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DVD Zone: December 2006

| November 30, 2006 | 0 Comments

DVD Zone
The 2006 DVD Gift Guide

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It’s that time of year again. ‘Tis the season of decking the halls, being jolly, and Grandma’s ill-fated rendezvous with reindeer. It’s also the time of year eight out of 10 people find themselves asking, “What the hell am I gonna get Uncle Frank or Aunt Gladys?” Fret not, little elves, I got your back.

Generally, there’s a simple rule when looking for a DVD gift set: bigger is better. Unfortunately the draw back is that you should be ready to part with some serious coin. With that in mind, here are a few recent (and not-so-recent) releases that follow the format.

The newest film to get the big box treatment is Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code (Columbia/Tristar). You can get either the two-disc set, or the super-duper deluxe edition, which includes both discs, a replica of the film’s “Cryptex,” and Tom Hanks’ character’s journal. This set goes for around 80-bucks, and the cool thing is when you’ve figured it all out, (spoiler alert!) the code is “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.”

Director Peter Jackson has always seemed a little hesitant to release multiple versions of his films. Can you believe he only put out about 12 different sets and “special editions” of his Lord Of The Rings trilogy? So imagine my surprise when a mere year after his remake of King Kong (Universal) (which included his DVD set of production diaries and a two-disc special edition on DVD a mere six months later), Jackson releases a three-disc version of the big ape’s tale. In this incarnation, Jackson adds 13 minutes of footage (as if the film wasn’t long enough already) and 38 minutes of deleted scenes. Like The Da Vinci Code, a deluxe set is available that includes a plastic replica of Kong climbing the Empire State Building. Again, get ready to say goodbye to around 80 bucks for that one.

The award for the best set of the season goes to The Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner Home Video). This 14-disc set features all four of the Christopher Reeve films, including the re-cut edition of Superman II from the film’s original director, Richard Donner. Added to the set for good measure is the two-disc special edition of Superman Returns. Despite the inclusion of Superman III and IV, it’s well worth the $100 price tag.

If the small screen is more to your liking, there are several complete series sets available. Granted, they have all been released in sets of individual seasons, but since they all have left prime time and shuffled off into the syndication ether, you can get everything in one massive box.

First off is a 40-disc set of Friends for around $180. This is for the people who happen to be sitting around the house and can’t wait an hour and a half for an episode to show up on some channel somewhere.

If watching beautiful people with jobs that come nowhere close to supplying the income needed to support their lifestyle isn’t your thing, there’s the 45-disc set of The West Wing. Like Friends, The West Wing is also a fantasy, only this time the fantasy is a government run thoughtfully and competently, with people who genuinely care about doing the job they were sent to Washington to do.

Also available, although not in one big series set, you’d really be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t pick up the grotesquely overlooked Arrested Development. The individual seasons sets are enough to make you wish you had stopped watching people eating bugs and backstabbing others on an island to win some cash and supported actual quality television when you could.

And for the nostalgia buffs who wish for a simpler time when a single playboy and a butler could raise three kids on his own, there’s seasons one and two of Family Affair (Mpi Home Video). Season sets — $40 bucks. Watching Brian Keith grimace and rub his neck in frustration — priceless.

Last but not least the sports world should get a shout out. Those still reveling in the White Sox world championship should pick up the seven-disc Chicago White Sox — 2005 World Series Collector’s Edition (A&E Home Video). It includes the complete telecasts of all the games, and footage from the victory parade. However, if the Sox don’t ring your bell, A&E offers other complete classic series, such as the 1975 Reds/Red Sox thriller, and the 1986 Mets/Red Sox clash. All of the above will set you back about $80, but it’s money well spent.

So there ya go. I’ve done my part. If you still can’t find something your loved ones would like, you’re on your own. Just remember, candlesticks always make a great gift.

— Timothy Hiatt

Category: Columns, Monthly

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