The Kong Show

A big, hairy ape tops our pop-culture picks of the week.

King Kong gets all prehistoric on a pterodactyl's ass in new-edition DVDs.
King Kong gets all prehistoric on a pterodactyl's ass in new-edition DVDs.
TV/DVD -- King Kong: Just in time for Peter Jackson's big-budget remake about the ginormous gorilla comes a pair of projects that shed light on the original 1933 classic. I'm King Kong! The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Turner Classic Movies) chronicles the history of the adventurer/movie producer who dreamed up the story as a child and followed it through to the big screen. Also out on Tuesday are a pair of two-disc special editions of King Kong, beautifully restored and packed with bonus materials (including a documentary hosted by Jackson and the Cooper doc). It's enough to make anyone go ape.

CD -- Born to Run: 30th Anniversary Edition: Bruce Springsteen's 1975 milestone -- one of the best albums ever made -- gets a digital facelift with this three-disc box. The original remastered record has never sounded better, and a pair of DVDs -- including an entire London concert from 1975 -- spotlights the Boss in all his ragged glory. While a few album outtakes would have been nice (we know they're out there; we have the bootlegs), there's no denying the CD's enduring power to make us want to hop in our Dodge, pick up Mary, and head to the Promised Land.

PRODUCTS -- Celebrate; Brew Master's Private Reserve: Consuming all this pop culture is hard work. Makes a guy thirsty. And while we usually prefer our beer straight, not sweetened, we make exceptions around the holidays. And these two new limited-edition seasonal brews -- one under the Michelob moniker, the other by Budweiser -- are indeed heady suds, featuring hints of vanilla (Celebrate) and honey (Reserve). Plus, they come in fancy-ass bottles that make beer-sipping so much classier.

DVD -- Edward Scissorhands: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's first collaboration isn't their finest (that honor goes to Ed Wood), but it does best capture the childlike benevolence of their shared fantasy world. The 15th-anniversary disc includes commentary by Burton and a making-of featurette about the sly suburban satire, which doubles as an introduction to Depp's long parade of cinematic freaks -- from rock-star pirate Jack Sparrow to creepy, potential pedophile Willy Wonka.

VIDEOGAME -- Ratchet: Deadlocked: The latest installment of this popular PlayStation 2 action title tosses the furry hero and his robot pal into the middle of a deadly reality TV show that's part Survivor, part Gladiator. Contestants stay alive by battling each other to the death with various weapons, vehicles, and gadgets. Sorry, Russell Crowe fans, but a telephone is not part of the arsenal.

BOOK -- The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2006: The latest edition of the planet's best bathroom reader packs in just about everything you need to know about, well, everything -- from sports and entertainment trivia to history and science info. And while we appreciate that there's a list of famous Wisconsinites at our fingertips, what we really like is that every time we leave the bathroom, we're a little bit smarter.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Rome: We had such high hopes for this HBO show about the infrequently bathed empire. After all, it comes from the network that brought us such zeitgeist-capturing hits as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Add some very old-school sex and violence to the mix, and it seemed like a sure thing. Unfortunately, its O.C.-in-togas structure doesn't quite mesh, and the season finale about Caesar's Senate overhaul (airing at 9 p.m. Sunday) is about as exciting as C-SPAN.