July 15, 2009

The State

Also this week: Mad Men, For All Mankind, Explicit Ills, G.I. Joe

Highlight of the Week

The State: The Complete Series (MTV) There was a time when now–creatively bankrupt MTV provided some of pop culture’s top twentysomething entertainment. Leading the flock was The State, an American equivalent to the inventive lo-fi flavour of The Kids in the Hall. Most sketches were probably too bizarre for the casual crowd, but thanks to an incredibly talented 11-person troupe (some went on to star in Cops send-up Reno 911!, others were involved in the painfully undervalued cult comedy Wet Hot American Summer), nearly all 24 episodes featured outlandish material Saturday Night Live–ers could only wish they had the gall to turn out. Extras: commentary on all episodes, interviews, outtakes. 

Also Available 

Mad Men: Season Two (Maple) Season one left us eager to resolve several major cliffhangers, not least of which was the elusive backstory of Don Draper. In its sophomore year, Mad Men untangles these narrative knots whilst continuing its reign as one of television’s most stunningly crafted dramas. Those who want to experience the ’60s-era splendour at its most eye-catching are advised to pick this up on Blu-ray. Extras: an epic 26 commentary tracks, featurettes galore. 

For All Mankind (Criterion) Celebrating the 40th anniversary of a pretty key event in the annals of history, Criterion is re-releasing the 1989 film with a painstaking new restoration (notably gorgeous in high-def) and an expansive array of fresh material. You’ve never seen the Apollo footage the way it’s presented here - or heard Brian Eno's score sound this good - making this essential viewing for just about any demographic. that Extras: commentary, making-of, interviews, liftoff footage, more goodies. 

Explicit Ills (Peace Arch Trinity) As far as budding artistry goes, actor-cum–first-time writer-director Mark Webber’s (one of the leads in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim adaptation) semi-autobiographical saga of inner-city Philly life could fare a lot worse — perhaps owing to the creative input of exec producer Jim Jarmusch. Extras: deleted scenes.
G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Season 1.1 (Shout! Factory) Rumours of director Stephen Sommers being banned from the cutting room after receiving abysmally low test screening scores doesn’t bode well for the live-action reboot. So enjoy those beloved childhood memories while you can. Extras: “Knowing Is Half The Battle” PSAs, retrospective featurette, vintage toy commercials, currently rubbed-on tattoos.