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Steve Martin: The Television Stuff





(OUT OF 10)

I've been waiting a long time for something like this—a collection of Steve Martin's television specials and appearances. For fans of Martin, this is a dream come true.

The set includes specials like Comedy Is Not Pretty, which contains the infamous staging of Marty Robbins' "El Paso" with Martin and chimpanzees. You also get Steve Martin's Best Show Ever, a live special released around the time of his Pennies From Heaven film. Martin does a tap-dance showdown with Gregory Hines, and I happen to think Martin wins it.

You also get a film of Martin's '70s standup, and that's worth the price of the set right there.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Each disc contains portions of an excellent recent interview with Martin. I especially liked the moment when he recalled the "El Paso" shoot and how his heart broke when he inadvertently scared one of the little chimp actors.

Get a Life: Un-Special Non-Anniversary Edition





(OUT OF 10)

I was deeply in love with this show's first season, and at least mildly in love with the second (and final) season. This is the first time the complete series is available on DVD.

Chris Elliott stars as a 30-year-old paperboy who still lives in his parents' house. (His father is played by real-life dad, Bob.) Storylines included an episode in which Chris builds a submarine in his bathtub; he and his dad become trapped in it and get attacked by a miniature squid.

Every episode got progressively weirder—no surprise, considering the writing staff included Elliott, Charlie Kaufman and Bob Odenkirk. The series lost a little steam when Elliott's character moved out of his house in the second season, but it still had a lot to offer. The opening credits, with Elliott delivering newspapers to the tune of R.E.M.'s "Stand," is classic.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentaries, featurettes and interviews with show creator David Mirkin will keep fans busy.

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Finally, you can get all of the Indiana Jones movies on Blu-ray. Until now, only Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was available in the format.

I took a day and watched all of the films in a row—and it was a blast. It's always a great thing to return to the land of Indy, but now we get to do it with brilliant, high-definition picture and sound that will have your downstairs neighbors smacking the ceiling with broomsticks.

Raiders of the Lost Ark remains the franchise's best, a wonder of a film that has lost none of its magic. It's hard to imagine that Harrison Ford almost didn't play Indy. Tom Selleck, Bill Murray and Steve Martin were all in the running, with Ford getting the role just weeks before filming. Steven Spielberg always wanted him, but series-creator George Lucas wanted somebody new to his universe. Thankfully, Steven won out. The movie is perfection, the quintessential action flick with a small flavoring of the supernatural. With Nazis as the enemy, lots of snakes and spectacular chase after spectacular chase, the original can't be beat.

Then came Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a violent, crazy, sometimes-gloomy installment that prompted a new ratings category from the MPAA. (The PG-13 rating was introduced shortly thereafter.) I still don't know how this movie, with still-beating hearts being ripped from people's chests, didn't get an R. Even though it is awfully dark, the film contains some of the franchise's best set pieces, including the mineshaft chase and the raft/parachute scene.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was heartwarming thanks to the casting of Sean Connery as Indy's father. Filmmakers played it safe by bringing back the Nazis as the bad guys and injecting more laughs. The film didn't take the franchise to new places, but it closed out the '80s on a satisfying note.

And then, two decades later, we got Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, easily the franchise's weakest entry, but still a fun watch. I'm actually getting a little tired of the beatings this one continues to take. Sure, the monkeys are stupid; Cate Blanchett sucks; and the aliens are a bit hard to take. But Ford is awesome, and I happen to love the atomic bomb/refrigerator bit.

Talk of a fifth chapter continues, although I doubt it will ever happen, especially since Lucas has declared himself retired, and Ford is 70. Hell, he's older than Mick Jagger. Movie grades: Raiders (A), Temple of Doom (B), Last Crusade (A-), Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (B-).

SPECIAL FEATURES: There are a ton of making-ofs and behind-the-scenes featurettes. Most of them are from prior editions, and they do get a bit repetitive at times. Still, it's a treasure trove of on-set footage and Spielberg interviews.

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