THIS WEEK IN DVD’S – Feb 15th, 2007
The Golden Girls: The Seventh and Final Season (Buena Vista)
This is it, my friends—the most important DVD release of the millennium. Well, almost. The Golden Girls: The Seventh and Final Season (Buena Vista) closes off the quadruple majesty of Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia and their grade-A zany adventures. Never before have bluehairs canoodled in this fashion; never before have men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes come together in front of a boob tube to watch Bea Arthur pout with such rapturous abandon. So what if the video and audio quality is seriously, almost purposefully bad? The lone featurette on this set — Thank You For Being a Friend (yeah, I know…)—is just about the greatest five minutes DVD as a format has bestowed upon us. Do yourself, your community, and your world a favor: Buy this seventh season, buy the other six seasons—and for the love of Pete, don’t forget to pick up the Golden Girls Intimate Portrait Collection from Lifetime. It’ll change your life forever.
Dynamic:01—The Best of davidlynch.com (Absurda)
Less of a symposium of short films than a take-the-lid-off peek at what the maestro does in his off time, Dynamic:01—The Best of davidlynch.com (Absurda) is really nothing more than a two-hour home video collection. We get Boat, a film that started out as “home movies” that turned itself into a moody treatise on speed and danger, thanks to a creepy voiceover; The Darkened Room begins as an Asian travelogue and ends as a Mulholland Drive segment gone horribly, mascara-heavily wrong; and Lamp is nothing short of what its title suggests—it’s thirty minutes of David Lynch making…well, a lamp. So, while it goes without saying that this single-DVD release is only for the Lynch-lover’s club (an organization of which your buddy Mike is a founding member), but if you know what you’re getting yourself into, you’ll have a damned good time. Video quality is consumer-grade DV (ah, INLAND EMPIRE), but the sound mix is boomy and wonderful, and Davey’s intros to each short provide nice contexts for the work.
The Sopranos: Season Six, Part 1 (HBO)
While it seems a bit off-kilter that a show with five seasons’ worth of output would start printing to HD-DVD and Blu-ray with its sixth go-round, the HD prowess on The Sopranos: Season Six, Part 1 (HBO) is nevertheless pretty damned stunning. The standard DVD release of this penultimate collection of Sopranos episodes is just fine, to be sure, but your buddy Mike had a good, geeky time checking out both the HD-DVD and Blu-ray versions of the release in an effort to see how much better-looking they are than their simple DVD cousins. Well, they both look sensational, as it turns out. My eyes could barely make a distinction between the Anamorphic transfers given to each format, but in a photo finish, I’m going to say that the HD-DVD release looks just a bit sharper. Also, the HD-DVD release has the Blu-ray edition beat hands-down in the aural department. The HD-DVD’s Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is downright exceptional, gathering all the moody sounds of the show and placing them into the show’s soundscape with exceptional immediacy. The 5.1 PCM track on the Blu-ray disc sounds like a million bucks, sure, but it doesn’t have the kick of the Digital Plus mix on the HD-DVD. Are either of these worth their $100+ price tags, though? I’m on the fence. If you have both high-def players and are trying to decide which one to purchase, go with the HD-DVD. But if you’re just looking for something cool to play on your PlayStation 3 (and you’re tired of watching Talladega Nights over and over), the Blu-ray ain’t too shabby, either.
CSI: The Complete Sixth Season (Paramount)
Whether you’re a die-hard Thursday-on-CBS addict or a boob tube naysayer, CSI: The Complete Sixth Season (Paramount) houses some of the most technologically proficient DVD transfers and mixes you’re likely to find. Black levels are rock solid, color contrast is maintained with exceptional elegance, and shadow detail is clear as day. And the booming 5.1 Surround mixes attached to each episode of this sixth season bristle and throb more intensely than most theatrical pictures in a home entertainment venue. Sure, William Peterson’s and Marg Helgenberger’s whodunit forensic squad series may not be for all tastes, but if you’re in the mood to test out your new sound system and/or new TV, this is a great place to start (and for fans, the multiple commentary tracks and featurettes appendix the series with impressive heft).
Shut Up & Sing (The Weinstein Company)
With heady potential to be nothing more than an ego-stroking tourfilm, your buddy Mike is happy to say that while its DVD presentation is severely lacking, the filmmaking hustle in Shut Up & Sing (The Weinstein Company) is absolutely second-to-none. Following our favorite country artists—the Dixie Chicks—from their career-sharpening anti-Bush statements in Britain, to their triumphant return to the studio to make The Long Way Around (one of the best modern records in recent memory), Barbara Kopple’s and Cecilia Peck’s documentary is equal parts astute political analysis and earnest character introspection. The drag is that this DVD is bare-bones. Yeah, it’s a documentary, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the film is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio (according to the IMDB, the film was shot with that ratio in mind) and with a 2-channel Stereo mix, but with music as vibrant and shit-kickingly alive as that made by the Chicks, it’s a shame that the aural representation here isn’t more grandiose. Even with a so-so home entertainment syntax and a painfully low level of DVD bonuses, Shut Up & Sing will make for a fantastically vitriolic rental. Oh, and buy the new record, too.