What to Watch: Feb. 18-24, 2014

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What an amazing week for TV fans. As if you didn’t have enough stacking to do with the new, brilliant season of “House of Cards” on Netflix, there are four other full seasons in this week’s What to Watch that you really should watch front to back. And then there’s the still-amazing “Darkman,” a cult classic that perfectly captures Sam Raimi’s skill at controlled chaos. Finally, we have two ’80s horror flicks in one set in “Bad Dreams” and “Visiting Hours.” Check ‘em all out (OK, you can skip the genre stinkers).

Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season
Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season
Photo credit: HBO

“Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season”

One of the best shows on TV gets the glorious, fantastic, always-perfect HBO treatment, complete with absolutely perfect HD transfers and enough special features to stop a TV fan in their tracks. 12 audio commentaries! The HD transfers and the audio tracks alone would warrant a purchase but they’re just the start here. No one in the market does TV like HBO - both in original broadcast and on Blu-ray and DVD. This is the best TV on Blu-ray release to date (and likely will be for months to come).

From my TV review: “There’s a sense in the first few episodes that what is happening is being built on carnage. Burned bodies fill a square, family relationships are shattered, stone walls have crumbled — the world is reflecting the power struggle that has defined the show. Whoever is going to take power is going to have to climb a hill of bodies to do so. And legions of loyal TV fans will be watching.

In the third season of the hit HBO series Game Of Thrones, the Lannisters barely hold on to the throne after a savage naval onslaught from Stannis Barathcon, while stirrings in the north threaten to alter the overall balance of power. Robb Stark, King in the North, faces major calamity in his efforts to build on his victories over the Lannisters while beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder and his huge army of wildlings continue their inexorable march south. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen - reunited with her three fast-maturing dragons - attempts to raise an army to sail with her from Essos, in hopes of eventually claiming the Iron Throne. In Season 3 of this original series based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling books, the battling families of Westeros continue to clash as bonds are strained, loyalties are tested, and cruel fates are met.

Special Features:
o In Episode Guide: In Feature Resource That Provides Background Information About On-Screen Characters, Locations, And Relevant Histories
o The Rains Of Castamere Unveiled: Get An In-Depth Look At The Creation Of The Most Pivotal Episode Of Season 3 In This Comprehensive Expose Featuring Cast And Crew
o Histories And Lore: Learn About The Mythology Of Westeros As Told From The Varying Perspectives Of The Characters Themselves
o Roots Of Westeros: Explore The Interconnected Web Of Relationships, Rivalries, and Conflicts Between The Noble Houses of Westeros With This Interactive Guide
o A Gathering Storm: Look Back At The Stormy Events Of Season 2 In This 14-Minute Recap With Cast And Crew
o Audio Commentaries: 12 Audio Commentaries With Cast And Crew Including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, George R.R. Martin, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Kit Harington, Richard Madden, and More
o The Politics Of Marriage: The Concept Of Matrimony In Westeros Is All About Making Power Plays and Political Alliances. Cast And Crew Examine This Ancient Institution And Its Place In Game Of Thrones
o Inside The Wildlings: Go Beyond The Wall With This Introduction To The Wildlings To Gain A Better Understanding Of Their Backstory
o New Characters: Meet The New Faces In Season 3: Olenna Tyrell, Missandei, Mance Rayder, Tormund Giantsband, Orell, Jojen & Meera Reed, Blackfish & Edmure Tully, Thoros of Myr, And Beric Dondarrion
o Deleted Scenes/Extended Scenes: Five Deleted and Extended Scenes

Where to Watch: HBO Go, Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

Photo credit: Shout Factory


My God, I love “Darkman.” Before Raimi would revolutionize the Marvel universe with “Spider-man” and when Liam Neeson was still more of a dramatic actor than an action star, the two collaborated on one of the weirdest mainstream movies of all time. There’s such a beautiful combination of Raimi’s stunning attention to detail and his by-the-seat-of-his-pants aesthetic. It looks chaotic and crazy but it takes control to make it look that way. And the Shout Factory Collector’s Edition is beautiful with one of the best HD transfers I’ve seen so far this year. They’re starting to challenge Criterion visually. Great special features, a movie that gets better every time I see it, and a perfect transfer — horror fans, take note. Scratch that, MOVIE fans, take note.

Liam Neeson (Taken) and Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) star in Darkman - this explosive, action-packed thriller from director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy).

Dr. Peyton Westlake (Neeson) is on the verge of realizing a major breakthrough in synthetic skin when his laboratory is destroyed by gangsters. Having been burned beyond recognition and forever altered by an experimental medical procedure, Westlake becomes known as Darkman, assuming alternate identities in his quest for revenge and a new life with a former love (McDormand).

Also starring Colin Friels (Dark City), Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles), Danny Hicks (Evil Dead 2) and Nicholas Worth (Swamp Thing), Darkman is “a frenetic funhouse ride that has you laughing and screaming at the same time” (The Washington Post)!

Special Features:
o New Interview With Frances McDormand
o Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Bill Pope
o That Will Be Just Fine - An Interview With Actor Larry Drake
o Durant’s Men - Interviews With Actors Dan Bell and Danny Hicks
o Darkman’s Design - Interviews With Production Designer Randy Ser and Art Director Philip Dagort
o The Face Of Revenge - An Interview With Special Make-Up Creator Tony Gardner
o Original Storyboards
o Theatrical Trailer
o TV Spots
o Vintage Electronic Press Kit
o Vintage Cast & Crew Profiles: Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, and Larry Drake

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

Sherlock: Season Three
Sherlock: Season Three
Photo credit: BBC

“Sherlock: Season Three”

How awesome that BBC/WB releases “Sherlock” so quickly after the end of each new season? Message boards are still alight with comments on the third and final episode of the third season of one of the best shows on TV and you can already own it on Blu-ray and DVD. It may not be quite as perfect as the masterful season two but it’s darn close. While everyone is talking about “True Detective” and “House of Cards,” don’t let the great “Sherlock” go unnoticed. And tell your friends.

The question on everyone’s lips is finally answered as the hugely popular Sherlock returns in three brand new action-packed adventures. With the demise of Moriarty, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek Into Darkness) finds himself locked in another mind battle with the powerful Charles Augustus Magnussen, who is holding the secrets of the world at his fingertips. Once again, the game is on for Sherlock and John (Martin Freeman, The Hobbit) in The Empty Hearse, The Sign Of Three and finally, His Last Vow.

Special Features:
o The Fall
o Fans, Villains & Speculation
o Shooting Sherlock

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

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