This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the films at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.

Buy It

THE OFFICE (SEASON 5)
At this point viewers should just accept it: The Office will never be as good as it was in Season 2, or even Season 3. Those two seasons marked the collected efforts of the writer’s best ideas and storylines, and Season 2 in particular is representative of the emotional peak of the show, demonstrated in the strangely heart-wrenching “will they?”/”won’t they?” relationship between Jim and Pam. Now that the question has been answered, there’s not nearly as much for audiences to be quite so dramatically invested in, so naturally there will be times when the series struggles to find its emotional base. As far as I’m concerned though, they’re doing a far better job than anybody should’ve expected. Instead of trying to repeat the formula with the same two characters by way of constant conflicts between Jim and Pam, only to find them breaking up, and then getting back together, and then breaking up again (*ahem* Friends), the writers have found the next natural progression: Michael Scott actually managing to find a compatible partner. In another show, this might seem like an obvious retread, but given how socially awkward Michael is, the circumstances feel completely different, and in turn, so are the obstacles he has to overcome. It also helps that the lady friend in question is played by The Wire‘s Amy Ryan, who makes her character Holly Flax as lovable as she is dorky. My only real disappointment with this season was the circularly-plotted Michael Scott Paper Company storyline, which initially appeared to be a fresh new direction for the show to go in, only to reveal itself in the end as a temporary detour from more of the same. I hope next season will find a way to mix things up a little more.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Cast and crew commentaries, deleted scenes, an Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences Presents The Office featurette, Webisodes, Superbowl Ads, Olympic Promos, and a gag reel.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$32.99 $31.99 $31.77
Amazon – $36.99
BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$42.99 $41.99 $41.77
Amazon – $42.99

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Exclusive Deluxe Edition ($39.99) of The Office (Season 5). Includes 45-minute interview with the writers, plus a script and inspirational cast magnets.
Where? Target.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? The Office (Season 5) Exclusive Gift Set ($41.99). Exclusive “Shrute Farms” packaging contains these Office-themed products: stress ball, magnet, mouse pad, T-shirt and door hanger.
Where? Best Buy.

Rent It

CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE
(Available as single-disc and 2-Disc Special Edition w/ Digital Copy)
The difference between Crank and Crank 2 for me is the same as the difference between Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. They’re both wonderful movies, and they’re both a lot of fun, but in each case, I will always find the former to be a preferable choice to the latter. Whereas Crank and Evil Dead 2 are semi-serious takes on the genre, using their comedic and over-the-top flourishes as momentary breaks from sanity, Crank 2 and Army of Darkness are straight-up cartoons. They no longer have twisted comedic undertones; the films are comedies, period. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s merely a matter of preference. Writers & directors Neveldine/Taylor made a wise choice by going all out for sequel, because otherwise what would’ve been the point? Crank 2: High Voltage is an hour and a half of pure mind-numbing lunacy, taking things so far into the realm of ridiculousness that the only question from one minute to the next is how they’re possibly going to be able to top themselves. And then they do. Again and again and again.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: 2-Disc DVD – Audio commentary with writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, a making of documentary, a Crank 2: Take 2 featurette, and a digital copy. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the 2-Disc DVD, plus a Crank’d Out BonusView Mode with cast and crew, a gag reel, and a Wrap party featurette.

BEST DVD PRICE*
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $16.99 $15.77
Amazon – $16.99

*Does not include 2-Disc Edition, which costs $22.99 at each of the listed stores (including Amazon).

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$25.99 $24.99 $24.77
Amazon – $19.99

FRINGE (SEASON 1)
Every episode of Fringe is the same: Some crazy abomination of science has killed somebody. Agent Dunham has to solve the case. Peter Bishop says something snarky. Dr. Walter Bishop says something comically inappropriate. Agent Dunham says something boring. Dr. Walter Bishop figures out the mystery behind the crazy abomination of science. Agent Dunham says something boring again, and does so while having a distractingly large forehead and vaguely resembling a caveman. If it sounds like I dislike the show, I don’t. But I do recognize it for what it is: episodic “monster of the week” television. What makes the show so addictively watchable though is that the “monster of the week” in this particular case isn’t based around anything supernatural or made up. While the actual resulting creations that the writers come up with are obviously preposterous (as is all the pseudo-science surrounding them), they all stem from legitimate scientific facts or concepts. This aspect of the series makes discovering what’s going on in each episode extremely enjoyable, even if there isn’t much of an emotional pull to anchor it as a whole. If I had my way, I’d get rid of Dunham and give the show a new title: The Adventures of Dr. Walter Bishop, The Super Awesome Mad Scientist Who Says Comically Inappropriate Things But Fuck You He’s a Genius Who Saves the World on a Weekly Basis So He Can Say Whatever the Hell He Wants. Admit it. You would totally watch that show.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – 3 full-length commentaries from the writers and producers, featurettes (“Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe”, “Behind the Real Science of Fringe”, “A Massive Undertaking: The Making of Fringe”, “The Casting of Fringe”, “Visual Effects”), unaired scenes, a gag reel, a Gene the Cow montage, and a Roberto Orci Production Diary. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, plus a Pattern Analysis feature.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$37.99 $35.99 $38.77
Amazon – $38.99
BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$52.99 $49.99 $49.77
Amazon – $50.99

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Exclusive mini comic book on-pack of either DVD or Blu-ray version.
Where? Best Buy.

PARKS AND RECREATION (SEASON 1)
I’m willing to give the creative team behind The Office the benefit of the doubt on this one, and wait to see if Parks and Recreation hits its stride in the second season. The show, originally announced as a spin-off of The Office, shares no connection to that series outside of the mockumentary style. Smart move on the creators part, because any chance that still exists for this show to redeem itself would already be lost had they made it a direct tie-in to that infinitely better series. As of right now though, it would be unfair to dismiss Parks and Recreation so soon after its mildly amusing but ultimately forgettable 6-episode first season. Many will recall that the The Office had a very similar trajectory, starting off (also with 6 episodes) as a weak carbon copy of the British original and only really finding a unique, compelling voice of its own with its excellent second season. Likewise, with Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope character giving the immediate impression of being a female Michael Scott, Parks and Recreation too feels like a weak carbon copy. But by the end of those 6 episodes, there are already signs that Poehler has made the character her own. I’m eager to see if the rest of the show can follow suit.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, “Hose” Cold Open, and Producer’s Extended Cut of “Rock Show”.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $19.99 N/A
Amazon – $18.99

IMPORTANT THINGS WITH DEMETRI MARTIN (SEASON 1)
As of right now, Demetri Martin is probably my favorite stand-up comedian, having recently taken the place of the late, great Mitch Hedberg. There’s just something about his sweet, congenial disposition, which combined with his deadpan comic delivery and surreal insights and observations, that makes him an absolutely joy to watch. And I say this knowing full-well that a lot of people hate Demetri Martin, for reasons I’m not exactly sure. His new show, Important Things with Demetri Martin, is almost exactly what I could’ve asked for in a show starring Demetri Martin. Each episode, he takes a specific idea/theme, and uses a combination of graphs, drawings and songs to examine every facet of that idea/theme. While not quite up to par with a lot of his stand-up (the episode “Chairs” in particular was pretty weak), much of this material is smart and funny, capitalizing on everything we’ve come to expect from Martin’s comedic stylings. The problem lies in the additional inclusion of sketch comedy segments, which I can only imagine was the result of Comedy Central’s desire to give the show broader, more mainstream appeal. These segments aren’t terrible, but with so many better sketch comedy TV shows out there, it feels like an unnecessary inclusion. Most of the sketches that extend beyond 30-60 seconds generally just don’t suit Martin’s sense of humor very well, which makes sense given that his stand-up consists primarily of a series of quick punchlines. Sketch comedy aside, Demetri Martin fans should be more than satisfied with everything else that’s on offer here.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes, and bloopers.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$15.98 $12.99 N/A
Amazon – $12.99

Skip It

DANCE FLICK
Enough has been said of the tragic turn that the spoof movie genre has taken in the past several years, so let me save some time and just direct you to Rotten Tomatoes for the final word (summary: it’s not Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer bad, but it’s bad nonetheless). More interesting than the film itself is the way it’s being released. As of today, the only way you can purchase a copy of Dance Flick (not sure why you would, but that’s beside the point) is on Blu-ray. The DVD, meanwhile, won’t be available until 4 to 8 weeks down the line. However, you can still rent either version in video stores. What exactly does this mean for the future of DVD and Blu-ray? It’s hard to say. I suspect Paramount is testing the waters, seeing how the public reacts to a Blu-ray exclusive release. It makes sense that they’d use a movie like Dance Flick to do this, since it’s a no-risk title. If this were a movie that critics and movie buffs actually cared about, you better believe that there would be a much more vocal response online, both from movie sites and their readers.
Blu-ray? Yes, available exclusively on Blu-ray.
Notable Extras: Dance Dance Dance! With the Wayans Wayans Wayans! featurette, dancing outtakes, and deleted scenes.

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
N/A $25.99 $26.77
Amazon – $25.99

Other noteworthy DVD (and Blu-ray) releases this week…
Sleep Dealer [DVD / Blu-ray] – Menace II Society (Director’s Cut) [DVD / Blu-ray] – Harper’s Island (The DVD Edition)Criminal Minds (Season 4)Worst Week (The Complete Series)Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Special Edition)Valentino: The Last Emperor

Other noteworthy Blu-ray-specific releases this week…
Requiem for a DreamThe Quick and the DeadThe New World (Extended Cut)CreepshowFridaySilveradoDead Calm

The Specials
NOTE: Some deals may be in-store only.


$14.99 – Friday Night Lights (Season 1 – 2)
$16.99 – Dexter (Season 1 – 2), Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 1 – 6)
$17.99 – Scrubs (Season 1 – 6), Monk (Season 1 – 6)
$19.99 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 1 – 3), Smallville (Season 1 – 7), Supernatural (Season 1 – 3), My Name is Earl (Season 1 – 3)
$24.99 – House (Season 1 – 3), Heroes (Season 1 – 2), 30 Rock (Season 1 – 2)

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