The ’90s Strike Back
Ah, the ’90s, the decade of sarcasm. Behind “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons,” no TV show better captured the zeitgeist than “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
Host Joel (and later Mike) sits in silhouette with his two robot pals and mercilessly mocks old B movies. Included in Volume XIV (available Feb. 3) are Mad Monster, Manhunt in Space, Soultaker and Final Justice.
After a string of tone-deaf flops, ’90s indie auteur Kevin Smith returns with Zack and Miri Make a Porno (available Feb. 3). The casting of the Apatow Gang’s Seth Rogen just underscores how irrelevant Smith has become. While certainly a step up from Jersey Girl, Zack and Miri merely ranks as “watchable.”
Part of the ’90s animation renaissance, “Duckman” returns with a Seasons Three and Four set that is currently available.
See You in the Funny Papers
Will Eisner: Profession – Cartoonist tells the early comic creator’s story. Find out more about the man behind the highly influential The Spirit (now a big screen adaptation by Frank Miller) as well as the history of comics.
After a few dozen King Tut specials, the History Channel has reinvented itself to broaden its appeal. Exhibit A: MonsterQuest – Season Two, a fun show in which investigators use new technology to investigate reports of ghosts, monsters and urban legends. “Jurassic Fight Club” uses CGI to bring to life fossil records and gain new insight into the hunting methods of dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, A&E is also expanding its horizons. “Crime 360” is a riveting reality series, which takes you inside a new criminal investigation each episode.
Also available: the 11th and final season of one of the most beloved sitcoms in TV history, “Cheers,” and season two of the popular radio show adaptation “This American Life.”
The John Grisham Courtroom Collection contains four film adaptations from the master of the courtroom potboiler, including The Pelican Brief, The Client, Runaway Jury and A Time to Kill.
The Horror! The Horror!
Author Richard Matheson re-teamed with director Dan Curtis two years after their hit Trilogy of Terror for another horror anthology, Dead of Night. Airing in 1977, the three-part film was originally intended as a pilot episode for a show that was never picked up.
It holds up surprisingly well, with some genuinely creepy moments. It stars a young Ed Begley, Jr., Horst Buchholz, The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee and Joan Hackett.
New on Blu-ray: the director’s cut of Zodiac, David Fincher’s engrossing saga about the infamous serial killer and the investigation, which became life obsessions for those involved. A stellar cast includes: Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo.
Under the Radar
Before Live Aid, the Secret Policeman’s Ball was staged in Britain to raise money for Amnesty International. This collection features five shows spanning the years 1976-1989 and includes performances by Monty Python, Rowan Atkinson, Dudley Moore, Hugh Laurie and musicians Pete Townshend, Lou Reed, Jackson Brown, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler.
Why, God, Why?
Righteous Kill is a testament to what has become of the careers of our two greatest actors, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. If this were an isolated incident, one could write it off as two giants wanting so badly to work together again that they jumped at the first thing that came along. But alas, this is not the case.
This has been going on so long now that it’s clichéd to even complain about the uninspired schlock these two are making. Suffice it to say that there is not an ounce of realism, grit or drama in this movie, which is packed with the kind of “tough” dialogue that makes you hate humanity a little for it.
Gene Hackman needs to sit these guys down and talk to them about the benefits of semi-retirement, the pluses of being able to sleep at night knowing that you can wait for the good roles to come along.
The ’90s Strike Back