Latest Software Reviews

DVD: 12 Monkeys Special Edition—Universal
Based on the short French film La Jetée, 12 Monkeys follows poor, hapless convict and time traveler Cole. He is tasked with preventing a plague that wiped out most of humanity. Time travel not being an exact sport, he is tossed around a bit, and everybody thinks he's insane. Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam directs one of the best science fiction movies of the 1990s. Bruce Willis plays poor Cole, while Brad Pitt is truly incredible as nutcase Jeffrey Goines.

The box cover promises an "all-new digitally remastered picture." Indeed, it has slightly better color, slightly more detail, and slightly less noise than the 1998 collector's edition. The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture also has significant underscan in the first few chapters. This shows incompetence on someone's part, as this underscan wasn't in the previous release, and it disappears in the middle of a chapter. Lame. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is about the same, with a good-sounding mix overall, but the dialogue is still too low.

The extras are also the same. There is commentary by Gilliam and producer Charles Roven and a making-of documentary. This is the worst example of rereleasing a DVD just to squeeze out a few more sales. The increase in picture quality isn't really worth buying the movie again. If you don't already own it, I guess this is the one to buy. That is, unless the previous version is really cheap.—Geoffrey Morrison

DVD: Scrubs: The Complete First Season—Buena Vista
Usually, shows that take place in a hospital fall into the hour-long drama category, with a few comedic moments thrown in to dilute the sad stuff. Scrubs has achieved something we haven't seen since M.A.S.H.—it's a hospital-based sitcom that is truly funny, with a few sad moments thrown in to dilute the happy stuff. OK, M.A.S.H. also dealt with war and managed to be funny, so it wins. But Scrubs' excellent melding of bizarre slapstick, wonderfully flawed but lovable characters, and genuine sentiment has made it one of the best sitcoms on TV right now.

As I revisited the first season in this three-disc boxed set, I was struck by how well developed the characters were from the get-go. Each disc in the set contains eight episodes, all in the 1.33:1 video format with Dolby stereo audio. The pilot episode is somewhat dark and grainy, but the rest of the episodes look and sound fine. There are no chapter breaks within episodes, which is a bit frustrating.

Bonus content is spread out over the three discs and includes outtakes, deleted scenes, alternate dialogue, an interview with star Zach Braff, and a half-hour behind-the-scenes look at season one. Braff, John C. McGinley, Neil Flynn, and other cast members take turns teaming up with creator Bill Lawrence for the six commentary tracks scattered throughout the set.

Overall, this DVD presentation is a worthy complement to the show. If you haven't yet discovered the greatness of Scrubs, you can now enjoy it from the beginning.—Adrienne Maxwell