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The Shelf: A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, COMEDY BANG! BANG!

A whole lot of television shows are getting Blu-ray and DVD releases this week, but so is one of the best rock & roll movies ever made, if not one of the best movies full stop. My, how great it is. For reals, it’s a pretty great week on the ol’ home video front.

A Hard Day’s Night
In 1964, there was nothing bigger on the entire planet than four mop-top boys from Liverpool who sang bubblegum pop hits better than anyone ever. Yes, John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The Beatles. You know who the hell I’m talking about. They were incredibly popular and likable so they though, why not make a movie about them? And make a movie they did; the first of four actually. That movie, A Hard Day’s Night, also spawned one of the band’s best albums and a whole subgenre of “bands-about-to-play-a-concert” rock movie.

Directed by Richard Lester, who is excellent, and written by Alun Owen, A Hard Day’s Night showed off the band’s senses of humor and their propensity to be as weird as possible almost all of the time. We get to see them field questions from the press, get yelled at by their tour manager, and run from a horde of screaming young women. And, naturally, there are live performances and musical numbers that are just brilliant. It’s amazing all of that can fit into a film that’s only 87 minutes long. With their following film, Help!, released the following year, the story got a lot sillier and more surreal, and the Beatles themselves were high off their ass the whole time. For this movie, however, it’s a tiny snapshop of that innocent moment in the band’s history before they really started getting experimental. It’s always shocking to me their heyday was only about a decade. So much changed so fast.

Anyway, the new Blu-ray/DVD set from Criterion features their typical 4K digital restoration and three restored audio settings (monaural or sterophonic). There are also documentaries and commentaries and all the other goodness you’d expect from Criterion. Get it, you fools.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Complete Season 6
By time Star Trek: The Next Generation reached its sixth season, it had cemented itself as being not only a ratings smash in its first-run syndication spot, but also pushing the boundaries of science fiction storytelling and what the (albeit limited for the time) special effects could do. As good as Season 5 was, Season 6 has some absolute corkers in it, and is arguably the most consistently good season the show produced, despite a couple of silly episodes that are unavoidable in a 26-episode year. This is also probably my favorite season and the one I remember most from when I was a kid.

As they’ve done with the last three seasons as well, there is also a companion, feature-length release of a select two-parter from the season. In this case it’s “Chain of Command” which sees Picard sent on an espionage mission only to be taken prisoner and mentally and physically tortured by the Cardassian interrogator. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is being captained by Jellico, who isn’t a fan of the way anything is currently done on the ship, or of Riker specifically. This disc has its own separate features not available on the big season set.

Read my complete review of both of these releases right here. Two to beam up!

Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 2
Easily one of the funniest and weirdest television shows ever, Scott Aukerman‘s Comedy Bang! Bang! is like if Monty Python made a talk show. Sketch comedy done in the guise of a chat program. The second season consists of 20 episodes featuring guests like Aziz Ansari, Zach Galifianakis, Jim Gaffigan, Cobie Smulders, Zoe Saldana, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Andy Richter, and at least 12 more. The DVD set has commentaries, deleted and bonus scenes and interviews, Reggie Watts‘ music lessons, and much more. This is a really good set; I’m not cop-swapping you.

Dragon Ball Z Season 5
The fifth season of the seemingly never-ending anime series which follows Goku and his son Gohan as they search for Dragon Balls and have massive, power-blasty battles in the middle of deserts.

The Bridge Season 1
FX’s crime drama about a murder taking place between the American and Mexican border and the team-up between law enforcement from both countries.

Lost Girl Season 4
Canadian sci-fi/horror program about a woman named Bo who is a succubus.

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