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Spaced: The Complete Series

BBC
Show A
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 9 (out of 10)

Here's where Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright, the team behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, got their start. It's a BBC sitcom in which Pegg and Jessica Hynes play two roommates pretending to be a couple so that they can rent a flat. It's basically a setup for strange situations and awesome British humor.

Nick Frost, often Pegg's screen partner, plays a militant friend, and Pegg's character (a comic artist) is prone to comical and horrific hallucinations.

The show gets better with each episode. It takes a little while to get used to, but once it clicks in your brain, Spaced is quite brilliant. Pegg comes pretty close to his Shaun character here, a lazy-bones man with a nasty sense of sarcasm.

There's such a giant difference between American and British sitcoms. It's no surprise that an American version of the show apparently didn't make the cut. I can't see how anybody on our side of the pond could really do this show justice.

Special Features: A bonus disc is loaded with documentaries, footage of a 2007 reunion and deleted scenes. Commentaries feature the cast and special guests like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Bill Hader. This is one of the year's best discs.


The Perfect Storm (Blu-Ray)

Warner
Movie A
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

I hadn't watched this film in a long time. I remembered that I liked it a lot, and that remains true after viewing the Blu-Ray version. It's quite the technical and directorial achievement.

This is a story of a ship lost at sea. George Clooney stars as Billy Tyne, captain of the swordfish boat the Andrea Gail. Tyne's been on a cold streak lately, and his crew (including Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly) needs a big score. Captain Tyne decides to take one more late run, taking his boat out to the Flemish Cap, where the fish are biting.

Unfortunately, three storms are heading for each other in the area, and it's fixing to result in the worst storm in recorded history. A broken ice machine that threatens their catch leads to a bad decision, and the ship heads right into the mouth of the monster.

Director Wolfgang Petersen and crew did a fantastic job, not only with the true story of the doomed Andrea Gail, but with parallel stories as well. A crew of divers runs into trouble with their helicopter in the storm, and three people boating to Bermuda (including Karen Allen) find themselves in need of a rescue. This film boasts some stellar editing to go with its incredible effects. The movie is 8 years old, yet its water and wave effects hold up nicely.

The actors must've put themselves through major hell making this pic. Clooney and Wahlberg take a major beating in the boat's wheelhouse, getting hit in the face with constant waves of water. There are frequent shots of a downtrodden Wahlberg, and it's my guess that he isn't acting all that much.

Special Features: Some great commentaries, including one from the director and another from writer Sebastian Junger, who wrote the book on which the film is based. As for documentaries, the disc kind of skimps.


Robot Chicken: Star Wars

Warner
Show B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 8.5 (out of 10)

Seth Green and his buddies got special permission from one Mr. George Lucas to do a parody of the Star Wars films, and the action figures manage to pull off some seriously good jokes. The sketch that started it all--the Emperor takes a collect call from Darth Vader after the destruction of the Death Star--is great stuff. The sketch was done before this project took place, airing on an early episode of the show and making the rounds as a viral video.

My favorite part would be the sketch that gives the backstory leading up to Walrus Man's fateful meeting with Ben Kenobi's light saber. The idea that the poor guy was having a wonderful day at his architect job, yet wound up getting into a fight at the Star Wars Cantina due to his overzealous buddy, is a great geek moment. It actually makes a quick scene in the actual Star Wars movie a lot deeper, and just a little heartbreaking.

Lucas himself appears when his action figure is chased down at a convention. Other guest stars include Mark Hamill and Ahmed Best, the real voice of the immortal Jar-Jar Binks.

Word just got out that Robot Chicken will be doing a sequel, and that's a good thing. Seth Green and the boys obviously love what they are doing, and it shows.

Special Features: Holy Jesus, there are a lot of commentaries on this disc--seven in total, featuring just about everybody involved in the thing. Breckin Meyer, once again, points out that he wrote the famous Emperor sketch, something he's awfully proud of. There are also sketches of deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes stuff and even visual commentaries. It's actually a bit much.

More by Bob Grimm

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