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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 15, 2006

'Star Wars' originals boxed with revised editions

By Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press

Following in the footsteps of his pal Steven Spielberg, who reversed his decision to release only his digitally revised version of the classic "E.T.," George Lucas finally has acceded to fans' wishes: The original release versions of the "Star Wars" films, that is 1977's "Episode IV: A New Hope," 1980's "Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" and 1983's "Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" are finally available on DVD in two-disc sets that couple them with the revised editions released theatrically in 1997.

For those not up to hyper-speed, the saga goes like this: When the films were rereleased, with a few minutes of extra footage and some visual improvement before the resumption of the series with the prequels, Lucas said they were what he considered the definitive versions: what the films would have originally been had he had digital technology.

Using that criteria, when the films were finally remastered for DVD and released as the "Trilogy" box set, it was the reworked editions that were issued.

Though the actual alterations were minimal and, in some cases, improvements, Lucas set off a saber storm in the "Star Wars" community. Especially incensed were those who had seen the films in their first incarnations as kids and who felt proprietary toward them. Still, Lucas was unbending. He made them; this was how he wanted them preserved.

What made Lucas change his mind will forever be a subject of debate. You can read the debate at hundreds of Web sites and fan forums. But it is easy to feel sympathy for those who bought "Trilogy" on the promise the originals would not be forthcoming.

These however, are the facts: Disc 1 of each set includes the enhanced rereleases, the same as issued in the "Trilogy" with commentary by Lucas and others. Disc 2 contains the originally released version, in wide-screen with the sound remixed into 2.0 Surround.

There is also an Xbox "demo" and a Lego game trailer, both of which could be considered advertisements for more product. Fox and LucasFilm are calling the sets "Limited Editions," but will not say exactly how limited they are. We can safely assume, however, there will be more than a million, making it impossible to justify them as collectibles.

Finally, a word to the extremely gullible: If you think that the future will not hold a box set that compiles all six "Star Wars" films, I have a used Clone I would like to sell you.

TV ON DVD

As difficult as it might be to imagine, when Katharine Hepburn appeared on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973, it was the first time she had ever appeared on TV, and when she arrived, the deal wasn't closed: She had agreed only that she would come to the studio and have a look around, and if she was comfortable, well ...

She apparently was comfortable, and with a brisk, "Well, let's just do it," she and Cavett began a lengthy conversation that was aired as two consecutive 90-minute shows, which, along with unseen outtakes and set-ups, are now released on "The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats" (Shout Factory!).

This latest collection of vintage Cavetts also includes sit-downs with a charming Fred Astaire, a wonderfully droll Alfred Hitchcock, a surprisingly gracious Bette Davis and a surprisingly forthcoming Robert Mitchum.

Also out:

  • "Grey's Anatomy Season 2: Uncut" (Touchstone) includes extended versions of four of the 27 episodes from 2005-06, along with deleted scenes and a tour of the hospital set.

  • "The Office Season 2" (Universal) chronicles the continued improvement and individuality of a comedy that is no longer suffering comparisons to the British series that spawned it.

  • "Black/White" (Fox) compiles the six episodes of the reality show that turned a black family white and visa versa with help from Hollywood makeup.