EyeCraveTvonDVD – Special Edition Insanity!

Welcome! It’s the OVER-SIZED, LIMITED EXCLUSIVE COLLECTOR’S SPECIAL EDITION fourth issue of the new EyeCraveTVonDVD column, a weekly feature to wrap up the news, rumors, gossip, changes, release dates, and more on your favorite television show DVD releases. This week, learn the latest news and find out about box set re-releases – read on for all the crave-ables you need for the week! “Double dipping” has taken over the DVD industry. This is the process by which companies effectively “double dip” into consumers’ pockets by intentionally releasing a regular edition and a special edition (or collector’s, limited, director’s, unrated, super ultra duper, or whatever). For a while, television box sets with their higher price tags were free of this cycle, but companies have caught on and fans are starting to see new releases of their favorite shows, some worthwhile and others worth nothing. Read on for just a tip of the double dip iceberg and a primer to keep yourself sane.The most notorious of these are the money makers, the sets which have no real fan value and just get hashed out again and again and again. Sex and the City may be one of the winners of this award, as it started with very highly priced season sets for all six seasons (seven releases total as season six was split in two). Each set was SRP $49.98 with the first season SRP $39.98. A collection of all of these sets (with nothing but plastic wrap around them) came out shortly after the last one with an SRP of $340.98. Last year, about a year following the wrap up, a Sex and the City: The Complete Collection (SRP $299.98, with lower prices common) hit the shelves with a price-tag that made sense for new purchasers but not for fans to re-buy (even with selling off old sets on online auction sites). This version featured obtuse, oversized, book-like packaging and a bonus disc of games and rehashed tracks, nothing new for the avid. And that’s not all! Hot on its heels just this month came four separate episode releases (five if Target’s exclusive is considered), each known as Sex and the City: The Essentials (SRP $14.98 each volume) and containing three episodes centered around a certain subject (lust, breakups, romance, fashion and Mr. Big). In the end, fans should stick with what they got – none of these offer any bonuses worth a double-dip, and the packaging may in fact be a turn off in the complete set for DVD collectors.Jumping over to HBO’s rival, Showtime has had some slightly different dipping going on. Queer as Folk was originally released in box sets that folded out and contained pull straps (like in battery compartments), with one set’s strap even made of leather. These high quality boxes raised the cost a bit undoubtedly (SRP $109.98), but relative to HBO’s bare bones releases, the cost was only at the high end of the spectrum, not too much further. Beginning last year, Showtime announced plans to revisit all previously released seasons of Queer as Folk (1-3) and has already released the first at new lower prices (SRP $49.98) in cheaper boxes with plastic snap cases, a very run of the mill set. Rumor has it rental stores were distraught over what to do with the more unique boxes and may have had some sway in the re release that allows a display case per disc (something not possible with a fold out box). Sending out the second units as cheaper editions and elevating the first units as limited editions was a fine move, as the price differential allowed new fans to come on board. The bad move was when the release of Queer as Folk season four came along. Season four was released with a price back at the higher end (SRP $109.98), but this time was a cheap box and snap cases, with no option for the fold out. It’s unclear how fans are expected to be okay with a cheaper, uglier box for the same price as the original collectible editions. Collectors who prefer uniformity or even just aesthetic appeal were screwed over, and season five’s May release is undoubtedly the same with an SRP of $109.98.The Twilight Zone has been nothing less than a debacle for fans, and the story is too convoluted and silly to even go into. To summarize, there are two companies, too many releases, and a price tag that could knock you on the floor. From 1999-2001, Image Entertainment released 43 volumes (that’s right, 43 DVD releases) each containing four episodes and an SRP of $19.98. This was in addition to a few random theme releases and best of that were already out there. In 2002, Image began to collect the discs into five randomized (not airdate order) collections containing around 35 episodes and some bonus materials with an SRP of $99.99. In late 2002, V3 Media (MediaRacer) came along and put out the limited availability Gold Collection, a 49 disc collection of every episode finally in airdate order, with some bonus materials, and marked at a whopping SRP of $399.95. Image shaped up, fixed the sets, remastered the eps, added the bonuses, and began with season sets called “Definitive Editions.” These five sets began in late 2004 and finished up in late 2005, and each contain a full season of eps with an SRP of $99.95. In the end, only the consumer can really make the choice in this mess. The Definitive Editions are the most remastered for quality and feature commentaries as well as rare features, but will set you back close to $500 for the whole series. Casual fans may opt for another option, but there is no less value for your money than $500 for the series – every other option, other than the limited Gold Collection – will be higher than that and even incomplete.Continuing in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy, the Fox franchise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is jumping on board with more posthumous releases than you can shake stick at. The series seasons themselves remained fairly consistent with remastered, extra feature-filled, fold out box sets for seasons one through seven (SRP $59.98 each, except season one $39.98). Slowly, single disc releases began to come on to the market. Region 2 saw nearly a dozen single disc releases of episodes tying into a character or theme joined by a rehased featurette. Region 1 fans so far just have a Starter Set (SRP $9.99) featuring the first two episodes and collections (some Best Buy exclusive) devoted to the Hellmouth and Spike (SRP $14.99 each). Last year saw the necessary collection of the entire series – but one that is the most worthwhile double dip I can recommend. Featuring just one bonus disc of new features that are mediocre, the worthiness is in the value and format. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection is all seven seasons of the show and their exact discs from the previous releases. The set size is DVD standard height and with a width equal to about two of the previous boxes, the innovativeness is astounding. The set features “drawers” for each season that pull out into small books of the season discs. The additional disc is accompanied by a booklet and letter from creator Joss Whedon, and features a price tag of just $199.98, a fraction of the season sets put together.While sitcoms rarely have enough potential for multiple releases, Seinfeld and Friends both have jumped onto the bandwagon to bleed their market, though the dedication to fans is noteworthy. Seinfeld began its season releases for Holidays 2004 and released seasons one through three in two sets (combining the first two seasons) that featured an immense array of bonus materials for a standard SRP of $49.95. Fans also had the option fort the Seinfeld: Re-Gift Set, a set featuring the same releases, but including an annotated script, salt and pepper shakers, and playing cards (SRP $119.95). The smart move here was to not include anything bonus on the DVDs, an obvious manipulation of consumers, and simply offering an option for an avid fan gift set versus the standard disc releases. Season four hit the next Spring, so missed the chance for the re-gift set, but come Holiday Season 2005, seasons five and six found the same option available. This time the set included the season five and season six DVD sets, as well as a mini puffy shirt and annotated script (SRP $119.95). The re-gift sets are a great idea, but a large price tag for DVD collectors. The gift sets are best as just that – gifts for fans who will enjoy the novelty of the additional items. Friends began its releases in 2000 and have exploded into dozens of releases since. The releases began with “The Best of Friends” Volumes one through four, featuring the “expanded” versions of the episodes, and eventually making it to a repackaging of the four volumes and pairs (SRP $19.98 each volume). In 2002 the season sets began, each featuring all of the episodes and special features and an SRP of $44.98. Individual releases of five episodes each featuring the “best of” a particular season were released for one through five with an SRP of $9.98 and no features. Season ten came in two options – both identical sets, but one packaged with a DVD console trivia game about the series. The series finale also made its way onto a separate release with the “Friends: Series Finale Exclusive Limited Edition” which came out just five days after the finale aired. This release has an SRP of $14.97 and a featurette of the main-title sequences, a music video, the pilot episode, the expanded DVD version of the finale, and the exclusive broadcast edited version (not released anywhere else). When all ten seasons finally released late last year, WB stuck all ten existing sets into a box called “Friends: The One with All Ten Seasons – Collector’s Box” and an SRP of $299.98, a huge reduction over the cost of the ten seasons individually. Luckily the WB was fan-friendly enough to offer the box to fans who owned all ten seasons for a small shipping fee. The box is expected to ship later this month, and rumor has it some orders cannot be fulfilled due to the high demand. With all of these releases, fans should stick with the season sets and hope for the box. Those who haven’t purchased any can safely get the large box for a reduced cost. The individual releases are redundant, and geared towards casual fans not looking to spend on a whole season, though the value just isn’t there for them. Casual fans will get more releases this March with “The One With All The” series discs featuring six episodes around a certain theme (babies, birthdays, weddings) and a $14.97 SRP.Wrapping up, there is a new shift in animated releases that were once targeted at children transitioning to collector’s season sets. Animated television releases geared towards a younger audience typically release in single volumes containing 2-4 episodes. The prices range from SRP $9.99 through $14.99 and are marketed to impulse buying parents who don’t want to shell out a season set for a toddler. Justice League saw a bunch of individual episode releases over the last few years, but debuts next month with a season one set full of special features and better value (SRP $44.98). Teen Titans just did the same thing, as individual discs are in limbo (and may never return) and the first season came out last week with an SRP of just $19.98. X-Men: Evolution has eight individual release comprising the first two seasons of the show (SRP $14.98 each). A collection of the first four volumes bound by a rubber band is available for $52.98 and no differences in packaging or disc content. With a hope to larger audiences when the new movie hits in May, fans can pick up the entire third season in a box set for just $19.98, a steal over individual releases. No word on backtracking for season sets yet.In conclusion, buyer beware! The underlying theme for collectors seems to be that some single releases may eventual make it to seasons (in fact in today’s DVD climate, count on it), so if you would prefer a season, hold out. Tune in to EyeCraveTVonDVD RETURNING IN A FEW WEEKS with a full wrap up of the latest news and a yet-to-be determined feature that you are sure to enjoy, as well as rumors, scoop, and the latest crave-ables!Television shows that released on DVD this week include:The Andy Griffith Show Season 5Charles in Charge Season 1Farscape Volume 8Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Season 3Gimme A Break! Season 1Golden Girls Season 4Grey’s Anatomy Season 1He-Man Season 1, Volume 2Living Single Season 1Pretender Season 3

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