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Harry Michaels "hmichaels" (United Kingdom)

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Original Series Volume 1 [Season 1] (1987) [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Original Series Volume 1 [Season 1] (1987) [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £4.97

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic cartoon revived on DVD!, 15 April 2007
I grew up watching TMNT (or TMHT as it was known in the United Kingdom, due to TV censors claiming the word "Ninja" had too many violent conotations), and was delighted when the DVD release of the original series was announced.

This release features the entire first season from 1987. This can be a little misleading, as the first season only consisted of 5 episodes: "Turtle Tracks", "Enter the Shredder", "A Thing About Rats", "Hot-Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X" and "Shredder and Splintered". Over the course of these episodes, we see many Turtles favourites introduced; Shredder, Krang, April O'Neil, Bebop and Rocksteady, even minor characters like General Tragg that were known best for their action figure counterparts!

To compensate for the short first season, a bonus four episodes from 1996's Season 10 (which never made it to British TV screens) are included: "The Beginning of the End", "The Return of Dregg", "Monster From Dimension X" and "The Day the Earth Disappeared". While these episodes are quite interesting to watch from the perspective as someone who only saw the first couple of seasons of the show as a child, they don't have the same magic that the old episodes had; the animation looks a lot cheaper, like many modern cartoons, and much of the humour from earlier episodes is absent.

Unfortunately, there are no documentaries about the cultural impact the show had or anything along those lines, which would have been very interesting. The only bonus features are the extra episodes.

I personally hadn't seen the first couple of episodes until buying this set, since the craze reached my school a few episodes in. I'd seen "How It All Began" (fellow Turtles fans of my generation will probably be able to remember this early 90s VHS release!) which combined clips of the first couple of episodes to explain the origin of the Turtles. An interesting note about the first season is that the episodes follow a linear storyline, and the episodes are sequential (some taking place directly after the events at the end of the previous episode).

The DVD picture quality is good. The quality is crisp, considering it is a cartoon from 1987. Some imperfections can be seen fairly frequently, though this is probably due to the age of the cartoons and the quality of the original broadcasts and not due to poor production values, as the 1996 episodes are much crisper quality. Sound has the slight imperfections that you'd expect from a cartoon from the 80s, and is completely listenable.

Menus are excellent, featuring great airbrushed art very typical of original Turtles merchandise and artwork from the late 80s and early 90s.

The DVD comes in a case within a foil-enhanced cardboard sleeve featuring some great artwork of the Turtles emerging from the sewer in the airbrushed glory of 1980s, cartoon New York. This is the most attractive of any of the DVD releases so far. Artwork quality on subsequent releases decreased significantly.

A fantastic trip down memory lane, and well worth the price!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2013 8:31 AM GMT

The Simpsons - Season 9 [DVD]
The Simpsons - Season 9 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dan Castellaneta
Price: £7.99

24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A turning point for the show, but looks to be an excellent DVD set., 20 Dec. 2006
As a long-term big fan of the Simpsons, the ninth season marks somewhat of a turning point for the show in my opinion. I believe this is the season where many of the show's initial self-imposed standards started to slip. Characters began acting more and more out of character (the origins of Homer's current "selfish and fairly nasty" personality began to seep through here, moving away from his much funnier "complete idiot" personality of prior seasons).

However, it's still a very good season with many of the show's fantastic qualities of the mid 90s still apparent. Save for a few episodes, it's pretty much season 7 or 8 but a little wackier.

As another reviewer mentioned, lets hope the episodes remain intact, as some cuts were made after 9/11 (such as "The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson" being pulled off the air for a while).

As for the DVD set itself, excellent as usual. I for one am happy with the current rate of releases, as the standards have been kept extremely high. We're treated to the usual "official" archiving of rare clips like adverts that most UK fans won't have seen. And not many other shows go through the trouble of recording an interesting commentary for each and every episode. Take the South Park sets for example. Very sparse on special features, despite the large amount of short specials for the show (especially between 1997 and 2000).

Overall, a very good season and another great release from Fox.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 20, 2009 3:27 PM BST

Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding (Pelham Practical Sports)
Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding (Pelham Practical Sports)
by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £57.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fountain of knowledge from a man who knows his stuff., 7 Dec. 2006
This is one of the most thorough books on bodybuilding available. It covers every aspect of bodybuilding, including training, sample workouts (with a very detailed section on correct form, with many photographs), nutrition, and even the all-important, often overlooked psychological aspect of adopting a healthier lifestyle with resistance training.

As with everything, there are multiple points of view on bodybuilding and this is just one. The workout plans in this book, even for the beginner, are fairly heavy-going, to an extent that many would consider "over-training" today (not many days of rest). Despite it's shortcomings in that respect, if the reader can approach the book with their own common sense, the techniques and insights offered by Arnold can help anyone achieve their dream physique.

At 800+ pages, the book can seem a little daunting, but the actual hard paragraphs of text are very much less than that. The book features hundreds of photographs, and the pure-text pages are in single narrow, manageable blocks.

Probably the only book you'll ever need on bodybuilding, providing you monitor your progress and aren't afraid to make adjustments based on your own results.

Sonic Plus Mega Collection (PC DVD)
Sonic Plus Mega Collection (PC DVD)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection for completists and casual gamers alike., 7 Dec. 2006
This is an excellent collection, especially for the price. It features practically every 8 bit and 16 bit Sonic game, and a few little-known Sonic arcade games. This version (Sonic PLUS Mega Collection) is the most comprehensive release, as it features the Game Gear Sonic titles as well.

As far as I can see, they haven't been modified in any way apart from the added Save feature, which allows you to save at any point in the game. This is a welcome addition, although purists may argue that it makes the games too easy. While somewhat dated graphically, these games actually had great graphics for the time, and at the end of the day, it's gameplay that counts. I couldn't tell you how many 128-bit games I've played and turned off after an hour or two of play because they simply don't flow. These games will never get old, and with so many games on one release, you'll have absolutely hours of fun on your hands with this collection. And it beats scouring eBay for nicely-kept cartridges from the early 90s!

For re-living those hours of childhood entertainment, this is a great release. Let's hope the other major game franchises do the same!

Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Bible
Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Bible
by Robert Reinhardt
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far more detailed than it needs to be., 7 Dec. 2006
I bought this book because it seemed comprehensive at 1000+ pages. Unfortunately, the author seemed to have a goal of writing a LONG book in mind, because even for somebody *completely* new to Flash and vector graphics as I was, I found myself questioning the neccessity of explaining practically every aspect of the interface and pretty much every nuance about the program.

For example, "to quickly erase everything in the current keyframe (even from multiple layers), double-click the Eraser tool in the Tools panel. Don't double-click on the Stage with the Eraser selected, but just double-click the Eraser button on the Tools panel. And -- poof! -- everything in the keyframe is gone." That's a random selection from the book, word for word, in which the exact same point is made several times. I also found my intelligence being insulted when opposite functions were described in equally great detail. For example, a paragraph describing what happens when you select a "plus" feature, and then the exact same paragraph but with "plus" replaced with "minus" describing the "minus" feature.

To put it into even greater perspective, the chapter "Making Your First Flash MX 2004 Project" starts on page 611. By the 250th page, I decided I'd like to actually get my feet wet and learned more by playing round with the interface for 30 minutes than I had in hours and hours of reading this gargantuan book.

If you're a beginner to Flash, pick up one of the Sams Publishing books. If you're not a beginner, don't even think about getting this book, as you'll find it as slow-paced as they come. I'm sure this book teaches you enough to get the ball rolling with your own animations and web interfaces, but there's simply no need to invest so much time into learning it the long way when plenty of other books offer the same development of skill in half the pages or less.

HTML 4 For Dummies
HTML 4 For Dummies
by Ed Tittel
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to HTML, but in today's context, quite dated., 7 Dec. 2006
This review is from: HTML 4 For Dummies (Paperback)
I read this book cover to cover some time ago to fill any gaps I may have encountered in teaching myself HTML years before. The book covers pretty much every fundamental aspect of HTML, and does a decent job of explaining it all, too. Some other reviews state the book is difficult to follow. Unfortunately, even HTML has a degree of complexity, and this book explains HTML in as simplified a way as is possible.

This book falls short not through a lack of content, but in that it's fairly dated in today's context. After reading the entire book, you'll be able to create websites that would have looked very much bog-standard even in the late 90s. The real designs start coming together when you start working with programs like Photoshop and Flash alongside hard coding HTML. With several graphic design tools and these foundational HTML techniques, you'll be able to create websites. Don't be under the illusion that you'll finish the book and be able to throw together a contemporary website.

Another point worth mentioning is that XHTML is the current standard, and soon HTML 4 will be fairly obsolete. It may be a couple of years down the line, but that's roughly the learning curve for getting reasonably good at web design. I'd reccommend any XHTML book over this book, as they tend to cover everything useful (and necessary) in this book and disregard all the useless, obsolete tags that make your site look like it hasn't been updated since 1996.

However, if you simply want to learn HTML to make a basic homepage for family photos or the like, this book may be all you need.

Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All in One
Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All in One
by Julie C. Meloni
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of your best options for learning PHP, but forget the MySQL section., 7 Dec. 2006
Studying towards a degree in programming, I have access to a large selection of programming books at my institute. Having sampled at least half a dozen PHP books, this was definitely the most help. PHP is a fairly easy language to learn (especially if you have some experience with HTML), although many other books will overcomplicate the learning process by elaborating on small details to a ridiculous extent (think the Wiley 'Bible' books).

This book teaches you everything you need to know to learn PHP's fundamentals and by the time you've finished the PHP section of the book, you'll be capable of writing various PHP scripts. Everything you learn is accompanied with examples. Everything is explained clearly. I didn't find myself losing track even once. Thorough but to the point, this book is my highest recommendation for anybody wishing to learn PHP. A few days after finishing the book, I had written a purely-PHP image gallery interface that thumbnails and displays details for all of the images in a folder on a web server. I had to use forums to finish the gallery off, but the book is owed the main thanks.

As with most programming books, you won't walk away able to program the most complex scripts. "Expert" is a title no book will get you. Luckily, there are countless forums online that will expand your knowledge of the language further than any book on the market.

Unfortunately, the book's section on MySQL is rather poor. It assumes you have foundational knowledge of MySQL's commands and using the command prompt to modify database tables (why would you?). Quite disappointing, really, as the PHP section of the book (almost 300 pages) is fantastic.

Still, this book puts many of the other PHP books out there to shame.

Babylon 5 -  Crusade: The Complete Series [DVD]
Babylon 5 - Crusade: The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Allen Brooks
Offered by movielovers786
Price: £17.99

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short-lived but superb continuation of the Babylon 5 saga., 6 Dec. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Set shortly after the Babylon 5 movie, "A Call to Arms", Crusade follows the crew of the destroyer Excalibur, whose mission is to find a cure for the Drakh plague within 5 years. This premise was an excellent opportunity for another 5 year arc from J. Michael Straczynski. Unfortunately, production for the show was cancelled prior to the first episode being aired.

This DVD set is a collection of all 13 episodes that were produced prior to cancellation. Through the course of these episodes, we get hints of bigger things to come. Knowing that this groundwork wouldn't be built upon further than the 13 episodes in the set is quite disappointing.

Crusade is based around exploration; in a way, the polar opposite of Babylon 5, which was based in the station the vast majority of the time. We see many different worlds and landscapes in just 13 episodes. As with Babylon 5's first season, most of the episodes are one-shots designed to ease the audience into the scale of the arc and of course get new viewers along the way. The final episode, "Each Night I Dream Of Home", is probably the strongest arc episode.

As always with Straczynski's work, characterization is fantastic. It would be easy to clone Babylon 5's characters, but all of the characters here have their own personality traits, strengths and weaknesses. Straczynski originally created the team with the conventions of tabletop RPGs in mind; having a synergistic team of different origins and backgrounds. A fighter (Captain Gideon), a thief (Dureena), a wizard (Galen the Technomage), etc.

Captain Gideon seems fairly bland at first, but the more you see his personality in different contexts, the richer his character becomes. In an early episode, he cites President Sheridan as his personal hero, which conveys a sense of time and scale to Crusade's position in the Babylon 5 saga. He's actually a great lead and I'd be interested to see where 5 years would have taken him. Another favourite is Max Eilerson, the sarcastic, egotistical archaeologist. He's the typical guy you love to hate with a higher IQ. Galen is a mysterious Technomage who enjoys some character development over the episodes he's in, which could have been taken much further.

Characters from the Babylon 5 universe reappear. Captain Lochley makes several appearances, and we see different sides to her than Babylon 5 ever showed us. Dr. Stephen Franklin appears in the final episode, the late Richard Biggs delivering as good a performance as ever. Minor characters such as the Brikiri Ambassador appear, too.

Onto the DVD itself. The DVD is presented in full-frame. Picture and sound quality is as you'd expect it to be, nothing amazing, but in all likelihood equal to that of the original broadcast.

Special features are sparse. A couple of episode commentaries are there, which are interesting as always and reveal aspects about the show's production and the planned future of the story arc. There's also a couple of short documentaries about the making of the show and another about designing the Excalibur.

The packaging is fairly poor and disappointed me when I saw it. A card sleeve (typical of TV box sets) with nice cover art, but the spine lists the contents of each disc horizontally (ie. Disc One - Episodes 1-3 etc.). A nice, big Crusade logo would have looked a lot better. Also, each disc is in a slimline DVD case, all with the exact same front cover. The box itself is slightly bigger than most DVD sets generally are.

If you're new to the Babylon 5 universe, I would strongly advise that you pick up Babylon 5: The Gathering and Babylon 5 Season One rather than Crusade and start working your way through what is probably the best science fiction series of all time. Once you've got past Season One's rough start, things pick up and soon you'll want to watch more episodes than you have time for. I worked my way through all 100+ episodes and all the movies within a couple of months. Then move on to Crusade (if anything, because it happens after the events of Babylon 5). If you absolutely must pick up Crusade first, be sure to watch Babylon 5: A Call To Arms prior to starting, as it lays a lot of the groundwork for Crusade.

All in all, Crusade had a lot of potential and I would have loved to see where Straczynski would have taken it. Fans of Babylon 5 craving more, as I was, should definitely pick this up (along with some of the B5 novels). It's a good set of episodes, and while it's somewhat unsatisfying knowing that the doors opened in these 13 episodes won't be closed, if you can watch having accepted this, you've got 10 hours of entertainment on your hands.

Suck on This
Suck on This
Price: £24.64

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great starting point, 21 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Suck on This (Audio CD)
"Suck On This" is the first release from the somewhat cult band Primus! If you're unfamiliar with their work, their most recognizable song is (unfortunately) the South Park theme. While I'm a big fan of South Park, the world deserves to hear more from this wonder trio. They pull off quirky, humourous, heavy, sometimes funky songs with pretty much virtuoso musicianship.
This CD consists of 9 live tracks from two separate 1989 performances both at the same venue (Berkeley Square, California). Later in the year, the band recorded their first studio album "Frizzle Fry" and released it in 1990. The CD naturally features the original Primus line-up of self-styled bass virtuoso Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander on drums.
I'm not a big fan of live releases, but having seen a few live Primus performances on their DVD "Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People", I thought it would be worth listening to. Still, I had my doubts about the disc as it is early Primus, perhaps not up to the standard of the live stuff I'd seen from later in their career. My concerns were completely in vain, this is one of the best live albums I have heard. The performance is flawless; it is like listening to a Primus studio album with crowd noise. It is that good.
Les Claypool's jawdropping bass lines are in full effect, played confidently and complimented perfectly by Tim Alexander's complex, quirky drumming and Larry LaLonde's squeeling guitar parts. This just goes to show that Primus have ALWAYS been great.
The sound quality is surprisingly good considering it is over 15 years old and by the sound of it, recorded in a pretty small club, although anyone who follows Primus will know that they have a knack for recording each of their gigs through the soundboard.
While Primus on the whole aren't the most accessible band in the world, within the Primus back catalogue, this is a great starting point for anybody wishing to get a taste of the band's style. There is nothing mediocre about it -- this is an album I have been listening to a lot since getting, and that is extremely rare for a live album. This album is definitely worth buying.

The X Files: Season 1 [DVD] [1994]
The X Files: Season 1 [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ David Duchovny
Price: £9.60

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding beginning for one of the best shows of the 90s!, 15 Jan. 2006
Growing up in the 90s, it was impossible to avoid the X-Files phenomenon. I was a fan of the show as a child and in my early teens, but the complexities and very nature of the show placed a limit on my enjoyment. Now, years on, I decided to revisit the show in the form of the DVD box sets, viewing them in order of course. I am very happy I did; in retrospect, The X-Files is a very high quality programme, and I enjoyed all 24 episodes in this first season.
Aside from "Squeeze" and "Tooms" being relevant to one another, each episode of the first season is like a short movie in itself. The stylistic and cinematic choices, not to mention the excellent scripts, make each 45 minutes very compelling. I find myself wanting to watch the next episode each time I complete one.
For those not familiar with The X-Files, the pilot episode sees two FBI agents partnered by the higher-ups of the bureau. One is Fox Mulder, one of the FBI's top agents in criminal psychosis but ridiculed internally for his controversial theories and his dedication to the infamous "X-Files", the other Dana Scully, a very "by the book" agent with a medical background. Her purpose is to influence Mulder's investigations to be more scientific, but naturally, it seems Mulder isn't so paranoid after all when she witnesses a whole host of oddities, such as a UFO above a military airbase, an advanced artificial intelligence system that begins killing off people within it's building to preserve itself, and prehistoric insects that come out at night to feast on human flesh.
While some of the storylines are fairly camp, and some of the early 90s TV CGI effects leave a little to be desired, this is addictive, quality telivision. Mulder and Scully are two of the best characters in television. While some fans were unhappy about Mulder's disappearance in the show's late seasons, season one is vintage X-Files with no hiccups.
As for the DVDs themselves, the quality is excellent. The only thing I noticed was that a couple of the title sequences appear much grainier than others, which is rather unusual, since the actual body of these episodes are fine so it must have been on the original medium. Or maybe I'm just getting paranoid.
The special features are fairly sparse, despite the extra disc solely for them. Audio commentaries would have been excellent, but I suppose at 45 minutes per episode, 24 episodes would have been quite a task, let alone the 202 episodes in the entire series. The extra features include short clips of dubbed scenes from different countries' broadcasts (a fairly uninteresting feature; I watched two and left it at that), a couple of short documentaries about the show's first season with crew members, which were pretty interesting, and the original promotional TV spots for the episodes, which were fairly entertaining (mainly due to the typical movie/television "trailer voice") but it gets boring after watching a couple. There is also a DVD rom game.
The packaging is nice; whereas the original DVDs came in bulky, fold-out sets, these re-releases are in more stylish, shelf-friendly cardboard sleeve/single plastic case combinations. They look great.
Despite the somewhat disappointing special features, the sheer quality of the show overcompensates. Especially considering the extremely low price of the re-released box sets.

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