Pricing, Packaging Saves 20th Century Fox’s Latest ‘Lost In Space’ Release

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Early this month, 29th Century Fox re-issued CBS’ classic science fiction action adventure series Lost In Space on DVD.  This new re-issue came a little more than three years after the series’ Blu-ray release, which was also distributed by 20th Century Fox.  It sadly is proof, though, that 20th Century Fox is itself still a little bit lost when it comes to giving this timeless series a fully proper home release.  It is not a total loss, however. The biggest positive of all to this set is its pricing.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the set’s pricing is clearly a positive, the bonus content proves to be a negative, compared to the bonus content presented in the series’ Blu-ray set.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the bonus content proves an issue for this re-issue of Lost in Space’s complete series presentation, it is not enough to make the set unwatchable.  Keeping this in mind, it is really the set’s only true con.  The set’s packaging is another positive to note, again in comparison to the series’ previous Blu-ray release.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, 20th Century Fox’s new DVD re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is an improvement over the company’s previous Blu-ray release of the series.

20th Century Fox’s recent re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is a sign that while the company itself still seems slightly lost on how to finally give fans of the classic series a proper release of the show, it is at least a move in the right direction for the organization.  This is proven in part through the average price point of the series.  The DVD set’s average price point is $29.49.  That is in comparison to the average price point of $74.52 for the Blu-ray set.  The DVD’s price point was a little tricky to pinpoint as the set is not listed on Walmart’s web store, yet it is available in store at Walmart’s brick and mortar stores.  It is however, listed online at the stores for Amazon, Best Buy and Books-A-Million.  The Blu-ray set, which was met with quite a bit of blowback for its packaging – which will be discussed a little later – is listed at the stores at Amazon and Walmart.  The DVD set’s price in store at Walmart is only $19.99.  With tax, that puts the set’s price at just over $20, which is not a bad price at all considering the primary and bonus content presented in the DVD set.  The primary content featured here is the series’ full 83-episode run, complete with previously unaired pilot episode.  That unaired pilot is also included in the set’s BD release.  The bonus content is relatively limited, especially in comparison to the series’ BD set, but the bonus “Lost in Space Forever” featurette is entertaining and enlightening in its own right.  All of the bonus content will be discussed a little later.  Getting back on topic, the collective primary and secondary content presented in the DVD re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series makes the set’s average price point not too bad.  That is especially in comparison to the average price point of its BD counterpart and so many of its counterparts and contemporaries currently available in stores and online.

The average price point of the DVD re-issue of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is a positive for consumers as it is a point that is affordable for any fan of the series.  The bonus content presented here – or rather, not presented – likely plays into that price.  It is limited here in comparison to the bonus content presented in the set’s BD release back in 2015.  The only real notable bonus content presented in the new DVD set is the roughly half-hour-long featurette “Lost in Space Forever.”  It features famed actor John Laroquette (Night Court) as the host, taking audiences through the history of the series and the movie that eventually followed from New Line Cinema in 1998.  Audiences will be interested to learn through this featurette what led Lost in Space the series to eventually become as campy as it did in its second and third seasons.  Not to give away too much, but it has to do with competition at the time from another show on another network.  Audiences also learn what eventually led to the series’ cancellation: the same factors that leads to so many series’ ending.  If that is not enough, audiences also learn through this featurette, who the actors were behind one of the series’ most beloved characters, the robot, and about the change of characters’ focus in the writing as the series progressed.  Between all of that and much more, the program proves quite entertaining.  Sadly, it is really the only positive bonus content featured in this set, other than the previously noted unaired pilot.  Other than those two bonuses, there is little else to appreciate here.  The rest of the bonuses are just TV spots for the series.  In comparison, the Blu-ray set featured the series’ 1973 animated special (which is also discussed in this set’s bonus material), an audio interview with the series’ creator Irwin Allen and two full-length documentaries about the series, along with the noted pilot and even more bonus content.  One cannot help but wonder why 20th Century Fox did not transfer those bonuses over to this DVD set for audiences who perhaps could not afford the BD set or who do not own a Blu-ray player.  It definitely detracts from the set’s presentation.  Luckily though, it does not detract from the set’s presentation so much that it makes the set a complete loss.  That is because it is the set’s only con.  One area in which this set improved over its BD counterpart is its packaging.  That packaging, together, with the pricing, does just enough to save the set.

The packaging used in the DVD presentation of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is critical to note because it takes a completely different path from that of the series’ BD set.  The 17 discs that make up this set are housed in a clamshell case, inside which are plates on which the discs sit on either side.  One disc is placed on one side while another is on the other side.  One is on the top of the plate, and the other on the bottom.  This is crucial because it is actually wise packaging.  It might make for a bulky package, but it protects the discs from any potential of damage.  In comparison, the discs housed in the BD set were placed in cardboard sleeves inside the case, which offered absolutely no protection at all for the discs.  This is multi-disc packaging done right, and a sign that maybe 20th Century Fox took a cue from Shout! Factory, considering that said company has led the way for years in multi-disc packaging.  Now if only CBS and Paramount would follow suit since they have released so many of their series lately in large clamshell cases.  Simply put, the packaging for this set might not be overly flashy, unlike that of the series’ BD release, but it is smart this time around.  20th Century Fox can be commended for making that move for audiences.  When one considers this along with the set’s relatively affordable price point, the end result is a set that while still not a perfect presentation of a timeless series, is an improvement from its predecessor.  That is despite the issues raised by its bonus content.

20th Century Fox’s recently released DVD box set of Lost in Space: The Complete Series is an improvement over the company’s previous 2015 Blu-ray release of the series.  It shows that while the company is still slightly lost over how to present a proper release of the timeless series, it is at least moving in the right direction.  That is proven in part through the set’s average price point, which is affordable for any viewer in comparison to the price of the series’ Blul-ray release.  The packaging, also in comparison to that BD set, is another move in the right direction.  The only real con to the whole thing is its overall lack of worthwhile bonus content.  Keeping all of this in mind, this set is a slight improvement over its predecessor, but still leaves one wanting for more.  More information on this and other titles from 20th Century Fox is available online now at:

 

 

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Gentleman’s Dub Club’s Latest LP Will Not Be “Lost” On Any Reggae Fans

Courtesy: Easy Star Records

Veteran reggae act Gentleman’s Dub Club released its latest album late last month.  The album, Lost in Space, is an offering that will appeal to the group’s longtime fans just as much as it will audiences who might be less familiar with the veteran British outfit.  That is proven in part through the album’s opener, ‘Light The Fuse.’  ‘Midnight Healing,’ which comes much later in the album’s 44-minute run time, is another example of what makes Lost in Space another appealing offering for fans of Gentleman’s Dub Club.  It will be addressed a little bit later.  ‘Eye of the Storm,’ which also comes late in the album’s run, is another key addition to the album’s presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  When these three songs are considered alongside the seven songs not discussed here, the whole of the album presents itself as a record that will appeal equally to reggae fans in general and to fans of Gentleman’s Dub Club.

Gentleman’s Dub Club’s latest full-length studio recording Lost in Space is another work from the veteran British that will appeal just as much to the group’s fans as it will to reggae fans in general.  The album’s opener, ‘Light The Fuse,’ is one of the songs featured in the album, that serves to support that statement.  That is due in part to its musical arrangement, which crosses the traditional reggae sound with some keyboard elements.  That balance of traditional and non gives the song’s arrangement its own identity, an identity that helps to build the song’s foundation.  That addition of the electronics to the arrangement couples with the song’s lyrical content to add even more interest to the song.

In regards to its lyrical theme, the song is certain to create plenty of discussion.  Front man Jonathan Scratchley sings in the song’s lead verse, “It’s all gone dark/But I can see now/this stepping situation got me so down/My soul keeps shaking and my spirit keeps breaking/I try to turn it down/But now it’s so loud/There’s a ringing in my ears and it won’t go/I feel the pressure on my heart and it won’t slow.”  He follows that up with the song’s chorus, in which he and his band mates sing, “Light the fuse/Now we’ve got nothing to lose/Light the fuse/We now there’s only one way to choose/Light the fuse/So we have to get up and move/Now that we have witnessed the truth.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “I call up my man for medication/Ain’t nobody leading me into temptation/My brain is on a mission/We better relocate the operation.”  This is an intriguing presentation in that Scratchley seems to infer (at least in this critic’s mind) something having to deal with some emotional strife, and having to deal with it.  One can only hope that the line in which he sings of “calling my man for medication” is not a reference to illicit drugs. Odds are that is not what he is mentioning, but rather getting something to cope with whatever the song’s subject is dealing with.  He even goes so far as to say, “Ain’t nobody leading me into temptation/My brain is on a mission/Put the keys in the ignition/We better relocate the operation.”  This comes across as being metaphorical language, meant to address the efforts to combat the thoughts in the subject’s mind.  Again, this is just this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  It will definitely be interesting to find out exactly what is being said here.  Keeping that in mind, the somewhat unique approach of the song’s musical arrangement and this even more intriguing lyrical content proves in its own way just what makes LIS another album that GDC fans and reggae fans alike will appreciate.  It is just one of the songs that shows what makes the album an interesting offering.  ‘Midnight Healing’ does just as much to show why LIS is a record that will appeal to the previously noted audiences.

‘Midnight Healing’ leaves little to nothing to the imagination as to its topic.  Scratchley sings in this song’s lead verse against the song’s standard reggae style musical backdrop, “I just can’t get enough/Just can’t get enough/I just can’t get enough of that midnight healing’/I just can’t get enough/Just can’t get enough/I just can’t get enough of that midnight healing/Two steps nearer to the water…Up all night/Seem overly familiar/Come now, come and pull me under/Lights on/You can bring the thunder/Up all night/Minor turning into major.”  He continues in the second verse, “Shy high/Looking now a diamond/You’re a jet plane/Let me be your pilot/You and I keep on cutting through the silence/We can’t keep it quiet/You know what the time is.”  It’s relatively easy to know what Scratchley is inferring here, especially considering the line stating, “You and I keep on cutting through the silence.”  It would be no surprise if what is believed to be the song’s theme turns out to be exactly that.  If in fact it does center on what is expected, then that coupled with the song’s laid back musical arrangement makes for a good work for couples.  When considered along with the album’s opener, listeners will understand even more why again, this record will appeal to fans of GDC and to reggae fans in general.  It still is not the last of the songs that serves to show the album’s appeal.  ‘Eye of the Storm’ is yet another addition to the album that exhibits its appeal for audiences.

‘Eye of the Storm’ presents another arrangement that once again crosses classic reggae elements, such as the drum, bass and horns with more modern elements, such as dub and bass for an arrangement that once again proves to be everything that audiences have come to expect from the group.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest, just as with the previously noted songs.  Scratchley sings this time, “You better take cover/My premonition’s leading straight to trouble…nations have been blown to rubble/Why I throw caution to the hurricane/You better move quicker/The man has got his finger on the trigger/The pressure changes as the smoke gets thicker/So hold on tight when you see the light/’Cause I can feel it in the air tonight/I hear the wind blowin’ in/See the stars glistenin’/I’m in the eye of the storm/And I don’t wanna slow down.”  Interestingly, he continues on in the second verse, singing, “There’s a way that I can get out of this atmosphere/I can take a step back/’Cause I can feel it’s getting’ near/Droppin’ in my ship I’ll take it back to where the coast is clear/And I don’t wanna slow down/I feel save/Even when there’s chaos around/I feel safe even when my voice is calling out.”  It is almost as if he is saying here, that the song’s subject knows he is in a difficult situation, but also knows that it is possible to get out of that situation, whatever it may be.  Once again, this is just this critic’s own interpretation, and could very well be entirely incorrect.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Either way, this lyrical content is certain to generate plenty of discussion among listeners.  To that end, it is just one more way in which the album shows its ability to entertain reggae fans across the board.  When it is considered along with the previously discussed songs and those not addressed here, the whole of the album proves to be a record that will not get lost among reggae fans.

Gentleman’s Dub Club’s latest full-length studio recording Lost in Space is a record that won’t get “lost” among reggae fans.  That is proven in part through the album’s opener, whose musical content takes audiences back to the group’s earlier days and lyrical content that is certain to generate plenty of discussion.  The album’s penultimate entry ‘Midnight Healing’ shows just as much, the album’s strength with a laid back work that seems to be relatively clear in its lyrical theme.  ‘Eye of the Storm’ is sure to generate its own share of interest, too, through its lyrical content.  Keeping all of this in mind, and the songs not noted directly here, the whole of Lost in Space proves to be, once more, a record that will not be lost on reggae fans.  More information on Lost in Space is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.Gentlemansdubclub.com

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Automan: The Complete Series Will Be An Automatic Hit With True Sci-Fi Fans

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Science fiction has a very rich history in television’s annals. Looking back through the medium’s rich history, it is easy to find any number of series that have left their mark on that history. Those series include the likes of Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Star Trek, and so many others. While there are plenty of important, influential sci-fi series that have come and gone over the decades, there are just as many that sadly have come and gone without so much as a glance. Some of those series deserved to be cut short. Others, such as ABC’s short-lived series Automan, never really got the chance that they rightly deserved for one reason or another. Automan never really got a fighting chance because at the time of its original broadcast (1983 – 1984) there was little to nothing on television like it at the time. This includes other sci-fi series. It was at its core a series about an artificial intelligence that was also something of a superhero. On another level, it was also a buddy comedy of sorts. It only lasted for a total of thirteen episodes, though only twelve of those thirteen episodes ever actually made it to air. That is until recently. Thanks to the people at Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films, Automan has finally been given a new life in the four-disc DVD box set Automan: The Complete Series. Whether or not audiences are familiar with the short-lived series, they will agree in watching it that it was a series well ahead of its time and that this new box set is a welcome return for the series. The show’s writing (including its stories, character development, and dialogue) shows this. The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note of its overall presentation. Last but hardly least of note that makes this set worth the watch among sci-fi fans is its bonus material. All three elements are equally important to the whole of Automan: The Complete Series’ presentation. Altogether they make this series set one that every sci-fi fan will want to see and should see at least once if not more.

Automan is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated sci-fi series in the genre’s rich history on television. It only lasted a total of twelve episodes in its run from December 1983 to April 1984. Looking at other series (including other sci-fi series) on television at the time, there was little if anything like it on television at the time. So it is safe to say that it was ahead of its time. That is likely why it was cut short in its initial run. Thanks to Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films, though it has now been introduced to a whole new generation of audiences in the new box set Automan: The Complete Series. And those audiences that give this series a chance will find that there is plenty to like about it beginning with its writing. The writing behind Automan is the core of its presentation. This includes not only the stories that were crafted for the series but also the show’s dialogue and it character development. The episodes are, in all fairness, standard fare. The series premiere sees Walter and Automan globe hopping to stop an international crime ring and solve a kidnapping case in the process. Later in the series’ run Walter and Automan have to clear one of Walter’s partners in “Flashes and Ashes.” There is also a murder mystery to be solved in “Murder, Take One” when a former movie star is suspected of killing a gossip columnist. A crooked studio head is involved in the mystery, too. There’s even a standard story in which Walter and Automan have to stop a counterfeiter in “The Great Pretender.” These are just a few of the episodes that are featured through the course of the series. While they are standard fare that doesn’t take anything away from any of them or those not noted here. As a matter of fact the execution of each episode will keep viewers of any age fully engaged. There’s just a certain camp about the writing that is entirely 80s. And it makes each episode so fun. It’s just one aspect of the show’s writing that makes the writing stand out, too. The dialogue that is incorporated into each of the series’ episodes is just as worth noting as the stories.

The stories that were crafted for Automan are in themselves a collective prime example of the importance of the series’ writing. While the stories are by and large standard fare, there is still a certain campiness about the stories that makes them and their execution engaging and entertaining all at once. As important of an element as that is within the bigger picture of the series’ writing, it is just one part of the writing that makes the writing in whole so important to the series. The dialogue that is incorporated into each episode is just as important to note as the stories themselves. That is especially the case with Walter and Automan. Automan’s innocent defiance of Walter even as an artificial intelligence makes for plenty of laughs throughout the series. He happily declares in one episode that Walter is basically level-headed and would understand him going out even thought he was told to not go out. It’s not the only time that he makes such a declaration either. Walter’s surprised reactions to Automan’s abilities early on are even more example of the dialogue’s place in the show’s writing. Perhaps most interesting of the dialogue that is used in this show is that for all of his superhuman abilities and knowledge the writers never have him use any of the standard, pompous lines that were far too common among action heroes on TV and film in that era. Rather, he comes across more like Data, from Star Trek: The Next Generation with his constant curiosity and straight forward demeanor. It is just one more way in which the show’s dialogue proves to be just as important to the show’s writing as the stories themselves. And it is not the last example of the writing’s importance. The character development within the series is just as important to note as the stories and the show’s dialogue.

The stories that were crafted for Automan and the show’s dialogue are both important parts of the show’s writing in their own way. As important as both elements are to the whole of the writing they are only part of what makes the writing so important to the series. The character development within the series is just as important as the writing and dialogue. Audiences will note that as the series progresses, Walter actually becomes more welcoming of Automan taking part in the cases that he is working. There is also a growing friendship between the pair that becomes increasingly obvious in each episode. It starts off as an odd couple friendship. But then grows to become a real friendship that is centered not only on their pair’s drive to solve crimes but in their own differences. Audiences will love seeing Walter play both the straight man and the comic relief in one while Automan is the innocent yet still confident figure. The juxtaposition of the two totally different personality types makes for plenty of entertainment in each episode. Together with the dialogue incorporated into the show and the work put into crafting each episode’s story the character development within each script rounds out the ways in which the series’ writing displays its importance to the whole of the show. Of course the writing behind Automan is just one part of what makes the series well worth the watch by any sci-fi fan in its new DVD release. The work of the show’s cast is just as important to the show as its writing.

The writing that went into Automan clearly shows in each of its separate elements exactly why it is so important to the show. From each episode’s story to the dialogue within each episode to the very development of the characters (specifically Walter and Automan) the writing proves quite integral to the series. Of course the work of the show’s cast in interpreting the writers’ scripts is just as important to the series as the writing itself. Both Desi Arnaz, Jr. and co-star Chuck Wagner impress in their interpretations of the show’s scripts. Being a superhuman figure of sorts, it would have been so easy for Wagner to put on more of an air of superiority to Arnaz’s Walter. Yet he doesn’t go that route at any point. Rather, he takes the knowledge of Automan’s superiority and instead gives him a sense of humility and almost alien interest in everything. Yet he does still maintain a certain sense of confidence throughout each episode. That mix of confidence and innocent curiosity about the human world makes Wagner’s portrayal perfect with each episode. And when set against Arnaz the two make a pair that is so sorely missing from today’s television offerings. Speaking of Arnaz, he is just as entertaining as Walter Nebicher. His portrayal of the high-strung cop makes for plenty of laughs especially as Walter tries to keep Automan’s identity secret in so many different situations. That nervous energy set against Automan’s cooler, more collected demeanor is a wonderful juxtaposition of personalities. That applies both as the duo tries to solve the given cases and even when just the two are together on screen in general scenes. Taking all of this into consideration it can be said even more so that Arnaz and Wagner’s work in interpreting the series’ scripts is just as important to its presentation as the scripts. OF course even that is still not the do all end all for this first-time release. The bonus material that is included within the box set rounds out the box’s presentation.

The writing and acting behind Automan collectively does quite a bit in showing why this classic sci-fi action series was so far ahead of its time in its original run. As important as both elements are to the show, they are not all that makes it worth the watch in its new DVD box set release. The bonus material that is included in the set is just as important to its presentation as those noted elements. The standard cast and crew bios are there as are other little extras. At the heart of the bonus content is the near hour-long documentary “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature.” Audiences learn through the forty-two minute documentary plenty of interesting tidbits about the series. Most notably audiences learn that it might not have been ratings that doomed the show but the costs to produce the show. There is also an interesting little piece about star Chuck Wagner’s professional training in musical comedy and its influence in some of the bits incorporated into the show. And Wagner even admits that in auditioning for the part of Automan, he was worried he wouldn’t get it because of the other men auditioning for the role. Wagner explains how the look of the other candidates made him wonder if he had a chance at the role. As if that isn’t enough for audiences, Wagner and Arnaz jokingly discuss the car that Automan used in the show and how little the pair actually used it because it was such an exotic car. The duo reveals that most of the car scenes were actually shot with the pair in a scaled up model of the car’s interior on a sound stage. These are just a few of the items covered in “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature.” There is far more for audiences to discover for themselves over the course of the behind-the-scenes featurette. Those other extras combined with everything noted here shows in whole why “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature” is so important to the whole of Automan: The Complete Series. Those revelations add even more depth to the stories presented in each of the series’ episodes and to the show’s writing in whole. It adds just as much appreciation for the work of the series’ cast, too. All things considered Automan: The Complete Series’ shows in whole to be one of the most surprisingly enjoyable sci-fi series sets to be released this year. It proves to be one that actually deserves a reboot and unless or until that happens, one that every sci-fi fan should have in his or her own home DVD library.

Automan: The Complete Series is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable box sets for grown-ups to be released this year. The thirteen-episode series is one that even being more than three decades old is still one that every sci-fi fan should have in his or her own home DVD library. That is evident in large part to its in-depth writing. In watching the series’ thirteen total episodes, it is obvious that a lot of work and attention was put into each of the series’ scripts. That is just one part of what makes this box set so interesting. The work of the show’s main stars works in conjunction with the writing to make the series that much more enjoyable for every sci-fi fan. The bonus behind-the-scenes documentary “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature” rounds out the box set’s presentation. The revelations discussed within the course of the documentary’s near hour-long run time bring everything full circle and make for even more appreciation for this short-lived and under appreciated classic sci-fi series. That appreciation will leave audiences agreeing that Automan: The Complete Series is a must have for every sci-fi fan. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-sci-fi/automan-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films is available online now at:

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