Buena Vista giving TV-DVDs a bit of CPR

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Buena Vista Home Entertainment wants to breathe some excitement into the TV-DVD business, which after several years of explosive growth is beginning to lose some of its luster.

The studio is taking the unusual step of announcing all its upcoming marquee TV-DVD releases at once and packing into them a wealth of novel extras, from Spanish-language audio tracks to a virtual fashion show, extended and bonus episodes and unaired story lines.

The highlight: Season 3 sets of top-rated shows "Lost," "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy." Breaking tradition, each set gets a special name, similar to special editions of movies.

Lori MacPherson, GM North America at Buena Vista Home Entertainment, said the studio wants to create "the biggest TV-DVD event this fall." She and her team also are cognizant of the growing popularity of single-episode downloads and want to differentiate complete-season TV-DVD sets as much as possible.

"Sure, fans want DVDs to catch up on missed episodes, but it's our goal to include so much collectible bonus materials that the DVDs themselves become something not to be missed," she said.

"Desperate Housewives: The Complete Third Season -- The Dirty Laundry Edition" will arrive in stores Sept. 4. The six-disc set includes all 23 episodes along with such extras as a behind-the-scenes look at the season finale, a Spanish audio track, a conversation with series star Eva Longoria in which she shares stories from some of her favorite bloopers, a collection of creator Marc Cherry's favorite scenes and several unaired story lines, deleted scenes and outtakes.

A week later, on Sept. 11, comes "Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Third Season -- Seriously Extended Edition," a seven-disc set with all 25 episodes, four of them extended exclusively for the DVD release. Other bonus features include a one-on-one with series star Ellen Pompeo, a visit to the race track with star (and race-car enthusiast) Patrick Dempsey, cast and crew members' favorite scenes and audio commentaries.

"Lost: The Complete Third Season -- The Unexplored Experience" follows Dec. 11 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The 23-episode, seven-disc set comes with a one-on-one with star Matthew Fox, a featurette on "The Others," a documentary chronicling 24 hours in production and a selection of never-before-seen flashbacks. Also included are behind-the-scenes looks at 10 episodes, audio commentaries, deleted scenes and bloopers.

Also in the pipeline are three new series that never before have been available on DVD.

"Ugly Betty: The Complete First Season -- Bettyfied Edition" will be out Aug. 21. The six-disc set contains all 23 episodes as well as an exhibit of some of the first season's best and worst fashions, a Spanish audio track, a discussion with the cast on the show's origins and a behind-the-scenes documentary with the show's production, costume and set designers.

"Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season," also a six-disc set, is scheduled for a Sept. 18 release. On Sept. 25 comes "What About Brian? -- Seasons 1 & 2," a five-disc set.

The Disney announcement comes at a time when the pace of TV-DVD releases is slowing. Just 158 multi-disc TV-DVD season sets came to market in the first four months of this year, according to the DVD Release Report, down 12.2% from the same period last year.
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