The Hitchhiker Canadian First Season DVD Review

Image

This review was originally written on December 17, 2004
Sets A World Record For Amount Of Compression Artifacts

I have a lot to tell you in this review. Let's start briefly with why I bought this set, which was only released in Canada. I own one of the Hitchhiker VHS tapes, but two of the three episodes are missing the beginning credits. I wanted the complete episodes, especially on DVD. I live in the United States, but the DVD released here (titled "The Hitchhiker Vol. 1") only contains 10 episodes, only one of which was on the videotape. This Canada-only "Season 1" set contains the first 26 episodes of the series, although in a different order from how they were released in the United States (it's the first three seasons here).

I have no problem with the episodes being in a different order, what I *DO* have a problem with is the ungodly amount of compression artifacts found in the set. Practically EVERY episode has at least one noticable artifact (though admittedly a few of these you'd have to have an "eye" for in order to see them).

Here is a list of the episodes in this set, in the order presented on the DVDs, with the time markings of the compression artifacts listed in brackets after the episode title.

DISC 1
01. When Morning Comes [5:24/8:11/11:26/12:08]
02. Shattered Vows [18:39/19:09]
03. Split Decision [21:58]
04. Remembering Melody [NONE]
05. Face To Face [NONE]
06. And If We Dream [26:26(slight)/26:28(slight)/29:30(slight)]
07. Petty Thieves [NONE]
08. Hired Help [1:09(slight)/21:05(slight)]
09. Man At The Window [NONE]

DISC 2
10. Murderous Feelings [NONE]
11. Videodate [27:42(slight)]
12. A Time For Rifles [NONE]
13. Lovesounds [11:10]
14. Last Scene [16:35]
15. One Last Prayer [1:14(slight)/1:17(slight)/8:45]
16. Ghostwriter [4:27]
17. Dead Man's Curve [2:34/22:19/23:17/23:33]
18. True Believer [25:16]

DISC 3
19. Man Of Her Dreams [NONE]
20. O.D. Feelin' [17:33]
21. Man's Best Friend [NONE]
22. The Curse [NONE]
23. Nightshift [NONE]
24. W.G.O.D. [NONE]
25. Killer [15:59/23:29/23:43]
26. Out Of The Night [1:51/2:05-2:08/5:28/20:33]

Now I'll list everything else that's wrong with this set.

* It comes in a cheap top/bottom load slipsleeve (the cases easily fall out when you take it off the shelf). I wish it was a side loader like mosts dvd-set sleeves.

* The seems like the version of "Split Decision" included is from an edited syndicated print as there are fade ins and fade outs (for commercial placement) that aren't seen in any other episodes. It's also clearly edited at 18:52 and at 18:54 - if you frame advance during the fade out you can briefly see another shot.

* In "Last Scene" there's an original tape defect at 28:35.

* In "True Believer" the picture jumps very slightly from 3:03 to 3:34.

* In "Man's Best Friend" there is no audio from 12:42-12:46. The original Lorimar video I have has the audio. The DVD cuts out music and the dog panting and the first part of Michael O'Keefe's dialogue ("I mean...").

* There are several errors on the packaging text:

-- Most of the episode descriptions on the back of the cases give away the surprise endings.

-- The back of the sleeve mentions the following actors who are not in any of the episodes on the discs: Robbie Benson (was in "Tourist Trap" 1990), Louise Fletcher (was in "Offspring" 1991), Elliott Gould (was in "A Whole New You" 1991), Lisa Hartman (was in "Her Finest Hour" 1989), C. Thomas Howell (was in "White Slaves" 1990), Lauren Hutton (was in "Riding The Nightmare" 1990), Nick Mancuso (was in "Fading Away" 1990), Michael Ontkean (was in "Square Deal" 1989), and Alan Thicke (was in "Tough Guys Don't Whine" 1990).

-- The back of the sleeve mentions director Gerard Ciccoritti (aka Jerry Ciccoritti), but he did not direct any of the episodes on the discs (he directed "Power Play" 1989).

-- For episode 3 (Split Decision) it says "retail" when it should be "real."

-- For episode 9 (Man At The Window) it says the female lover's name is Catherine when it's really Carla (as listed in the end credits of the episode itself).

-- For episode 11 (Videodate) in the first sentence is says Gregg Henry's character is named Jack Rhodes, but in the last sentence it says his name is Jeff.

Now let me list the neutral and good points of this set.

* This DVD set includes the original Nicholas Campbell (as The Hitchhiker) version of "Split Decision" (ep 3), but the Page Fletcher versions of "When Morning Comes" (ep 1) and "Shattered Vows" (ep 2).

* For those purists in the USA, I should let you know that the Alliance Atlantis logo was tacked on to the end of all episodes. However, it appears AFTER the "Markowitz/Chesler Producing" logo and "This Has Been An HBO Presentation" screens, so all of the original content is present.

* Each episode has a 2.0 (stereo) and 5.1 audio track. I really see no need for the 5.1 track and would have preferred that they left it off (maybe there wouldn't be so many damn compression artifacts if they had that extra space on the discs to work with).

* There are no bonus features like in the U.S. "Volume 1" release (audio commentaries on selected eps).

* This set gives you more episodes for less money than the U.S. "Volume 1" set. For the record, there are only five episodes (from Seasons 4 & 5) on the U.S. set that aren't on here: Why Are You Here?, Homebodies, The Legendary Billy B., In the Name of Love, and The Miracle of Alice Ames.

The Hitchhiker Vol. 1-4 VHS Review

Image

This review was originally written on August 15, 2004
Episode Titles, Descriptions, Casts, and Notes

The Hitchhiker was a Twilight Zone-esque show that aired on HBO in the early 1980s. It was somewhat of a precursor to HBO's later Tales from the Crypt series. Four volumes of episodes were released on VHS back in the 1980s by Lorimar Home Video. Each tape contains three episodes, the first of which is complete, while the other two are missing the beginning title sequence. All episodes end after the "Markowitz/Chesler Producing" logo (the "This Has Been An HBO Presentation" screen is omitted). Each tape was duplicated in the SP speed. An interesting bit of trivia: the tapes in this series originally sold for a suggested retail price of $39.95 (according to the commercial on the Vol. 4 tape).

I will be taking a quick look at all of them, starting with The Hitchhiker Vol. 1 VHS, which includes the following three episodes:

• "The Curse" - Jerry Maclachlan is the owner of a rundown apartment building who promises Serita, a tenant, that he will make repairs to the building. After he becomes involved with a strange woman Tanya, he discovers a snake tattoo on his body. Both Serita and Tanya tell him how to get rid of the snake. Stars: Harry Hamlin, Peter Yunker, Daryl Hayes, Janet Hodgkinson, Arnold Johnson, Deborah Lacey, Laurie O'Byrne, and Beah Richards.

• "W.G.O.D" - Reverend Nolan Powers is a money hungry radio evangelist preaching on the air waves about the bible. 0ff the air, he's a self-righteous greedy man. A tabloid news reporter, Sato, digs up the story about how the Reverend killed his brother, Gerald. Gerald's ghost comes back to haunt the Reverend, ruin his career and pay him back for causing his death. Stars: Gary Busey, Robert Ito, Geraldine Page, Brioni Farrell, and Ian Forsyth.

• "Hired Help" - Kay Mason, abusive owner of a dressmaking sweatshop, is cursed by an angry worker who exclaims that she will be paid back by the devil for her actions. When she hires a mysterious stranger to do some odd jobs around the house, she doesn't realize he's the devil in disguise. Stars: Karen Black, Fernando Allende, and Donnelly Rhodes.

Image

The Hitchhiker Vol. 2 VHS includes the following three episodes:

• "Dead Man's Curve" - Claudia now a famous novelist, returns home for her high school reunion and opens old wounds in Lee, the sheriff. Claudia finds out that Lance, her town-appointed escort, is really the son of a former high school boyfriend who blames her for his father's death. Fighting over her, Lance and Lee replay the fateful event that killed Lance's father. Stars: Susan Anspach, Michael Ironside, and Michael Schoeffling.

• "Nightshift" - Jane Reynolds is a nurse at a retirement home where she steals the resident's valuables, which her boyfriend Johnny hocks. The couple get an unpleasant surprise when her newest victim is an old man who is much more than he seems. Stars: Darren McGavin, Margot Kidder, and Stephen McHattie.

• "Last Scene" - Alex, a former actor, tries to prove his abilities as a first-time director. In his first film he must deal with a first-time actress, Leda Bidell. Off the set Leda is being terrorized by the fictional killer from the movie, and when she finds out who it is, she enacts the last scene with him in reality and instills in him a fear that haunts him for the rest of his life. Stars: Peter Coyote, LaGena Hart, Tom Heaton, and Garwin Sanford. Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

Image

The Hitchhiker Vol. 3 VHS includes the following three episodes.

• "Ghostwriter" - Jeffrey Hunt will resort to anything to create a lucrative career as a novelist, even if it means faking his own death. His wife Debby believes he is dead and continues her affair with Tony, Jeffrey's editor. By the end, everyone must pay for their own deceptions. Stars: Barry Bostwick, Willem Dafoe, M. Emmet Walsh, Dayle Haddon, Anthony Holland, and Madeleine Sherwood.

• "True Believer" - A non-believer in the supernatural, Detective Frank Sheen must investigate a priest's suspicious suicide. Upon questioning Father Dowling he learns that the convent is demonically possessed and closed down years before when Sister Theresa committed suicide. After one night in the place, he soon begins having his own suicidal feelings. Stars: Tom Skerritt, Ornella Muti, and Walter Learning.

• "And If We Dream" - Roseanne Lucas develops a mad and obsessive crush on her married high school photography teacher Todd Fields. Todd finds more than he bargained for when he steps over the line and sleeps with her. Stars: Stephen Collins, Roberta Weiss, Brian Dooley, Nicholas Kilbertus, Bronwen Mantel, and Mitch Martin.

Image

The Hitchhiker Vol. 4 VHS includes the following three episodes.

• "Videodate" - Jack Rhodes is a salesman that attempts to wear many disguises to get what he wants - women. One day, he gets a video letter from a mysterious woman who challenges him to meet her. She plays him like a fiddle and takes advantage of him. Now the tables are turned and Jeff can't escape, not even with his life. Stars: Shannon Tweed, Gregg Henry, Pauline Little, Michael Rudder, and Linda Smith.

• "Face To Face" - Dr. Christopher Hamilton, an ambitious and pompous plastic surgeon, meets his challenge in Nina Russell, a patient in the process of a gender change. He completely botches up the procedure when he shows up to the surgery unprepared. Stars: Robert Vaughn, Sonja Smits, Sybil Danning, Michele Scarabelli, Robin Greer, and Arthur Corber.

• "Man's Best Friend" - Richard Shepard is kicked out of his house by his wife Eleanor. He takes in a stray dog that begins killing off his enemies. When the dog goes for Eleanor, Richard tries to keep the dog from killing the woman he loves. Stars: Jennifer Cooke, Michael O'Keefe, Boyd Norman, Margot Pinvidic, and Joel Polis.

G.L.O.W. - Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling DVD & VHS Reviews

Image

This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Comparing The DVD To The Previous VHS Release

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, also known as G.L.O.W., was a women's professional wrestling promotion that aired in syndication from 1986–1990, with the majority of the action taking place at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. The show was ultra-cheesy, feature colorful (and highly stereotyped) characters and over-the-top comedy sketches. G.L.O.W. has gotten a bit of a revival over the past decade, culminating in a documentary and a scripted Netflix series this Summer starring Alison Brie.

Three volumes of episodes were released on VHS back in the 1980s by Today Home Entertainment, and were subsequently re-released on DVD by Allied Artists in the 2000s. All three DVDs contain the same slideshow and promo bonus features. I will be taking a quick look at all of them, starting with Vol. 1 - Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling - DVD, VHS - which runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. TAG TEAM: Royal Hawaiian & Spanish Red vs. California Doll & Americana
  2. TAG TEAM: Sara & Mabel vs. Salt & Pepper
  3. TAG TEAM: Hollywood & Vine vs. Tina Ferrari (WWF's Ivory) & Ashley
  4. BATTLE FOR THE G.L.O.W. CROWN: Matilda the Hun vs. Tammy Jones
There are two minor portions at the start and end of the program from the original VHS that were edited out of the DVD. (1) Seven seconds of music on a black screen before the first visual. It's the first seven seconds of the song that's already playing as the show on the DVD begins. (2) The INI logo at the very end.

Except for these two minor portions, nothing else was edited out. The F word was used twice and racial slurs were used once (all left intact from the original VHS release).

There are two minor defects that weren't in the VHS: At 21.59 is a slight defect that is not in the original videotape. Also, at 56.16 is a minor edit that is not in the original video tape. During the end credits Tina Ferrari interview, about 21 frames (less than a second) is cut. It sounds like it was done because the audio on the master they used to make the DVD was bad at that spot. Tina's complete line is: "I like a man... that you can have a little control over." The "..." represents a one second pause in her words.

Image

Vol. 2 - The Saga Continues - DVD, VHS - runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. SINGLES: Olympia vs. Jungle Woman (with Nature Boy at ringside)
  2. GRUDGE MATCH: Spanish Red vs. Americana
  3. TAG TEAM: Corporal Kelly & Attache vs. The Southern Belles Scarlett & Terror
  4. TAG TEAM: Heavy Metal Sisters Chain Saw & Spike vs. The Cheerleaders Debbie Debuante & Susie Spirit
  5. THE RUSSIAN: Ninotchka vs. Little Feather (with special appearance by Ebony)
  6. THE TERRORIST: Palestina (from Syria) vs. Sally, The Farmer's Daughter (from Nebraska)
  7. THE HANDICAP, TWO WRESTLERS AGAINST ONE: Hollywood & Vine vs. Mt. Fiji (350 lbs.)
  8. SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES: Jackie Stallone manager of the good girls & Matilda The Hun
The picture is a bit darker than the original videotape, the audio was turned up a bit too loud, and there are faint picture rolls throughout that were not in the tape. All minor video and audio defects were in the original VHS release.

Image

Vol. 3 - Fans Beware - DVD, VHS - runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. TRIPLE FEATURE: Spanish Red & Jungle Woman (with Nature Boy) vs. The Cheerleaders Suzy Spirit & Debbie Debutante (with special appearance by Tina Ferrari) (1 fall, 20 min time limit)
  2. TEXAS BAR ROOM BRAWL, ANYTHING GOES: Dallas (The Texan Cowgirl) vs. Ninotchka (The Russian Colonel) (no time limit, no rules, no pin-falls, fighting both in and out of ring)
  3. STREET FIGHT, LOSERS CLOTHES COME OFF: California Doll, Farmers Daughter, Tina & Ashley vs. Hollywood & Vine with The Soul Patrol (Envy & Adore from Chicago) (8 ladies in the ring at the same time, $16,000 and champagne to the winning team) (no time limit, no rules, no disqualifications, no pin-falls, weapons?) (see David McLane assaulted and disrobed)
  4. SINGLE FEATURE MATCH: Dementia (Mgr: Aunt Kittie) vs. Little Egypt "The Desert Flower"
The following vignettes are also included:
  1. G.L.O.W Rap - David McLane & The GLOW Girls
  2. The Spanish Kitchen
  3. California Dolls - "Points to Ponder"
  4. Drs. Fiel and Grope - Gynecology/Plastic Surgery/Psychiatry
  5. Asking Ashley
  6. Tips From Tina
  7. The Farmer's Daughter's Letters Home
  8. Easy as K.G.B. with Colonel Ninotchka
  9. Card Playing with Matilda the Hun
  10. Children of the Night
  11. Morning Coffee
  12. Mt. Fuji's Dream
  13. And Many, Many More
Nothing has been edited out. Everything from the original videotape release is include here.

The Fairfield Company Target Wrestling Mystery Repack Box Review Break

Image

Undoubtedly, if you've been to a Target store, you've seen the "cards and collectibles" section at the end of the checkout lanes. It's where you'll find all of the sports cards, Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and all of that other overpriced junk. I almost always look at what's there, but rarely every buy anything as I can't justify the prices - especially considering the "blind bag" nature of these things. If I'm gonna spend $4 to $5 on a few measly cards, I at least want to know what I'm buying.

On a recent visit to my local Target, I saw these red Wrestling mystery repack boxes from The Fairfield Company (a division of Excell Marketing), which I expected to be priced at $15 or $20 each. Imagine my surprise when the price checker showed them to be a mere $4.99 each. I bought all four boxes that my local Target had, as well as another box at a different Target. So, five boxes in total, at a total cost of $25.00 (plus tax). The big draw for me were the Teenymates packs, which my Target was also selling individually for $3.99 each. Getting TWO packs for $4.99, PLUS three packs of cards, and two packs of erasers was a much MUCH better deal than just one pack of Teenymates for $1.00 less. (Note: The photos accompanying this review were taken at different times, so they may not show everything I mention in my text.)

Image

Each one of these boxes contains the following:
  • 2 packs of WWE Teenymates (2015) (regularly $3.99 each)
  • 2 packs of WWE Eraseez collectible puzzle erasers (2015)
  • 2 packs of Road To Wrestlemania 2014 cards
  • 1 pack of random WWE cards (2010/2013/2014 series, in my case)
That's not a bad haul for the price, but did I really get my money's worth. Let's crack these open and find out.

Full story »

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Collection DVD Review

Image

This review was originally written on July 7, 2010
Overpriced Old Content That Was Released Less Than A Year Later For Much Less

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Collection (alt listing) consists of the three original live-action Turtles films from the early-to-mid 1990s, and the computer-animated TMNT film from 2007, along with a sheet of temporary tattoos - all packaged in a standard plastic keepcase, with two double-sided pages inside, one disc per side. The tattoos are stored under the literature clips on the inside cover, and there's nothing on the inside back cover.

Image

Each of the four discs is a bit-for-bit copy (a "disc image") of a previous DVD release. All four movies are 16:9 widescreen, with Turtles 2 & 3 also containing 4:3 fullscreen versions. (Full disc specs are below.) Apparently in the original releases, Turtles 1 & TMNT were dual-sided discs with widescreen on one side and fullscreen on the other - and they only used the widescreen sides for this re-release. That's fine with me.

Image

These same four discs (with the same disc art) and temporary tattoos are also available in a "25th Anniversary Collector's Edition" box set, which adds in some cloth masks and puts the discs in what appears to be a round CD holder, which is then apparently stored in an outer cardboard box with the masks.

I bought the "Movie Collection" release for $25 at Walmart, which had a sticker on front proclaiming "Only At Wal*Mart - Includes Turtle Tattoos". Since the tattoos are available in the "25th Anniversary Collector's Edition" box set, it must be the standard packaging that's exclusive to Walmart.

Image

I like that it's in standard packaging, and doesn't include the masks and CD holder that I have no desire to buy, but I wish the price were significantly cheaper. What hurts even more is that less than a year after I bought it, Warner Bros. put out the 4 Film Favorites - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles two-disc DVD set, which includes all of the same video content (one "disc image" per disc side), but usually sells in Target for $9.99 - two and a half times LESS than what I paid!

2017 UPDATE - The discs from the Blu-ray collectors set have been repackaged in the 4 Film Favorites - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-Ray four-disc set, which retails for $20. That's a much better value than any of the DVD sets.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
* Year: 1990
* Runtime: 1:33:23
* Video Format: 16:9 Widescreen
* DVD Production Date: February 27, 2003 (Nero InfoTool gives this date, but it should be 1998 or 1999)
* Region: 1
* Layers: 1
* Audio Languages: English, French
* Subtitle Languages: English, Spanish, French
* Extras: The T-Files (character biographies of Donatello, Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Splinter, The Shredder), Theatrical Trailer, "Sewer Maze" Game, "Monkey Trouble" Trailer, "The Adventures Of Pinocchio" Trailer, "Theodore Rex" Trailer.
* Notes: This is a live-action movie.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE
* Year: 1991
* Runtime: 1:28:19
* Video Format: 16:9 Widescreen, 4:3 Fullscreen
* DVD Production Date: July 2, 2002 (Nero InfoTool gives this date, but it should be 1998 or 1999)
* Region: 1
* Layers: 2
* Audio Languages: English
* Subtitle Languages: English
* Extras: Theatrical Trailer, "Pick That Flick" Game.
* Notes: This is a live-action movie.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III
* Year: 1993
* Runtime: 1:35:33
* Video Format: 16:9 Widescreen, 4:3 Fullscreen
* DVD Production Date: July 18, 2002 (Nero InfoTool gives this date, but it should be 1998 or 1999)
* Region: 1
* Layers: 2
* Audio Languages: English
* Subtitle Languages: English
* Extras: Theatrical Trailer, "Pick That Flick" Game.
* Notes: This is a live-action movie.

TMNT
* Year: 2007
* Runtime: 1:26:45
* Video Format: 16:9 Widescreen
* DVD Production Date: May 18, 2007
* Region: 1
* Layers: 1
* Audio Languages: English, Spanish, French
* Subtitle Languages: English, Spanish, French
* Extras: Commentary with writer/director Kevin Munroe, Alternate Opening (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), Alternate Ending Temp/Scratch Test (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), "Mikey's Birthday Party" Full Sequence (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), "Raphael's Rough House Fight" Test (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), "Monsters Come Alive" Storyboard Comparison (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), "Donny's Digital Data Files" Featurette, "Rooftop Workout" Rough Scene (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), "Still Wanna Fight" Temp/Scratch Test (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), "Splinter Gets Cake" Additional Scene (with forced commentary by Kevin Munroe), Internet Reel, "Voice Talent First Look" Featurette
* Notes: This is a computer-animated movie. The back of the case incorrectly lists a Fullscreen copy, in addition to the Widescreen copy.

That is all.