May 14, 2011

News: The Adventures of Tintin DVD sets to be released through Shout! Factory

This is three-day-old news by now, but I haven’t seen much commentary on this story.  The Adventures of Tintin, a co-production between Canada’s Nelvana and France’s Ellipsanime, will see its 39 episodes released on DVD through Shout! Factory.  This “multi-year agreement” will exploit the upcoming 2011 release of The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, the Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson/Weta Digital motion-capture film.

This news is notable for the American company attached to the Adventures of Tintin DVD releases.  Shout! Factory has released Canadian content before, most notably SCTV, ReBoot and Transformers: Beast Wars.

More Tintin after the jump

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May 7, 2011

News: Alliance Home Entertainment TV-on-DVD Releases, April-June 2011

Yeah, I know.  My neglect of URBMN means these Alliance Home Entertainment titles, if not already out, are coming very soon.  Hey, a few of you are actually purchasing these titles through my links, so I must be doing something right…that or Americans are cross-border shopping.

The titles for April to June 2011, plus a selection for August:

Titles After the Jump

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January 29, 2011

News: Testees complete series DVD to come out in 2011

Testees, Kenny Hotz and Derek Harvie’s 2008 Showcase/FX sitcom, has earned a two-disc series set in 2011, through Entertainment One Home Video.  The show stars Jeff Kassel and Steve Markle as Ron and Peter, two human guinea pigs testing products for TESTICO.

Kenny Hotz is long-tenured guinea pig Larry, while Joe Pingue carves a niche as obnoxious schemer Nugget.  Kim Schraner appears as bar owner Kate…at least until she’s written off midseason, presumably to make room for more Nugget.

Testees fans might remember this URBMN article, which debunked rumours of a Canada-only second season.  FX Productions and Blueprint Entertainment originally produced the series, and Blueprint has since folded into Entertainment One.  I’d consider Testees‘ cancellation official now.

Both TVShowsonDVD.com and eOne Home Video’s site give the release date as April 26, 2011.  Amazon.ca has it as February 22, 2011.  I assume the amazon.ca date is wrong, but hey, the Testees DVD is out.  That’s more than I can say for Less Than Kind right now.


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January 16, 2011

News: Alliance Home Entertainment TV-on-DVD Releases, Feb.-Mar. 2011

Yes, it’s another round of Alliance Home Entertainment’s Canadian TV-on-DVD releases.  There’s an increased reliance this year on relatively obscure shows with one-or-two-season runs.  The Adventures of Sinbad, The Outer Limits and other well-known CanCon quota quickies have been burned through, so Alliance has to reach deeper into its barrel.

With that in mind, here are Alliance’s February 2011 releases, plus a March 2011 release that hasn’t been formally announced:

Dead Man’s Gun: Season 1 (February 15, 2011) | Season 2 (March 15, 2011)
La galère: Season 3 (February 8, 2011)
Amazon: Complete Series (February 22, 2011)
The Adventures of the Black Stallion: Season 3 (February 22, 2011)
The Crow: Stairway to Heaven: Complete Series (February 15, 2011)
Total Recall 2070: Complete Series (February 22, 2011)

The packaging for Dead Man’s Gun is encouraging.  Alliance has finally realized how awful the six-disc Digipak it’s been using since 2010 is, and has opted for a multi-disc keepcase.  I hope this is a permanent change.

If you’ve been keeping score, Night Heat and Da Vinci’s Inquest haven’t been touched yet, while Total Recall 2070 and Amazon (a/k/a Peter Benchley’s Amazon) have.  Eventually, Alliance is going to have to get to Night Heat, just so I can end this running joke.  You can’t hide from the 1980s forever.

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October 28, 2010

News: Sugar Sammy and Dan for Mayor Season 1 on DVD Jan. 18, 2011

Both Sugar Sammy Live in Concert: Direct from Montreal and Dan for Mayor‘s first season will be released on DVD by Video Service Corp., on Tuesday, January 18, 2011.  Dan for Mayor‘s season set contains two discs, while Sugar Sammy Live in Concert has one.

More About Super Paki for Mayor

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October 26, 2010

News: Alliance Home Entertainment TV-on-DVD Releases, Nov. 2010-Jan. 2011

It’s been a while since I posted anything about Alliance Home Entertainment’s Canadian TV-on-DVD releases.  This listing consists of five new releases, two box set repacks, and one oft-delayed title.  To wit:

Andromeda: Season 5 (January 4, 2011)
C.A. Conseil d’administration: Complete Series (November 9, 2010)
Passe-Partout: “Coffret” (November 16, 2010)
TekWar: Complete Series (?)
The Adventures of Sinbad: Season 2 (January 4, 2011)
The Adventures of the Black Stallion: Season 2 (November 9, 2010)
Trailer Park Boys: “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” DVD | Blu-ray (December 7, 2010)

You will notice Passe-Partout‘s box set listed as “Coffret.”  From what I can tell, Alliance Vivafilm is re-releasing its Passe-Partout volume sets, packaging them as a collection.  At around $200, I can’t see a market for the set, even though Passe-Partout is encoded into the DNA of every French-speaking Quebecer born in the late 1970s and 1980s.

I question the wisdom of Alliance releasing the TPB special two years after its airdate.  I see no point in releasing Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day before the special that preceded it.  I guess Countdown to Liquor Day is a bigger commercial lure, being the third TPB film.  I don’t know.

As for The Adventures of Sinbad and Andromeda, they finish their runs on January 4, 2011.  This begs the question: which shows will Alliance mill through next?  I mean, the world is at the point where Airwolf‘s fourth season is worthy of release.

Seriously, the Vancouver season of Airwolf!  A lot of Airwolf fans count the fourth season as a separate show, but here we are.  It’s 2011 and you get to see tons of stock footage of a Bell 222, plus Barry Van Dyke!  Night Heat can’t come to DVD why?

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September 21, 2010

DVD News: Spectacle Season 2 DVD/Blu-ray out December 14, 2010

The second season of Spectacle: Elvis Costello with… will come out on DVD and Blu-ray December 14, 2010.  The two-disc set is being released through VSC.  All episodes are extended from their original CTV/Bravo! broadcasts.

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…‘s second season includes interviews with Neko Case, Sheryl Crow, Ron Sexsmith, Jesse Winchester, Nick Lowe, Richard Thompson, Allen Toussaint, Levon Helm, Bono and The Edge of U2, John Prine, Lyle Lovett and Ray Lamontagne.

Bruce Springsteen rates a two-part interview.  Mary-Louise Parker of Weeds even interviews Costello in one episode.  Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…‘s second season is seven episodes long, which makes the high-profile guest appearances all the more impressive.

Special features include a behind-the-scenes documentary, mounted by Spectacle executive producer David Furnish.  Spectacle‘s DVD and Blu-ray releases will also contain bonus songs, not a surprising extra for a music-oriented talk show.

I’m not sure how well Spectacle‘s second season will sell.  Spectacle‘s second season aired Saturdays at 10:00 PM ET on CTV.  That’s a traditional death slot for any show.  Mind you, Spectacle also aired Sundays at 8:00 PM ET on Bravo!, but CTV’s the commercial draw.

Frankly, it’s a minor miracle that 20 episodes of Spectacle were produced in the first place.  Elvis Costello is a good interviewer, but the show’s middle-of-the-road guests might have prevented this show from becoming more than niche.  If Spectacle comes back for a third season, I’ll be amazed.

 
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September 5, 2010

DVD Review | Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Season 3 and 4

Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Season 3 and 4
The Comedy Network/Radical Sheep/PWK Productions, 2004/2005: Video Service Corp., 2010
16:9, approx. 290 minutes, English

Seeing a new Puppets Who Kill DVD set in 2010 is almost like stepping into the past, as far as I’m concerned.  Puppets Who Kill hasn’t aired new episodes on The Comedy Network since 2006.  The last DVD set was in 2005.

I’m not sure who will actually buy Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Season 3 and 4.  This PWK set would have sold better in the period when the show was still on the air.  Given how fractured the Canadian TV-on-DVD market is, one can’t afford to be picky.

Each episode of Puppets Who Kill focuses on Dan Barlow (Dan Redican), a social worker who takes care of the four residents of a halfway house.  Cuddles the comfort doll (Bob Martin) will do anything to help others, even if it means gunning at people from a high perch.

Buttons (James Rankin) is a teddy bear with an insatiable sexual appetite.  Rocko (Bruce Hunter) is a misanthropic dog puppet/ex-children’s entertainer.  Bill (Gord Robertson) is the psychotic ventriloquist’s dummy/serial killer, who has lost fifty-six of his partners in “accidents.”

Watching Puppets Who Kill‘s third and fourth seasons, I get the sense that PWK was actively improving itself with each season.  Not every show on The Comedy Network makes references to Shakespeare, The Manchurian Candidate, The Maltese Falcon and the Lee Harvey Oswald assassination.  Hell, most TCN shows don’t even try.

Puppets Who Kill contains surprisingly understated writing, even for a show where Buttons dry-humps any broad he can.  Given the show’s subject matter and overall premise, PWK is much more interested in film and style parodies, as well as jabs at Canadian sacred cows.

“The CBC is Killing Again,” for instance, is the episode with the Oswald assassination reference.  Don’t ask me how said reference works in the context of a CBC-centric episode.  It shouldn’t, but it does.

The guest casting is decent, especially for Canadian television.  Familiar Canadian actors – Colin Fox, Gordon Pinsent, Fabrizio Filippo, Tom McCamus, Stephen McHattie and Peter Outerbridge, to name a few – appear on the show from time to time.  More obscure names are the norm for PWK, including an excellent turn in “Joyride” by football-player-turned-actor Gene Mack.

There are six commentary tracks total, one on the Season 3 disc and five on the Season 4 disc.  On the Season 4 disc, “Dan and the Garden Shears” has two commentaries, while “Joyride” has three.  All feature show creator/puppeteer John Pattison with a PWK employee, most often director/producer Shawn Alex Thompson.

Judging from the commentaries, Puppets Who Kill employees were serious about making the show a success.  They describe in detail how the shows were made, which is exactly what I want from a commentary track.

Picture quality is a bit soft and grainy, but nothing out of the ordinary for Canadian television.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is legible and well-mixed.  All episodes are shown in anamorphic 16:9 ratio.  Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Season 3 and 4 lacks closed captioning and subtitles, which will piss off the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Puppets Who Kill is underrated, and my opinion hasn’t changed with this set.  While I would have liked to see more extras, I’m surprised PWK is still on VSC’s radar after a five-year absence.  The alternative business plans would be to abandon the set, or have PWK Productions license future sets to a “budget” outfit like Mill Creek Entertainment.

Even now, Puppets Who Kill: The Best of Season 3 and 4 is less than $20 at amazon.ca.  The set isn’t perfect, but it’s a good deal for the moderate price.  I hope there are still fans of the show, considering how long PWK has been out of public consciousness.  In Canada, that’s almost tantamount to being dead.

 
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