NEWS ARCHIVE - 20th-26th DECEMBER 2004


20th December 2004

Let's begin this week with a new review! Channel 4's drama series Shameless was one of this year's best shows. A DVD release is due on December the 27th, a couple of days after Channel 4 air a new instalment, the Shameless Christmas Special (on the 23rd, at 9pm). Click on the sleeve image, right, or here to read the review. You can watch a trailer for the series (actually, the show's opening credits), by clicking here.

Menu screens for Fox's fifth and final Angel season box set can be viewed here. As you can see, the set will features seven episodes with commentary tracks (Conviction, Destiny, Soul Purpose, You're Welcome, Hole In The World, Underneath and Not Fade Away), as well as about an hour's worth of bonus featurettes.

One menu snafu to note: the sixth disc's menu says the Halo's & Horns featurette is subtitled Resurrecting Villainy, whereas the on-screen title is Halo's & Horns - Recurring Villainy.

As usual, the episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen format (1.78:1), with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and optional English HoH subtitles. The set is due for release on February the 21st, with an RRP of £79.99.

Tony Scott's gritty revenge thriller Man on Fire, which stars Denzel Washington as a washed-up bodyguard charged with protecting a nine year-old girl, will be released by Fox on the 14th of February.

There will be two versions available: a single disc version priced at £15.99 and a two-disc Special Edition, for £22.99. (The sleeve here is probably the single-disc edition, although it could also be noted that the certificate is wrong - the BBFC has already passed Man On Fire for home video as an 18 certificate, the same as the theatrical release).

The film will be presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Oddly, there does not seem to be the option of a DTS track (there's one on the US disc).

The two-disc set will feature a seventy-minute documentary, Vengeance Is Mind - Reinventing Man on Fire; a commentary track by Tony Scott; fifteen deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, with optional director's commentary; a multi-angle sequence and storyboards for (SPOILER: Pita's Abduction), four TV spots; a music video (Oye Como Va by Kinky); and a photo' gallery (sixty shots). The disc will also feature an Inside Look featurette promoting a forthcoming Robert De Niro film, Hide and Seek, which also stars Man on Fire co-star Dakota Fanning.

It seems that the UK disc will be quite different from the US version, which is a single-disc edition. As well as the absent DTS track, the UK version also seems to be missing a second commentary track (by producer Lucas Forster, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and Dakota Fanning). The US disc is, however, missing all the other bonus features (unless you count the Inside Look featurette). Most worryingly, the UK press release says that the film is in 1.85:1 ratio: the US disc is 2.4:1. I'll ask for clarification...

Quantum Leap fans are up in arms about some changes that Universal has made for the second season DVD box set, which was released a week or so ago in the US.

The series often used well-known songs to help establish whatever year it was that the lead character, Sam, found himself in, and many of these tracks have been removed from the new DVD set.

Clearing the rights to featured music tracks is becoming a major problem for companies trying to release TV series on DVD, as deals made at the time of production rarely extended to future home video formats. Music rights owners have disc producers over a barrel, knowing that removing their track will make a title commercially less attractive, and knowing that the alternatives are expensive (costly re-dubbing) or highly undesirable (cutting a sequence completely).

The problem is often exacerbated with older series, because it's very difficult to re-mix a track where separate audio tracks containing just the dialogue and sound effects do not exist). Sometimes permission to use a track can be refused completely. Some series have even had to have their theme music replaced, because it wasn't economically viable to clear them (the US sitcom Married... With Children used a Sinatra recording of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen's standard Love and Marriage as it's signature theme, and it's been removed completely from the latest DVD release because it was too expensive to use).

Feature films are usually exempt from this problem, because music rights to cover all future exploitation are usually made at the time a film is made. Ironically, a series like Quantum Leap can continue to be shown without changes on television because broadcasters have blanket agreements with the music companies (and, in any case, the rights to use the music for future TV screenings, both domestic and foreign, would probably have been made when the series was created). Programme producers must shoulder part of the blame. Clearing music rights for home video exploitation is an expensive business, one that programme makers are reluctant to absorb in their budget. They may not even consider that a programme has home video potential, so would justifiably argue that clearing music for a home video release would be an unnecessary cost.

Quantum Leap is the latest series to be hit by music substitution (other examples include Fox's Roswell (an example of a recent production that hadn't included home video rights when it was made), and the 1970 Doctor Who story Spearhead From Space). 

The changes to Quantum Leap are far-reaching: any track that isn't directly referred to in the dialogue has been substituted for generic alternatives. (The second season features an episode, Good Morning, Peoria, where Sam leaps into the body of a radio DJ, so some tracks have escaped substitution because they're referred to by name). This indicates that tracks can be cleared where necessary, and that Universal are cutting costs by substituting music where they think they can get away with it.

Fans are especially upset at the replacement of a track from the season finale, M.I.A., which features a memorably intimate scene between Al and his first wife, which fans have affectionately nicknamed the Shadowdance. The scene was scored with the Ray Charles track Georgia On My Mind. Now it's been changed to something similar, but considerably more up-tempo. Primo Quantum Leap fan site Al's Place has created a file comparing the two versions, which you can download here - the quality's a bit naff, but you'll get the idea. The changes are particularly disappointing because the first season was released without any changes, and the expectation was that others would be intact, too.

And now, the welcome return of....


Hello, and a very happy Christmas to one and all!

Firstly an apology for the lack of an updates guide last week. My computer decided to die on the Saturday afternoon as I was putting everything together!! Now I know what to ask Santa for Christmas this year, but enough of my technical woes…

In the weeks leading up to the festive period, news of forthcoming releases are traditionally a little thin on the ground, as all the retailers tend to understandably concentrate on the big Christmas sales effort, (closely followed by the New Year sales!)

There have been some cool announcements to keep the wheels turning though.

Network has now released the complete 1971 Series of Public Eye, which is currently exclusively available through their revamped website, for £39.99. At the same time, they are also offering the previous 1969 series release for the bargain price of £19.99. There have been some gremlins in the works when ordering: hopefully these are just temporary teething problems.

Also new from Network on the 31st of January is Series 1 of The Power Game staring Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray, Clifford Evans, Rosemary Leach and Jack Watling. There hasn’t been any restoration work done on the material, but if it’s anything like the recent George and the Dragon release, I doubt we’ll be disappointed. I can’t find any retailers listing this title just yet, so the price is TBA.

Talking of George and the Dragon (review here) reminds me that this delightful series goes on general release with retailers from the 24th of January 2005 at £49.99 RRP (Play are currently offering the title on pre-release for £37.99).

Continuing on from this year’s successful release of The Goodies, Network will be issuing the next disc in the series sometime in early 2005, titled The Goodies …At Last a Second Helping. There’s no word yet as to a release date or price, but we’ll keep our ears to the ground for you. The cover for the new set, along with the expected extras (which include commentaries) has been posted for perusal over at the The Mausoleum Club, which is rapidly turning into a PR site for Network.

The 24th of January sees the complete Second Series Network release of the charming Cloppa Castle, with all 26 episodes intact, and priced at £14.99.

The same date also has, for the patient among you, the long-delayed Network Charley Says… Volume 2 released. Just to remind you, it comes in two flavours. The first, with an RRP of £9.99, is a follow-on for those who bought Volume One. The 2 disc Limited Edition set includes everything from the standard Volume 2, but also includes the contents of Volume One and costs £14.99.

Other titles from Network up for release on the 24th of January include Robin Hood – The Complete Series 4 (the final season, with Richard Green) at £29.99 and Seasons 5 and 6 of Third Rock from the Sun at £29.99 each. Of course, the Season 6 set has already been released, in June 2002 - perhaps the two-disc set will be re-issued with new packaging that more closely matches the rest of the series?  Some retailers are listing an RRP of £24.99 for Season 6, incidentally - it's 2002 list price.

Paramount has issued provisional details of their Region 2 Star Trek 2005 release schedule. As ever, these dates are subject to change (though to be fair, Paramount don’t tend to fiddle with their release dates too much).

Star Trek - Voyager Seasons 5 and 6 are on schedule for the 10th of January and the 7th of March, and Season 7 has, it seems, been moved forward to the 18th April.

Star Trek - Enterprise (or, if you prefer, just Enterprise), has been timetabled for the 3rd of May, 6th of June, 1st of August and the 3rd of October for Seasons 1 to 4 respectively.

Further re-releases of the Star Trek movies as Special Editions continue unabated, with First Contact Special Edition due on the 25th of April, the Insurrection Special Edition on the 6th of June and a Nemesis Special Edition on the 7th of November 2005, all at £24.99.

With all that lot form Paramount, the only Star Trek yet to make an appearance is the 1970s animated series, which is rumoured to appear at the end of next year.

Also new from Paramount in 2005 is the release of the lightweight teen witches series Charmed. The first two season box sets are due on the 4th of April and the 5th of September.

Granada will be releasing the recent Ultimate Force – Series 1 & 2 box set on the 24th of January at £29.99.

Thanks to Ceri for posting that Carlton are advertising the inimitable Peter Cook & Dudley Moore – The Best of Goodbye Again as being released on the 7th of February 2005 for £15.99.

The 1985 science fiction comedy movie Morons from Outer Space (directed by Mike Hodges) is released on the same date from MGM, at £12.99. The film will also soon be re-released paired with Alien From L.A. in the US.

Fox’s R2 release of The Simpsons – Season 5 on the 7th of February is now showing the following extras to salivate over: Audio commentary on all 22 episodes from numerous participants, including Matt Groening, Al Jean, James L. Brooks, various directors, writers and crew members with special guest appearances from Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Jon Lovitz and Conan O'Brien; 4 Animation Showcases, 2 Animatic with Illustrated Commentary, 2 Animatic with Audio Commentary, 2 Original Sketches by David Silverman, Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from 14 episodes, Audio Outtakes from special guest star James Taylor, A Special Language Feature, 'A Look Back with James L. Brooks' featurette, More Commercials.

Fans of Stargate SG1 will be pleased to learn that MGM will be releasing the entire Season 7 onto DVD on the 28th of February 2005, and costs £59.99. The next new SG1 disc - Volume 38 - will be released on February 28th, too. The first Stargate Atlantis disc follows a fortnight later, on March the 14th. RRP for these is the usual £19.99.

Also from MGM next year comes confirmation that The Outer Limits will be released, and Seasons 1 and 2 will both be available on the same date of the 11th of April 2005, at £29.99 each.

Play are showing Series 1 of The Irish RM now up for pre-order at £14.99 (£19.99 RRP), although no word yet as to who is releasing it on the 11th of April 2005.

Thanks go out to Lissa for posting that Father Ted: The Complete Series is currently available from Amazon UK for only £27.97 (£22.02 off!)

Thanks also to Ceri for letting us know that the film Super Size Me can be pre-ordered for only £9.99 (£6.00 off!) and that The 4400: Series 1 can be pre-ordered for £15.49 (£9.50 off!), both from Choices Direct.

Other bargains on the Offers page include The Office - Christmas Specials at £9.75 (£10.24 off) from Amazon (Jersey); Spiderman 2 at £17.99 (£7.00 off) and Starsky and Hutch - Season 3 at £25.99 (£9.00 off), both from Benson’s World; Doctor Who - The Mind Robber at £12.99 (£7.00 off) from; Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence at £13.75 (£6.24 off) and The Tigon Collection at £19.99 (£10.00 off), both from DVD Popcorn; and The Tomorrow People - Series 6 at £10.99 (£5.00 off) form PowerPlay Direct.

That’s all for now folks, except for me to go out to brave the Christmas crowds and financially assault the credit cards for yet another year… 

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.

Due on January 3rd.

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