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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Life on Mars: The Complete UK Collection - Acorn Media [$79.99]

The UK series Life on Mars, recently remade into an American version, offers an original premise by taking elements from different genres and melding them into one. Life on Mars is as much a cop show as it is an existential drama as it is a comedic period piece. By blending these varied components and playing with the conventions of all three, the series achieves a unique balance that elevates it above just one kind of story. Life on Mars successfully turns many of the standard storytelling techniques viewers are accustomed to ‘on its ear’, so to speak, and in doing so, it achieves an originality that makes for a very strong series. The cast is engaging, the writing is smart, and in the end, there is a real satisfaction to its conclusion.


Life on Mars: The Complete Collection contains quite a bit of bonus material including, audio commentaries for all the episodes in series one; several behind-the-scenes featurettes on individual episodes, the music of Life on Mars, production design, and a set tour; two documentaries on the show; and an outtakes reel. The extras add to a better understanding of the show and the thinking behind its eventual resolution.


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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Lost Encyclopedia [$45.00]

Although Lost has officially ended, fans of the show know, there are still many questions left unanswered. While we may never uncover every mystery, the Lost Encyclopedia may be the first step in helping us figure out some things on our own.


With 400 pages and over 1,500 images, this encyclopedia covers every character, location, prop, plotline, relationship and mythology from the entire six season run. From backgammon to every doctor and Geronimo Jackson to LAX Airport, if it was ever on the show, it’s in this book. There are detailed character bios, breakdowns of “the incident”, maps of the island and even a list of the others. The encyclopedia might not answer every question, but it certainly reminds you of the tiny details that may lead to a real revelation.


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Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010
Great Detectives Anthology [$149.95]

If you like your mysteries served-up British-style (and really, who doesn’t), then look no further than the Great Detectives Anthology. Featuring the likes of Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, and Sherlock Holmes (portrayed by the inimitable Peter Cushing), this collection of 18 classic capers produced for BBC television—including Death on the Nile, Murder at the Vicarage, and the Hound of the Baskervilles— is sure to be a treat for any Agatha Christie/Arthur Conan Doyle enthusiast.


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Friday, Dec 10, 2010
Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection [$124.99]

Conceived by formidable UK dramatist Lynda La Plante and positioned to play both with and against the archetypes within the standard dramatic police procedural, Prime Suspect succeeds for numerous reasons. It’s well scripted, expertly acted, plotted with one eye on the engaging elements of the mystery thriller and the other on a classy concurrent character study, and never once employs the false formulas of the typical TV cop show to win over the viewer. Instead, this is a show that settles in for the long haul, that has no problem taking one particular crime through several sensational episodes.


In fact, the best thing about Prime Suspect is the density of it all, how we get beneath Jane Tennison’s (Helen Mirren) skin to experience her desperation, her despair, and her desires. There is never a moment where the character goes unexplored, where the scribes or directors put her on autopilot to cruise through another whodunit. Mirren is exceptional, constantly finding ways to broaden the woman’s walking wounded view between various levels of malaise. Some cause her to be curt and abrupt. At other times, she’s as fragile as a pressed flower. Because of her own natural beauty and fetching physical attributes, Mirren can make Tennison into anything she wants: stern authority figure, bitter victim, stalwart survivor. Even better, the show know how to bring out the best in the actress. Even when cast in a wholly unflattering light, we never lose her innate strength.


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Friday, Dec 10, 2010
South Park: A Little Box of Butters [$29.99]

Those of you who would consider buying this already know the recipient loves South Park and the fourth-grader Leopold Stotch, more commonly known as Butters, and there’s no question that he deserves his own collection. After all, his naïveté, paired with astounding optimism, always guarantees an enjoyable episode. So what you really want to know is if the extras make it worth your money.


I think so. You get fully realized case featuring drawings by – who else? – Butters. The back and sides are covered in drawings, including an especially humorous portrait of Butters and AWESOM-O with AWESOM-O scribbled out and “Best Friends” written above the duo. The interior of the case features even more inside jokes for fans.


You get a book written by Butters in “The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”. You get a Butters badge, a fake check for $250 million (from “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset”) and a Butters’ Bitch medallion and chain, a totally rad accessory for nightclubs. There’s also a plastic bracelet with “W.W.B.D?” written on it.


“It’s Butters! A Trivia Game” is included on disc one and features sing-a-long portions and questions based on clips from the show. You get a lot of Butters in this Little Box of Butters


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