The Fall Guy: The Complete First Season DVD Review

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This review was originally written on April 8, 2008
Poor Paul Williams, Fox Removed Him AND His Music!

What I'm about to write is not only for The Fall Guy: The Complete First Season DVD, but it also applies to The Fall Guy: The Complete First Season, Vol. 1 DVD.

In the pilot movie, during the bar fight scene, you'll notice the band performing in the background is blurred out, and there's some strange editing going on. Fox was trying to hide the fact that they replaced and edited out Paul Williams singing the Patsy Cline hit "Crazy", and the acting scenes he had before and during the fight. Since all traces of Paul Williams were edited out, his name was removed from the guest star credits at the beginning of the movie, and the song credit for "Crazy" was edited out of the end credits.

There's no mention of music replacement on the back of the box, but in their review of the set, TVShowsOnDVD provided some information that may indicate lots more music replacements in the set:
Chris Cook dug up some information from NOMA Music and posted it to the Home Theater Forum. NOMA posted this on their website: "20th Century Fox home video release of "The Fall Guy" starring Lee Majors features eight new songs by Robert Allen, Octane Saints, Don Fisher and Matt King." This, coupled with the odd scene from the pilot, leads me to believe there were some music replacements on the set. (source)
I watched the DVD episode a little more and noticed more instances of music replacement, such as during the restaurant fight, and some score music removed before and after that scene. There are probably lots more, but it would take a lot of effort to compile a complete list.

I taped this episode many years ago in syndication, and although the quality of my copy sucks (it was before I had cable), I have to keep it because it's a more complete copy than what's on the DVD.

It makes me mad that not only did Fox not mention the music replacement on the packaging (reminds me of Anchor Bay with the Grounded For Life sets), AND edit out all of Paul Williams' acting scenes, but that they're charging more than usual for the set - even going so far as to split it into two volumes to make it more affordable - which I presumed was due to music rights, but now I can only assume that greed was the motive.

Dexter: The First Season DVD Review

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This review was originally written on April 8, 2008
Great Show, Poor DVDs, Advertised Content Hidden Online For PC Users Only

Showtime really messed up the bonus material on the Dexter: The First Season DVD set. A bunch of the material is available as online content, but there's NOTHING on the packaging that indicates this, or the fact that you need a PC to view it; you can't view the content on a Mac or Linux machine. You insert Disc 4 into your DVD-ROM drive and if it doesn't run automatically, you can either run start.exe or \bonus\Bonus.exe (the direct route), which compiles information about your computer to generate a unique ID that then grants you access to the Dexter Bonus Content site.

On this site you can enter a contest which expired in January 2008, get a coupon for $25 off a new subscription to Showtime, watch the first two episodes of The Tutors, download a 241MB demo of the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Hard Evidence" game, download an excerpt from "Dexter in the Dark" by Jeff Lindsay in PDF format, and finally view "The Academy of Blood - A Killer Course" featurette (a 3 minute 20 second piece about a real-life blood splatter expert and not directly related to the series).

The featurette should have been on the video portion of the DVD itself (the two unrelated hour-long episodes of the "Brotherhood" series should never have been included), and the novel excerpt should have been on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc itself. There's no reason to force customers to view these materials online, where they are guaranteed to be taken down at some point in time. On top of that, putting the materials online excludes Mac and Linux users, who wouldn't otherwise be excluded if the materials were on the disc itself.

With the exception of stating that the Tutors episodes were "downloads" (technically Showtime only wants you to view them streaming, not download them), Showtime made no indication on the packing that any of these noted bonus materials were only accessible via online, much less that you need the disc and a DVD-ROM drive in a PC to trigger the access to the site.

Even more annoying is that there are several short cast and crew featurettes created for Dexter that were shown on Showtime On Demand (and probably many more that weren't shown) that should have been included on the DVD in place of the two hour-long Brotherhood episodes. (For the record, the "The Academy of Blood - A Killer Course" featurette was shown on Showtime On Demand back in 2006 where I recorded it in much better quality than the small online video.)

Plus there is a Target exclusive bonus disc that from what I've read contains the Paley Festival Q&A with the cast, which is about 1 hour long. Rather than pandering to the big box retailers, pander to the customers and include this instead of the Brotherhood episodes.

Shame on you Showtime!

Night At The Museum (2006) Movie Review

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This review was originally written on December 5, 2007
Enjoyable Movie If You Shut Your Brain Off, Seriously Flawed If You Think About It

This film is filled with so many plot holes that I simply can not list them all here. In fact, I couldn't even list them all because there are more than I can recall. I will go through the ones that immediately sprang to mind as I was watching the film and was thinking about it afterwards.

-- What museum in 2006 doesn't have security cameras? Surely someone would have watched the tapes and seen the living creatures..

-- There's major noise and ruckus every night, yet no one in the city notices? The police are never called?

-- The movie takes place over three to four consecutive days, yet Larry (Ben Stiller) never sleeps the whole time. He's on the job at night, and seen awake during each day.

-- Why did Cecil (Dick Van Dyke) and his crew wait until they retired to pull off the heist? Why put up with the job and the living creatures for 50+ years? It would have made more sense for them to do heist when they were young, and then take it easy for the rest of their lives.

-- Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) is aware of the fact that he's a mannequin (he tells Larry that he can't help him because he's just a mannequin and not the real Teddy Roosevelt), so how does he and the other mannequins and statues have the knowledge and behaviors of the people and creatures they resemble? Maybe they "overheard" their character's history during the daytime museum tours, but they wouldn't know as much as they apparently do. This invalidates the notion of Rebecca (Carla Gugino) talking to Sacajawea for "personal" information about her life.

-- The museum curator noticed the fire extinguisher foam in the cavemen exhibit, but didn't notice that one of the cavemen was missing?

These were just the few things I noticed immediately during and after watching the film.

Should you still wish to own the movie, it is available on Blu-ray, 2-Disc DVD, 2-Disc DVD, 1-Disc DVD, and in several sets with the second and third movies.

ProVenture Label Maker v4.0 PC Software Review & Registration Nag Removal

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This review was originally written on September 7, 2007
ProVenture Label Maker 4: That's Both The Version Number And How Many Files It Creates PER Label!!!

I will be reviewing ProVenture Label Maker v4.0, which may be the product that some Amazon Marketplace sellers are selling here, here, here, here, and here. It was released in 2006 (according to the copyright date on the blue and white box).

Product Information
* Developed by: ProVenture
* Published by: Avanquest
* UPC: 018059051249
* Serial/SKU/Model: 5124

System Requirements:
* Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
* Pentium III or higher
* 95 MB disk space
* 128 MB RAM
* CD-ROM Drive
* Inkjet or laser printer

I bought this product because I wanted to have a 32-bit replacement for the label making component of the old 16-bit Print Shop Deluxe that I've been using (it came out in 1994 and was designed for Windows 3.1!!!). I saw this on the shelf at MicroCenter, and although I don't buy boxed software anymore (at least not without downloading a trial first), I couldn't resist the ten dollar price tag, so I bought it.

This review will actually be a quick list of notes I wrote up as I was testing out the program. Some are criticisms, and others are notes on using the program. These are somewhat organized in the order in which you'd come across these issues when installing and running the program, though the information on the registration nag is at the end so it is easier to read.

-- Run setup.exe to directly install the program without having to go through the trial screen interface (trial copies of other programs are available on the CD). You still will be nagged to install a payment service (to accept credit card payments for your business) and the NewsFlash program (used to send you company updates). You can easily say NO to both.

It would be nice to not have ANY kind of nags like this.

-- The program doesn't copy the clipart folder from the CD to the hard drive, even though it makes an empty Clipart directory in the program directory.

-- Some program settings are found in mylabels32.ini in the C:\Windows (or C:\WinNT) directory. This file is not deleted if you uninstall the program.

-- The program saves _FOUR FILES_ for every saved label (the files have the extensions .lbl, .bcf, .fsif, .msif). Even if you just have a label with one piece of data on it, and nothing in the databases, it still saves it as four files. For a simple label with just a name and address on it (no database entries), the combined size of the four files is 35 Kb. Other label making programs save only one file, with a size between 1 and 6 Kb.

This is the primarily deal-breaker for me. This is the reason why I'm no longer keeping the program. If I make 10 labels, I will have 40 FILES(!) to deal with. That's just not right.

Unfortunately, MicroCenter won't take the item back because they don't take back opened software (as is the usual policy for most stores). I can't take advantage of the publisher's 30-Day Money Back Guarantee because I didn't get a chance to install the software until a bit more than 30 days after I bought it. Granted, ten dollars isn't a big loss, but it's still a loss.

-- To print an entire sheet of labels containing the same data on each label (just a single name and address - hard-coded to the design, not from a database), you must set the number of copies on the Print dialog box to the number of labels on the sheet (30 for the Avery 5160/8160/8660/6460 layout). This is not very intuitive, as the Copies field normally selects the number of PAGES to be printed (as it is standard in all Print dialogs for ALL Windows programs).

This is the other deal-breaker, especially since the number of "copies" resets to 1 every time you run the program (as that is what Windows normally does in the Print dialog window of ANY program). So every time I open and print one of my labels (as I tend to create labels with singular data, not from databases), I have to remember to change the number of "copies" to 30. The program won't even save that information to any of the four files that it creates for each label.

-- If there are multiple records in your database, and you just want to print one, select the record you want to print by entering the same record number in both From and To fields in the Print Range.

HOW TO REMOVE THE REGISTRATION NAG WITHOUT REGISTERING

This information is for ProVenture Label Maker v4.0, which was released in 2006 (according to the copyright date on the blue and white box). I don't know if it applies to earlier or later versions. This info will tell you how to to remove the registration nag without registering, which is free but shouldn't be necessary (and will be impossible when the registration server goes offline years from now).

1. Open Notepad and type in the text that appears below.
REGEDIT4 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ProVenture\Label Maker\Reg] "Registered"=dword:00000001
2. Save the file as "nolabelnag.reg" (you might have to use the quotation marks in order to get Notepad to save it with a .reg extension). For easy access, save it to your desktop.

3. Now double-click on the file, and a message will pop up asking if you want to add the information to the registry. Click on YES.

4. Another window will pop up telling you that the information has been successfully entered into the registry.

5. Now run the Label Maker program, and notice that there is no registration nag screen when it loads. Enjoy!

Grounded For Life Season 1 DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 22, 2007
Misleading Packaging, Episodes Altered, Carsey-Warner Does Not Want To Cooperate In The Matter

I'm a big fan of Grounded For Life and have every episode on tape from the original Fox and WB broadcasts since day one (January 10, 2001). I was thrilled with the prospect of buying all of the episodes on DVD (save for season 5 which hasn't been released yet) so that I could have better quality copies, taking up less shelf space, and could then erase all of the tapes I recorded.

Although I have not had the chance to watch any of the episodes on the Season 1-4 DVD sets, I did check out all of the discs (to ensure playability) and actually stumbled upon something that I did not like: The season 1 episode "I Wanna Be Suspended" (disc 1, episode 3) has been ALTERED! The Ramones song "I Wanna Be Sedated" played during the concert scene in the original tv broadcast was replaced with generic music on the DVD (at 4:37), a brief concert flashback a few minutes later (at 7:28) replaced some instrumental song with a different instrumental song. There may be more alterations to this episode, or other episodes in any of the sets, as I didn't check any further than this.

I know why music is routinely replaced on TV-on-DVD releases, so I don't have a problem with the replacing of the music. However, I am displeased by the misleading packaging which states that these are "uncut" episodes. Although there is a difference between "uncut" and "unaltered", the "uncut" remark on the box implies that the episodes are exactly the same as what was originally shown on TV, which obviously isn't true. The "uncut" statement should have had an asterisk directing to text at the bottom to tell that music has been altered in some episodes.

I sent an e-mail to Anchor Bay (TVonDVD@anchorbayent.com), the company that released the DVD sets, to get a complete list of all alterations (music or otherwise) for every Grounded For Life set. Surely a list of alterations for every set must exist, as the person at Carsey-Warner whose job it is to replace the music when the episodes are prepped for DVD has to have a list to work off of. Since I have the entire series on tape in their original network broadcast versions, I need to know which of my recorded episodes I need to keep because they're different from what I just bought on DVD, as I plan on erasing the taped episodes that are 100% exactly the same as on the DVD.

I received a reply from Rose Zivkovich. She e-mailed Janet Bonifer, Executive Director of Marketing & Creative Services at Carsey-Warner (her address is either jbonifer@carseywerner.com or jbonifer@cwm.com), who told Rose that "Our legal department advises against providing this type of information to consumers."

These is no legal reason why Janet, or anyone else at Carsey-Warner, could not furnish the list to me (whether through Rose, or to me directly). Anyone who has every episode on tape from the original Fox and WB broadcasts (like me) and has the time (not like me) could check every one of the 78 episodes (91 episodes, including Season 5) one-by-one to compile the same list. Getting the list from Carsey-Warner would save time, energy, and insure completeness in the list.

I tried e-mailing Carsey-Warner directly via the most appropriate contact I could find (Janet's boss): Barron Postmus, bpostmus@cwm.com, Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services. To no surprise, he has not replied to any of the e-mails that I've sent to him.

I made one final attempt to obtain the list of alterations by writing a letter to the series creators Mike Schiff & Bill Martin via their agent (c/o Nancy Jones, Creative Artists Agency, 2000 Avenue Of The Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067). It's now two months since I sent the letter and I have not heard back from them, by either postal mail or e-mail.

It's rather disheartening to know that Carsey-Warner does not want to cooperate in the matter. It's sad that they treat their fans this way. The company makes money off of us fans, and would go out of business if none of us watched their shows and bought the related products.