effect of speed without the usual physical sensation of movement."


Technology, man. It just never stops, does it? Pretty soon you'll be plugging cables into your head to watch movies.

That's all for now. Back tonight with new contests, and tomorrow with more new DVD reviews! Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/26/03 - 2:30 PM PDT)

So you want DVD reviews? Okay... we've got your DVD reviews right here. How about 15 new DVD reviews from our own Barrie Maxwell, as part of his new Classic Coming Attractions column? Today, Barry runs down the latest classic release news, and takes a closer look at MGM's 633 Squadron, Terror in a Texas Town, The Ghoul and Zulu, Paramount's I Love Lucy: Season One, Volumes 7 & 8, Scrooge and Targets, Columbia's Die! Die! My Darling!, The Bedford Incident and In Cold Blood, Fox's The Mark of Zorro and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Milestone's The Chess Player and All Day's Christ in Concrete. We've got more reviews coming next week as well, so stay tuned.

Speaking of classic films, one of my favorites has just been announced for DVD release by 20th Century Fox on January 6th... John Ford's My Darling Clementine, starring Henry Fonda. The DVD will feature two versions of the film, the theatrical version and Ford's pre-release version, both in the original B&W, full frame format. Audio will be Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono. Extras will include audio commentary by Wyatt Earp III, the theatrical trailer and a production stills gallery. Awesome news!

Don't forget that you can see the new trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in theaters starting today, attached to New Line's Secondhand Lions. And the trailer will be online on Monday at the official site. That's reason enough in my book to go see the film, so guess what Matt and I are going to do this evening? ;-)

Also, just FYI, I wanted to let all of you know that Todd and I are going to be participating in a live, online chat over at IGN DVD on Wednesday, October 1st (at 5 PM PDT). We're going to be talking about our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD, which we understand Barnes and Noble is now showing a 10/7 street date for. We expect the book to arrive in stores everywhere throughout the second week of October, just FYI. So if you have any questions about the book, be sure drop on by the chat and ask 'em.

All right... that's all she wrote for today. Have a great weekend, kids. See you Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/26/03 - 10:30 AM PDT)

Hey guys... have we got something good for you this morning! Remember how I told you about that Fargo DVD release party that was going to be held yesterday in balmy Fargo, ND? Remember how I said it was guaranteed to blow your minds? I'll bet some of you didn't believe me. Well, folks... today we've got pictures. No kidding. Click here for Bits reader Corey B's complete report on the event. You do NOT want to miss this... trust me. ;-)

Back later with Barrie's column...

9/25/03

As promised, we're back this afternoon with two DVD reviews for you. First up, our own Rob Hale has given New Video's Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 a look for you. And I've got a review of my own for all of you today... a look at Disney's new The Lion King: Special Edition - Platinum Edition, which streets on 10/7. I'll give you a hint... the film looks and sound amazing, but if you're looking for great extras, you're probably going to be disappointed.

Also today, some of you might have noticed the banners for a play called Tales of Lunacy, that's running at the Touchstone theater in Bethlehem, PA. It started yesterday and it runs through October 4th. The reason we're promoting it is that the show was directed by my father-in-law, Paul Meshejian. Paul's an accomplished actor and director (I say that not just because I have to, but because it's also true). He's done a ton of theater and he's had supporting roles in a number of films and TV shows, including Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, Alan Rudolph's Equinox and episodes of (by coincidence) Homicide: Life on the Street. You Gilliam fans will get a kick out of this - here's my father-in-law (as Detective Dalva) getting punched out by Bruce Willis at the end of 12 Monkeys... cool, huh?

Paul in 12 MonkeysPaul in 12 Monkeys

Anyway, the show's getting great reviews, so if you live in the area and you're looking for a good evening's entertainment, give it a look. For more information and tickets, you can call the theater at 610-867-1689 or e-mail: touchstone@nni.com. Tell 'em you heard about it on The Bits. ;-)

We'll be back tomorrow with a new column from our own Barrie Maxwell. He'll run down the latest news about classic films coming to DVD, and even review a number of great new DVD titles. Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

9/24/03

We're spending some time getting back into the review swing of things here at The Bits today, so check back tomorrow for our looks at The Lion King: Platinum Edition and other great new and upcoming DVD releases.

In the meantime however, we've got more new DVD cover art for you. Here's 20th Century Fox's Firefly: The Complete Series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth Season and M*A*S*H: Season Five Collector's Edition (all three titles street on 12/9). Also, be aware that Fox is listing a street date of 7/6/04 for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Sixth Season (just FYI).

Firefly: The Complete SeriesBuffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth SeasonM*A*S*H: Season Five Collector's Edition

We also have the official cover art for Fox's upcoming Alien Quadrilogy 9-disc box set (the street date is TBA, but is expected to be 12/16). We have complete details on the making of this set, as well as a full listing of all the extras, in our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD (which is now available for pre-order from Amazon by clicking the link). We'll post them here as soon as Fox allows us to do so.

Alien Quadrilogy

Finally this afternoon, we have official word from Universal Music that their upcoming U2 Go Home DVD (street date 11/17) will be released in anamorphic widescreen with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, plus PCM stereo. Great news!

Stay tuned...

9/23/03

We're back! Yessir, there's nothing like a trip to balmy North Dakota to get your blood going again. The wedding was smooth, seeing the family was nice and a good time was had by all. Plus, the Twins and Vikings both won over the weekend, so that's about as good as it gets for THIS sports fan.

By the way, while I was back home, I happened to read an article in the Fargo Forum newspaper waxing critical on the new MGM Fargo: Special Edition DVD which comes out on 9/30. If you want to catch a truly Fargo-esque event, you might want to jet to the city on Thursday morning (9/25). Why? There's going to be a special DVD release party there, held at the Fargo Theater. The fun starts at 11 AM CDT. On the schedule is the unveiling of wood statue of Marge Gunderson (I s&#t you not), an Arby's food eating contest, prize giveaways and a noon screening of film. The event is FREE and guaranteed to blow your mind.

Now then... our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD, is now at the printers. Copies will be done and boxed for shipment to the McGraw warehouse on Friday (9/26). From there it will ship out to retailers. What all this means is that Amazon should have it in stock during the week starting 10/6 (and possibly a little sooner). Retail stores will probably take a little longer, as the books will have to ship around to distributors and then get stocked on store shelves. But the good news is that our book is officially on the way, so get your orders in! We can't wait to see what you think of it, so when you're able to get your hands on a copy, please drop us an e-mail.

In the realm of DVD news, Universal has announced the DVD release of Seabiscuit for 12/16. You'll be able to get the film in full frame or anamorphic widescreen (SRP $26.98 each), as well as a limited edition gift set that includes a book, a senitype cell and photo cards (SRP $49.99). Extras will include audio commentary with director Gary Ross and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, several production featurettes including Racing Through History, Bringing the Legend to Life, The Making of Seabiscuit, Anatomy of a Movie Moment and From Script to Screen, Jeff Bridge's set photographs, production notes, cast and filmmaker biographies, theatrical trailers and more.

You will also be pleased to know that the studio's American Wedding is already set for DVD release on 1/2/04, in no less than FOUR separate versions. You can buy the theatrical version in full frame or anamorphic widescreen, or you can buy the Extended Party Unrated Edition in full frame or anamorphic widescreen. The SRP is $26.98 no matter which one you buy. Among the extras will be deleted scenes, outtakes, the featurettes Speaking Stiffler, Jim & Michelle's Wedding Video, Grooming the Groom and From Script to Scene, along with audio commentary with the stars and filmmakers, trailers and more.

We've got official details from 20th Century Fox on their upcoming Firefly: The Complete Series DVD due on 12/9 (SRP $49.98). The series will be in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on 4 discs. Extras will include audio commentary on the episodes Serenity Part 1 & 2, The Train Job, Shindig, Out of Gas, War Stories, Objects in Space and The Message, the Here's How How it Was, Serenity: The Tenth Character and Joss' Tour of the Set featurettes, Alan Tudyk's audition video, a gag reel, the Joss Sings the Firefly Theme video, 4 deleted scenes, an Easter egg of Adam Baldwin singing Hero of Canton and more. We'll post cover art as soon as it's available.

Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of a trio of classic, back catalog titles for 12/2, including Ship of Fools, The Horsemen and There's a Girl in My Soup. We have it on good authority that Bad Boys II, Gigli and the second season of Dawson's Creek episodes will be announced in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that.

As we've reportedly previously, Universal Music has a new Peter Gabriel DVD on the way on 11/4, called Growing Up Live. Well, now we have the official details. Unfortunately, we don't know if it's anamorphic widescreen or full frame video yet (although we suspect 16x9 given that Gabriel's Secret World Live was anamorphic). Get this - the audio will be available in Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 and DTS 5.1 options. The disc will be coded for all regions (NTSC). The main program will feature Gabriel's "in the round" performance at the Filaforum in Milan, Italy from his recent tour, as directed by Hamish Hamilton. The songs performed will include Here Comes the Flood, Darkness, Red Rain, Secret World, Sky Blue, Downside Up, The Barry Williams Show, More Than This, Mercy Street, Digging in the Dirt, Growing Up, Animal Nation, Solsbury Hill, Sledgehammer, Signal to Noise, In Your Eyes and Father Son. Extras will include The Making of Growing Up documentary featurette, a photo gallery and the More Than This: Elbow Remix bonus track. The packaging will be a digipack with slipcase. Here's the cover art...

Peter Gabriel: Growing Up LiveSting: Inside Sacred Love

Yep... that is the official cover art for the new Sting DVD too. Inside Sacred Love is due on 10/7. Packaged in a CD jewel case rather than the usual DVD-sized case, the disc will feature over two hours of new footage in full frame video with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio. Among the songs performed in the program are Send Your Love, Inside, Dead Man's Rope, Shape of My Heart/Never Coming Home, Like a Beautiful Smile, Forget About the Future/That Sinking Feeling, This War, Stolen Car/All Would Envy, Sacred Love, The Book of My Life, Walking on the Moon, Roxanne and Whenever I Say Your Name. Other features include an exclusive duet performance with Mary J. Blige, audio commentary by Sting throughout the DVD, rehearsal footage and a special bonus track of Every Breath You Take.

Finally this morning, how about some MORE cover art? We've got a look at six new cover scans that have become available while we were away. Here's the generic art for American Wedding (1/2/04 - the final art may be slightly different), Seabiscuit (12/16), South Park: The Complete Third Season (due 12/16 and yes, it's coming from Paramount - each episode will have 5-7 minute "mini-commentaries" with Trey Parker and Matt Stone), Cool World (11/11), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Special Collector's Edition (10/14) and Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Volume 1 (11/18). All of these can be pre-ordered now from our software sponsor, DVD Planet.com.

American WeddingSeabiscuitSouth Park: The Complete Third Season

Cool WorldStar Trek V: The Final Frontier - Special Collector's EditionSpace Ghost Coast to Coast, Volume 1

Stay tuned...!

9/17/03

Okay, we've got a couple of interesting things for you this morning. But first, we wanted to let you know that The Bits is going to be dark for the rest of the week. After all the work on the book, and with a BIG fourth quarter coming up for DVD, we decided to take a little time to recharge our batteries for the months ahead. Well... sort of. The reality is, Sarah and I are headed for North Dakota to attend a family wedding, and Todd and his lovely wife Erin are moving into new digs in Atlanta. So this would be our Takin' Care of Business time of the year. We'll be back on Tuesday, so we appreciate your patience until then.

But hey - we aren't going to just leave you empty handed, believe me. First of all, we've just updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section! We've got more than 50 new cover scans of great upcoming titles for you to check out. And, as always, the discs can all be pre-ordered from our software sponsor, DVD Planet.com (which, in turn, supports our work here at The Bits). So please check 'em out and pre-order if you're so inclined.

Now then... we've also got an update of The Rumor Mill that should interest you Star Wars fans. Yep, it's that time of the year again to talk about when Luke, Han and the gang might be coming to DVD. Let's just say we've heard some things, and you'll probably want to check it out.

Also today, we've updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its most recent version, dated 9/7. We've updated all our DVD statistics, including the CEA DVD Player Sales information, with the most recent data. And we've done a whole mess of archiving, so the site should load a little faster.

And for you Python fans with progressive scan DVD players and TVs, we have a purchase warning. Universal's new DVD of Monty Python's Meaning of Life: Special Edition is defective - yet ANOTHER defect in a Universal title. Only Disc One (the movie disc) is affected, but it's definitely a defect in the authoring of the disc. It appears that the software "flags" on the disc that allow progressive scan DVD players to de-interlace the video signal have been screwed up. As a result, the 3-2 pulldown is incorrectly done on almost all progressive DVD players, resulting in constant jagged edges throughout the film. We have confirmed this on our own equipment. This is a defect of ALL copies of the disc, but you'll only notice the problem on progressive players. So you folks with the best technology are screwed. Universal seriously needs to get its act together with regard to it's Quality Control department. Judging by the many e-mails we're getting, Bits readers are getting awfully tired of having to send in discs for replacement. In any case, call Universal's Meaning of Life customer "service" hotline at 1-800-433-4673 to arrange to have your copies replaced... by sometime in mid to late November (with any luck).

So that's all she wrote for this week. We'll see you back here next Tuesday with lots more. We should have the final street date on our new book from McGraw by then, plus we've got more columns and reviews on the way as well. So have a great week and we'll see you then!

9/16/03

We've got some good stuff for you in today's early post, so get your coffee poured and let's get started!

First of all, we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest, so congrats to them and thanks to all of you who entered.

Now then, we have a nifty bit of information from our sources about some possible upcoming Warner animated DVD releases, along with word on the rest of the Highlander TV series. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today.

Also today, we have three new SACD reviews for you to enjoy, thanks to Matt and the boys at our MusicTAP site: The Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Devil (Remix), Ritchie Valens: Greatest Hits and The Zombies: Greatest Hits.

Speaking of TAP, we also have the details from them on that U2 DVD we mentioned last week. U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle will street on 11/18. The disc will feature a 106-minute presentation of the complete concert recorded at Ireland's Slane Castle on September 1st, 2001. Video will be anamorphic widescreen (yeah!), with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 along with PCM stereo. Extras will include the 28-minute Unforgettable Fire documentary, a 30-minute documentary featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the Slane Castle concert, audio commentary, bonus tracks and DVD-ROM features to include a U2 calendar, screensavers and weblinks plus three songs shot on ‘Spincam’ (allowing the viewer an interactive, 360 degree view of the concert). Here's the concert track listing: Elevation, Beautiful Day, Until the End of the World, New Year's Day, Out of Control, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Wake Up Dead Man, Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of, Kite, Angel of Harlem, Desire, Staring at the Sun, All I Want Is You, Where the Streets Have No Name, Mysterious Ways, Pride (In the Name of Love), Bullet the Blue Sky, With or Without You, One and Walk On. And here's a look at the cover art...

U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle

Finally this morning, we have a street date from Disney for their The Lion King: 1 1/2 DVD... 2/10/04.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/15/03 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Buena Vista has officially announced the DVD release of the first of their animated "masterpiece" editions. The Alice in Wonderland: Special Edition and the Pocahontas: Special Edition will both street on January 27th, 2004. They also have an animated, straight-to-video sequel to The Lion King on the way in early 2004, called The Lion King: 1 1/2. And on January 6th, look for a number of new Miramax catalog titles as well, including Ciao, Professore!, Get Bruce!, I've Heard The Mermaids Singing, The Innocent, The Lovers on the Bridge, MicroCosmos, Moondance, Revenge of the Musketeers, Ridicule, Sonatine, Strawberry & Chocolate, Talk of Angels, Torrents of Spring and Unzipped.

We've also got some more Upcoming DVD Cover Art for you today. Here's Criterion's La Strada and Naked Lunch (both 11/11), Fox's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (TBA), Columbia TriStar's Marooned (11/18), Universal's Dragnet (2003): Season One (11/11) and DreamWorks' Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (11/18). All can be pre-ordered now at our software sponsor, DVD Planet.

La StradaNaked LunchLeague of Extraordinary Gentlemen

MaroonedDragnet (2003): Season OneSinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

And just for good measure, here's a look at HBO's Sex and the City: The Complete Fifth Season, which streets on 12/30.

Sex and the City: The Complete Fifth Season

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/15/03 - 12:30 PM PDT)

A number of Bits readers have chimed in with word on those defective Monty Python's Meaning of Life DVDs. Many readers are receiving the following reply from Universal based on inquiries to the studio on the issue:

"Thank you for contacting Universal Studios. With the advent of cutting-edge technology in the DVD format, a small number of DVD players do not have the technical capability to take full advantage of the Monty Python's The Meaning of Life disc format. Universal Studios Home Video has become aware of a player specific issue which results in the appearance of jagged video interlacing, on disc 1 only. Disc 2 is NOT affected. Consumers with an incompatible player may mail back Disc 1 to Universal and receive a replacement. To obtain a pre-paid USPS envelope in which to mail back the original Disc 1, please call 1-800-433-4673. Replacement discs are currently scheduled to be available mid-November 2003. We appreciate your patronage and hope you continue to enjoy our products."

We unfortunately don't have a list of the affected players, but this should hopefully help those with problems. By the way, those of you who have yet to receive your replacement Back to the Future discs may wish to call this number to follow up. Thanks to Bits reader Andrew M. for the heads-up on this.

In other news today, our MusicTAP site has word that there's a new Peter Gabriel DVD on the way for release on 11/4 - it's a live concert disc called Growing Up Live, covering his most recent tour. There's also word that Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album is going to be released on SACD format on 11/11. If you haven't taken the dive into SACD and DVD-Audio yet, there's never been a better time to do so. Pioneer is offering a new combo DVD player that plays both of the high-rez audio formats in addition to DVD-Video - the DV-563A. Believe this or not... it carries an SRP of only $249, which means you can buy it many places for less than $200 (Best Buy has it for $179). It's definitely worth a look.

Back later with those Trivia Contest winners. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/12/03 - 5 PM PDT)

What do you know? We've actually managed to post another DVD review - we're closing out this particular Friday with my look at A&E's upcoming DVD release of the classic TV documentary series Victory at Sea (street date: 9/30). And we have lots more coming next week, including Wellspring's Russian Ark. So stay tuned.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/12/03 - NOON PDT)

I'm afraid we have some more sad news to report today. From the world of music, another legend has been lost... Johnny Cash has passed away today, at the age of 71, from complications of diabetes. Anyone who loves music will know what a loss that is - his contributions to music are vast. And from the world of television, a sad surprise today... actor John Ritter died of heart failure last night, after collapsing on the set of his TV series, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. You may better remember Ritter for his turns in Sling Blade and Three's Company. He was just 54.

While we're acknowledging the loss of talent this afternoon, it's also worth taking the time to recognize the passing of documentarian Leni Riefenstahl, which happened rather quietly earlier this week. Riefenstahl was a filmmaker of incredible talent, but her career never recovered from the fact that two of her best films were made for the Nazi's... and were works of propaganda. Triumph of the Will (about the 1934 Nuremberg rally) and Olympia (depicting the 1936 Berlin Olympics) are visually stunning despite their subject matter. Talent aside, Riefenstahl was surrounded in controversy for her entire life.

In other news today, Video Business is reporting on the slow but steady growth of the D-VHS format. Six new titles were unveiled from Universal, DreamWorks and Artisan this week. These include Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Emperor's Club, Mulholland Drive, The Limey, Novocain and The Ring. This takes the total number of titles on the high-definition videotape format to 55. In addition, JVC has announced a new model of D-VHS player - the HM-DH4000, which will record digitally from any source. Though it will probably be obsolete in a few years, when Blu-ray or HD-DVD finally arrives, D-VHS has carved a tiny but strong niche for itself among high-end consumers.

And Video Store magazine is reporting a study by Forrester Research which says Video On Demand (VOD) will overtake DVD in ten years. But trust us on this - don't start selling your movie collection on eBay just yet. Collectors will ALWAYS prefer to own a DVD rather than rent a movie over cable or their computer. Personally, I never want to give up the luxury of having a copy of the movie in my hand, looking at the liner notes, and setting it on my shelf with the rest of my collection. What VOD will probably do, on the other hand, is make brick and mortar rental stores (like Blockbuster and Hollywood) a thing of the past. Besides... Blu-ray or HD-DVD will be here by then anyway.

Also today, Video Store has a report on the roll-out of disposable EZ-D. In case you care.

We're going to be updating a lot of the stats we track around the site today, and we'll be back in a couple of hours with another new DVD review... New Video's Victory at Sea: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition.

Stay tuned...

9/11/03

Okay... Todd and I have put our heads together for a review of 20th Century Fox's new 24: The Complete Second Season on DVD. If you haven't gotten into 24 yet... what the heck is up?! You definitely don't want to miss this show, and with both Season One and Two now available on disc, now's the perfect time to get yourself hooked before Season Three starts in a couple months. Don't miss it.

Also today, we've got some great new DVD cover art for you to see - Paramount's Lara Croft - Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Special Collector's Edition (street date: 11/18), Warner's The West Wing: The Complete First Season (also 11/18) and Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - Collector's Edition (12/2). All three can now be pre-ordered at our software sponsor, DVD Planet. So please do - you're supporting The Bits at the same time.

Lara Croft - Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Special Collector's EditionThe West Wing: The Complete First SeasonPirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - Collector's Edition

We'll be back with news and more tomorrow, so stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/10/03 - 5:30 PM PDT)

As promised, we've got a pair of DVD reviews for you today. I've finally had time to give a disc a spin, so you can now read my thoughts on Paramount's The Core. And our own Rob Hale checks in with his review of an older title, MGM's Die Another Day: Special Edition.

Watch for more news and reviews tomorrow, including a look at Fox's 24: The Complete Second Season. See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/10/03 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Just wanted to chime in here with a quick note to let everyone know that we'll be back with new DVD reviews later this afternoon.

Also, our MusicTAP site has some good news for you U2 fans. Another concert DVD is expected on November 18th. MusicTAP also has a new DVD-Audio review of Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar Babies today, and they've got Peter Gabriel CD news as well.

Finally, it's not DVD related, but don't forget to check out September's Artist of the Month - Celeste Brignac (Photography). She has some great work, including images to put on greeting cards for less than the price of most Hallmark cards these days! You can check out the options, including some vintage theatre images, here. It's all part of our ongoing effort to give greater exposure to talented artists, so please take the time to check out their work.

Back soon!

9/9/03

Well... our work on the book's pretty much done. The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD is off to the printers later this week. We'll update you with a final street date as soon as we get one from McGraw. Boy it feels good to be done!

Around the horn today, our own Adam Jahnke's written up a nice little tribute to Warren Zevon, who passed away on Sunday. You'll find that at our MusicTAP site today.

A lot of you have asked about the Alien: 2003 Director's Cut we mentioned yesterday. It's going to be in theaters in time for Halloween. Here's a link to the Fox website, which lists Alien as coming soon (a website is reportedly coming soon as well). IGN has the official trailer up for the new release.

Just a quick bit of news. Criterion has announced the DVD release of Federico Fellini's La Strada and David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch in November.

In other news, it looks like Fox is temporarily delaying the release of the next seasons of Buffy and Firefly. We'll post more details when we get them from the studio.

Disney is testing its self-destructing EZ-Ds this week in a few test markets. You can read more on that here via Yahoo and here via CNN (just FYI, CNN has a poll on reaction to EZ-D that's worth checking out). Anyone out there taking wagers on how long this experiment will last?

And finally, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of The Sea is Watching, Winged Migration: Special Edition, The King of Queens: The First Season, Marooned and My Big Fat Greek Life: The Entire Series for 11/18. Here's the cover art for Winged Migration: Special Edition. Enjoy!

Winged Migration: Special Edition

See you tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/8/03 - 10:30 AM PDT)

Hi everyone! I just wanted to jump in here with a word on Fox's upcoming Alien Quadrilogy nine-disc set. There's obviously not yet been an official announcement for various reasons, and we suspect there will not be one until after the new Alien: 2003 Director's Cut appears in theaters next month. The set IS still coming and with any luck it will be out before the end of 2003. As all of you know, we've closely followed this production for many months now for our upcoming book (it features more than 30 pages dedicated to a look at the making of the set). Because there hasn't been an official announcement, we're unfortunately not allowed to say anything here on The Bits in terms of specs and other details. We can tell you that all of that information - a complete disc by disc laundry list of the contents and extras - is included in the book (which streets the last week of this month or the first week of October). So that's likely to be the closest to an official announcement we get in the near term. The reason I wanted to jump in here, is because there's been some details leaked recently from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). I wish I could tell you more, but the one thing I can tell you for sure is that The Alien Legacy documentary is NOT on the new set for space reasons. So just be aware of that. The moment we're allowed to post anything more about this set and its contents, we will. 'Nuff said.

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/8/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We aren't pulling your leg. This is really it. This is our last day of work on the book. We're just doing one last proof of the final layout text and all the images - making sure all the Ts are crossed, etc. As soon as we sign off on it, the book is officially off to the printers (whew)! Right now, Amazon is showing a September 26th street date. In order to make that, and get this baby in the hands of all those of you who have shelled out your payola in pre-orders, we're going to be working pretty much all day today.

The good news is, when this is finally done, we'll be getting back to our old selves in terms of reviews. Frankly, I'm really looking forward to having the time to spin and review more DVDs. It's really amazing how much work it is to write a book - especially one with a lot of diagrams and images. The text can read great in Word, but making sure it all makes sense in print is a whole other challenge. It's definitely been a learning curve. But just ONE more day. The light at the end of the tunnel is blinding us. ;-)

In the meantime, we've kicked off another trio of Trivia Contests - three separate contests from three different studios, including Warner Bros, Fox and Buena Vista. The contests run until Saturday, so get your entries in quick.

Stay tuned...

9/5/03

Is anyone else out there just totally ready for football? I've been playing Madden 2004 for a few weeks now just to get my fix in, and I watched last night's NFL season opener with the Skins and the Jets in high-definition. There's just something about this time of the year that really gets the old blood pumping, you know? Repeat after me football fans: "This could be the year..."

Todd's back today with another one of his Doogan's Views columns. He checks in with a quick look at Urban Vision Entertainment's new DVD release of Ninja Scroll: The Series, Volume One - Dragon Stone.

Buena Vista has revealed that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl will arrive on DVD on 12/2 as a spiffy 2-disc set (SRP $29.99). Get this... the disc will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp, a second commentary with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Keira Knightley, a third commentary with the screenwriters, the Epic at Sea production documentary, deleted scenes, an effects progression reel, trailers, interactive timelines and more.

Just a word of advice... a lot of people are reporting problems with Universal's new Monty Python's Meaning of Life DVD. Disc Two of the set is fine, but the movie disc is plagued by strange picture artifacts - blurring of movement, etc. It could very well be an encoding problem with the disc itself. We haven't seen the disc yet ourselves, but we'll let you know when we do.

We'll be posting a new Trivia Contest this weekend, and we'll be back with one (and possibly two) new DVD reviews on Monday - The Core and 24: The Complete Second Season.

Enjoy NFL kickoff weekend, may your favorite team win (unless they're playing my Vikings) and we'll see you back here on Monday!

9/4/03

We're getting an early jump on things today, folks. The big news today is that Universal Music has revealed that they plan to slash prices for their A-list CDs across the board to an SRP $12.98 (from their previously outrageous prices of $16.98 to $18.98). It's a very good move, designed to curb online digital file sharing. The price shift takes effect on 10/1. You can bet I'll be buying a few new discs that day just to celebrate. You can read more on this from Matt at our MusicTAP site and here at CNN Money.

Also today, we have a pair of new DVD reviews from our own Rob Hale. Rob takes a look at a pair of great movies on disc from Hong Kong-based filmmaker Wong Kar-wai - Chungking Express (as released by Miramax) and In the Mood for Love (from Criterion).

And our good friend Adam Jahnke's checked in with another new edition of The Bottom Shelf. Wanna know why we love Adam so much around here? Read his last two columns. Every good team has a go-to guy, and Adam's that guy here at The Bits. And he always keeps you guessing. Think he's gonna zig? Nope - zag. His latest column is On Knowing One's Place: The Big Emotional Spielberg Ending. And in it, he reviews...

Okay, I'm not gonna spoil it for you. Let's just say we have THREE new DVD reviews up here at The Bits this morning and leave it at that. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...


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