Friday, April 28, 2006

No more DVDs?

A friend of mine from DA named Shychick allowed me to post some big news into my blog, so here it is.

"Bad news. I noticed that nobody had replied to that topic on Capital Entertainment for awhile- I think the last post was sometime in March, or something. Now, I've been fucked over with so-called upcoming DVD releases before: a box-set of Sonic-SatAM was supposed to have been released by DiC a few years back, but SEGA basically canceled that altogether (LONG and extremely complex story story; refer to FUS for more details if you are interested) and Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" keeps getting postponed and put on hiatus by Warner Brothers, so the actual release date for that is still up in the air (thank God I own the VHS, though!). Anyway, I wanted to be absolutely sure of what was going on with the rest of the Count Duckula series, because I'm tired of getting my hopes up for my most beloved shows and movies to come to DVD, and then getting my hopes dashed; I'm sick of feeling deceived and lied to by these companies. I emailed the guy who originally began that topic concerning the rest of the CD series- Spacekicker, he was called, who was apparently a staff member at Capital Entertainment- and asked him if there was still plans to release the rest of the series. And he simply replied (I still have the message in my inbox, so I'll copy and paste it here):

"I'm not sure. I left the company awhile ago. I don' t believe there are any plans to release the rest of the seasons."

This made no sense to me whatsoever. I mean, he was the one who made that topic in the first place, asking us for ideas on what we would like to see for special features. Now, all of a sudden, he's saying there are no plans to release the rest of the series after all, and with NO explanation at that (ok, maybe he did leave the company, so he wouldn't know what's going on with that anymore, but then what made him say that he doesn't think there are any plans if he's so clueless? If he knows or even suspects that much, then why wouldn't he know whatever reason mught be behind it? I mean, I hate it when people just ASSUME shit, and that's what it sounded like he was doing. Either knows, or he doesn't know; I'm sure he must've found out sometime before he left. I guess what I'm saying is, basically, what exactly does he base that statement on? You know what I mean?)

So, I emailed another CE employee who had actually posted in that topic, named Scot, who is apparently an Online Coordinator and an Admin, who had said in that topic, "Great ideas, guys; the developers will see all of them, you can bet on that!" Or something among those lines. Anyway, I told him the situation, expressed my confusion and frustration in a polite, but firm way, told him how deceived and in the dark I felt, and posed my original query about the so-called upcoming seasons of the show, asking him if he knew anything about it and said I'd be grateful for any details he could share. Again, I will c/p his exact words:

"I honestly don't know. At the time the intentions were to of course
continue coming out with the seasons, but there is something you have
to understand. It's not just that Spacekicker no longer works for the
company, but 90% of those who did no longer do as well. We were bought out and merged into First Look Media. So it was a pretty big change. I will however find out as much as I can about the fate of Count Duckula and let you know as soon as I do."

Well, he's not really sure either, but at least he was far more specific, unlike that other guy. So, I guess it's up in the air as of now, so all we can do is hope. I just hope the guy will actually get back to me, like he said he was going to. At this point, we don't know if it's been canceled altogether, simply postponed for the time being, or plain forgotten about. So, keep your fingers crossed, guys. I'll keep you posted."

I certainly hope so too. For one, there have been episodes that were never released even on VHS [about seven of them], let alone on DVD. Seriously, if people were to just make EVERYTHING available on DVD, regardless of rights and shit, then companies would stop whining about people 'stealing their shows' through downloading. Simple as.

It greatly sucks that Capital changed like this all so suddenly. It was like when Disney bought out DiC and refuse to release Sonic SatAM on DVD, thus resulting in many bootlegs and illegal shit.

As for Count Duckula, the only way in which I can back up my personal hopes for more releases is this piece of news from Duckula Online:

"The international version will be online within the next weeks. I'm currently scanning and photographing Duckula items as bonus material for the upcoming DVD season sets produced by Capital Entertainment."

Mind you, this dated back to October. All we can do is just wait. Who knows, there could be some big 20-year celebration in 2008!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Complete First Season

No fangirly blog would be complete without a mention to one of the big moves made for a classic 80's cartoon - the 2005 release of Count Duckula: The Complete First Season on DVD in the United States. It was released by Capital Entertainment, a company which I haven't heard of before, on the 4th October 2005, and contains the first 26 episodes of the show, which make up the first season. There are also a few special features to go along. This will be available in the United Kingdom - where I'm from - in July.

But I don't have to wait for that.

In March this year I bought a copy of the USA version from an eBay shop. It costed me nearly £15, including postage and packaging, and only took twelve days to come all the way from the US to my doorstep. This was really good considering the distance, as the user sent me an email after I paid saying that the shipping would take as much as 3 weeks!

When it came, I was lovestruck. What made this even better was that it worked well on the DVD player in my parents' bedroom, where I like to retreat if my sister's on MSN. It didn't work well on my PS2, but that didn't really matter because I had my PC's DVD player as well. So there was in this room, eagarly waiting to watch the DVD.

Now, this is the ONLY problem with this box set. I was presented with DREADFUL menu graphics - graphics that are so badly drawn that they look like a child's gone and drawn them. This comes along with some VERY cheesy music that isn't at all related to the show, which is merged with voice clips from the episodes. Well, I certainly hope that the next season DVD [yes, there WILL be one] will have better menu art. The ones for the subtitle menus and the episode menus are worse...making the Legend of Zelda CD-i FMVs look like the Lion King!

That aside, it's a very good DVD. It's a good value for money - £12 [what I paid] for 26 episodes, whereas the existing Prism Leisure release of only six episodes over here costs £5.99 at most! It also comes with subtitles, which is a good thing as I can now spell some of the additional characters' names, like Hezekiah for example, and just make out what they say sometimes. It's also good because I'm partially deaf...

After all, it's the episodes we all want really, but we do like a few special features. Alas, these range from somewhat mediocre to quite good. There's...

  • An interview with Brian Cosgrove
  • Interview with Jon Doyle, background artist of some episodes
  • 'How to draw Duckula', where an artist called Mike Whaite draws Duckula step by step.
  • Photo Gallery - basically some cels, paint guides and other pieces of artwork related to the cartoon.
  • 'Restoring Duckula' - this is what they call a split screen test comparing the difference between the original footage and the restored version. It doesn't really show much difference when seen on a TV, but you can judge for yourselves below.
The features aren't too bad I suppose, but I hope they do better for the next DVD set. The interview with John Doyle however is interesting, saying that he gets his inspiration from the Disney film 101 Dalmations. This pretty much explains the beautiful style of some of the backgrounds. In Brian Cosgrove's interview, he explains how the concept came about since Dangermouse to point out one of the answers. The How to draw was interesting as well, as it starts with the shapes I use [after following other drawing guides of course] in the blueline and then pencil. And I thought it was a lovely drawing...

If you Count Duckula fans haven't got this DVD set yet, I suggest that you do so whenever you can. Those who live outside the USA, be aware that you'll need to have a DVD player or computer that can play Region 1 DVDs. This shouldn't be a problem for the UK in July, I'm pretty sure £20 wouldn't do much harm for 26 episodes. Despite the bad menu graphics et all, it's much worth it.

Really can't wait for the next sets.

Transylvanian Roxy Here I Come!

Castle Duckula, home for many centuries to a dreadful dynasty of vicious vampire ducks. The counts of...


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
On 6th September 1988, I was a one-year-old, unaware of a new cartoon that was aired on CITV. That show was none other than Count Duckula, one of the better productions of the British studio Cosgrove Hall, most famous for the earlier work Dangermouse. Count Duckula was once a villain in that cartoon who appeared in only 4 episodes. He looked and sounded MUCH more different back then, and he had a lisp. But despite being a villain, he wanted to be a star...

And that's where it all begins.

I first became a fan of the show in 1995. It was at a time when the house just about had cable, and I was glued to Nickelodean all the time. I'd throw tantrums if I missed certain shows, Duckula being one of them. But when Nickelodean became the fagboys that they are today and took the show off...

How could I have forgotten him since the show was on Sky One?

Well, I didn't after all. I found a site called TV Ark, which has a vast amount of video clips from all sorts of British television. One of which was the introduction to Count Duckula. I kept watching it over and over, until came a point that I became totally obsessed. In kind of obsessed in which I just couldn't get it out of my head. I wanted to watch more episodes...

Over a period of time I downloaded a 12GB torrent containing more than 50 episodes. Some were great, others failed in life, and I managed to find the ones I did watch in 1995. Some were well animated yet the story was bad, while others were poorly animated yet they were really funny. Nonetheless, it was a great cartoon.

And this is what this blog is about. Praise for this little guy and his show. I'll be writing articles in the future, reviewing certain things, and just sharing the experience!