If you haven’t seen Fringe, then you don’t know what you’re missing.
Co-creator J.J. Abrams has updated The X-files for the noughties with this science fiction series that has FBI agent Olivia Dunham, Scientist Walter Bishop (fresh from a mental institution…) and his son Peter Bishop, regularly looking into strange phenomena working from within the ‘Fringe Division’ of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
What starts out in season one as a fairly generic procedural sci-fi crime drama, develops into something genuinely intriguing – a story arc develops (peaking in seasons two and three) that takes in parallel universes, doppelgängers, alternate timelines and baldheaded mystery ‘observers’ that turn up at significant events in time.
Superb performances from Anna Torv (Dunham) and John Noble (Walter Bishop) coupled with amazing production values, make the show all the more satisfying and very addictive.
The Fringe team in action
The whole thing reaches a climax next week, in the US, with the final episodes to Season 5 – the final season. If you’re in the UK you will know that Fringe is criminally ignored by the broadcasters over here, which probably explains why Season 5 is available to pre-order over here before the US (due out in May). If you haven’t seen the series yet, then lucky you. You have five amazing seasons to sit through – there are plenty of box-set options to chose from.
Skyfall may have failed to receive any nominations in the main categories in yesterday’s Oscar announcements, but 007 fans can console themselves with the knowledge that Bond #23 is due for release on Blu-ray, in a few configurations on 18 February 2013.
The main version of interest is a ‘triple play’ featuring Blu-ray + DVD + Digital which comes with a reasonable selection of special features (see below).
In the UK, a new box set featuring all of Daniel Craig’s outings as Bond is also released on the same day. The 007 Triple Pack does,of course, feature the superb Casino Royale, the middling Quantum of Solace and the sublime Skyfall.
Back in 1994, I was probably one of the first people in the UK to own a VHS copy of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
It seems incredible to recall that this striking debut was effectively banned for a home video release (in the UK) from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for around a year or so (it had received an ‘18’ certificate for the theatrical release) and it wasn’t until 1995 (after Pulp Fiction had come out) that Reservoir Dogs was eventually issued on VHS.
Although the BBFC are always at pains to point out that they never ‘ban’ a film (they simply deny it a classification, which of course happens to mean it cannot be released), there was, in the UK in the early to mid-nineties, a rather feverish, moralistic backlash against film ‘violence’ and an uncertainty about the affects of unchecked gratuitous violent scenes on the great British Public. The ear-cutting torture sequence was the problematic scene in Reservoir Dogs.
The feeling that the BBFC were uncertain as to what to do about film violence was underlined by the fact that a rather poor British Film called Beyond Bedlam (starring a certain Elizabeth Hurley) joined Dogs by being refused a classification at around the same time. Unlike Tarantino’s debut this ban was the only thing notable about Beyond Bedlam.
Back to Reservoir Dogs… I happened to be working in a video duplication facility at that time, and one of our clients was Polygram Filmed Entertainment who were distributing Reservoir Dogs in the UK. We held a master tape of the film at that point and yours truly was the video tape librarian! Polygram would regularly request timecode-stamped VHS copies of Reservoir Dogs either for ‘internal use’, or sometimes to submit the film to the BBFC.
Having friends, literally, on the ‘factory floor’ where the video duplication took place, was always handy as it was regular procedure to run off a few extra copies where only one was requested, in case the VHS failed a quality control (QC) check.
One of these extra Reservoir Dogs VHS tapes ‘fell’ into my hands in 1994 and for a year or so I’d impress my friends by casually asking if they fancied watching the film at my house.
Of course Reservoir Dogs was eventually released on VHS (in 1995), then Laserdisc, DVD and more recently Blu-ray, but all this fuss and controversy simply added to the feeling that there was something rather special about this movie.
The excellent UK TV film programme of this era was the BBC’s Moving Pictures (criminally axed) and I remember vividly their pre-release report on Reservoir Dogs. From the few clips they showed (which included the scenes of a blood-soaked Tim Roth lying in that warehouse) it was clearly going to be something – at the very minimum – rather interesting and the fact that Harvey Keitel played a key role lent it a massive amount of credibility, given his pedigree .
One interesting point about Reservoir Dogs is that it wasn’t until it was positively received in Europe, and the UK in particular, that the US sat up and really took notice. The fact is, that much of the States would only see Reservoir Dogs AFTER follow-up Pulp Fiction came out, which inevitably would have removed much of the excitement and the ‘who-is-this-guy?’ reaction toward’s the debut feature and its director, who had seemingly emerged from nowhere. It is, after all, hard to be surprised by great talent when you know it exists.
Pulp Fiction earned over $100 million dollars in the US alone, and Tarantino an Oscar. The kid-who-worked-in-a-video-store was at that point part of the mainstream and while his talents were undiminished, the buzz, electricity and rookie impact of Reservoir Dogs would never be matched again.
Reservoir Dogsis now out on Blu-ray as part of the Tarantino XX anniversary box set.
Due for release on 3 Feb 2013 is Peter Pan – the Disney classic based on J.M. Barrie’s book about the young boy who refuses to grow up. This is a three-disc ‘diamond’ edition which contains one Blu-ray disc, a DVD copy and a digital copy on disc.
Amazon.co.uk will today heavily discount this superb E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial limited set (released only last month) as part of their Black Friday Deal Week.
This Blu-ray set contains the original 1982 release, rather than the 20th Anniversary version with all the digital tweaking. Extra scenes are included but not within the film itself and this special edition includes a new documentary The E.T. Journals which runs for just short of an hour.
As well as the actual movie and extras, you get the model spaceship and superior ‘digi-book’ packaging in a presentation box.
This very limited deal starts at 20:30 tonight GMT. Expect it to sell out within a few minutes. Amazon are currently selling it for £89.00, so it is likely to come down to around £50.