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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Biography > Food > Fashion > Arts > Clothes > Aviation > Airplanes > Travel > Special > Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season (2014 - 2015/Warner Blu-ray Set)/Famous Nathan Of Coney Island (2015/Film Movement DVD)/Iris (2015/Magnolia Blu-ray)/Just Planes Blu-ray series: Edelweiss A

Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season (2014 - 2015/Warner Blu-ray Set)/Famous Nathan Of Coney Island (2015/Film Movement DVD)/Iris (2015/Magnolia Blu-ray)/Just Planes Blu-ray series: Edelweiss A330-200, SAS A340-300 and TMA Twin Otter 300 & 400: Paradise Barefoot Pilots (all 2014)

Picture: B/C+/B-/B Sound: B-/C/B-/C+ Extras: C+/B-/C/D Main Programs: B-/B/B-/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Just Planes Blu-rays are now only available directly from the producers can be ordered from the link below.

Here's the latest comedy and special interest releases...

Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season (2014 - 2015) is the season where the show had to choose between growth and formula, choosing the latter and thus, ending any relevant storylines launched since the show's debut so many years ago. Picking up where Sheldon visits train stations across the country, the couples have to make decisions to have better lives and do the mature, adult things (they don't) and the show loses its comic timing. The actors are good and there are still enough funny moments, yet it becomes harder to watch as the season progresses.

This will be mostly remembered as the season Kaley (now divorced) cut her hair real short out of nowhere and much worse, the unseen Carol Ann Susi passed away, though it was great to see her have this final huge success (I am among many who loved her when she debuted as Monique Marmelstein in 1974 on Kolchak: The Night Stalker, only to last for 3 episodes because someone thought she was too much like (ironically) a 'TV sitcom' character; but she was great and dropping her helped kill the show among other eventual poor decisions) proving her comic talents were inarguable.

Billy Bob Thorton shows up as a new character in an amusing guest spot and everyone has funny moments, but the show had 'jumped the shark' at this point and unless they can shift into new ideas the next season and bring back the show, early fans can consider themselves finished even without the closure. I still like the cast very much, though.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other capable devices, while the Blu-rays add a Gag Reel, Shooting Stars: BBT on BBT, 2014 Big Bang Theory Comic-Con Panel, Constellation Prize (some of the stars get immortalized on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame), Here's To You, Carol Ann Susi (nice tribute) and It's A Quark... It's An Atom... It's the #BBTSuperfans!

Lloyd Handwerker's Famous Nathan Of Coney Island (2015) is a biography of immigrant Nathan Hankwerker, who eventually came to America to avoid WWI and landed up opening a legendary food outlet in the once-thriving park of Coney Island named Nathan's that became especially famous for its hot dogs, but made many other food exceptionally well and invented what we now know as fast food. As the founding of the original locale is about to turn 100, the grandson of the food legend is profiled in this excellent program filled with remarkable archive footage, stories, interviews now & then and also becomes a history lesson in the American Dream and the fall of one of the greatest eateries of all time.

I wish this were longer, but it is still strong as it stands dealing with the trials and tribulations of what it took for Nathan to make it and just how against the odds what he did was. Once he embraced customer service and excellence, success followed the way it used to without the garbage we have to deal with today that kills good food, good times and innovation. You will be surprised at some of the amazing stories and how personal a view we really get of things. Plus, you will likely be hungry after watching this if you were not to begin with, so consider that when viewing.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by the director, Additional Interviews and Deleted Scenes.

Albert Maysles' Iris (2015) is the final work of the legendary, groundbreaking director of documentaries, this time telling of the biography, work and influence of art and fashion icon Iris Apfel, with her knack for over-accessorizing effectively, creating variety from wide-ranging and often obscure sources and how it created an amazing life for her. Still together with her husband (who turned 100 years old during production), we learn of her early years, her worldwide tours to get items she needed for her work & elite clients, her vital ideas of style, beauty & individuality and her own dynamic personality.

I liked how the couple landed up being hired to do serious restoration work on priceless items, landmark places and how her encyclopaedic knowledge has made more of a difference that most realize. Big names also come out to meet her and the fashion people who know better joyously engage her. It's another great American success story you should see at least once.

Extras include a more recent interview with Iris since Maysles passed away and Deleted Scenes.

Finally we have a new special interest series to look at, the Just Planes.com Blu-ray series featuring Edelweiss A330-200, SAS A340-300 and TMA Twin Otter 300 & 400: Paradise Barefoot Pilots, running well over 200 minutes each. Like an extended travelog, these programs go the long way to show how it is to be an airplane pilot, the ups & downs, the journey and even fun and excitement in flying behind the scenes. Beautifully shot, each volume focuses on an airline, the models they use and we get on the spot interviews about what is going on so we get an even more defined idea of what is going on.

You would think this might be repetitive, but these are done so well that if you have the energy and attention span, you'll find these can be surprisingly engaging and involving if you are interested and it should be said that liking the locale does not hurt. In each case, the makers leave no stone unturned for you to not just see, but experience what is going on in ways you would miss if you actually went to these places. It is also a look inside the industry that gets a bad rap and whose workers are ever underpaid (especially since the 1980s) and celebrates the hard work of the people who literally make the world move.

Locales in these entries are Switzerland & Thailand, Denmark & Dulles Airport USA and Male International Airport w/surrounding islands and lands. Nice!

There are no extras, but these are so long and through, it does not seem as much of an issue.

The Blu-rays look pretty good here, are all presented in 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers and are all digital shoots, with Bang and the Planes discs (all three really well shot more than many similar releases) having nice color range throughout and Iris only being held back by older video footage, though its older film footage holds up better than expected. This is how Blu-ray should always be. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Nathan also had some older film and video footage, with the color home movies (Kodachrome perhaps?) in particularly nice shape. The newer HD footage is also decent throughout and when you add all the interesting past footage edited together this well, it is compelling viewing.

As for sound, Bang and Iris offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes are good, if not always offering a consistent soundfield. Bang has quiet moments and plenty of talk, while Iris has older vintage audio and location audio limits to deal with, but they all sound as good as they will sound. All three Planes Blu-rays have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks that feature the location audio without tampering, but I bet PCM or another lossless 2.0 format would help the sound just sound a little better. Otherwise, it is fine for what it is.

Nathan has both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes, but the 2.0 is very weak and the 5.1 reveals a bit more detail, but the sound is one the weak side in some mixing issues and at the volume it was transferred at, so be careful of volume switching and overly loud levels.

You can order the Just Planes Blu-rays at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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