How to Spend $20
By Eric Hughes
April 6, 2010
Welcome to How to Spend $20, BOP's look at the latest Blu-ray discs and DVDs to hit stores nationwide. This week: A catering company wreaks havoc in LA, The Lord of the Rings gets released (again!) and two ‘90s kidvid classics get bundled together.
Pick of the Week
For people who want to see Jane Lynch do what she does best (improv): Party Down: Season One
The funniest show on television that you aren't watching is Starz's Party Down. Based on the nearly universal acclaim for the show's freshman season, I on a whim decided to finally check out the show just a month or two ago and without a doubt approve of my decision to do so. Fans of funny TV will love Party Down. Striking a delicate balance between hilarity and good melodrama, it can probably best be described as a cross between Reno 911! (for the improv) and earlier seasons of The Office (for its quick wit and romance drama). What's even more impressive is it did so in its first season. I found myself recommending it to people after just the pilot episode.
Borrowing the structure utilized in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Extras, Party Down episodes each take place in different settings with guest stars – Ken Jeong, J.K. Simmons, Rob Corddry, Kristen Bell – filtering in and out over the course of the season. The show's characters are employed by a Los Angeles-based catering company. Most of them, save for their boss with big dreams in the food service industry, couldn't care less about their day job and view the work as a mere stepping stone towards bigger and better things. Catered events include everything from singles seminars to an awards after party (for porn) to a high school reunion.
I do wonder what will happen to the show if it were to extend beyond season two, which will premiere on April 23rd. Adam Scott, arguably the show's star, has reportedly left the show for Parks and Recreation. And Ryan Hansen, who plays what may be the most gullible/aloof character on TV, has signed on for a role on an NBC pilot. Party Down could get by without Hansen, but Scott is a different story. Since Party Down's inception, the comedy's most important storyline has been his Ross and Rachel relationship with Lizzy Caplan's character. But, the show survived Jane Lynch's departure (Glee) by bringing in Jennifer Coolidge for the episodes Lynch couldn't appear in. And Megan Mullally will be a series regular beginning with Party Down's season two premiere. Party Down has already reinvented itself. I'm sure it could do so again.
Disc includes: Audio commentary, alternate scenes, gag reel, two behind-the-scenes featurettes
For people who have wanted to complement their Lord of the Rings DVD set with more LOTR movies: The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy [Blu-ray]
Well, you probably know as well I do that The Lord of the Rings trilogy (or individual movies from the popular franchise) have been released on home media approximately 57 times. There have been theatrical cuts, director's cuts, extended editions, collector's editions, hobbit editions*, Shire Sing-Along editions and so on. Usually my eyes glaze over with each new release, but I've broken precedent this week because the movies have finally moved into spanking new territory that has little to do with deleted scenes, audio commentary and special featurettes: Blu-ray.
Surprisingly, The Lord of the Rings trilogy breaks into the high-definition format for the first time today with a three-disc set. The discs, however, are little more than theatrical cuts coupled with a handful of featurettes. If home media releases of the Lord of the Rings franchise were ever put on a spectrum of some kind, the new Blu-ray package would fall on the bare bones side of things. You can probably expect another dozen or so Blu-ray releases shortly.
*This doesn't exist
**This also doesn't exist... yet.
The Fellowship of the Ring disc includes: Three documentaries, The Creation of J.R.R. Tolkein's World featurette, "May It Be" music video by Enya, The Two Towers preview, The Lord Of The Rings: Aragon's Quest Game
The Two Towers disc includes: Two documentaries, The Long and Short of It featurette (Sean Astin directs), The Technical Wizardry Behind This Middle Chapter of the Saga featurette, "Gollum's Song" music video by Emiliana Torrini, The Return of the King preview
The Return of the King disc includes: Three documentaries, The Breakthrough Effects Work and Character Detail featurette, Extended DVD Edition preview