Summer is the time of year when some of the best television can be found on Blu-ray and DVD.
Our warm-weather viewing options are thinner, because most of the dramas and sitcoms on broadcast TV wrapped their seasons in May. Now the networks are practically in sleep mode, making us wait until they’re ready to overwhelm us with more than 100 fall premieres.
But here are the DVD distributors to the rescue, eager to help us fill the summer void with new — or at least new-ish — stuff to watch. Thanks to Blu-ray box sets, which are still higher in picture and audio quality than streaming, our options are limitless.
Maybe a classic Star Trek marathon is the way to go before you see the new Star Trek Beyond in movie theaters July 22.
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Perhaps Fox’s recent reboot of The X-Files — not as satisfying as the original — whetted your appetite for the early days of Mulder and Scully.
Or maybe you simply skipped shows such as How To Get Away With Murder (available June 21), Colony (July 12) and Person of Interest (July 19), figuring an after-the-fact weekend binge of the full season would be a better approach.
Well, now’s the time to make it happen.
DVD distributors also have honed their release-date strategies to a science in recent years, craftily putting out new product just weeks before a show’s return episode. So be ready: There’s going to be a steady rollout of titles in the months to come.
Another plus: Sets like the recently released Angie Tribeca: The Complete First Season tend to come loaded with extras (deleted scenes, gag reels, making-of documentaries and commentary tracks) that you don’t get via streaming.
Some box sets even reveal a bit of what’s to come in the upcoming season.
Here’s a buyer’s guide to some of the hottest big-ticket TV-on-DVD releases.
This was supposed to be a “five-year mission.” But we’re about to celebrate classic Trek’s 50th anniversary. The series made its debut Sept. 8, 1966, and gave life to myriad spinoffs and movies.
The new Blu-ray release, Star Trek — The Complete Series, is a 20-disc collection featuring all 79 episodes in high definition. You’ll get to re-experience all the familiar moments: William Shatner showboating as Captain Kirk; Spock and his logic; McCoy’s surly bedside manner; female crew members in miniskirts and go-go boots; Klingons that don’t look particularly alien; and Tribbles!
The box also comes with lots of bonus material, most of it repurposed from previous sets, and it’s all in slimmer packaging that will save shelf space (the real final frontier).
Available Tuesday. List price: $99.99.
‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’
Let’s table the old debate about which version of Trek is better (Classic or Next Gen) for another time and simply celebrate the 100-years-later spinoff with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Commander Riker and Lieutenant Commander Data as a worthy successor.
The new Star Trek: The Next Generation box features all seven seasons and 178 episodes in two formats: 41 discs on Blu-Ray and 48 discs on DVD, each version packed with hours of extras. Offering better special effects and more nuanced storytelling, the series really came into its own in the third season.
Available Tuesday. List price: $208.99 for Blu-ray; $129.98 for DVD.
When Agents Mulder and Scully of the FBI returned this year, with more cases involving extraterrestrials, the paranormal and the just plain weird, it was almost — ALMOST — like old times.
The six-episode “event” series had its moments (the demented “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” episode was pure genius), but the beauty of the original series was that it could do almost every kind of story over the course of a season, from UFOs to ghosts to time travel. The shortcoming of the reboot was that it didn’t give us enough variety, couldn’t cover enough ground.
So we recommend going back and seeing the show in its heyday. The X-Files: The Event Series and the Original Nine Seasons Blu-ray set features all 208 episodes (and 25 hours of extras) on 57 discs.
Available Tuesday. List price: $299.99.
This cult-favorite comedy series was a celebration of fantasy football and inappropriate frat-boy humor. Special shoutout to some of our favorite characters: Rafi, Chalupa Batman and Mr. McGibblets.
The 14-disc The League: Complete Series collection includes all seven seasons and 84 episodes. Make a point to check out the hilarious extras, especially Jon Lajoie’s Shiva Bowl-worthy music videos.
Available Tuesday. List price: $99.98.
‘Person of Interest’
This action thriller, in which our ubiquitous surveillance culture meets vigilantism, might give you fits of paranoia. Every episode serves as a disquieting reminder that Big Brother is watching.
But the series, starring Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson and Amy Acker as mismatched tech-savvy heroes, makes up for that with nonstop popcorn thrills and a high-stakes story arc that lends itself to binge watching. Person of Interest: The Complete Series features all five seasons and 101 episodes on 19 discs. There’s also plenty of bonus content, including the cast’s 2015 Comic-Con panel discussion.
Available July 19. List price: $169.99 on Blu-ray; $129.99 on DVD.
‘Key & Peele’
Luther, President Obama’s “anger translator,” will be all smiles about this news: For the first time, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s subversive sketch comedy series will be available in its entirety.
The 10-disc Key & Peele: The Complete Series includes all 53 episodes from a five-year run on Comedy Central, including the two seasons that are new to DVD.
Even though Key and Peele still seem to be joined at the hip, most recently teaming up on the big screen in the crazy kitten-and-crime caper Keanu, we miss their show.
Available Aug. 2. List price: $55.98.
Here are some other complete sets worth considering:
- Airwolf on Blu-ray, $99.98.
- Mad About You, $69.98.
- Have Gun Will Travel, $99.99.
- The Untouchables, $89.99.
- Cop Rock, $29.93.
- Xena: Warrior Princess, $129.98.
- Roots (original series), $44.98.
- Emergency!, out July 12, $149.98.
- 11.22.63 on Blu-ray, out Aug. 9, $39.99