This week, we’ve got some more box sets and special editions, because that’s the time of year we’re in. Holiday guides are going to be popping and overflowing and other words that mean similar with some Blu-ray and DVD goodness this year. Save space on your shelf for the stuff on our Shelf.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions
It’s always sad when a beloved program ends, but it’s always sadder when they don’t realize they’re ending and thus don’t get the opportunity to, well, end. This happened with Cartoon Network’s massively wonderful The Clone Wars, the serialized CGI space spectacular that told of the exploits of Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and more along with the army of Clone Troopers, who became a lot more individualized and interesting than anyone could have imagined. George Lucas himself was closely involved with story plotting on the series, which premiered in 2008, and it made the rather thin characterizations of our heroes from the prequel films into fully realized and complex people. And, we shouldn’t forget, the dazzling visuals and action kept us glued to our sofas on Saturday morning, or to Netflix once they appeared.
And Netflix is where the final 13 produced episodes, given the banner title of “The Lost Missions,” first premiered in March of this year. The final episode ended with Yoda, having gone to Dagobah at the behest of Qui-Gon Jinn (actually voiced by Liam Neesons!) giving us “hope” for something “new” to come out of the Clone Wars, regardless of who wins, and that’s really the only reference to the series being over. Perhaps it’s because this was a bridge between two films that had already come out, but the serialized nature of The Clone Wars also sort of negated a beginning and an end, and they weren’t even presented in wholly chronological order for the first four seasons. If you’re watching this show, and you should because it’s great, it’s about seeing Jedi face battles and Clone Troopers in the trenches learning to be a team, even if they are genetically identical. Captain Rex, the best of the Clones, was perhaps a more intriguing and root-for-able character than most of the Jedi themselves.
This Blu-ray set features the 13 episodes as well as four that were voiced and animatics were made, but were never fully finished. It says at the beginning of each that this is what Lucas and showrunner Dave Filoni saw to make final notes and tweaks, so they’re as close to final products as could exist and they’re very good, if pretty standard, episodes of the series. We also have a surprisingly thorough 15-minute featurette about the making of the series and the closing up of shop.
This is a set that fans of Star Wars and of The Clone Wars ought to have in their collection.
Also check out – Phineas and Ferb Star Wars, a feature-length retelling of the saga from Disney’s popular cartoon.
UHF 25th Anniversary Edition
“Weird Al” Yankovic is obvious a hero to us all. For 30+ years, he’s been making us laugh with his brilliantly silly and intellectually complex parody and original songs, and has just recently received his first #1 album ever with Mandatory Fun, the first comedy album to top the Billboard charts since Alan Sherman in the 1960s. It’s a huge deal. He’s had a Saturday morning kids show with The Weird Al Show which sadly didn’t last too long, but he’s been a staple of MTV and the internet now decades. And yet, he’s only ever made one feature film, 1989’s UHF, which sadly got swallowed up by the monster Summer hits that year that were Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters II, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Lethal Weapon 2, Batman, Licence to Kill, When Harry Met Sally, and Weekend at Bernie’s. It was one of the biggest blockbuster summers of all time, and Al’s poor little indie comedy was right in the middle of it.
In the film, Al plays George Newman, a daydreamer who can’t keep a job, who, through his uncle’s gambling winnings, gets to be the controller of a local UHF station, the failing Channel 62, which is on the verge of implosion. Things go badly for awhile for George and his friends, and even the new kids show Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse, hosted by George in a weird outfit, does nothing for him. That is, until he despondently allows his new janitor, Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) to host the show one day. His weird antics make people everywhere sit up and take notice and George finds himself with a bonafide hit and more shows come pouring out of George’s curly-haired noggin, much to the chagrin of R.J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy), the frothing head of the big time VHF Channel 8.
What makes this movie enjoyable is not the premise, because largely we’ve seen that before, but it’s the zaniness of the gags. This whole movie is a parody of other movies and television programs that are housed within George’s pie-in-the-sky attitude and ferocious imagination. There is, of course, also a song parody, because no “Weird Al” movie would be complete without one, which takes the form of a dream mashing up Dire Straights’ “Money for Nothing” video with The Beverly Hillbillies, which has gone on to be one of Al’s most popular songs. This is a movie that still holds up comedically, even if some of the things its spoofing aren’t in the zeitgeist anymore. That’s how great Yankovic is; he manages to outlast the things he makes fun of, and always comes out on top. This is a movie that fans of the artist will love, and probably do, and one that fans of ’80s parody films, which were plentiful following Airplane!, will equally admire.
The 25th Anniversary Blu-ray, the first time the film’s ever been on the format, contains the complete “Weird Al” panel (minus a music video) from SDCC hosted by Jonah Ray, as well as a commentary by Yankovic and director/co-writer Jay Levey taken from the 2001 DVD release, music videos, trailers, vintage behind-the-scene footage, and more.
Also check out – The Compleat Al, a special from 1985 showcasing 8 of “Weird Al”‘s music videos inside a mockumentary about his life.
Batman The Complete 1960s Series
BANG! POW! BIFF! Holy complete series, Batman! Atomic batteries to power, turbines– All right, you get it, I don’t have to spoon-feed you. This is actually quite huge: the entire 1966-1966 Batman television show which was, to put it mildly, Camptown Races and shaped a lot of how the character was seen for the next 30 years, until Frank Miller grittied him up in the comics and Tim Burton did the same on the big screen. But, growing up and watching this show repeated after school, this WAS Batman, nothing campy or silly about it. Adam West and Burt Ward were the only Dynamic Duo worth watching seeing another of the band of colorful villains with another two-part caper get foiled week after week. Man, this show was great, and if you watch it through the filter of fun, you can still see it that way.
This box set includes all three seasons of the show, 120 episodes, as well as over 3 hours of extras about the making and continued legacy of the series, two books (one an episode guide, one Adam West’s scrapbook), 44 vintage trading cards, and a Hot Wheels replica Batmobile. This has “Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Whatever Present” written all over it.
True Blood Season 7 – The final episodes of HBO’s soapy and ridiculous southern-fried vampire series.
The Avengers Season 5 – The only season of ITV’s popular spy series that was shot entirely in color and on film, making it the only one available on Blu-ray. Some excellent John Steed and Emma Peel action.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – The sequel to the massive hit animated film from Dreamworks about a boy and his dragon.
Dolls – Stuart Gordon’s horror-comedy fairy tale about a group of people forced to spend the night in a secluded house in the woods during the worst storm of all time. The problem, of course, is the two old people who own the place are crazy witch people with a houseful of dolls that come to life and kill anyone who doesn’t have an inner child. Quite violently, too.