If there’s a TV fanatic in your family to shop for this Christmas, we’ve got good news and bad news.
First the good: It’s never been easier to pick up a great gift. Seems like every drama and every sitcom ever made has been lovingly preserved in the form of DVD and Blu-ray box sets.
Your wife’s wild about Don Draper and Mad Men? Well, there’s a limited-edition mega-set containing all seven seasons of the Emmy-winning drama — and it’s topped off with hours of new bonus material and comes with two kitschy silver-rimmed lowball tumblers.
Or maybe your nephew’s a die-hard Whovian. If so, take a look at Doctor Who: The Christmas Specials Gift Set, which comes with a replica of the Twelfth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.
Or maybe Grandma still reminisces about the days when Carol Burnett was the queen of TV comedy. If so, the VIP Edition of The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection, autographed by the legendary star herself, would be a gift never to be forgotten.
But now the bad news: This is a technology that’s on its way out. With streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon on the rise, fewer viewers feel the need to maintain a library of DVDs.
So we suggest you consider the collector before plunking down $100 or more on a super-set.
If your loved one hasn’t embraced the new technology, or simply prefers a tangible collection that can be held in one’s very own hands, then you’re probably safe picking up some of this year’s showcase DVD and Blu-ray sets.
There are two options with Time Life’s The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Collection. The $200 package includes 22 DVDs featuring original broadcast episodes from Seasons 1 through 5 (1967-1972), more than 20 hours of specially created bonus programming and a collectible guest book. For the $400 VIP Edition, Burnett signs the guest book cover.
Maude, the 1970s sitcom starring Bea Arthur as one of TV’s feistiest and funniest feminists, is finally available on DVD. Maude: The Complete Series puts all 141 episodes on 19 discs and includes a 40-page collector’s book and several bonus features. List price: $159.99.
Parks and Recreation: The Complete Series contains all seven seasons and 125 episodes of the quirky Amy Poehler comedy about small-town government bureaucracy. But the real reason to love this mega set is the treasure trove of extras, such as deleted scenes and webisodes. List price: $149.98.
All 146 episode of The Nanny, the 1990s comedy starring Fran Dresher as “the flashy girl from Flushing,” are on 19 discs in The Nanny: The Complete Series. Bonus features include a new interview with Dresher and series co-creator Peter Marc Jacobsen, dishing about the show’s origins. List price: $149.99.
Agents Mulder and Scully return in new episodes of The X-Files on Fox in January, so now is a good time to re-experience the greatness of the 1990s paranormal classic. X-Files: The Collector’s Set, available Tuesday, puts all nine seasons together for the first time on Blu-ray. There are 23 hours of extras, from documentaries and deleted scenes to commentary tracks by creator Chris Carter. List price: $299.99.
Every Doctor Who Christmas special is available in one set for the first time. David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi all take turns in the title role in the Doctor Who: The Christmas Specials Gift Set. In addition to the nifty sonic screwdriver, the four-disc collection includes a bonus feature in which British comedian Rufus Hound investigates why these Christmas specials are so special. Blu-ray price: $57.98.
Star Trek: The Original Series — The Complete Series Megapack repackages all three seasons and 79 episodes of the 1960s sci-fi classic on 25 discs, while including tons of previously released bonus material. List price: $79.99.
Mad Men: The Complete Collection, available in Blu-ray, contains all of the special features from previous DVD releases and throws in another four hours of new material. This includes featurettes about casting and designing the series and a one-on-one conversation with series creator Matthew Weiner. There also are four cork coasters so your Mad Men glasses won’t sweat on your furniture. List price: $209.98.
Californication: The Complete Series, starring David Duchovny as a hedonistic author, repackages all seven seasons and 84 episodes on 14 discs. List price: $64.99.
More funny business
All 138 episodes of McHale’s Navy, the 1960s sitcom about a well-meaning but rule-bending WWII PT boat crew, are now available in the 21-disc McHale’s Navy: The Complete Series. Bonus features include cast reunion coverage and two full-length feature films. List price: $169.99.
Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean is a 25th-anniversary collection of the beloved British comedy starring Rowan Atkinson. The four-disc set contains remastered versions of all 14 episodes, along with scenes deleted from the U.S. broadcasts and a 40-minute documentary. List price: $24.97.
Blair, Tootie, Natalie and Jo are back in The Facts of Life: The Complete Series, available in full-series format for the first time. The long-running 1980s sitcom ran for 201 episodes. The bonus disc includes new-to-DVD coverage of a 2014 Paley Center cast reunion event. List price: $199.99.
My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series is a 16-disc set containing all 107 episodes of the 1960s alien-among-us sitcom that starred Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. Extras include lost TV show pilots, vintage cast interviews and behind-the-scenes home movies. List price: $99.98.
The Midnight Special was the must-watch late-night music show of the 1970s, in which the most popular rock, pop and soul artists of the day performed their hits in concert. The Midnight Special Collector’s Edition contains 11 discs of almost 10 hours and 130 songs from acts such as Aerosmith, Steely Dan, ELO, Heart and AC/DC. Also included are five hours of extras, including new interviews. List price: $99.95.
The Hee Haw Collection caters to a decidedly different music-loving audience: country music and a slice of corn-pone comedy. The three-disc, five-episode set costs $39.95. But Time Life also has an eight-disc, 11-episode set for $99.95 and a 14-disc, 23-episode set for $189.95. Both are only available online.
Christopher Foyle’s exploits investigating crimes on the home front during WWII and counterintelligence threats during the early Cold War years are chronicled in Foyle’s War: The Complete Saga, a 29-disc set. There are more than six hours of bonus features and a 24-page collector’s guide about the history of the series, which ended its long run this year. List price: $199.99.
The adventures of Simon Templar, dashing man of mystery, are available for the first time in one set. The Saint: The Complete Collection has all 118 episodes of pre-007 Roger Moore at his most debonair on 33 discs. Moore provided audio commentary for several of his favorite episodes. List price: $199.98.
Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Julia McKenzie Collection pulls together all 11 feature-length episodes in which McKenzie played the beloved spinster sleuth. (The series began with Geraldine McEwan in the role.) List price: $99.99.
Other releases worth considering:
▪ Various versions of The Bold Ones are packaged in separate box sets: The best of the bunch is The Lawyers: The Complete Series, 27 episodes on eight discs, priced at $59.99. Others are The Senator: The Complete Series, eight episodes and the pilot movie on three discs, for $29.93, and The Protectors: The Complete Series, six episodes and the pilot movie on two discs, for $34.99.
▪ Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series contains all 171 episodes of the classic 1960s espionage/caper series on 46 discs. List price: $129.99.
▪ Little House on the Prairie: The Complete Series Deluxe Remastered Edition Gift Set combines all nine seasons with three movie specials and eight hours of extras. List price: $149.98.
▪ I Love Lucy: The Complete Series repackages all 180 episodes of the 1950s classic in a 29-disc set. List price: $79.99.
▪ Chuck Norris kicks butt and takes names in Walker, Texas Ranger: The Complete Collection, 203 episodes on 52 discs. It costs $119.98.
▪ Big hair and shoulder pads are in style again in The Colbys: The Complete Series, a 12-disc, 49-episode Dynasty spinoff. List price: $119.
▪ The Limited Edition Dinosaurs DVD Gift Set puts three dino-themed BBC documentaries in the same box with a 3D Viewfinder. It costs $42.84.
▪ The Best of History Gift Set is a 17-disc collection featuring five History Channel series: The Men Who Built America; America: The Story of Us; Mankind: The Story of All of Us; The World Wars; and WWII in HD. The History War Collection is a 17-disc set containing more than 20 documentaries about the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam and more. Each costs $119.98.
Holiday gift guides!
Dec. 5: Presents from North Texas
Monday: DVD box sets
Tuesday: The best of “Fab or Flub?”
Wednesday: Homemade goodies from the kitchen
Thursday: Video games and gear
Saturday: Purr-fect presents for pets
Dec. 13: Cliburn pianists’ CDs, Dave Barry’s Gift Guide