Britney Spears - Greatest Hits: My Prerogative DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 4, 2005
Great Idea Ruined By Poor Menu Design & Non-Standard Bonuses

It's great to finally have all of Britney's videos on one DVD. One video is different from a previously released version. "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman" contains different film clips and some different shots than the version on the "Crossroads" DVD. This means that there are, at least, two different versions of this music video. Also the movie clips on this disc's version are squeezed (they were not anamorphically unsqueezed).

Some have complained about not having a 5.1 audio track. Since most (if not all) of the videos were originally created with a stereo audio track, I'm quite happy with what is on the DVD. Better they leave well enough alone, then use the studio recordings of the songs to make a 5.1 mix, and thus ruin the videos by leaving out sound effects and the such (like Sony did on the Billy Joel: The Essential Video Collection DVD).

However, that's not to say that they didn't mess up this DVD in other areas. The menu design has got to be the worst I have ever seen on any DVD. It's very confusing and hard to navigate. No explanation is ever given as to what the key, dice, and clock icons do. Key gives you a rather unhelpful menu explanation, and dice and clock give you a random video (as far as I can tell). Moving the highlight around is more of a chore than it needs to be. You press Up, only to be taken to the left. You press Left, only to be taken up. It's very illogical. To make matters worse, if you linger for more than a few seconds on any menu screen, it changes to another screen, thus losing you your place.

Who's idea was it to present all of the videos in reverse chronological order instead of forward chronological order? I'd rather see the evolution of Britney instead of the devolution. Would it have been that difficult to present an option to view them in either order?

The enhanced "alternate" videos are a great idea in theory, but they would have worked better as standard bonus features. Some can be confusing with prompts placed way too late (prompts are supposed to tell you to switch angles or audio tracks or to press Enter on your remote) and no clear indication of what the "enhanced features" of each video are (sometimes you're left wondering what the heck it is you're watching). The only one, to me, that truly works is "My Prerogative" (the camcorder clips), though that's dampened by the advertising of Sony's Cyber-Shot camera (including branding the website address on the screen).

In case you need more information before you buy, here's a list of what the "alternate" videos contain.

My Prerogative
* ENTER when prompted on film to view it.
* ENTER, LEFT, RIGHT on camcorder to view clips. DOWN to go back to video.

Outrageous
* NON-INTERACTIVE - Unused footage, dance sequence.

Everytime
* ANGLE 1 - Regular video, ENTER when prompted on paparazzi
* ANGLE 2 - Britney sings to camera

Toxic
[video is of Britney clad only is jewels with lyrics places over her "bare" breasts]
* AUDIO 1 - Instrumental
* AUDIO 2 - Regular Song

I'm A Slave 4 U
[ignore all ENTER prompts as they just switch angles or audio]
* AUDIO 1 - Acapella (vocals only)
* AUDIO 2 - Regular Song
* ANGLE 1 - Britney close-up in front of green screen.
* ANGLE 2 - Regular video, then one long uncut master shot.
* ANGLE 3 - Regular video with one clapboard shot.

Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know
* NON-INTERACTIVE - Outtakes from this and other videos edited together, instrumental audio.

Stronger
* NON-INTERACTIVE - Outtakes plus one home video clip, instrumental audio with occassional vocals.

* Oops!...I Did It Again
NON-INTERACTIVE - One long uncut master shot.

(You Drive Me) Crazy
* NON-INTERACTIVE - Double video and audio, left video plays in left audio channel, right video plays in right audio channel, plus outtakes.

...Baby One More Time
[ignore ENTER-UNCUT prompt too]
* ANGLE 1 - Regular Video (with some outtakes?)
* ANGLE 2 - Uncut Master Shots, ENTER-ONE MORE TIME prompt takes you to the hallway uncut master shot.

There are two hidden features (easter eggs) in the "alternate" videos, which I personally found.

-- My Prerogative (Alternate Version): After you press ENTER at the film projector prompt to see the film footage, press ENTER again *while* viewing the film footage to see black & white footage of Britney singing the song while rolling around in the bed (Title 59). There is no ENTER prompt on screen during the film footage, so this singing in bed footage is hidden.

-- Oops!...I Did It Again (Alternate Version): Press ENTER at the start of the video to go to outtakes from the video (Title 88 & 89). There is no ENTER prompt on screen, so the Outtakes are hidden. (There is an Enter prompt on the Outtakes which takes you back to the alternate version.

All of the videos, both regular and alternate, have fantastic video and audio quality, as you would expect from DVD. I did notice that the "Baby One More Time" audio is a bit lower than all the others. I also noticed two defects, which appear in several different DVD players.

-- Me Against The Music (Title 7 & 26) - At 3:16 as Madonna is on the swing singing "Just work your body and let it go," there is one frame of a man within the shot. This frame is a still from the "From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart" video (Title 18 & 37 at 4:02).

-- Crazy (Title 20 & 39) - At 3:10 is a minor freeze or jitter as Britney puts her hand on her head on the lyric "But it feels alright."

Finally, the 160 minutes run time listed on back seems incorrect. Even with all of the bonus features, I don't think it totals 2 hrs 40 mins. I'm very glad to have all of Britney's videos on one DVD, I just wish they did a better job overall.

I'm A Crapper, She's A Crapper, Wouldn't You Like To Be A Crapper Too?

Wrestlecrap.com,the internet's premiere wrestling humor site, has chronicled the worst in professional wrestling since 2000 (which still makes it younger than Spook Central). Regular visitors to the site and its forum are called Crappers, and I'm proud to admit that I'm a Crapper. I even own all three Wrestlecrap books. This should all come as no surprise considering that I've written about wrestling on Spook Central and have a category dedicated to it here on The Corner Penthouse.

Over the years, I have made many submissions to the site. I had my letters appear in the now-defunct RD's Mailbag/RD's Ramblings column on January 9, 2004, May 14, 2004, and December 10, 2004. On February 17, 2012, a video link I submitted, which I never thought would ever appear on the site, was published in the "It Came From YouTube" column. It actually surprised me to see my name up there. I literally thought, "Holy crap, that's me!"

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(click to enlarge)

Yikes! Three in one year, then it took me over seven years to make another appearance on the site. However, it wouldn't take long before I showed up again. On September 28, 2012 I guest wrote a "Someone Bought This" column on some bootleg WWE coloring books I bought. RD Reynolds, the cool cat who runs the site, nor anyone else asked me to write it. I just bought the books and thought it would be fun to write about them. At the time, I didn't have The Corner Penthouse site/blog to write about non-Ghostbusters stuff. I submitted it to RD hoping he would like my writing enough to post it. There was no guarantee it would be "worthy". I assume that my article is in the Wrestlecrap archives somewhere, though I'll reprint it at the end of this article.

One years and one Hurricane (not Shane Helms) later, and the George "The Animal" Steele video I submitted would appear in the April 11, 2013 edition of It Came From YouTube. Fast forward three years to April 29, 2016, and my photos of a really unique bootleg TNA jigsaw puzzle was posted in the Someone Bought This column by the new editor of the column (and fellow member of the Paul Patrol wrestling faction) Paul "The Big Cheese" Kraft.

I found/bought more crappy wrestling merchandise, and just made two more submissions to Paul about a really creepy Brock Lesnar children's play outfit I saw recently in Toys R Us, and a Road To Wrestlemania 2014 Topps trading card I bought that goes out of it's way to pretend that Chris Benoit was never in the Wrestlemania 20 Triple Threat match. If/when they get posted, I'll link them in here later.

Full story »

Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 DVD Review

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This review was originally written on July 1, 2004
They Chopped Up The Music Videos!

As a fan I enjoy hearing Billy speak about his music and videos, but not at the expense of the videos themselves. The person who edited the Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 DVD together chopped up most of the music videos so as to intersperse Billy's comments within them. All of the music videos are chopped up, except for:

-- And So It Goes [though Billy speaks over it]

-- No Man's Land [after a false start, the real video plays complete]

-- Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) [though Billy speaks over the last few seconds of the video]

-- To Make Your Feel My Love [though Billy speaks over the very end of the video]

It should also be noted that the last two videos are in reverse order from how they are listed on the packaging. "Hey Girl" and "To Make Your Feel My Love" is the correct order.

DVD (SD) Vs. Blu-Ray (HD) Runtimes & Video Formats

The following was written by Amazon user Interzone_Records on January 22, 2011 in regards to a review that was posted for the Angelina Jolie film "Salt". I found the information so informative, that I thought it best to archive a copy here.

I rented the standard disc [of the Angelina Jolie film "Salt"] from Netflix. It contains all three versions, but the times are nowhere near what Senor Zoidbergo mentions in his review. This is probably due to the difference in the encoding speed of Blu-Ray, which runs at 24 frames per second, and NTSC format, which runs at 29.97 frames per second. The difference between the PAL and NTSC versions of films is 4%. So the speed difference between the US NTSC standard DVD format and the Blu-Ray is probably closer to 5%.

On the standard[-definition] U.S. [DVD], the actual times are:

Theatrical Version: 1:39:56
Unrated Extended Cut: 1:40:58
Unrated Director's Cut: 1:43:59

Senor Zoidbergo lists the following times for the three versions on the Blu-Ray disc

Theatrical: 1:35:54
Extended: 1:36:56
Director's Cut: 1:39:48

This is a difference of about 4 minutes on each version. Some time ago, I asked the owner of the Masters of Cinema label, in England (the UK equivalent of a Criterion specialty label), about the difference between NTSC and PAL and Blu-Ray. Here is his reply:

"The encoding format of HD material on Blu-ray has nothing to do with either PAL or NTSC. The 'problem' of these two competing DVD formats (NTSC and PAL) evaporates with Blu-ray, where the HD material is in 1080p resolution at 24 frames per second, not the standard definition 480p (NTSC 29.97fps) or 576p (PAL 25fps) resolution of "old TV".

In this respect, because of the increased resolution of 1080p HD Blu-rays *and* the fact that the material is now running at 24 frames per second (the exact same speed as film projected in a cinema) - Blu-ray is a stunning global format in which to view films as they should be seen.

Confusingly, a Blu-ray can also hold standard definition PAL or NTSC format encodes as well, but this will look exactly the same as it would on a DVD disc. It will remain standard definition. Thankfully, Blu-rays are being used to hold HD 1080p material, rather than as repositories for huge amounts of standard definition DVD footage."

Best of The Beverly Hillbillies Mill Creek DVD Review

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This review was originally written on September 4, 2008
Excellent Set For The Price - With The Original Theme Music (Mostly)!!!

After getting burned on so many budget DVD releases of The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show, and Petticoat Junction due to the replacement music, I really lucked out when I picked Mill Creek Entertainment's The Best of The Beverly Hillbillies 40 Episode, 4 DVD set yesterday at Walmart for 5.00.

The quality could be better - I noticed some compression artifacts on the side of the mansion when I quickly checked out the first few episodes - but for the price, number of episodes, and MOST IMPORTANTLY the original theme music, it's WELL worth it! Of course, a die-hard fan should buy the two "Ultimate Collection" volumes and "The Beverly Hillbillies/Petticoat Junction Ultimate Christmas Collection" disc, in order to get all of the public domain episodes and a TON of extras - albeit for about fifty bucks in total; but for the casual fan, this set is the best single item you can purchase.

This set includes 40 black & white episodes on 4 discs, and they're all in chronological airdate order (for the full list, see AlphaControl's review of this item). As I stated in my review title, the original theme music is used in ALMOST all episodes. Only two episodes don't use the original music:

* "No Place Like Home" uses replacement music and the titles are in progress, starting at "The Beverly Hillbillies" title screen and leaving out the "shooting at food" scenes beforehand. Since replacement music is used, I have no problem with cutting the full opening sequence.

* "Elly Needs a Maw" doesn't have any beginning titles at all. However, it's missing on another disc I have, so maybe all copies of this episode leave out the beginning title sequence - though they could have tacked one on from another episode.

I should also note that the theme song starts a few seconds late in the episode "Christmas at the Clampetts", though at least it's the original music!

I don't know if I got a bum copy, but the "Pygmalion and Elly" episode on Disc 1 won't play. When I try to view it, my player stops. If this defect exists in all copies, then technically there are only 39 episodes on the disc, and this episode should be added to the list of missing episodes below.

I tried the DVD in four different players, and the episode didn't play in any of them. Mill Creek was kind enough to send me a replacement set and that one also had the same problem. This is the only Mill Creek DVD I have that I've had a problem with - and I have about a dozen of their sets.

From what I've read, all 36 season one episodes and the first 19 season two episodes are in the public domain, which means that only 15 public domain episodes are missing from this set. Although it would be better if this were a six disc set and included those remaining episodes, all things considered, that's a fairly small number of episodes to be missing. For the record, these are the missing 15 episodes (excluding the two that need original music and/or beginning titles, and the one that wouldn't play on any of my DVD players):

1.05 10/24/1962 Jed Buys Stock
1.06 10/31/1962 Trick or Treat
1.09 11/21/1962 Elly's First Date
1.22 02/20/1963 Duke Steals a Wife
1.28 04/03/1963 Jed Pays His Income Tax
1.30 04/17/1963 Duke Becomes a Father
1.31 04/24/1963 The Clampetts Entertain
1.35 05/22/1963 Elly Becomes a Secretary
1.36 05/29/1963 Jethro's Friend
2.01 09/25/1963 Jed Gets the Misery
2.05 10/23/1963 The Clampett Look
2.10 11/27/1963 Turkey Day
2.11 12/04/1963 The Garden Party
2.13 12/18/1963 The Clampetts Get Culture
2.17 01/15/1964 The Girl from Home

That is all.