MLB World Series Takes Top Honors In The Phil’s Picks 2014 List Of Best New Box Sets For Grown-Ups

The days are officially ticking away to the end of another year. That means that all of the critics out there are now putting out their annual “Best Of” lists. This critic is still working on some of those lists while others are official. The jury’s still out on some right now such as the year’s Best New Documentaries, Independent Movies, Re-Issues, and Best New Movies overall. The lists for all the new music are still in the works, too. So while those lists are being completed, Phil’s Picks offers to everyone to start off the year, a look at the Top 10 Best New Box Sets for Grown-Ups. This year’s list is capped by a box set featuring the entire 2014 World Series, courtesy of Lionsgate, A&E Home Video, and MLB Productions. Also on this year’s list are some blasts from the past and some imports from our neighbors across the pond, and one surprise entry in the Honorable Mention list. The box sets’ packaging, bonus material and more were collectively taken into account in building this (and the other lists to come). Only 15 titles total could make the list. So there were some that didn’t make the list such as the sixth and seventh seasons of Star Trek The Next Generation on Blu-ray or the full six-season run of Ancient Aliens among others. It goes without saying that this was not an easy list to build. But it feels right. So without further ado, here is the list of 2014’s Top 10 New Box Sets For Grown-Ups.

2014 Best New Box Sets For Grown-Ups

1. 2014 MLB World Series Collector’s Edition

2. Endeavour: Series 2

3. Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series

4. The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crackups

5. The Dean Martin Show: Fully Roasted

6. The Roosevelts

7. Inspector Lewis: Series 7

8. Psych: The Complete Series

9. Secret Agent (A.K.A. Danger Man): The Complete Series

10. The Wonder Years: Season 1

Honorable Mention

11. The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years–1951 – 1955

12. The Almighty Johnsons: Season 1

13. Hell on Wheels: Season 3

14. The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection

15. I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 (BD Re-Issue)

Tomorrow, Phil’s Picks looks into the list of the year’s best new box sets for Children and Families. Stay tuned! To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Walking Dead Is At Its Best In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

AMC’s The Walking Dead was little more than a cult favorite when it first *ahem* came to life back in 2010. Now four seasons later the comic book-based series has become more of a cultural phenomenon than just the shot in the dark that it started as four years ago. Fans are waiting rabidly for the premiere of the series’ fifth season next month. Those fans still have a little time to wait. And while they do, they can finally get caught back up thanks to the release of The Walking Dead Season 4 last Tuesday, August 26th. Audiences’ familiarity aside, audiences will all agree that one of the key factors to the enjoyment of Season 4 is the show’s writing. The series’ writers answered in this season one of the biggest questions and concerns that had been posed by audiences from early on. In doing so, they also advanced the story and made it even more gripping.   It’s just one part of what makes the writing this season such a solid sticking point for the overall presentation. Also making this season work is the acting on the part of the cast. The cast, having expanded even more from the series’ first three seasons, has offered more chances for the writers to present the show’s real heart. And now that Season 4 has been released via multiple formats, one cannot ignore the inclusion of a bevy of bonus features. These additions aren’t just the standard gag reel, “Making of” featurette and deleted scenes. There is much more here that rounds out the entire set.   The rich depth of bonus material included in Season 4 set alongside the cast’s acting and the writing behind each episode shows exactly why this show is more than just another zombie-based series. It is a human drama. Considering that, Season 4 becomes full proof of why every fan of the drama genre should allow at least one chance.

When The Walking Dead first premiered four years ago, it was considered largely a cult hit. That’s because the comic book-based series focused on the attempt by the living to survive a zombie apocalypse of sorts. Since then, the show’s popularity seems to have skyrocketed. Why it has skyrocketed was anyone’s guess at first glance. However, the reason for the series’ success is more evident than ever with the release of the series’ fourth season in its various home formats. The primary reason in question for the series’ popularity lies in its writing. Audiences finally get one of the series’ most important questions and concerns at least somewhat answered this season. The noted question and concern center on how the zombie outbreak began in the first place. While the answer given doesn’t necessarily make things 100% clear, it does open up a whole new door that is certain to make the series even more interesting when its fifth season kicks off next month. That semi-answer also leads to another important aspect of this season’s writing. It leads to the series’ more human element. As the outbreak continues, it forces the survivors of the outbreak to face some very difficult situations both within their confined setting and in the grand scheme of things. To see the survivors have to face the growing emotional challenges before them will keep even the newest of viewers engaged throughout each episode. That element of human drama is really what makes this series work even now in its fourth season. Those viewers that have watched the series from day one will agree with that just as much as those that are just now jumping on. Sure, there’s the whole zombie/horror aspect on the surface. But the show’s writers keep the human drama just as much in the forefront. And it is that aspect of the writing more so than anything that keeps the series fresh even now through its fourth season. It also ties in to another aspect of what makes Season 4 work—the acting on the part of the cast.

The multifaceted writing that is used throughout the fourth season of The Walking Dead makes it surprisingly watchable even by those less familiar with the series. Also making The Walking Dead so surprisingly watchable now in its fourth season is the acting on the part of the cast, which has now expanded even more. The psychological impact of Carol (Melissa McBride) having to tell two of the girls that their father had been infected and was turning is a prime example of how the acting makes this season so powerful. It would have been so easy for the girls to ham it up as they were forced to confront the unspeakable act of having to kill their own father just to protect themselves and everyone else. But they took the moment and really went with it. They made simply watching the moment in question painful. And the coldness on The Governor’s face when he shoots Meghan late in the season will leave viewers torn emotionally. As difficult as it is to watch, one can’t help but feel at least somewhat sorry for him having to take that measure. Audiences that haven’t yet seen any part of Season 4 will understand in watching this season’s episodes. But it is acting such as that that makes this season all the more gripping. These are just a couple examples of how the acting on the part of the show’s cast makes this season perhaps one of the series’ best so far if not the best so far. Audiences will find plenty of other instances in which the cast’s work makes this season work when they purchase Season 4 for themselves.

The writing and acting that make up the fourth season of The Walking Dead are both of equal importance to the overall success and enjoyment of this newly released full season box set. Whether they are familiar with this season or seeing it for the first time, audiences will agree that both factors make this season one definitely worth watching. Now that it has been released via various formats in its home release, there is one more factor worth noting that makes Season Four worth the watch. That final factor is the inclusion of the set’s bonus material. Season Four doesn’t come with the standard gag reel, deleted scenes, etc. Rather, audiences are offered a vast array of bonuses. Most of the episodes this season receive their own behind-the-scenes featurette. There are also a number of commentaries included throughout the season. There is also a character profile on The Governor, and a look at “Society, Science and Survival” among so many other extras included with this season. There are in fact so many bonuses that in order to watch them all would add likely another whole day of viewing for fans as they count down to the premiere of this now hit series’ fifth season. And fans will agree in watching these bonuses that that is definitely a good thing (to use a familiar line).

The bonus material added in to Anchor Bay Entertainment’s newly released The Walking Dead Season 4 box sets more than live up to their collective title. And together with this season’s acting and writing, audiences will agree fully that The Walking Dead Season 4 proves to be an installment that fans familiar and not so familiar with this series will appreciate. It is available now in stores and online in a number of formats. It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?projectID=bed5b3a5-06a3-e311-b062-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other releases is available online now at http://www.anchorbayent.com, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. Walking Dead fans can keep up with the latest news on the show online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWalkingDeadAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead, and http://twitter.com/WalkingDead_AMC. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay Releases Tech Specs, Bonus Material Info For Walking Dead Season 4, DVD, BD Box Sets

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment announced this week, the technical specs and details on the bonus features included in the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of The Walking Dead: the Complete Fourth Season.

The complete fourth season of AMC’s hit drama The Walking Dead will be released Tuesday, August 26th. Audiences anxious for this box set’s release will be happy to know that even if they can’t afford the special “Tree Walker” Limited Edition Blu-ray set, they need not worry about missing out on anything. That is because the tech specs and bonus features included on the set’s standard DVD and Blu-ray release are exactly the same as those for the special “Tree Walker” Limited Edition Blu-ray box set. Audiences will enjoy a pair of extended episodes, multiple episode-specific commentaries, and nine separate special featurettes on both the DVD and Blu-ray box set. The full details for both the DVD and Blu-ray specs and bonus features are noted below.

TECH SPECS:

Blu-ray™:

  • Color
  • 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
  • Not Rated
  • 696 Minutes
  • English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1/French: Dolby Surround 2.0
  • English Subtitles for the Deaf & Hearing Impaired
  • Spanish Subtitles

DVD:

  • Color
  • 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
  • Not Rated
  • 688 Minutes
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1/French: Dolby Surround 2.0
  • English Subtitles for the Deaf & Hearing Impaired
  • Spanish Subtitles

BONUS FEATURES:

Blu-ray™

Extended Episodes:

  • Episodes 9 (“After”), and 14 (“The Grove”) are extended on the Blu-ray™ only.

Featurettes:

  • Inside THE WALKING DEAD
  • The Making of THE WALKING DEAD
  • Drawing Inspiration
  • Hershel
  • The Governor Is Back
  • Society, Science & Survival
  • Inside KNB EFX
  • A Journey Back to Brutality
  • Deleted Scenes

Commentaries:

  • Episode 1 (“30 Days Without An Accident”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager Tom Luse and Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor/Director Greg Nicotero
  • Episode 5 (“Internment”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple and Actor Scott Wilson (Hershel)
  • Episode 9 (“After”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor /Director Greg Nicotero, Co-Executive Producer Denise Huth and Actor Danai Gurira (Michonne)
  • Episode 12 (“Still”): Audio Commentary with Director Julius Ramsay and Actor Emily Kinney (Beth); Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Angela Kang and Actor Norman Reedus (Daryl)
  • Episode14 (“The Grove”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer Denise Huth and Actor Andrew Lincoln 

DVD

Featurettes:

  • Inside THE WALKING DEAD
  • The Making of THE WALKING DEAD
  • Drawing Inspiration
  • Hershel
  • The Governor Is Back
  • Society, Science & Survival
  • Inside KNB EFX
  • A Journey Back to Brutality
  • Deleted Scenes 

Commentaries:

  • Episode 1 (“30 Days Without An Accident”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager Tom Luse and Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor /Director Greg Nicotero
  • Episode 5 (“Internment”): Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott M. Gimple and Actor Scott Wilson (Hershel)
  • Episode 12 (“Still”): Audio Commentary with Director Julius Ramsay and Actor Emily Kinney (Beth); Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer Angela Kang and Actor Norman Reedus (Daryl)
  • Episode  14(“The Grove”): Audio Commentary with Director Michael E. Satrazemis and Actors Chad L. Coleman (Tyreese) and Melissa McBride (Carol)

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season will be available Tuesday, August 26th in stores and online. Fans can pre-order the box set now online via Anchor Bay’s official website. All the latest news on The Walking Dead is available online at the series’ official Facebook page, Twitter page, and website. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog, too.

Hell On Wheels Remains One Of TV’s Top Dramas In Its Third Season

Courtesy:  eOne/AMC

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

eOne will release the third season of AMC’s hit western drama Hell on Wheels next Tuesday, July 15th. It goes without saying that the third season of this standout series is the show’s best yet. And being that the series’ fourth season debuts in just a few weeks, its release is perfectly timed. It gives audiences that have watched the show since the beginning the chance to catch up should they have missed any episodes of this season or the series’ first two seasons. And for those that have not yet seen even the first season, audiences that watch this season will the most important key to its success. That key is the series’ writing. While it is recommended that audiences new to the series watch from Season 1, the show’s writers have done such an expert job that they don’t necessarily need to watch those first two seasons in order to appreciate Season Three. The acting on the part of the cast is just as integral to the success of Hell on Wheels Season Three. The cast has become so accustomed to one another that it has made the acting all the more believable. In turn, it makes suspension of disbelief all the easier, too. And last but not least of all, the bonus material included in this set rounds out the whole package, proving once and for why Hell On Wheels Season Three is one of the year’s best box sets for adults.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season is one of the best new box sets for adults in 2014. There is so much to like about this set. The most obvious of this season’s positives is the show’s writing. Season Three sees some of the show’s strongest writing to date. That is evident in the character development on the parts of Cullen and especially Eva and Elam. Audiences start to see a much more emotional and human side of Cullen in Season Three. This is especially the case when Cullen is forced to make the choice to hang a young man at one point. The young man’s father tossed him to the proverbial woods after his father had shot the then head of railroad security. Cullen knew he was condemning an innocent boy to death for the sins of his father. The pain in his eyes as the young man was strung up is deeply telling. It shows that Cullen knew that hanging the young man was wrong and that it hurt him badly to see it happen. Such a scene adds to Cullen’s flawed yet sympathetic character. There is another scene shared between Cullen and Elam that shows just as much depth not just of Cullen’s character, but of Elam’s, too. That ties into what is perhaps the most powerful example of the show’s expert writing this season—the extended story arc involving the kidnapping of Elam and Eva’s daughter Rose.

Just as audiences see quite a bit of development in Cullen in each episode this season, so does the story arc involving the kidnapping of Rose help to develop both Elam and Eva. Elam’s softer yet more protective side comes out as he searches for whomever kidnapped his daughter. The story arc does have a positive outcome in the short run. That ending won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that haven’t yet had the chance to see this season. But it’s not all happy for long as things take a painful emotional turn. The turn in question ironically serves to flesh out Elam’s character even more than ever. One can’t help but feel for him in the long-term outcome. That audiences will left feeling so strongly about Elam exhibits once more why the writing in this season is some of the series’ best yet. There is plenty more that could be discussed in terms of how the writing in Season Three makes it a success. But there is neither time nor space enough for that without one losing interest in this review. So on to the next topic.

The second aspect of Hell on Wheels’ third season box set that makes it a success is the acting on the part of the show’s cast. Having worked together on the series’ first two hugely successful seasons, it is obvious that a certain amount of chemistry has developed between the cast members. That chemistry has made the acting even more natural in this season. The end result is acting that allows audiences to completely suspend their disbelief and be pulled into the world crafted collectively by the writers and the actors. There’s even some light humor thrown in for good measure to lighten the tension that runs throughout the town and its people. And people won’t be able to help but laugh at those brief moments of humor. Audiences will agree that this helps to solidify the cast’s acting as an important part of the whole. And together with the solid writing, it puts this season’s set at the tipping point. There is one final part of the whole that puts this box set over that proverbial tipping point—the bonus material.

The bonus material included in Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season continues the tradition established by eOne in the box sets containing Seasons One and Two. Audiences are offered a recap of Season Two in order to help viewers catch back up before Season Four starts next month. And as with the previously released box sets, this set also includes companion “Inside the Episodes” featurettes with each episode. And of course, the standard “Behind-The-Scenes” featurettes are there, too. So not only can viewers catch up before Season Four starts next month, but they are given a thorough look behind the cameras once again. They are allowed to see the work that went into bringing Season Three to life. That combination of elements works with the writing and acting in Season Three to put it over the top. Collectively, it shows once and for all why this box set is one of the year’s top new box sets for adults.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season will be available next Tuesday, July 15th in stores and online. It will be available both on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on Hell on Wheels is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/HellonWheelsAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/hell-on-wheels, and http://twitter.com/HellonWheelsAMC. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

eOne Announces Release Date, Info For Hell On Wheels Season Three

Courtesy:  eOne/AMC

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

Hell will rise again this summer.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, July 15th. Season Three follows the continuing saga of former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon as he works with the Union Pacific on its westward construction. Season Three picks up after the attack by a group of Native Americans on the railroad encampment that closed out Season Two. Also in Season Three, audiences see Cullen make his plans to take over the Union Pacific and get it across the country.

One of AMC’s top series, it has been credited for helping to modernize the once powerhouse Western genre on television. The upcoming complete third season’s release comes only weeks before the premiere of the series’ fourth season on Saturday, August 2nd.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season comes with its own compliment of bonus features along with every one of Season Three’s episodes. Those bonus features include: An inside look at Season Three, a recap of season two, a set tour with Common, Behind The Music featurettes, and an “Inside The Episode” featurette with each of Season Three’s ten episodes.

Season Four will retail for SRP of $39.98 on DVD and $49.98 on Blu-ray. More information on Hell on Wheels is available online at http://www.facebook.com/HellOnWheelsAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/hell-on-wheels, and http://twitter.com/HellOnWheelsAMC. More information on this and other releases from eOne is available online via Twitter at http://twitter.com/eOneHomeVideo. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay Announces Release Date For The Walking Dead Season 4

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Officials with Anchor Bay Entertainment have announced that the company will release the complete fourth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead this summer.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season will be released Tuesday, August 26th. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray/Ultraviolet combo pack, and Limited Edition “Tree Walker” Blu-ray box set. Each set will be comprised of five discs and present every Season Four episode exactly as they were presented in their original airing. The episodes contained on the Blu-ray/VUDU and Limited Edition “Tree Walker” blu-ray set are presented in full 1080p high-definition and lossless Dolby True HD 7.1 audio. Fans looking for bonuses will also be rewarded as there are hours of bonus features included in the fourth season box sets. All three sets contain never-before-seen production footage, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries. Included on the Blu-ray sets are additional audio commentaries and a number of “extended” episodes that were previously unseen.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season will be available on DVD for SRP of $69.98. The Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack will be available for SRP of $79.99. And the special Limited Edition “Tree Walker” Blu-ray set will be available for SRP of $129.99. More information on these upcoming releases and all the latest on The Walking Dead is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWalkingDeadAMC and http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://www.anchorbayent.com, and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Release Date, Product Info Released For Low Winter Sun Box Set

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Officials with Anchor Bay Entertainment announced Monday that the company will release AMC’s Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series this summer.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series will be released Tuesday, August 12, 2014. It will be released on DVD in a 3-disc set containing all ten episodes from the series. The crime drama, which is based on the 2006 award-winning British mini-series, was written by Simon Donald and produced by Tiger Aspect Productions (an Endemol company). The story opens with the murder of a Detroit police officer by a fellow detective from the city. The detective’s crime is anything but the perfect crime as it leads him ever deeper into Detroit’s underworld. Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood), Lennie James (The Walking Dead, Snatch), David Canstabile (Breaking Bad, Side Effects), and Athena Karkanis (Saw IV, V, VI) lead the series’ cast.

The upcoming triple disc box set comes with a handful of bonus features to enhance the viewing experience for audiences. Those bonus features include: A Look at “Low Winter Sun”, Detroit Grit, Designing The Precinct, Episode Featurettes, and Deleted Scenes. The box set will retail at SRP of $49.98.

More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay, http://www.anchorbayent.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.