With the release of the original
trilogy on DVD in September, videophiles can now watch all the great blockbusters of yesteryear at home in widescreen, surround-sound glory. The studios have been ransacking their vaults for the past few years to cash in on the home cinema craze, and for the 2004 holiday season, they're starting to stretch. What's on tap for the rest of this year?
For starters, a famous TV show about nothing, a host of "low" classics in the cartoon genre and "high" classics for the art house film crowd. All are available for preorder online at
, well, the first three seasons at least. In case you don't have time to catch the ubiquitous reruns in syndication, DVDs coming Nov. 23 will include audio commentaries from the cast, deleted scenes and outtakes along with those behind-the-scenes features that usually aren't worth watching but could be here.
Now, before you go tearing down to the local video store to buy the whole collection, remember that the series didn't hit its stride until the third season, so you may want to wait for better seasons to come,
yada yada yada
. If, by contrast, you treasure every episode (and feel like Jerry and the gang don't have enough of your dough), you can also get all three seasons in a special $120 package complete with a "limited edition" script and replica salt and pepper shakers from the diner.
Other TV shows making their DVD debuts in coming weeks include Tim Allen's
The Golden Girls
The Andy Griffith Show
Star Trek: The Original Series
Among the smaller classics that deserve a place in the DVD libraries of discriminating cinema aficionados -- and at least a rental by all the rest of you movie hounds -- the studios will be issuing
Fanny and Alexander
Fanny and Alexander
is often considered Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's most accessible work, and it's funny, too.
, starring James Cagney and Elizabeth McGovern and directed by Milos Forman, is a great period piece about love and crime set in early 20th Century New York City. And
is Robert Altman's downbeat star-studded ensemble drama based on short stories by Raymond Carver.
Crave some sillier fare? That's also on the calendar. From cartoon land,
graces the scene with three new issues in its "Treasures" collection. The three DVDs coming on Dec. 7 will be a collection focused on goofball hound Pluto, ancient black and white
shorts and highlights from the Mickey Mouse Club show. Be prepared to move quickly, as many of the original nostalgia-filled discs in the first set of this series sold out two years ago and are out of print.
Before his infamous episode in an adult movie theater, Paul Reubens was the star of the delightful children's series
Pee Wee's Playhouse
. Reunite with Reba the mail lady, Cowboy Curtis and Conky the robot when the first three seasons hit DVD on Nov. 16. I still remember fondly the time that the secret word of the day was "
Speaking of the secret word of the day, here's an alert for Marx Brothers fans and those who shop for them: Universal studios has just released a five-movie boxed set of some of the finest and silliest works by Groucho and siblings, including
As always, the studios will also be releasing some of the most popular 2004 summer movies. Unlike prior years, however, this time around the studios put their trust in some less well-known and edgier directors and the results are extra pleasing.
The third installment of J.K. Rowlings' world of wizardry brought to the big screen,
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
, arrives Nov. 23. Share your turkey day with Hogwart's third years Harry, Hermione and Ron in the darkest and most satisfying Potter adventure to date thanks to Spanish director Alfonso Cuaron. After watching the flick, divert yourself with the several included documentary features and try to forget that J.K. has yet to set a date for the release of the next installment in book form --
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
arrives on DVD Nov. 30. Directed by
Sam Raimi and returning Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the lead roles, many critics found it more enjoyable than the first installment.
And what would the holidays be without another chapter in the greatest fantasy movie serial ever made? Peter Jackson's crowning achievement, the director's cut of
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
, will be issued on Dec. 14 with almost an hour of extra footage. Buy the super-special boxed set of all three LOTR extended editions and you'll have enough hobbits and orcs to get through the holiday season and on to New Year's.