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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Lasseter
Cast:
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik von Detten, Laurie Metcalf
Writing Credits:
John Lasseter (story), Peter Docter (story), Andrew Stanton (story), Joe Ranft (story), Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow

Tagline:
The Toys Are Back In Town.

Synopsis:
The first full-length feature film animated entirely on computers, Toy Story is the original smash hit that captured the hearts of audiences worldwide.

As six-year-old Andy's favorite toy, Woody (Tom Hanks) is confident in his role as room leader. But when Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) crash-lands into Woody's world as Andy's most important birthday present, a rivalry is created that lands the duo inside the home of Sid - the toy-torturing boy next door. As Woody and Buzz work together to escape, they realize they've got the perfect friend … in each other!

Voiced by a powerhouse comedic cast, and featuring Randy Newman's Academy-Award-nominated music, Toy Story etched its name into motion picture history and earned director John Lasseter a Special Achievement Academy Award. Now you can own this wonderful film on DVD for the ultimate viewing experience!

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Domestic Gross
$191.773 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.77:1/16x9
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/23/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director John Lasseter, Producers Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold, Co-writer Andrew Stanton, Supervising Animator Pete Docter, Supervising Technical Director Bill Reeves, and Art Designer Ralph Eggleston
• “The Legacy” Featurette
• “Making Toy Story” Documentary
• “Filmmakers Reflect” Documentary
• Deleted Scenes
• “Designing Toy Story” Featurette
• Design Galleries
• Story Pitch
• Storyreel
• Storyboard Comparison
• Production Tour
• Layout Tricks Featurette
• Animation Tour
• Multi-Language Reel
• Music Video
• “Designing Sound” Featurette
• Randy Newman Demos
• Character Interview
• Trailers
• TV Spots
• Posters
• Toys & Stuff
Toy Story Treats
Toy Story 3 Sneak Peek
• “Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Blast Off” Featurette
• “Paths to Pixar: Artists” Featurette
• Three “Studio Stories” Featurettes
• “Buzz Takes Manhattan” Featurette
• “Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Toy Story [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 19, 2010)

When Walt Disney started to make Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, very few Hollywood "experts" thought it was a good idea. In fact, the project commonly became known as "Walt's folly" since so many thought it seemed like such a bad idea. According to the common thought of the era, no one would sit for a feature-length cartoon; such antics could only be tolerated in small doses.

You don't need me to tell you that the naysayers were wrong and Snow White inaugurated a new genre that remains an exciting and compelling art form more than 70 years later. A lot has changed within animation since 1937, and the style has become much more accepted than it was during those early years.

However, that doesn't mean that innovators always receive a royal greeting. When Pixar created Toy Story in 1995, they went out on a limb less precarious than the one Walt risked but they nonetheless ventured into unproven territory. This was because Toy would be the first feature-length computer animated film, and lots of folks thought it couldn't be done.

Actually, the question wasn't whether it could be completed from a technical standpoint; the concerns hinged on whether computer characters could be made sufficiently "real" and lively. Really, the issues weren't very different from those that plagued Snow White. The audiences of that era were accustomed to animation but not with much depth, and the same went for modern crowds and computer fare; we saw it as something that could work in small doses under certain circumstances, but a fully computer-rendered movie felt unworkable.

You also don't need me to tell you that the naysayers were wrong again, but since I need to review the movie, I will. Not only did Toy Story avoid failure, it was an absolute triumph in all possible ways. It earned consistently positive notices and went on to take the box office crown for 1995. With that one film, computer animation became a completely viable feature film format.

I can't help but wonder what the future would have held for the genre if Toy had been a lousy movie, but since that wasn't the case, it's a moot point. In fact, not only was Toy a good film, but it's one of the best to appear under the Disney banner since 1995.

Toy Story offers a nearly perfect combination of witty and clever storytelling, rich and fun characters with emotional depth, and some good old-fashioned Disney heart. The tale focuses on Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), a cowboy doll who is the favorite toy of young Andy (John Morris), a roughly ten-year-old boy.

Woody rules the roost when it comes to Andy's other toys as well, but his happy little world is disrupted when Andy gets a flashy new action figure. Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is a state-of-the-art space toy that makes Woody look like a relic from the past (which he is, of course, but that's irrelevant).

Buzz attains the status that Woody previously enjoyed, and the cowboy doesn't like this one bit. His jealousy gets the best of him and he begins to act in rather inappropriate ways that ultimately culminate in disaster. Adventure ensues as Woody tries to regain his old stature and also learn to live with change.

That plot synopsis doesn't sound like much, but Toy succeeds because of the flair and charm with which it's executed. I think most Disney animated films are entertaining for adults, but Pixar movies excel in that department as they offer more clever and incisive bits than the average piece. Toy is absolutely chock full of witty and subtle references to other work plus some great wordplay; the surface material will entertain any child, but the movie's depth will delight adults as well.

However, this isn't some Dennis Miller monologue stuffed full of pop references just for the sake of supposed hipness; Toy makes its material work within the framework of the film, and the gags never seem forced. Sometimes movies try too hard to be cool or slick; witness the onslaught of Tarantino wannabes we saw after Pulp Fiction became a success. Toy integrates the wittiness well and makes the entire package quite seamless.

Really, Toy Story is one of those rare movies that has it all. The film combines old-fashioned Disney charm with wacky situations, engaging and well-developed characters, genuine warmth and sincerity plus some very exciting thrill sequences. The climax puts most so-called action movies to shame, as Woody and Buzz go through a series of threats that would fit nicely into an Indiana Jones story. (If Indy were a foot-tall toy, that is.)

Each member of the voice cast fits in perfectly. Based on his prior work, Allen isn't someone I would have considered for such a semi-heroic role, but he does an excellent job and offers depth and development I wouldn't previously have thought possible. After some serious roles, Hanks returned to his comedic roots and proves absolutely stellar as Woody. He also gives the character a dimension others might lack and makes the role quite endearing and compelling.

The depth of the supporting actors helps, too. We find terrific veterans like Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn and R. Lee Ermey in key parts, and all of them are uniformly great. Each is typecast, but gloriously so, as their commonly-known personae imbue their animated counterparts with life.

If you directly compare Toy to its sequel, you'll see that the animation grew a lot over the intervening four years. However, that definitely doesn't mean that Toy looks like an ugly relic of its time. Yes, some of the visuals don’t hold up well 15 years later. In particular, living characters seem plastic; Spud the dog looks especially crude today. Nonetheless, I think Pixar outfitted the movie with sufficient charm and flair to endure over time.

Key to this concept is the fact that while the computer art certainly looks good, the movie doesn't succeed because of flashy visuals. Everything looks fine, from the well-fashioned characters to the rich and elaborate settings. But the animation is simply a tool to tell the story, and it's clear that no one at Pixar favored elaborate art over old-fashioned character development or story-telling.

And that's why Toy Story still is an absolute delight and will likely remain that way for many years to come. At the time, some saw it as a novelty, but the high quality of the film itself proved them wrong. Toy Story is one of the best films ever to appear under the Disney banner and it continues to provide a tremendously entertaining and enjoyable experience.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus A

Toy Story appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.77:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While I couldn't call the picture totally flawless, I can say it came pretty close; this was an excellent presentation.

Sharpness looked virtually immaculate. At no time did I discern any signs of softness or fuzziness, as the image seemed crisp and accurate throughout the film. Jagged edges and shimmering caused no problems, and I failed to see any signs of edge enhancement. No print flaws were present, probably because Toy didn't come from a print; it was a direct digital transfer from the original computer data, so there are no defects that could come with it. As such, I saw no problems whatsoever in this film; it looked absolutely clear and fresh.

Colors were a highlight of Toy. The movie featured a nicely-varied palette that offered lush, vibrant tones at all times. From the bright primary colors of many of the toys to more subtle hues such as the lovely sunlight featured in the sunset scenes, the disc presented tones that always looked accurate and clean.

Black levels seemed deep and dark, with no signs of murkiness or muddiness, and contrast appeared strong. Shadow detail also looked clear and smooth, with appropriate opacity but no excessive darkness. The best examples of this occurred when Buzz and Woody were beneath the truck at the gas station; these presented just the right level of shade without any heaviness or thickness. Ultimately, the image of Toy Story seemed nearly ideal; it wasn’t quite as stunning as more recent CG animated films, but it still looked great.

When I headed to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Toy Story, I found another delightful experience. At all times, the forward spectrum displayed a nicely broad array. Audio was placed specifically and precisely located. We even got a lot of solid directional dialogue.

As for the surrounds, they showed very good use of all five channels. The audio provided a nicely active and convincing environment that complemented the action onscreen and added a lot to the experience. Granted, the last third became the “highlight reel” since it included most of the real action, but the first two acts offered plenty of good material as well. The surrounds contributed a nice layer of depth to the package.

Sound quality also seemed very good. Dialogue appeared warm and natural and always was easily intelligible. Edginess was only a minor issue. Randy Newman's score and songs came across as clean and smooth. The music always seemed crisp and detailed, and the songs appeared reasonably dynamic. Effects sounded similarly rich and detailed, with no signs of distortion. Bass response seemed quite strong. All of this added up to a very fine audio experience.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray compare to the film’s DVD version? Both showed improvements, though these were more mild in the auditory range. The lossless soundtrack boasted a bit more heft and smoothness.

While the 10th Anniversary DVD – and the original 2000 version – looked great, they still suffered from the limitations of SD-DVD. With the extra Blu-ray resolution, the movie got a real chance to shine. Bar none, the Blu-ray offered a definite step up in visual quality over earlier DVDs.

The Blu-ray mixes new elements with old ones. I’ll go over the repeat supplements first and then cover the Blu-ray exclusives. If you want to leap straight to the fresh stuff, just look for the special blue print.

Most of the repeat materials appear under the banner of “Classic DVD Bonus Features”. Though it was originally recorded in 1996 for a laserdisc – and also showed up on the prior DVDs – an excellent audio commentary winds up lumped with the new components. It offers remarks from director John Lasseter, producers Ralph Guggenheim > and Bonnie Arnold, co-writer Andrew Stanton, supervising animator Pete Docter, supervising technical director Bill Reeves, and art designer Ralph Eggleston. All of the participants were recorded together in one session.

Although I often don't like commentaries that pack in multiple participants at the same session - they can become chaotic - this one is an absolutely wonderful track that provides a very solid look at the making of the film. The discussion seems animated and lively, and the filmmakers' ebullience comes through at all times. Not surprisingly, Lasseter dominates the conversation, but all of the players insert useful information.

Though commentaries for animated films often dwell on technical issues, this one looks at the flick from the creative end. We get many fine notes about the cast, the characters, and the story. The track delves into inspirations and influences for various aspects of the movie, and it also talks about the way these areas developed. Some technical matters appear as well, but even those tend toward the creative side, as they usually pop up in the form of production design and visual issues. The commentary presents an excellent summary of many interesting subjects.

Many of the remarks praise the film, which is also something I generally dislike; during most commentaries, this practice comes across as self-aggrandizing. However, in this instance, everyone seems so excited about the final product that I didn't mind all of the compliments; much of the time they acted more like fans of Toy Story than its makers, and that chipper and witty attitude makes this commentary a joy to experience.

Next we get an 11-minute and 41-second featurette called The Legacy. It presents comments from Robots director Chris Wedge, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Star Wars director George Lucas, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, Roy E. Disney, animation historians Charles Solomon and John Canemaker, animators Peter Sohn, Misha Zabranska, Kureha Yokoo, and Jason Boose, animation students Jojo Ramos, Austin Madison and Josh Look, Incredibles director Brad Bird, Walt Disney Studios’ Thomas Schumacher, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki, and actors Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. All involved talk about what they love about Toy Story and what makes it special. We get some decent notes about the movie’s qualities as well as some fun anecdotes like the actors’ encounters with kids, but this ends up feeling too self-congratulatory for my liking.

A documentary called Making Toy Story runs 20 minutes, 19 seconds and includes comments from Lasster, Stanton, Eggleston, Guggenheim, Schumacher, Hanks, Reeves, Docter, Arnold, executive producer Ed Catmull, story supervisor Joe Ranft, editor Lee Unkrich, sound designer Gary Rydstrom, and associate technical director Eben Ostby. All of their comments come from mid-Nineties interviews. We get a basic overview of the evolution of Pixar, the movie’s development and story, the actors and characters, the selection of toys, visual design, computer rendering issues and animation, the work of the voice actors, getting movement as good as possible, music and audio, and thoughts about the future of computer animation.

The show rushes through things and lacks great perspective; a modern creation would be better. Nonetheless, it gives us a good summary of many production elements. We’ll already know about many via the commentary, but this one adds lots of nice behind the scenes footage to make it a winning little show.

For something more modern, we head to Filmmakers Reflect. It presents statements from Lasseter, Stanton, Docter, and Ranft. They sit together in a “round table” format and chat. They go over childhood toy experiences, what it was like in Pixar’s earlier years and making the flick, Disney’s influence and related problems, character and story development, and reactions to the movie’s success. Some of the information appears elsewhere, but we get a mix of new bits like the problems with the Disney suits. We find enough fresh material to make this show worth a look.

Under the Deleted Scenes banner, we get two kinds of pieces. “Deleted Animation” starts with a one-minute and 45-second “Introduction” from Unkrich who discusses why animated sequences occasionally get the boot. It then leaps into two different excised clips: “Torture Scene” provides 46 seconds of unfinished animation that adds to the scene in which Sid "interrogates" Woody; “Rain Scene” also came from an existing scene, and this one-minute and 22-second clip uses completed animation to show more of the chat between Buzz and Woody while Sid sleeps.

Also under “Deleted Scenes” we get six “Deleted Storyreels”. These open with a one-minute and 21-second “Introduction” from Lasseter, Unkrich, and Stanton that gives us a little background on the sequences. We then find six different story reels that show the scenes proposed for the film but never animated: an alternate opening, “Buzz Lightyear Show (two minutes, 43 seconds); another alternate opening, “Shootout” (1:48); “Woody's Nightmare” (1:20) further depicts his fears after the arrival of Buzz; “Eastern Gate” (3:03) involves some devious plotting by Woody against Buzz; “Shakes the Rattle (1:52) takes the story into more nightmarish territory in this segment that echoes Quint's "USS Indianapolis" speech in Jaws; and “Sid's Comeuppance” (2:47) provides an alternate version of that scene.

All of the material is interesting to see, but the storyreels prove the most valuable. The deleted animation still resembles clips in the final film, but the storyreels branch into new directions. That makes them especially useful.

Designing Toy Story provides remarks from Eggleston, character designer Bud Luckey, story artist Jeff Pidgeon, lead digital painter Tia W. Kratter, and designer/illustrators William Cone and Bob Pauley. As expected, they go over the inspirations and execution of how things look in the film. We hear a little about characters, sets and other elements. The show zips along nicely and gives us a solid overview.

In the “Design” category, Galleries offer drawings in filmed collections. These present “Woody” (48 sketches, one minute, 52 seconds), “Buzz” (47, 1:49), “Andy’s Toys” (44, 1:42), “Misc. Toys” (35, 1:21), “Mutant Toys” (49, 1:53), “Andy’s Family” (29, 1:07), “Sid’s Family” (47, 1:47), "Andy's Room" (17, 0:42), “Gas Station” (10, 0:29), “Sid’s Room” (18, 0:42), and “Pizza Planet” (18, 0:45).

We also get 3D Visualizations for “Woody” (0:22), “Buzz” (0:22), “Andy’s Toys” (1:28) “Alien” (0:22), “Andy’s Room” (0:52), “Gas Station” (1:09) and “Sid’s Room” (1:06). The three set tours come with commentary from Ralph Eggleston.

Also under “Design”, we move to “Color”. Designing Color offers a general overview of the various issues that confronted art director Eggleston. In this three-minute and 34-second piece, he discusses what he tried to do with the look of the film. Concept Art (32, 1:16) presents visualizations of different areas, while Color Scripts (69, 3:05) are used to demonstrate the color design for each scene. All of these collections of art offer a nice look at the design of the flick. It’s especially fun to see the different concepts for the characters.

Under “Story”, we get three elements. ”Green Army Men” Pitch runs five minutes and 55 seconds. It starts with an introduction from co-writer Andrew Stanton and story supervisor Joe Ranft. They provide a quick overview of the process before we watch an actual storyboard pitch conducted by Ranft. In this sequence, we see Ranft as he goes through the "Green Army Men" sequence; Ranft appears in the lower left corner of the screen. It gives us a fun look at this creative method. (Note that the intro appears only if you go with the “Play All” option.)

Andy’s New Toy provides filmed storyboards for Buzz's introduction to the gang accompanied by music and dialogue. Some of the lines are from the final actors, while others are not. There's also some deleted dialogue and even a little profanity in this four-minute and 40-second piece.

We get a look at part of the film’s climax in ”The Chase” Storyreel/Film Comparison. This three-minute and 21-second piece displays the boards in the top half of the screen and the movie in the lower half.

Four additional components appear in the “Production” area. We begin with a one-minute and 51-second Production Tour. It gives us a good general overview of the computer animation process. We hear from Lasseter, supervising layout artist Craig Good, and directing animator Ash Brannon.

Layout Tricks provides more footage of Good as he gives us a look at the ways layout problems are solved through this three-minute and 25-second program. Animation Tour fills one minute, 23 seconds as Brannon shows the progression of various steps. Finally, the Multi-Language Reel finishes “Production”. This four-minute and 30-second clip takes the scene in which Buzz enters the world of Andy's room and translates various snippets of it into (deep breath): French; Dutch; Italian; Japanese; Finnish; Castilian; Hungarian; Greek; Korean; Arabic; German; Slovak; Spanish; Thai; Polish; Norwegian; Flemish; Danish; Turkish; Brazilian Portuguese; Cantonese; Swedish; Czech; and Mandarin.

When we move to “Music & Sound”, we open with a music video for “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. This two-minute and 15-second clip shows Randy Newman and Lyle Lovett as they sing in the studio; it intercuts those shots with movie snippets. The word “yawn” comes to mind.

Designing Sound offers a nice demonstration of the various elements that go into this aspect of filmmaking. We hear a lot from sound designer Gary Rydstrom plus a few words from Lasseter in this six-minute and 33-second program.

Finally, we find a collection of Randy Newman Demos. This area includes six numbers: “Plastic Spaceman 1” is a three-minute and 18-second tune that eventually mutated into "I Will Go Sailing No More", though only a little of that song can be heard here; “Plastic Spaceman 2” lasts three minutes and 16 seconds and features a more elaborately-produced version of the preceding demo; “Strange Things” features just Newman and piano accompaniment, but the two-minute and 58-second song is very close to final form; “The Fool” is a two-minute and nine-second tune that has no relative in the finished movie; “I Will Go Sailing No More” is another Newman piano demo. The three-minute and 32-second song closely resembles the final product; “You've Got a Friend In Me” appears as a two-minute and 18-second instrumental (piano) version.

Within “Publicity”, we start with an 89-second Character Interview. "Conducted" by Disney animation expert John Culhane, he speaks to Woody and Buzz via a remote hookup. It’s moderately entertaining but nothing special. It suffers from the absence of both Allen and Hanks, though their impersonators do a pretty solid job.

In the Trailers section, we get the film's 90-second "teaser" and its three-minute theatrical trailer. There are also four TV Spots, each of which lasts 30 seconds. Posters displays a 59-second montage of posters and other promotional materials, while the Toys & Stuff area includes 62 seconds of goodies that were sold to toy-collecting dupes like me (and maybe even a couple of kids).

Toy Story Treats gives us 14 short bits with the characters. These are fun to see. We also get the complete 52-second Buzz Lightyear Commercial here.

Phew – that finishes all the “Classic DVD” extras. Now we head to the Blu-ray’s Exclusive Bonus Features. These open with a two-minute, seven-second Sneak Peek for Toy Story 3. I don’t want to know anything about the new movie before I see it, so I skipped this preview. I wanted to mention its presence, though.

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: Buzz Blasts Off runs three minutes, 28 seconds. This shows an educational reel for NASA that mixes some animated segments with footage to communicate about the International Space Station. The piece features the voices of Tim Allen, John Ratzenberger and Wallace Shawn, so that adds class. This becomes a fun bonus.

Next comes a piece called Paths to Pixar – Artists. It goes for four minutes, 47 seconds as it provides notes from longtime Pixar employees Tia Kratter, Sharon Callahan, Ralph Eggleston and Bill Wise. They talk about why they got into the business and their experiences at the studio. The program gives us a short but interesting look at the inspirations for these artists.

Under Studio Stories, we locate three clips. These include “John’s Car” (1:28), “Baby AJ” (1:40), and “Scooter Races” (2:18). Across them, we hear from Darla Anderson, Glenn McQueen, AJ Riebli, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter. Each clip combines crude animation with anecdotes about the early days at Pixar. These are very enjoyable, but “Baby” boggles the mind from this point of view: Riebli wins plane tickets to anywhere American flies and chooses to use them to go to Las Vegas, a city an easy drive from California?

Buzz Takes Manhattan lasts two minutes, 12 seconds and features notes from Lasseter, and Pixar creative director Roger Gould. We learn a little about the use of a Buzz Lightyear balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is an insubstantial clip, but it’s enjoyable.

Finally, Black Friday: The Toy Story You Never Saw fills seven minutes, 36 seconds. It provides statements from Lasseter, Docter, Ranft, Catmull, Schumacher, and Stanton. They tell us about the “darker” version of the movie that they reluctantly pitched. We hear some of this elsewhere, but the segment lets us see the original story reel pitched to Disney, so that makes it valuable.

The disc opens with ads for Toy Story 3 and Beauty and the Beast. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Princess and the Frog, James and the Giant Peach, Disney Parks, and Disney Movie Rewards.

A second disc offers a DVD Copy of Toy Story. This offers the same single-DVD version available on store shelves; this means it comes with the old audio commentary and features new to this Blu-ray but leaves off the stuff from the old DVDs. If you want to own Toy Story but aren’t yet Blu-ray capable, it’s a good compromise, though I’d guess most fans already have a DVD of the film.

Toy Story is a “must-own” title. An innovative achievement in animation, the film remains a ton of fun. After 15 years, the movie continues to be delightful, witty and exceedingly entertaining. The Blu-ray itself provides terrific picture and sound plus a fine roster of extras. All animation fans need to pick up this excellent Blu-ray; even those who already own the earlier DVDs will feel pleased with this solid upgrade.

To rate this film, visit the 10th Anniversary Edition review of TOY STORY

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main