Giver’s guide for holiday DVDs
Friends complete series box set.
Updated: December 12, 2012 7:46AM
Looking for a big box of fun for someone special on your holiday gift list? Search no further. Here’s an assortment of big-time collections from some of TV’s biggest hits, from “Mission Impossible” to “The Carol Burnett Show” to “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” plus a handful of less massive (yet eminently giveable) items for those who don’t believe size matters.
Of course, you can always wrap those smaller babies in a big box just in case it does.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Got a meathead on your list? A dingbat, perhaps? Then here’s the ideal holiday gift. Shout! Factory presents the first-ever box set release of Norman Lear’s revolutionary comedy: all 208 episodes from nine seasons (most of them ensconced at No. 1 in the ratings). Extras include a 40-page book of essays on the show’s contributions to society, an interview with Lear, the documentary “The Television Revolution Begins,” the original pilot “Justice for All” and the second pilot “Those Were the Days,” plus spin-off pilots for “Gloria,” “Archie Bunker’s Place” and “704 Hauser.” Those were the days indeed.
ANCIENT ALIENS: COLLECTOR’S EDITION UFO ARCHIVES
If you’ve got a special someone with an itch for a close encounter, here’s the next best thing. A&E’s got a thing for aliens too and here are the discs that prove it. “Ancient Aliens” re-works the theories proposed by author Erich von Daniken in “Chariots of the Gods,” sending out new expeditions to check out those landing strips in Peru and other speculations surrounding the notion of alien astronauts influencing Earth history long, long ago. “UFO Archives” takes on Roswell, Area 51, alien abductions and the like, from the earliest records of UFO sightings to the latest input on the debate. All that’s missing is a copy of “Plan Nine from Outer Space” for comic relief.
ANCIENT EGYPT ANTHOLOGY and ANCIENT ROME ANTHOLOGY
Got someone on your list who likes things ancient? Send him on a way-back trip with these far-ranging compilations from A&E Home Entertainment. “Ancient Egypt” compiles more than 12 hours of content selected from a variety of History Channel programs, including the high-rated “Planet Egypt” and “Engineering an Empire,” for an overview of old-school Egypt’s 3,000-year civilization, from rise to fall. (Yes, there are mummies.) “Ancient Rome” follows the same recipe, with a dozen hours of historical highlights compiled from numerous History programs. If your giftee doesn’t dig it, you can always throw him to the lions.
THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION
If you’ve got anyone over the age of 50 on your shopping list, why not hand them some guaranteed laughs with this definitive collection from Time Life. Handsomely packaged in a gift box topped with a replica of the curtain from the show-opening, this 22-disc set features 50 episodes chosen by Burnett and more than 20 hours of bonus footage including three episodes from “The Gary Moore Show,” where Burnett got her start, seldom-seen sketches from the show’s first five seasons, a three-part reunion with Burnett, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner and a 90 minute interview with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman — plus a 20-page memory book. Only available at www.carolondvd.com.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION DELUXE EDITION
Who knew living in the suburbs was this sexy? Know anyone who hasn’t caught on yet to how sultry and sinful suburban life can be? Just slip this little item under her tree and stand back. This deluxe 46-discc gift set includes eight seasons worth of trashy fun. And it’s classily packaged in a replica of the hope chest of poor, suicidal Mary Alice, who narrates the series from beyond the grave. Give the gift that gives new meaning to ho, ho, ho.
DOCTOR WHO: LIMITED EDITION GIFT SET
It doesn’t get much better than this for Who fans. This big treasure in a not-so-big box (not unlike the TARDIS itself) contains each episode from all six seasons of the regenerated TV classic, featuring Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith as doctors nine, 10 and 11 — plus numerous hours of bonus features including three “Doctor Who” specials appearing for the first time on DVD. Also three original art cards, the comic book “Doctor Who at Comic Con” and — wait for it — a collectible 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver. Tremendously cool, even if you can’t actually use it on a screw.
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL: BLU-RAY DEBUT
Why not invite “E.T.” home for the holidays. Save the poor guy a phone call. Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic makes its high-def debut in this Universal Home Video30-year-anniversary edition. Extras include “The E.T. Journals,” a new documentary chronicling the day-by-day creation of the film, a new interview with Spielberg and two deleted scenes from the 2002 version of the film.
FRIENDS: THE COMPLETE SERIES
It’s always good to have friends for the holidays. This visually upgraded Blu-ray compilation, billed by Warner Home Video as “the ultimate collection for the ultimate fan,” features more than 110 hours of content including all 236 original episodes from the ten-season sitcom mega-smash. All that plus 20 hours of bonus features including three hours of new material, a hardcover book housing the set’s 21 discs and a 32-page episode guide. It’s The One Where Every Friends-Related Item on Planet Earth Gets Conveniently Packaged in One Relatively Small Box.
JAG: THE COMPLETE SERIES — COLLECTOR’S EDITION
Murder, treason, terrorism, the intrepid attorneys in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s office have seen it all during the show’s 10-season run and it’s all here in this deluxe, 55-disc collector’s edition box set. Extras in this CBS/Paramount collection include an Insider’s Manual booklet with trivia, character bios and an episode guide, a replica Challenge Coin and a bonus disc packed with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
JAWS: BLU-RAY DEBUT
Nothing makes winter more welcome (not a beach or a bathing suit in sight) than a quick re-screening of “Jaws.” Especially since it’s now undoubtedly even more scary in high definition. The Blu-ray debut of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 proto-blockbuster features a restored and re-mastered upgrade, with extras including the all-new documentary “The Shark is Still Working,” with never before seen footage and interviews, plus deleted scenes and outtakes.
THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Typically, educational gifts rank more-or-less alongside socks and underwear when it comes to pressies for kids — not this one though. After selling millions of books crossing science lessons and kid-friendly adventure under the tutelage of magically eccentric third-grade teacher Ms. Frizzle (Lily Tomlin), Scholastic made the leap to TV with this popular Saturday morning cartoon series, which excelled at making learning fun. This eight-disc box set collects all 52 episodes from the series’ four-year run in the mid-‘90s for the first time and throws in an activity booklet and a parent’s guide as a bonus. As Ms. Frizzle says: “Wahoo!”
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: THE COMPLETE TELEVISION GIFT SET
A true TV classic. This 1966 espionage series, an Emmy and Golden Globe winner during its seven-season run on CBS is still primo entertainment decades later. Peter Graves, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Barbara Bain and Martin Landau topple dictators, smoke out spies and bust world-class bad guys galore in this impressive 56-disc gift set, which also includes all episodes from it’s ’80s revival, all wrapped up in dynamite-stick packaging. Extras in this CBS/Paramount release include behind-the-scenes featurettes and previously unreleased interviews with Graves, Baines and Landau. And it’s pretty much guaranteed not to self-destruct.
POWER RANGERS: FROM MIGHTY MORPHIN TO LOST GALAXY
It’s morphin time! Whether you’ve got a new kid in need of a superhero adventure or an old kid nostalgic about growing up with the Power Rangers, this ultra-complete collection is likely to morph some big smiles from giftees. Time Life and Shout! Factory have teamed up with Saban Brands to assemble 338 episodes from three separate PR series (“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Alien Rangers” plus Power Rangers “Zeo,” “Turbo,” “In Space” and “Lost Galaxy”) across 40 DVDs. Sound like enough? Not hardly. The gift set also features a retrospective documentary, new interviews with the cast and creative team, a gallery of Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads, a celebration of the MMPR stunt team and a “Power Playback” of the Rangers funniest moments. Only available at www.powerrangersondvd.com.
THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: 2012 WORLD SERIES COLLECTOR’S EDITION
A guaranteed hit for the baseball fanatic in your life. This 8-disc set from Major League Baseball and A&E spotlights the Giants’ winning season, featuring all four games of the Fall Classic, game five from both the National League Division Series and the National League championship, San Francisco’s historic first Perfect Game (courtesy of pitcher Matt Cain). Extras include a DVD audio opportunity to listen to Giants radio announcers while watching the World Series. Unbeatable.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION BLU-RAY — SEASONS 1 AND 2
A sure-fire Trekkers delight, these deluxe upgrades from CBS/Paramount represent a major improvement in the visual quality of the seven-season sci-fi hit. Since “Next Generation” was shot on film before being transferred to video for TV broadcasts, upgrading to Blu-ray meant going back to the original film negatives, then re-editing each episode in precisely the same way after a high-def transfer. The results are dazzling — especially when it comes to special effects. Want to wow the science fiction fan on your list? Make it so!
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Cowabunga, dude! This 23-disc gift set from Lionsgate (packaged in a totally tubular version of the TMNT Party Van) features all the world-saving, super-villain bashing, pizza-loving episodes from the series’ ten-season run. If you’ve got giftees on your list who like their heroes on the half-shell, this one’s made to order.
TITANIC AT 100: MYSTERY SOLVED — COLLECTOR’S EDITION
There’s nothing like an epic disaster to make family holidays look like a slice of heaven by comparison. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the world’s most famous shipwreck, A&E has compiled footage from the History Channel’s “Titanic: Death of a Dream,” “Titanic: The Legend Lives On” and “Titanic’s Achilles Heel” to tell the ship’s story from blueprint to tidal wave. Never-seen footage of the wreck site and computer graphics providing minute-by-minute illustration of what happened post-crash, lead to the conclusion that Titanic’s untimely end may have been the result of a design flaw. Though it could be argued that the information’s coming just a little bit too late.
THE UNIVERSE 3D BLU-RAY and HISTORY IN 3D BLU-RAY
Know someone who needs his spectacle to be truly spectacular? Then check out these eye-popping offerings from A&E in not one, not two, but three dazzling dimensions. “The Universe” is a sequel of sorts to the best-selling “Seven Wonders of the Solar System 3D,” going a bit more in-depth on the gorgeously illustrated early days of Mars, Mercury and Saturn. “History” compiles “Titanic: 100 Years in 3D,” with “History of the World in Two Hours” (14 billion years in 120 minutes) and “WWII in 3D” featuring actual 3D motion picture footage shot by the Nazis in 1943. Sometimes two dimensions just isn’t enough.
WWII IN HD and VIETNAM IN HD
Get up close and personal (in extremely sharp focus) with these high-definition re-masters of the History Channel’s two highest-rating war programs — courtesy of A&E. “WWII” utilizes more than 3,000 hours of recently discovered color footage along with excerpts from soldiers’ diaries to present the war from the perspectives of both sides. In “Vietnam,” veteran’s of America’s most controversial war present their recollections along with never-before-seen color footage from private collections, the U.S. government and veteran’s organizations.