The O.C. - The Complete Third Season  
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Welcome to the dark side. At the end of The O.C.'s second season, Marissa (Mischa Barton) shoots the troubled Trey to stop him from strangling his brother, Ryan (Ben McKenzie). She saves her boyfriend's life, but it leads to her expulsion from Harbor High—just as she was to begin her senior year. Meanwhile, Ryan's guardian, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), is doing time in rehab. It won't be easy for her to stay dry with two-faced resident Charlotte (Jeri Ryan, Shark) making every attempt to take advantage of her vulnerability. Ever the hothead, Ryan recovers in time to punch out the mean new dean (Eric Mabius, Ugly Betty), who expels him next. So, Kirsten's husband, Sandy (Peter Gallagher), hires a tutor, while Marissa attends public school where she falls in with the surfing crowd, including the besotted Johnny (Ryan Donowho). Arguably, Marissa's newly widowed mother, Julie (Melinda Clarke), is hit hardest when she finds that husband Caleb (Kirsten's father) didn't leave behind as much money as expected. Then the mansion is repossessed, and wild child Kaitlin (Willa Holland) returns from boarding school. And that's just the beginning of Julie's woes.

By the finale, two of these people will be gone forever, but it wouldn't be The O.C.if there weren't some bright spots along the way. College-bound couple Seth (Adam Brody) and Summer (Rachel Bilson) are still full of quips, the Tracy Flick-like Taylor (Autumn Reeser), who plays a bigger role in the next season, is a welcome addition, and the soundtrack is jam-packed with material from the likes of MIA, Gang of Four, Sufjan Stevens, Lady Sovereign, and the Subways, who appear in "The Anger Management." Sadly, this would be the last full season of The O.C.as only 16 episodes were produced for the fourth and final year. —Kathleen C. Fennessy

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Walt Disney Treasures - Your Host, Walt Disney  
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More than a time-capsule treasure for Disney buffs, this two-disc set will warm the nostalgic hearts of baby boomers who eagerly looked forward to their weekly visits with "Uncle Walt" Disney. As the host of his anthology series, Disneyland(later Walt Disney Presents, then The Wonderful World of Color), Disney presented classic cartoons and original programs, but he also gave starry-eyed viewers a privileged, behind-the-scenes look inside his magic kingdom, from the construction of his magnificent theme park to animators at work. Disneylandtransformed Disney into the face of Disney Studios, a pied piper, according to film historian Leonard Maltin, who introduces the features on each disc. This collection of episodes features Disney at his most avuncular. "Where Do the Stories Come From" (1956) is a fun exploration of where Disney artists find their inspiration. "Fourth Anniversary Show" (1951) charts the development of the Disney featurette, Peter and the Wolf, but then becomes a surprise-party musical extravaganza for Disney hosted by his Mouseketeers, and featuring appearances by Guy "Zorro" Williams and Fess "Davy Crockett" Parker. Long-thought lost, "Kodak Presents Disneyland '59," is a black and white kinescope recording of a live, 90-min. television special (compete with entertaining Kodak commercials featuring Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and sons) that serves to introduce three new attractions to Disneyland: the Nautilus submarine ride, the Monorail and the Matterhorn. Look for rising stars Clint Eastwood and Dennis Hopper among parade participants.

"Backstage Party" (1961) is a visit to the set of Disney's production of Babes in Toyland, with appearances by the film's stars, including Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, and Ray Bolger. "Disneyland 10th Anniversary" (1965), previously released on the now-out-of-print Disneyland U.S.A.set, introduces the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and It's a Small World rides, and shows how "space-age" technology was used to create the Enchanted Tiki Room. Disc 2's extras include a true rarity, a 1962 Cinemascope film presentation created to accompany a Disney Radio City Music Hall stage show. Another delight is "I Captured the King of the Leprechauns," a 1959 Disneylandepisode tied to the release of the feature Darby O'Gill and the Little People(and included as a bonus feature on that DVD). This whimsical bit of blarney follows Disney to Ireland in search of "the little people." Movie tough guy Pat O'Brien sends him off with a charming song about leprechauns, just a small sample of these episodes' endearing and enduring hokey charms. —Donald Liebenson

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Planet Earth - The Complete BBC Series  
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As of its release in early 2007, Planet Earthis quite simply the greatest nature/wildlife series ever produced. Following the similarly monumental achievement of The Blue Planet: Seas of Life, this astonishing 11-part BBC series is brilliantly narrated by Sir David Attenborough and sensibly organized so that each 50-minute episode covers a specific geographical region and/or wildlife habitat (mountains, caves, deserts, shallow seas, seasonal forests, etc.) until the entire planet has been magnificently represented by the most astonishing sights and sounds you'll ever experience from the comforts of home. The premiere episode, "From Pole to Pole," serves as a primer for things to come, placing the entire series in proper context and giving a general overview of what to expect from each individual episode. Without being overtly political, the series maintains a consistent and subtle emphasis on the urgent need for ongoing conservation, best illustrated by the plight of polar bears whose very behavior is changing (to accommodate life-threatening changes in their fast-melting habitat) in the wake of global warming—a phenomenon that this series appropriately presents as scientific fact. With this harsh reality as subtext, the series proceeds to accentuate the positive, delivering a seemingly endless variety of natural wonders, from the spectacular mating displays of New Guinea's various birds of paradise to a rare encounter with Siberia's nearly-extinct Amur Leopards, of which only 30 remain in the wild.

That's just a hint of the marvels on display. Accompanied by majestic orchestral scores by George Fenton, every episode is packed with images so beautiful or so forcefully impressive (and so perfectly photographed by the BBC's tenacious high-definition camera crews) that you'll be rendered speechless by the splendor of it all. You'll see a seal struggling to out-maneuver a Great White Shark; swimming macaques in the Ganges delta; massive flocks of snow geese numbering in the hundreds of thousands; an awesome night-vision sequence of lions attacking an elephant; the Colugo (or "flying lemur"—not really a lemur!) of the Philippines; a hunting alliance of fish and snakes on Indonesia's magnificent coral reef; the bioluminescent "vampire squid" of the deep oceans... these are just a few of countless highlights, masterfully filmed from every conceivable angle, with frequent use of super-slow-motion and amazing motion-controlled time-lapse cinematography, and narrated by Attenborough with his trademark combination of observational wit and informative authority. The result is a hugely entertaining series that doesn't flinch from the predatory realities of nature (death is a constant presence, without being off-putting), and each episode ends with 10-minute "Planet Earth Diaries" (exclusive to this DVD set) that cover a specific aspect of production, like "Diving with Pirahnas" or "Into the Abyss" (the latter showing the rigors of filming the planet's most spectacular caves, including the last filming ever officially permitted in the "Chandelier Ballroom," a crystal-encrusted cavern found over a mile deep in New Mexico's treacherous Lechuguilla, the deepest cave in the continental United States.)

With so many of Earth's natural wonders on display, it's only fitting that the final DVD in this five-disc set is devoted to Planet Earth: The Future, a separate three-part series in which a global array of experts is assembled to discuss issues of conservation, protection of delicate ecosystems, and the socio-economic benefits of understanding nature as a commodity that returns trillions of dollars in value at no cost to Earth's human population. At a time when the multiple threats of global warming should be obvious to all, let's give Sir David the last word, from the closing of Planet Earth's final episode: "We can now destroy or we can cherish—the choice is ours."—Jeff Shannon

More Planet Earth

Planet Earthon Blu-ray

Planet Earthon HD DVD

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Stills from Planet Earth(click for larger image)

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The O.C. - The Complete Fourth Season  
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High school is over. Time to move on. But events conspire to reunite Ryan, Seth and Summer in posh, seaside Newport. And there may even be a new Core Four. Because after Taylor Townsend says a quick if not passionate au revoir to her education in France, she just might pursue Ryan until he catches her. Time, too, for the series to move on with these 16 Final Episodes. Seth marries Summer? (Maybe.) Ryan goes through life like it's a steel-cage brawl? (Sometimes.) Kaitlin tries to hook up her mom Julie with a billionaire? (Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) But things happen, sometimes quite unexpectedly. Time to hit the beach for all the surprising events of a cool, compelling and revealing conclusion of The O.C.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Featurette:The Magic That Is Chrismukkah: Cast, Crew and Religious Experts Weigh in on The O.C.s Distinctive Holiday Celebration Summer Roberts - Beauty Meets Brown: The Creation and Evolution of One of the Shows Most Lovable Characters

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The Muppet Show - Season Two  
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Quick wit, slapstick comedy, excellent puppets and puppetry conceived by Jim Henson, an astounding array of guest stars, and a whole lot of backstage chaos made The Muppet Showa favorite family show for a whole generation in the mid to late 1970's and those same ingredients make it equally enjoyable for today's audiences. The 24 episodes of this second 1976 season of The Muppet Showrepresent the family variety show at its strongest, with familiar characters like host Kermit the Frog, his assistant Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Rolph the piano playing dog, and regular segments like "Pigs in Space,""Veterinarian's Hospital,""Swedish chef," and "At the Dance." Intermingled throughout are silliness, skits, and songs featuring an impressive roster of guest stars including entertainment greats like Judy Collins, Don Knotts, Bernadette Peters, Dom Deluise, George Burns, John Clese, and Bob Hope. The hilarious predicaments of the Muppets and their guest stars are absolutely timeless and the look back in time at the earlier careers of enduring stars like Steve Martin, Julie Andrews and Elton John is equally fascinating. Highlights of this second season are Kermit's emotional ballad "It's Not Easy Being Green," Judy Collins classic rendition of "Send in the Clowns," the two old men's curmudgeonly and witty criticism of every show, Miss Piggy's determined and amorous pursuit of Kermit, and the Swedish Chef's bumbling inability to catch up with the chicken. Bonus features include the rare 1974 Muppets Valentine Specialfeaturing a young Mia Farrow and a host of virtually unknown Muppet characters including the enormous blue monster, Thog. Also included is Muppets' music video of "Keep Fishin'," and interview footage of "The Muppets on the Muppets." Whether reliving childhood evenings spent with family around the television or experiencing The Muppet Showfor the first time, viewers of all ages will adore this second season. —Tami Horiuchi

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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - The Complete Series  
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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 10/16/2007 Rating: Nr

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Ratatouille  
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One key point: if you can get over the natural gag reflex of seeing hundreds of rodents swarming over a restaurant kitchen, you will be free to enjoy the glory of Ratatouille, a delectable Pixar hit. Our hero is Remy, a French rat (voiced by Patton Oswalt) with a cultivated palate, who rises from his humble beginnings to become head chef at a Paris restaurant. How this happens is the stuff of Pixar magic, that ineffable blend of headlong comedy, seamless technology, and wonder (in the latter department, this movie's views of nighttime Paris are on a par with French cinema at its most lyrical). Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) doesn't quite keep all his spinning plates in the air, but the gags are great and the animation amazingly expressive—Remy—Remy's shrugs and nods are nimbler than many flesh-and-blood actors can manage. Refreshingly, the movie's characters aren't celebrity-reliant, with the most recognizable voice coming from Peter O'Toole's snide food critic. (This fellow provides the film's sole sour note—an oddly pointed slap at critics, those craven souls who have done nothing but rave about Pixar's movies over the years.) Brad Bird's style is more quick-hit and less resonant than the approach of Pixar honcho John Lasseter, but it's hard to complain about a movie that cooks up such bountiful pleasure. —Robert Horton

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Casino Royale  
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Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 10/21/2008 Run time: 144 minutes Rating: Pg13

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Everwood: The Complete Second Season  
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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 06/16/2009 Run time: 968 minutes

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Shrek 2 Andrew Adamson  
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The lovably ugly green ogre returns with his green bride and furry, hooved friend in Shrek 2. The newlywed Shrek and Princess Fiona are invited to Fiona's former kingdom, Far Far Away, to have the marriage blessed by Fiona's parents—which Shrek thinks is a bad, bad idea, and he's proved right: The parents are horrified by their daughter's transformation into an ogress, a fairy godmother wants her son Prince Charming to win Fiona, and a feline assassin is hired to get Shrek out of the way. The computer animation is more detailed than ever, but it's the acting that make the comedy work—in addition to the return of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz, Shrek 2features the flexible voices of Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), John Cleese (Monty Python's Flying Circus), Antonio Banderas (Desperado), and Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) as the gleefully wicked fairy godmother. —Bret Fetzer

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Walt Disney Legacy Collection - True Life Adventures, Vol. 2 James Algar  
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There was a time when Walt Disney produced mesmerizing nature films for family audiences. Walt Disney Legacy Collection: True Life Adventures, Vol. 2reaches deep into the studio's vaults to pull together a selection of those remarkable little movies, a television staple for baby boomers who watched Disney's variously-titled series in the late 1950s and '60s.

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with director emeritus

Roy E. Disney.

Basically, teams of roving cinematographers and other technicians were sent into the field, working under the general guidance of a well-researched script, a director, production group, etc. Ingenious editing, creative uses of music, and even touches of animation resulted in marvelous pieces such as the ones in this collection. Among the six titles here are "Living Desert," set in the American southwest;"Vanishing Prairie," an overview of what were once endless grasslands between the mountainous west and the full forests east of the Mississippi; and "Seal Island," shot on a remote Alaskan island. Nature programs are, of course, plentiful on contemporary television. But the Disney shows were unique at the time for applying high cinematic standards (the Technicolor on "Islands of the Sea," set in the Galapagos, is something to see) to the task of filming lizards, road runners, sandstorms, and exotic flowers. These programs are also tailor-made for young audiences. The more harrowing sequences of predators stalking their lunch, say, or seal pups getting separated from their mothers aren't censored, but they are softened in the editor's room and via anthropomorphic narration. True Life Adventuresstands up today as good family viewing, though they are also fodder for nostalgia for viewers of a certain age. —Tom Keogh

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Walt Disney Legacy Collection - True Life Adventures, Vol. 3 James Algar  
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Long before Animal Planetexisted, Walt Disney's True-Life Adventuresawakened viewers to the wonders of the natural world. Disney began the series in 1946 with Seal Island, and the six features and seven featurettes won eight Academy Awards.

Listen to our interview

with director emeritus

Roy E. Disney.

One winner was Bear Country(1953), which is included in Creatures of the Wild, along with The African Lion(1955), Jungle Cat(1959) and The Olympic Elk(1952). Each film traces the course of one year in the life of its subject. Lionesses hunt to feed their cubs (and their glorious but idle mates) on Serengeti Plains. A pair of jaguars in the Amazon and a mother bear in Yellowstone Park raise their cubs, teaching them to find food and avoid predators. Magnificent bull elk fight for mates in the high meadows of the Olympic Mountains. Except for the narration occasionally seeming a little forced or obvious, these documentaries wear their age lightly. The prints have been lovingly restored: scratches and dirt have been removed; the color looks pristine. Artists and scientists will find useful reference material here, and children will enjoy the pageant of nature. Sadly, many of the ecological communities that seemed as inexhaustible as they were beautiful in the 1950's have been severely damaged during the intervening decades by human encroachment, poaching, and climate change. The two-disc set is loaded with extras, including two black-and-white Disneylandshows from the 1950's. (Rated G, suitable for ages 6 and older: some hunting sequences may be too intense for very small children)—Charles Solomon

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A Bug's Life Stanton, Andrew  
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There was such a magic on the screen in 1995 when the people at Pixar came up with the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story. Their second feature film, A Bug's Life, may miss the bull's-eye but Pixar's target is so lofty, it's hard to find the film anything less than irresistible.

Brighter and more colorful than the other animated insect movie of 1998 (Antz), A Bug's Lifeis the sweetly told story of Flik (voiced by David Foley), an ant searching for better ways to be a bug. His colony unfortunately revolves around feeding and fearing the local grasshoppers (lead by Hopper, voiced with gleeful menace by Kevin Spacey). When Flik accidentally destroys the seasonal food supply for the grasshoppers he decides to look for help ("We need bigger bugs!"). The ants, led by Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), are eager to dispose of the troublesome Flik. Yet he finds help—a hearty bunch of bug warriors—and brings them back to the colony. Unfortunately they are just traveling performers afraid of conflict.

As with Toy Story, the ensemble of creatures and voices is remarkable and often inspired. Highlights include wiseacre comedian Denis Leary as an un-ladylike ladybug, Joe Ranft as the German-accented caterpillar, David Hyde Pierce as a stick bug, and Michael McShane as a pair of unintelligible pillbugs. The scene-stealer is Atta's squeaky-voiced sister, baby Dot (Hayden Panettiere), who has a big sweet spot for Flik.

More gentle and kid-friendly than Antz, A Bug Life'sstill has some good suspense and a wonderful demise of the villain. However, the film—a giant worldwide hit—will be remembered for its most creative touch: "outtakes" over the end credits à la many live-action comedy films. These dozen or so scenes (both "editions" of outtakes are contained here) are brilliant and deserve a special place in film history right along with 1998's other most talked-about sequence: the opening Normandy invasion in Saving Private Ryan.

The video also contains Pixar's delightful Oscar-winning short, Geri's Game. Box art varies. —Doug Thomas

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Finding Nemo Stanton, Andrew  
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A delightful undersea world unfolds in Pixar's animated adventure Finding Nemo. When his son Nemo is captured by a scuba-diver, a nervous-nellie clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) sets off into the vast—and astonishingly detailed—ocean to find him. Along the way he hooks up with a scatterbrained blue tang fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who's both helpful and a hindrance, sometimes at the same time. Faced with sharks, deep-sea anglers, fields of poisonous jellyfish, sea turtles, pelicans, and much more, Marlin rises above his neuroses in this wonderfully funny and nonstop thrill ride—rarely does more than 10 minutes pass without a sequence destined to become a theme park attraction. Pixar continues its run of impeccable artistic and economic success (their movies include Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc). Also featuring the voices of Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush, and Allison Janney. —Bret Fetzer

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