Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater MGM DVDs Review

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This review was originally written on October 11, 2008
No Series Opening Titles Or End Credits And A Missing Story!

I'm writing about a series of Hello Kitty DVDs released by MGM in 2003: HK Becomes a Princess, HK Saves the Day, HK Tells Fairy Tales, HK Goes to the Movies, and HK Plays Pretend. These five discs have also been bundled together into the Diamond Collection with a Jewelry Box, HK 5-DVD Collection, as well as paired into a Plays Pretend/Saves The Day 2-Pack (alt url). Finally there's a "Triple Feature DVD Set" with the discs for Princess, Saves The Day, and Fairy Tales all in one case (this might be exclusive to Target). Whew!

For those who don't already know, contained on these DVDs are stories from the 1987 Saturday morning series "Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater". You wouldn't know that by watching the discs because there are NO SERIES OPENING TITLES and NO SERIES END CREDITS!!! Yes, you read that correctly. They left out one of the most significant parts of a television series. Remember the catchy theme song? Well, all you'll have are your memories because that theme won't be found here. There's a credits block on the back of the case that lists the voice actors (Tara Charendoff as Hello Kitty in one of her first roles) and major crew, but it doesn't list the minor crew members. Pity all of the poor animators whose work on the series now goes uncredited.

The series consists of 13 half-hour episodes with 2 stories per episode (26 stories total). Yet only 25 of the 26 stories appear on these five discs. Keep in mind that's only 5 stories per each $10 disc (that's the original price). They could have easily fit the entire series onto two dual-layer discs for $20. So not only are you missing a story, and NOT getting the episodes in their original 2-story pairs with the original series opening titles and end credits, but you're being bilked for what little you DO get!

The previous VHS releases in the late 1990s (Wizard of Paws VHS and Kitty & The Beast VHS) were MUCH better than these five DVDs. Sure they only included four stories each, but they included the series opening titles and end credits, which makes them a vast improvement over these DVDs. I can only hope that someone at MGM wakes up and re-releases this series as a proper "complete series" set, but I doubt that that will ever happen.

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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.

Lilian Garcia - Quiero Vivir! Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on April 11, 2008
Good Music, But Beware Of The Restrictive Disclaimer - Can't Resell Or Give Away The CD You Bought

I bought the Lilian Garcia - Quiero Vivir! audio CD from Amazon in March 2008. Although I don't understand Spanish, I found it to be very enjoyable. Lilian has a great voice, and I wish that she had made a completely English version of this album. Thankfully two of the songs are English translations. Track 10 "Under In Love" is the English version of track 4 "Desenamorada", and track 11 "Where Did Love Go?" is the English version of track 3 "Adonde" (that's the duet with Jon Secada).

The one thing I dislike about the CD is one thing that I have *NEVER* seen on any CD that I've ever purchased. On the outer rim of the CD is this disclaimer: "This CD is the property of the record company and is licensed to the intended recipient for personal use only. Acceptance of this CD shall constitute an agreement to comply with the terms of the license. Resale or transfer of possession is not allowed and may be punishable under federal and state laws. This CD may be watermarked to identify the intended recipient."

It appears that Amazon is selling promo CDs, as this disclaimer pops up in articles about the current case of Universal Music Group (UMG) vs. Troy Augusto (do a Google search for "this CD is the property of the record company" to find more information about the case). Interestingly, Universal Music Latino is the distributor of the CD, though WWE owns the content. However, nothing on the packaging states that the copy Amazon sold me is a promo CD, so I have no idea why it appears on the disc.

Below is an image of the CD so you can see the disclaimer for yourself, and see that the disclaimer isn't presented to the customer until after the purchase has been made and the product has been opened - thus nullifying the "agreement to comply with the terms of the license" because you can't agree beforehand.

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I sincerely hope that this is an error and that Universal Music isn't serious with this disclaimer or they certainly will have killed their CD sales for good.

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!