DVD Round-Up: 'Rocko,' 'Hetalia,' and 'Midsomer Murders'
Week of July 3rd, 2012
Published: 07/01/12, Last Updated: 07/02/12 01:22pm
TV on DVD
The top animated TV release this week is Rocko’s Modern Life: Season 3 (Shout Factory, 300 min., $19.99), the penultimate season of the innovative Nickelodeon cartoon series about the surreal adventures of an anthropomorphic wallaby that aired during the 1990s. While not for everyone, this wacky series retains its way out charms and feel-good vibe.
Shows of particular interest to the geek audience include Sheena: Season 2 (Sony, 559 min., $45.99), which collects (in the slightly less stable DVD-R format) the second and final season of the 2000-2002 syndicated TV series that starred Gina Lee Nolin and was based on the comic book character Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, which had previously spawned a popular 1950s TV series.
For connoisseurs of camp there is Elvira Movie Macabre: Giant Monsters (eOne Entertainment, $19.98), a two-disc collection containing four grade "Z" horror movies teeming with giant lizards and other prehistoric beasts.
Vintage American TV collections include the reliably entertaining detective series Mannix: The Seventh Season (Paramount, 1142 min., $49.98), Becker: The 4th Season (Paramount, 517 min., $34.95), which collects 24 episodes featuring the eponymous anti-social GP played by Ted Danson, a 10-episode sampler, The Cosby Show: The Best of The Cosby Show, Vol. 2 (First Look, 220 min., $9.99), the primetime soaper Dynasty: The Sixth Season (Paramount, $64.99), the tightly-focused The Women of SNL (Universal, $14.98), which includes some of the best bits of the great array of Saturday Night Live comediennes from Gilda Radner to Tina Fey, and the vintage detective series starring Michael Douglas and Karl Malden, The Streets of San Francisco: Season 3 Vol. 1 (Paramount, 616 min,, $38.99) and Season 3, Vol. 2 (Paramount 616 min., $38.99).
Equally interesting in a very different sort of way is Anohana: The Flower That We Saw That Day Complete Series Premium Edition (NIS America, "13+," 255 min., BD $69.99), which includes all 11-episodes of the A-1 Pictures series that aired in Japan in 2011. The literal translation of this slice-of-life romance/tragedy series’ title is "We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day," and this saga of a group of young people torn apart and changed forever by a tragic accident is typical of the offbeat, often downbeat, subjects that anime creators tackle that can make their efforts so refreshing to Americans suffocating in an animated atmosphere dominated by commercial Saturday morning productions targeting ten-year-old viewers.
The deluxe (and expensive) Anohana Premium Edition comes with a special hardcover art book, which is also true of Kimi Ni Todoke Set 3 Premium Edition (NIS America, "7+," 294 min., $69.99), which includes a 28-page full color hardcover along with episodes 25-37 of the 2009 Production I.G. adaptation of the Karuho Shiina’s shojo manga series.
Also due this week is Hidamari Sketch x SP (Sentai Filmworks, "13+," 50 min. $14.98), which contains both episodes of the two-episode series from the slice-of-life comedy produced by Shaft in 2011 as a sort of addendum to the third season of the anime series.
Sentai is also releasing the Needless Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, "14+," 600 min., $79.98, BD $89.98), which includes all 24-episodes of the 2009 Madhouse adaptation of Kami Imai’s seinen manga saga about a Superhero whose Kryptonite is cute young girls. Sentai has previously released the series in two parts at $69.98 for each half (in BD format) so this Complete release marks the first of what will likely be several subsequent releases at lower prices.
It is certainly one of the weakest sessions of the year for theatrical films when a Bobcat Goldthwait movie is the top release. God Bless America (Magnolia, "R," $26.98, BD $29.98) follows the homicidal flip-out of an average American named Frank (Joel Murray), who reacts to divorce and being fired by attempting to rid the nation of its most irritating, and least talented celebrities (yes, of course they are the stars of "reality" TV) by murdering them. While this observer yields to no one in his loathing of the exploitative supposedly "unscripted" TV series, this Swiftian satire is way over the top, but also strangely satisfying in a way that has “cult hit” written all over it.
Also interesting in a very minor key sort of way is The Hunter (Magnolia, "R," $26.98, BD $29.98), which is basically a character study of big game hunter (well played by Willem Dafoe), who is hired to track down (and kill for its genetic material) what might be the last Tasmanian tiger. This slow-moving but eventually compelling saga benefits from glorious photography of the wilds of Tasmania.
Classics on Blu-ray
During the silent era movies were actually shot twice with two separate negatives, one of which was used to create prints for the domestic market and one that was used for foreign showings. Both versions of The Saphead survive in excellent quality prints and are included on the BD disc, though there are subtle differences, just pick one and watch it (the detail is better on the U.S. release version, which looks a little washed-out, but actually has more detail). The Blu-ray hi-def transfer is a significant upgrade over previous versions. Details like the satin lapels of Keaton’s tuxedo or the rough surface of his tweed suits really come across. Those unfamiliar with Keaton’s work should watch The General, Our Hospitality, Seven Chances, Spite Marriage, or Sherlock Jr. rather than The Saphead, but those who are familiar with his work should check out The Saphead for hints of the comic genius that was to flower in the following decade.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.