THIS WEEK IN DVD’S
Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season (Buena Vista)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two (Universal)
Penn & Teller: Bullshit!—Season Three (Showtime)
Scrubs is a hit-and-miss series, to be sure, but even the most cynical TV viewer might get a chuckle out of Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season (Buena Vista) (cringe whenever Tara Reid comes on screen, of course; but give the ultra-talented Molly Shannon the benefit of the doubt). There are a ton of bonuses here, as well, which is more than I can say for Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two (Universal). While this series from the master of suspense is one of the coolest collections of old-school television I’ve ever come across, video transfers and bonuses on this second-season set are lacking. But with source material this good, who cares? And Penn & Teller: Bullshit!—Season Three (Showtime) may lack the acerbic bite it had in its first season, but even so, this third edition of the series isn’t without highlights. Their exposé of the real lives of Mother Teresa and Gandhi is downright hilarious—it’s good enough to make up for their surprisingly bland-o looks at 9/11 conspiracy theories. No bonuses, though, and that’s real bullshit.
The Motel (Palm)
To call The Motel (Palm) a comedy from “the makers of Chuck and Buck” is a moderate misnomer (Miguel Arteta, C&B’s director, dons a producer hat here), but that doesn’t mean the film lacks Arteta’s discreet charm and plaintive punch. This simple story of a boy (Jeffrey Chyau) who deals with the blossoming nastiness of puberty—who hasn’t been in love with the girl across the way, but was too embarrassed by acne and out-of-nowhere woodies to do anything about it (shit—that happened to this Entertainment Today writer last week!)—moves along without much in terms of plot twists (you know where it’s going as soon as it starts), but it’s not a bad picture. The film gets a relatively nice transfer, to boot, and a capable (if simplistic) 5.1 Surround mix. The commentary with director Michael Kang and actors Sung Kang and Chyau has moments of goofiness, but most of the time it’s run-of-the-mill “this is how we shot this” fare. The behind-the-scenes featurette is a bit more entertaining.
Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven (MVD)
Like a fuzz-rock pipe dream come true, not only is Camper Van Beethoven back together (thank you, Buddah), but they usually take lead singer David Lowery’s other band, Cracker, along for the ride when they tour these days. This one-two punch is documented in Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven (MVD), a look at the first annual “campout” in high desert California where the bands, a few buddies, and a shitload of fans descend upon the place, and some magic is made. With lo-fi visual prowess and a killer 5.1 Surround sound mix, this one’s an easy recommendation for Cracker-ites. Yeah, there aren’t any bonus features (a Lowery commentary would have been a gin-soaked good time), but who gives a shit? Hurry up and get out the brown liquor before the sun goes down!
Android Apocalypse (Magnolia)
The good news: We live in a world where pop culture gives Joey (excuse me—Joseph) Lawrence a feeble opportunity to resuscitate his acting career after his bumbling older-brother antics on Blossom (“Whoa!”) seemed to lock him firmly in a one-hit wonder wasteland, where he and Jonathan Taylor Thomas would wander the arid, barren oil fields forever without hope of parole. The bad news: Joseph Lawrence stars in Android Apocalypse (Magnolia). Even worse news: Yeah, that’s really what it’s called. Joey (fuck this “Joseph” crap) is a defective android who has to team up with a grumpy outlaw (Scott Bairstow) in order to save mankind from the machines that are Hell-bent on destroying us all. That’s enough synopsis, right? Abort mission, folks. Sure, the Anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer here is passable, but the Stereo sound mix isn’t, and the behind-the-scenes will have you choking for the nearest cyanide pill. However, the idea of an army of rabid Mayim Bialik androids raping and pillaging the remainder of mankind after a nuclear apocalypse does sound promising (where was that plot point in story meetings, Android Apocalypse producers?).
The Silence of the Lambs: Collector’s Edition (MGM)
It pains me; it literally pains me. The Silence of the Lambs: Collector’s Edition (MGM) is (I can’t believe I’m actually typing this) an infinitely better DVD than the Criterion Collection release of the film from a few years ago. No, the commentary track with Jodie Foster, FBI agent John Douglas, Anthony Hopkins, and director Jonathan Demme from the Criterion disc isn’t here (which is odd), but this new edition nevertheless houses no fewer than six documentaries about both the physical production of the film and the history and inspiration that went into developing it, as well as a musical score featurette, a gag reel (which must be seen to be believed), 22 deleted scenes (an upgrade from the seven that were included on the now out-of-print Criterion disc), a ton of stills, trailers, and TV spots and—to really sweeten the deal—a promotional Anthony Hopkins phone message. Don’t throw your Criterion disc away, but know this: You do need this upgrade. Just don’t tell anyone at Criterion that I said that.