Home Video Roundup: Some upcoming nuggets of goodness!

In what I plan on making a regular feature, here are a few upcoming video releases that I am looking forward to. They aren’t full reviews, because I don’t have my hands on copies (yet) but I know (or know of) the source material and I am damn excited to see them all! Included are: I, Claudius, Treme, Dark Shadows, A Dangerous Method, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (yay!) and (drum roll, please…) Sherlock!!!!

Today brings The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and how I love it, let me count the ways! One of my top 10 films of 2011, this is going to be a regular view of mine for a long time. Its stunning visual and sound design make it perfect for a transfer to BD and I sincerely hope they don’t fuck it up. It’s loaded with extras as well, with the press release listing almost four hours of goodies, including Commentary by Director David Fincher, character profiles, location features and some very cool sounding post-production stuff, including “Main Titles (Multi-Angle) With Commentary by Tim Miller of BLUR Studio.”

Sherlock, Season 2 (May 22nd)
While this brilliant BBC show starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and nominee for best name ever) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) and created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who) is packaged and marketed as having seasons, it’s really a hybrid, as each season is actually a collection of three 90 minute films with common narrative elements so yes, it’s a series but a slightly different kind. There have been six episodes so far, with a 3rd season having been commissioned by the BBC. No date has been announced for series three, however. Watch season one (4 Emmy nominations, 3 BAFTAs and a Peabody Award, among others) and season two and then wait, breath held, for season 3. Yes, it’s that good. Oh, and two words: Lara Pulver. Also recently out from BBC Home Entertainment is the 10th and oh so very sadly, final season of their superlative espionage series, Spooks (MI5, in the US). Do yourself a favor and watch the first season. If you’re not buying the DVDs or BD after that, I’ll be shocked.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the BBC's "Sherlock."

I, Claudius (March 27th)

From Acorn Media (who are also releasing the BBC miniseries of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) comes a landmark 1976 television miniseries named “one of the 100 best TV shows of all time” by Time Magazine in 2007 and I remember my parents and their friends being totally obsessed by it when I was a kid. It starred a huge list of British acting talent, many of whom have gone on to stardom, including many recognizable roles here in the US, including Derek Jacobi (Henry V, The Borgias) as Claudius, Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: TNG, X-Men), Siân Phillips (Goodbye Mr. Chips, Dune), John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Midnight Express), Brian Blessed (Henry V), John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones trilogies) and Simon MacCorkindale (Manimal…I had to get Manimal in there!). It’s 12 episodes over 4 discs and is loaded with extras, including: extended original versions of episodes 1 and 2; “I, Claudius”: A Television Epic, a behind-the-scenes look at the series; The Epic That Never Was, a feature-length documentary recounting the failed 1937 film adaptation; Derek Jacobi interview; favorite scenes of the cast and director; and an 8-page booklet with an article about the series’ historical accuracy and a Julio-Claudian family tree. Wow.

Also on March 27th is another film I loved from 2011, A Dangerous Method. Not only do I think it’s an exceptional film, but it enabled me to spend 15 minutes in a room with Keira Knightly and that’s something, no? I’ll bet the commentary by Cronenberg is worth the price alone.

Treme: Season 2 (April 17th)
The second season of one of what I like to refer to as “yet another reason HBO is indispensable.” The set is loaded with extras, too, dig it:
“Down in the Treme: A Look at the Music and Culture of New Orleans” (BD only) – Learn more about New Orleans’ unique culture including its music, cuisine and landmarks with this in-episode viewing mode.
“The Music of Treme– Discover more about the songs featured throughout the series with this in-episode viewing mode. The BD features an enhanced, interactive version of this feature.
“Behind Treme: Food For Thought” – New Orleans chefs and restaurateurs John Besh and Alon Shaya discuss local cuisine and its importance to the cultural tradition of the city.
“Behind Treme: Clarke Peters & the Mardi Gras Indians” – Actor Clarke Peters (Albert Lambreaux) and Mardi Gradi Indian Chief Otto DeJean (George Cotrell) discuss the rich tradition of the Mardi Gras Indian in New Orleans.
“The Art of Treme – A Tulane University symposium dedicated to Treme featuring David Simon, Eric Overmyer and Clarke Peters.
Music commentaries – Every episode features commentary by WBGO’s Josh Jackson and NPR Music’s Patrick Jarenwattananon on select music performances.
Audio commentaries – Four commentaries with David Simon, executive producer Nina Kostroff Noble, supervising producer/director Anthony Hemingway, director Brad Anderson, writer George Pelecanos, music supervisor Blake Leyh and cast members Clarke Peters, Rob Brown, Kim Dickens, Lucia Micarelli and Wendell Pierce.

On May 8th, MPI Home Video is releasing a pretty nifty set for the Dark Shadows fans out there. It’s the complete series on, get this, 131 DVDs, featuring 1, 225 episodes! To be honest, I have never seen an episode, but do remember seeing a few minutes here and there in syndication, when I was a kid. It wasn’t my cuppa then, but I bet I’d dig it now, if only for the camp value. Yeah, that’s just what I need, another TV show to obsess over. At any rate, the set looks amazing and at $600 retail, it damn well better be, but considering the rabid fan base this show has, I’m sure it’ll do fine. Also being released on the same day are two smaller collections at a more reasonable $14.98: Dark Shadows: Fan Favorites and Dark Shadows: The Best of Barnabas.

Opening three days later is the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp feature film and the trailer has drawn some serious criticism from the die hards due to the somewhat absurdist and comedic take on the source material. Burton and Depp are on record as being big fans of the original, but I think both know that playing it straight would probably fail as a feature film (and be too similar to some of the existing vampire-on-film-oeuvre) hence the Beetlejuice-like comedy. Not only that, but Burton’s not exactly a master at directing romance. Based on the trailer, I am cautiously optimistic.

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