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January 31, 2006 E-mail story   Print   Most E-Mailed


An expanded 'Bubble'

*Disc of Steven Soderbergh’s new movie comes with cast interviews and an alternate ending.

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By Susan King, Times Staff Writer

Noteworthy offerings that arrive in stores today include Steven Soderbergh's much-discussed experimental movie "Bubble," the first season of the groundbreaking police show "Hill Street Blues," the stop-motion animated "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" and a complete set of "Pink Panther" cartoons.

"Bubble" (Magnolia, $30): Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh's latest movie arrives today on DVD following its Friday opening in 32 theaters and two showings on the HDNet subscription TV service. The low-key thriller, featuring a cast of non-actors, is the first of six low-budget digital movies the director plans to make for simultaneous premieres in theaters, on TV and DVD. Extras include interviews with the cast, an alternate ending, an interview with Soderbergh and enlightening commentary from the director and Mark Romanek, the director of "One Hour Photo."

"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" (Warner, $29): The iconoclastic director teams up with muse Johnny Depp for this quirky stop-motion animated film about a shy young man who finds himself in the underworld, where he is betrothed to a corpse bride. Music is by Danny Elfman. The DVD doesn't include commentary from Burton, but the documentaries that explore various aspects of the lavish production are a cut above the norm.

"Hill Street Blues: The Complete First Season" (Fox, $40): The groundbreaking 1981-87 NBC drama scored 98 Emmy nominations, receiving eight awards in its first season. Gritty, in your face, frank and adult, the taboo-breaking series struggled in its first year and almost wasn't renewed. The series continued for seven seasons, put producer-writer Steven Bochco on the map as a major TV player and has influenced writers, directors and producers for the last 25 years. Extras include a nostalgic discussion with many cast members — star Daniel J. Travanti is conspicuously missing — and decent commentary on a few episodes.

"The Rat Patrol: The Complete First Season" (Sony, $40): Tom Gries, who directed the underrated 1968 western "Will Penny" and several acclaimed TV movies in the 1970s, was the creator of the 1966-68 ABC series set in North Africa during World War II.

Christopher George headed an elite Allied commando team whose mission was to engage Germany's Afrika Korps. Gary Raymond and Eric Braeden also starred.

"Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection" (MGM, $70): With the release of the new "The Pink Panther," starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau, just around the corner, MGM is presenting all 124 of the Oscar-winning cartoons featuring the groovy feline. The sleek silent cat was introduced in 1964 in the opening credits of Blake Edwards' classic "The Pink Panther." The character was expanded into a series of popular shorts from 1964 to 1980. Produced by Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie, the Panther's adventures were set to the swinging Henry Mancini theme song. This five-disc set includes several festive extras, including how the series came about, a tribute to Freleng and even a how-to lesson on drawing your own Pink Panther.

"Archie Bunker's Place: The Complete First Season" (Sony, $30): The 1979-83 continuation of "All in the Family" finds Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) opening up a saloon in Queens with business partner Murray Klein (Martin Balsam). Jean Stapleton appeared occasionally on the first season as Archie's wife, Edith, but her character was killed off in the second year.

"The Legend of Zorro" (Sony, $29): Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones return as Zorro and his fiery wife, Elena, in this underwhelming sequel to the 1998 hit about the swashbuckling Mexican hero. Extras include featurettes on the elaborate stunts, visual effects, the train scene and the party sequence as well as sturdy commentary from director Martin Campbell and cinematographer Phil Meheux.


Feb. 7: "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," "Elizabethtown," "Just Like Heaven," "Doom," "Eros," "Daltry Calhoun" and "Waiting"

Feb. 14: "Saw II," "Zathura," "Proof," "Domino," "MirrorMask" and "The Thing About My Folks"

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