Holiday DVD Gift Guide

11/29/2009 Posted by Admin

By Christopher Smith

So, it's the weekend after Black Friday. You survived it without getting a black eye (or maybe didn’t, and we’re sorry to hear that)--but you also know from the crush of today’s ads alone that deals are still out there. Big time--and so the game is still on. Nobody is resting. And nobody is taking a sale away from you today, baby. Forget Friday. Get back into the ring. Strap on your gloves. You've still got your game on.

Okay, so maybe you don't.

For those who feel like paring down their list and getting through the melee that will be the weekend, the following are recommended DVDs and Blu-ray discs to get you into stores--and to get you out of them--without a visit to the emergency room.

High definition continues to soar, so we'll start with the clarity it offers. As with all of the titles that follow, the retails prices are listed. You will be happy to know that each can be found locally and online at steep discounts.  If you click on any of the links, we'll make it really easy for you--it will take you directly to Amazon, where you can shop, shop, shop.

One of the best choices on Blu-ray is the BBC High Definition Natural History Collection ($179.98), which is so good, it’s worth making the time to watch it twice. The set includes the BBC’s acclaimed series “Planet Earth,” as well as the documentaries “Galapagos,” “Wild China” and “Ganges.” The photography is as rich as anything you’d expect from the BBC, which has some of the world’s finest cinematographers.

Also recommended on Blu-ray are Mad Men: Second Season ($49.99); Scrubs: Complete Eighth Season ($54.99); Warner’s comprehensive Gone With the Wind: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition($84.99), which looks fantastic in high definition; the 25th anniversary edition of Stephen King’s Cujo ($19.99); It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas ($29.99); "The Negotiator ($28.99), with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey; and two children’s movies in Shorts ($35.99) and Gremlins ($28.99).

The complete series of Joss Whedon’s terrific sci-fi series Firefly ($89.98) is available on Blu-ray, as are Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn in the comedy Four Christmases ($35.95), Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($39.99), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($39.99), and four titles from the History Channel--The Crusades ($29.95), Expedition Africa ($39.95), Life After People ($29.95) and the fine documentary Moonshot ($24.95). Rounding out recommended Blu-ray titles are four from Disney, with highest marks going to one of the year’s best animated films, Up ($29.99), as well as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ($39.99), Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure ($39.99) and the newly released Santa Buddies ($39.99).

Obviously, all of the Blu-ray titles mentioned above also are available on standard-definition DVD. They’re equally recommended and, as a bonus, all are less expensive than their Blu-ray counterparts. The downside? They won’t look or sound nearly as nice, so go ahead, think about getting that new Blu-ray player twice.

For children, it's a grab bag of good choices as many solid titles now are available on standard DVD, such as Bob the Builder: Call in The Crew ($14.99), Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories from Scholastic ($29.99), Barney: Jungle Friends The Movie ($16.98), and Superman: The Animated Series ($53.98). Also recommended are Speed Racer: The Next Generation Comet Run ($29.98), Gotta Catch Santa Claus ($19.98), Frosty Friends ($14.98), A Christmas Story ($19.98 DVD, $28.99 Blu-ray) and Ben 10: Alien Swarm ($19.97 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray).

From the BBC comes a bounty, including the vast Michael Palin Collection ($249.98), which includes on 19 discs all of his previously released, globe-trotting adventures; the seriously good comedy series Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything ($129.98); BlackAdder Remastered: The Ultimate Collection ($79.98); and 'Allo 'Allo! The Complete Collection ($249.98), which is set during World War II and follows the carousing French café owner Rene Artois as he flirts with his waitresses while trying to handle a difficult wife and mother-in-law. He might not always succeed, but this show does.

Same goes for the five films (“Oliver Twist,” “The Old Curiosity Shop,” “Bleak House,” “Little Dorrit,” “Great Expectations”) included in Charles Dickens Masterworks Collection ($119.98); the smart Britcom One Foot in the Grave: The Complete Series ($179.98); and Ian McShane in Lovejoy: The Complete Collection ($299.98). Among the best of the BBC lot is Monarch of the Glen: The Complete Series ($198.98), which takes place in the Scottish Highlands at the Glenbogle estate, which Archie MacDonald (Alistair Mackenzie) is charged to save from financial ruin. To do so, he'll need to reconcile with his father, hardly an easy task, but as this engrossing series proves, nothing really is easy in the life of this young laird.

Joining that last title in being among the season’s best choices are the recently discounted The Sopranos: Complete Series ($299.98), which last year was offered at just under $600; Mystery Science Theater 3000: XVI ($64.99), Dawson's Creek: The Complete Series ($119.95) and beautifully restored The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition ($69.99).

For those seeking boxed sets, the best come down to Columbia Best Pictures Collection ($135.95), which includes 11 films, all of which won the Academy for Best Picture. A broad range of movies are included, from 1934’s “It Happened One Night” and 1953’s “From Here to Eternity” to 1954’s “On the Waterfront,” 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia,” 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer” and 1982’s “Gandhi,” among others.

Another must is Alfred Hitchcock: The Premiere Collection ($119.99), which features eight key films, including “Lifeboat,” “Notorious,” “Sabotage” and “Rebecca.” Extras abound in each set. Also look for Paul Newman: The Tribute Collection ($89.98), The Official World Series Film Collection ($229.95) and Schwarzenegger Collection ($29.98), which includes “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Total Recall,” “Red Heat” and “The Running Man.”

Though at least one other DVD gift guide will follow on this site before the holidays strike, it would be a mistake not to recommend the three comedy boxed sets that best reflect the sort of lunacy you’ll need to get through weekend: The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: Collector's Edition Megaset ($159.95), which is a boon of hilarity on 21 discs; Mr. Bean: The Ultimate Collection ($69.95); and Get Smart: The Complete Series Giftset ($199.95), the latter of which hails from HBO and follows the loopy adventures of Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 in 138 episodes on 25 discs.

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  1. billybadbird said...

    very well done, my friend