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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
EDtv: Special Edition (1999)

EDtv: Special Edition (1999)

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Released 5-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy dts Trailer-Piano
Audio Commentary-Ron Howard (Director)
Audio Commentary-Lowell Ganz (Co-Writer) & Babaloo Mandel (Co-Writer)
Deleted Scenes
Music Highlights
Trailer-Soundtrack Presentation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 118:02 (Case: 117)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ron Howard

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Matthew McConaughey
Woody Harrelson
Jenna Elfman
Ellen DeGeneres
Rob Reiner
Elizabeth Hurley
Martin Landau
Dennis Hopper
Case ?
RPI ? Music Randy Edelman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
English Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    EDtv: Special Edition is another in the list of titles that has recently been re-released in Region 4 after the local distribution rights reverted back to Universal after being held by Columbia Tristar for some time. What is a little unusual about this new release is that the 'Special Edition' tag had to be used, since the original Region 4 release was already labelled as a 'Collector's Edition'. At first glance, this new version actually seems to contain less extras than the disc it is replacing.

    Released in 1999, just before the unfortunate explosion of reality television around the world, EDtv tells the story of an ordinary, everyday Joe and his brief brush with fame courtesy of a 24 hour reality TV show. Matthew McConaughey is Ed Pekurny, a 31 year-old video store clerk, who isn't really going anywhere in his life. A college dropout with no plans or ambition, he simply hangs out at the local bar with his loud-mouthed, brash, and totally shameless older brother, Ray (Woody Harrelson). When a producer for small cable station TrueTV, Cynthia Topping (Ellen Degeneres), has an idea for a new show, she sets about auditioning for the one and only star. The show is to be a 24 hour per day look at the life of one person. No editing, no cuts, no scripts, all real, as the promo says. Ray thinks he can make a go of it, being the charismatic charmer that he is, but the producers are more interested in Ed. Ed agrees to take part (he's got nothing to lose) and so his apartment and peaceful life are ripped apart as the cameras move in.

    So begins the EDtv phenomenon, and it's an overnight sensation. What is seemingly a boring and mundane life becomes the talk of the country, as thousands tune in to see what Ed is up to. Most of the time it's not very much more than brushing his teeth, sitting on the can, or working at the video store, but things get interesting when it becomes plainly obvious to all that Ed fancies Ray's girlfriend Shari (Jenna Elfman from Dharma and Greg), much to the utter dismay of Ray. Throw in a few strange family members (Ed's stepdad played by Martin Landau gets all the good lines), a long lost father who suddenly appears on the scene, and a tarty model looking for a launching pad for her career (Elizabeth Hurley) and the stage is set for high ratings. Of course, the constant intrusion into Ed's life begins to generate friction amongst his family and in particular his blossoming romance with Shari.

    Directed by Ron Howard, this is safe and familiar territory that doesn't set out to offend anybody, make any monumental moralistic statement, or provide an intellectual thesis on the effects instant fame has on the anonymity most of us enjoy. It is purely a romantic comedy at its heart. Having seen this originally in the cinema when released, I must admit I enjoyed this far less the second time round. Whether it is because I, like many thousands of others have grown heartily sick of the whole reality television thing, or that it just simply isn't that strong a story is debatable. For first time viewers, the experience will be an enjoyable and (mostly) laugh-filled one. Just don't expect any grand sweeping social statements or for the film to leave you pondering "what if", much like the other film of a similar ilk, Peter Weir's The Truman Show, did so successfully.

    And as a plea to all television producers - this is a really bad idea for a show. Let's not turn this art into reality anytime soon, OK?

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a relatively sharp transfer, though not as finely detailed as many I have seen. The mix of media (television broadcast, video and film) means you are often watching images that are significantly less sharp and grainier than normal film, but it all adds to the novelty of the story and makes for some interesting scene transitions. There is some edge enhancement present whenever the characters move inside, but it is only minor. There are no shadow detail problems, and no low level noise. The colour palette tended to be a little on the oversaturated side at times, especially noticeable on the skin tones whenever the action moved inside. While not annoying, it was just a little more obvious than normal. Other than that, the colours were well defined with deep solid consistent blacks and no problems with bleeding.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts. There is a little aliasing here and there, but they are certainly not the most annoying examples I have seen and is barely distracting. There is a little moiré effect on some of the many television screens seen throughout the film, but these are to be expected. There are few film artefacts of any note.

    There are four sets of English subtitles present. One for the film, one for titling only and one for each of the commentary tracks. I sampled them all and found them accurate enough.

    This is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change is located at 80:50.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Unlike the previous Columbia Tristar Collector's Edition, the Universal Special Edition contains a dts 5.1 soundtrack. This is in addition to the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The dts track is encoded at the lower bitrate of 768 Kb/s. The same two audio commentary soundtracks round out the selection. I listened to all four soundtracks.

    While both the Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks offer plenty of separation, there is a significant amount of dialogue in this film which, as a result, sees most of the audio anchored fair and square in the centre channel. The dialogue is clear with no problems to report. That includes any audio sync issues. The soundstage certainly opens up whenever any of the songs are played, offering a wide presence that is quite solid and well presented.

    The score is credited to Randy Edelman, and while functional, it is the songs featured throughout that are the most entertaining part of the music. Songs by Meredith Brooks, UB40, Barry White, Bon Jovi, and Barenaked Ladies make up part of the eclectic soundtrack.

    There isn't a whole lot of surround channel activity. To tell you the truth, I wasn't expecting very much, so it basically lived up to my expectations. There are numerous scenes where the streetscape sounds fill the surrounds, and when present these are done quite nicely.

    The subwoofer is basically only called into action when supporting the songs.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There might be a slew of extras included on the disc, but the static 16x9 enhanced menu smacks of a cheap 'n' nasty release. This might have been enough for us in 1999, but I feel we should expect something just a little jazzier and more interesting in 2003.

dts Trailer - Piano

Audio Commentary - Ron Howard (Director)

    Ron Howard has quite an engaging speaking voice, and he uses it to great effect here to discuss all manner of topics about the film. Obviously focusing primarily on his role as director, he discusses the setups, the cast performances, and what he was intending at each stage. Screen-specific, he talks for the entire duration of the film with only a few brief pauses scattered throughout.

Audio Commentary - Lowell Ganz (Co-Writer) & Babaloo Mandel (Co-Writer)

    The co-writers are moderately interesting, although not really very funny. They tend to have a fixation for their own work and making sure the viewer knows exactly what jokes are theirs and which ones were improvised by the actors. This commentary is screen-specific with a few lengthy moments of silence throughout, but they at least talk for the entire duration of the movie.

Deleted Scenes

    A comprehensive set of deleted scenes that run for a staggering 40:46 minutes. Unfortunately, after an introduction from director Ron Howard, they are presented in what appears to be chronological order but with no title or reason for deletion. They are merely cobbled together one after another and while this makes for quicker viewing, I like a little more substance to my deleted scenes.


    There are 7:56 minutes of outtakes, presented exactly the same as the deleted scenes. They consist mostly of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey stuffing up their lines.

Music Highlights

    A series of scene selection style menu screens that allow you to jump directly to the relevant part of the film that features a song from the soundtrack.

Trailer - Soundtrack Presentation

    This is really in three parts. A thirty second promo piece for the ED TV soundtrack is followed by the music videos for Call and Answer by the Barenaked Ladies and Real Life by Bon Jovi. Total running time is 8:51 minutes.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 2:01 minutes,  this is a pretty fair trailer that gives a taste for the comedy and drama of the story. Unfortunately, it is presented in pan and scan 1.33:1 and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound only.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There have been two different versions of EDtv available in Region 1 for some time now. One is very similar to this release. The other has a full bitrate dts soundtrack and no extras. In summary:

    The Region 4 Special Edition misses out on:

    The Region 1 Collector's Edition misses out on:

    The Region 1 dts version misses out on:

    This is quite a tricky decision. We get both the dts (albeit at the lower bitrate) and Dolby Digital soundtracks, but truth be told there is basically nothing to differentiate the two. We almost have all the extras of the Region 1 Collector's Edition, but not quite, missing out on production notes and the thirty minute making-of featurette (the latter was actually included on the original Region 4 release). I'll concede a draw, but you may have individual preferences which see you favour one over the other.


    EdTV was a relatively original film when released, although the obvious comparisons to The Truman Show will be made. I feel this is a far more sedate and mainstream film than The Truman Show, and it certainly has more of a romantic comedy vibe to it. There are no sweeping social comments to be made about fame and celebrity here.

    The video quality is acceptable, though certainly not as vibrant or as sharp as I have encountered elsewhere.

    The inclusion of a dts soundtrack is a nice selling point, but this isn't really the sort of film that makes full use of it. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is equal in quality.

    The extras are comprehensive, but offer very little different to what was on the original Region 4 Collector's Edition.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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