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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July 28, 2010

News: Three Mike MacDonald CBC/Showtime comedy specials on DVD October 5, 2010

Mike MacDonald: A Comic Stripped will be released by VSC on October 5, 2010.  The single-disc compendium of his CBC/Showtime specials will MSRP for $19.98 CDN.  The listed running time is 130 minutes.

Mike MacDonald: A Comic Stripped covers MacDonald’s three CBC/Showtime standup comedy specials, On Target, My House! My Rules!, and Happy As I Can Be.  Extras include a commentary track and Mike MacDonald performing air guitar.

Mike MacDonald is the star of the 1989-91 CBC series Mosquito Lake, though he can hardly be blamed for that show being an epic comedy abortion.  More importantly, he’s the voice of Rip Friend in the Teletoon/Fox Kids cartoon Ripping Friends (2001-02.)

MacDonald is one of Canada’s great standup comics, and it’s too bad he hasn’t become bigger than he is.  How CBC goes from Mike MacDonald and The Kids in the Hall to Ron James and The Ron James Show, I’ll never know.  At least one of Mike MacDonald’s old films is out on DVD, even if it is Loose Screws.

Here’s Mike MacDonald from the 1987 Just For Laughs Festival.  You may remember 1987 as the year Eddie Windsor spent a few minutes desperately trying to wring laughs from a dog and a hoop.

Ten years later, Eddie Windsor was featured on The Worst of Just For Laughs.  WoJFL aired just after The Just For Laughs 15th Anniversary Special.  Guess who hosted The Just For Laughs 15th Anniversary Special?

Yeah, Kevin Bacon!  You sons of bitches.


 
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June 27, 2010

News: New Puppets Who Kill 3rd/4th season compilation out 2010

As mentioned at TVShowsonDVD.com on June 11, 2010, Puppets Who Kill will be releasing a thirteen-episode compilation of its third and fourth seasons, possibly on August 1, 2010.  News of this compilation comes from John Pattison of PWK Productions.

John Pattison claims that Laffstock.com will distribute the discs.  Kerry Kupecz, executive director of sales and marketing for VSC, hasn’t confirmed this.  In fact, she wasn’t even aware of this release until I mentioned it to her on June 24, 2010.  VSC owns Laffstock.com.

Pattison mentions in a June 25 e-mail that PWK Productions hadn’t yet directly spoken to Kupecz, but that Laffstock.com is the distributor.  Pattison has been mentioning the possibility of a new PWK set since March 31, 2010, going so far as to list the thirteen episodes included on the third/fourth-season compilation.

In any case, PWK Productions will be self-releasing this set.  Release dates for the compilation are subject to change.

I’m surprised it’s taken until 2010 for a new Puppets Who Kill DVD release.  I would carp at the idea of a compilation, except that the TV-on-DVD climate isn’t what it was five years ago.  Puppets Who Kill hasn’t aired new episodes on The Comedy Network since 2006, which doesn’t help.

I guess Puppets Who Kill is trying for a comeback, with a movie version “in development.”  I hate to quote “in development,” but I’d like to see more proof that this film could exist in the future.

Granted, Ed the Sock and Warren the Ape came back this year.  Foul-mouthed puppets have a surprisingly long shelf life.  Sid the rabbit recently debuted on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and he’s an instant classic.  You just know Sid’s going to have a long run with dialogue like this:

Addendum (July 8, 2010) | VSC has set the street date for the new Puppets Who Kill compilation.  September 21, 2010 is when the title will hit stores and online outlets.

Special features include commentary tracks from John Pattison, director Shawn Alex Thompson, and puppeteers Jim Rankin, Bruce Hunter and Bob Martin.  The customary “and MORE…” is also featured.

Point of clarification: Laffstock.com is not the distributor of PWK DVDs.  VSC is the distributor.  Laffstock.com is an online store which sells comedy titles released/distributed by VSC.

Amazon.ca doesn’t have a listing for the new Puppets Who Kill compilation yet.  I’ll update this post when it does.


 
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May 17, 2010

News: The Border‘s third season on DVD August 10, 2010

According to a VSC new release e-mail sent to retailers, The Border‘s third (and final) season will be out on DVD August 10, 2010.  The three-disc set will have an MSRP of $29.98 CDN.  Extras will include “Character Psychology Sessions” and “Behind the Scenes with Graham Abbey.”  The series finale will contain director and cast commentary.

The first two season sets of The Border will have their prices reduced to MSRP $19.99 CDN.  There are no mentions of Blu-Ray releases, at least according to the e-mail.

It should be noted that the release date isn’t final, as there is no formal press release for The Border‘s third-season set.  Hopefully, VSC won’t announce the third-season set a week before it streets, like it did for the second season.

CBC recently cancelled The Border after three seasons, due to less-than-stellar ratings on Thursday nights.  The show even ended on a cliffhanger.

Maybe the director and cast commentaries will reveal the reasons behind the cliffhanger.  The Border‘s days were numbered when it was moved to one of CBC’s worst-performing nights.  Then again, doing poorly on CBC Television doesn’t automatically mean cancellation.  They’re still making Little Mosque on the Prairie, so figure that one out.

 
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February 4, 2010

News: Naturally, Sadie and The Latest Buzz best-ofs on DVD May 11

DECODE Entertainment and Video Service Corp. will release two-DVD sets of The Latest Buzz and Naturally, Sadie.  The sets will street on May 11, 2010, with an MSRP of $14.98 CDN.  Both sets are “producers’ choice” best-ofs.

Naturally, Sadie (2005-07) should be familiar to American audiences, as it aired on Disney Channel for three seasons.  The Latest Buzz (2008- ) aired on Family Room HD until that channel ceased operations January 20, 2009.

The Latest Buzz will air its third season in Canada March 2010, on Family Channel.  Naturally, Sadie aired on Family from 2005-07.

While I’m not fond of compilations, it’s nice to see DECODE Entertainment release its childrens’ titles.  I’ve a hunch Naturally, Sadie will sell the best, considering it was on Disney Channel and is still relatively fresh.  I’m not sure about The Latest Buzz‘s DVD sales prospects.

At least DECODE’s getting the titles out.  Meanwhile, You Can’t Do That on Television gets older and still doesn’t have a DVD set.  There’s something disconcerting about that.

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September 5, 2009

Canadian TV-on-DVD Roundup (September 5, 2009)

The Tudors‘ third season available in Canada November 2009.  Phase 4 Films will put this out on both DVD and Blu-ray, while Paramount Home Entertainment drags its ass on a DVD-only release.  Point goes to Phase 4 Films.  I think some parallel importing will occur here.


Sanctuary first-season DVD artwork and commercial spot.  There’s also a press release shilling the set, but big deal, it’s a press release.  The set’s being promoted on Syfy, so the show has cornered the American market.  People just seem to like Amanda Tapping.

It’s too bad Sanctuary didn’t receive more Gemini nominations this year.  Stupid sci-fi ghetto, I hate it almost as much as the animation age ghetto and the professional wrestling ghetto.  Sanctuary‘s first-season set will sell like a mofo, believe me.  It needs to, the way E1’s pimping it out.


Thomas Spurlin of DVD Talk reviews “Season One” of Blood Ties.  He likes it.

I should take the time to point out that Tanya Huff linked to URBMN in her LiveJournal a few weeks back.  She is the author of the Blood Books, which Blood Ties is based on.  It seems like every time I talk about Blood Ties I’m linked to by its fans, not that I’m complaining.


Jeffrey Kauffman of DVD Talk reviews “The Complete Season” of Total Drama Island.  He likes it.


Kenny vs. Spenny‘s fifth season out on DVD November 24, 2009 through Video Service Corp.  This season features the Who Can Smoke More Weed? and Who Can Piss Off More People? competitions.

I’d like to say the end is near for Kenny vs. Spenny, but it’s coming back for a sixth season.  I’m surprised Kenny vs. Spenny survived the Showcase reboot.  Mind you, so did Paradise Falls, but only on account of stockpiling.  Nowadays Showcase feels Howie Do It is worthy enough to grace its airwaves, as the pussification of Showcase begins.


Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…‘s first season out on DVD and Blu-ray November 10, 2009 through VSC.  Quite frankly, I’m surprised this show is out on DVD.  The press bumf claims the show received “terrific ratings and reviews on CTV,” never mind that the ratings went potty halfway through the run.   Press releases don’t need to be 100% truthful.

I have seen an episode or two of Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…  Costello is a decent interviewer, even if the show is low-key chat.  Having said that, if you can’t break half a million viewers with The Police, the show isn’t a mass-audience hit.  I’m tempted to say Sundance Channel and Channel 4 are keeping this baby afloat for a second season, just like The N won’t allow Degrassi: The Next Generation to die a richly deserved death.  There are worse shows out on DVD, I guess.

Oh, and mumble mumble Chop Socky Chooks press release.

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August 18, 2009

News: The Border‘s second season on DVD a week from now

According to a VSC press release, The Border‘s second season will be out on DVD August 25, 2009.  The three-disc set, with an MSRP of $29.98 CDN, will have as extras “cast commentary, five behind the scenes specials and much more.”

For those wondering, this is the season Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica, The Cleaner) joins The Border‘s cast as Homeland Security liaison officer Liz Carver.  Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest/City Hall) and Daisy Beaumont (EastEnders, Star Stories) make their debuts as recurring characters Dougie Jackson and Charlotte Bates.

It’s not a descriptive list of extras, and not an involved press release overall.  Strange how The Border‘s DVD set was announced only a week before launch, especially for one of CBC’s more successful television programs.  There are no plans for a Blu-ray release at this time.  At least The Border‘s second season is out.

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