News

Gift ideas for TV fans

Chuck Barney
Contra Costa Times (MCT)

The holidays are a time for diehard television fans to think inside the box -- the box set, that is.

But fair warning: Most of the offerings we herald here are not for wimps. They're deluxe, king-sized extravaganzas that challenge their recipients to hunker down for hours and hours of programming served up on silver platters. It's an undertaking for only the heartiest of sofa spuds.

Also, some of the sets will fetch a big chunk of change. Just be aware, however, that these are suggested retail prices. If you do some searching, you can pay much less much through discount outlets and online sources.

"Seinfeld: The Complete Series" ($284, Sony Home Entertainment)

You truly can be the master of your domain with this 32-disc monstrosity that contains all the usual bonus goodies, including deleted scenes, commentaries, bloopers, documentaries and yada, yada, yada.

The real treats, however, are two items not included with the individual season sets: a 226-page souvenir book called "The Official Coffee Table Book" and a freewheeling "roundtable" discussion among the show's main foursome -- Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards -- along with co-creator Larry David.

The former is packed with color photos, trivia and recaps of all 180 episodes. The latter has the gang reminiscing about their incredible nine years of working on a show about "nothing" that turned out to be really something.

"Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Series" ($279.99, HBO Home Video)

For the first time ever, all 210 episodes of "Raymond" can be found under one roof -- literally. Yes, the 44 discs that make up this set come neatly encased in a cardboard house that has the smiling Barones peering out the windows. It's either very sweet or kind of creepy, depending on your point of view.

"Raymond" was never as hip as "Seinfeld," but it enjoyed an equally long run (nine seasons) and its cast (Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle) was just as cohesive. Most significantly, the show succeeded where so many family sitcoms failed -- by being consistently hilarious.

The extras in this set don't go much beyond the norm, but there is a reproduced script of the series finale autographed by the show's writers.

"The War" ($129.99, PBS Home Video)

Ken Burns' 15-hour masterpiece deserves all the raves it has garnered. Dispensing with the conventional textbook formula that relies on world leaders and generals, it takes a "bottom-up" approach to examine World War II through the eyes of common Americans who experienced firsthand the "greatest cataclysm in history."

The result is an incredibly intimate, emotionally powerful film that will stay with you long after you view it.

Extras in the six-disc set include a behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of the film, commentary by Burns and producing partner Lynn Novick, deleted scenes, additional interviews with many of the film's principals, and then-and-now "biographies" of the four towns that served as the spine of the series.

"Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition" ($108.99, CBS/Paramount)

Serve up the hot coffee and cherry pie. We finally have Seasons 1 and 2 of David Lynch's surreal small-town murder mystery in one sleek package, including the show's pilot episode and its international version.

The 10-disc set contains all 30 episodes, which have been lovingly remastered under Lynch's supervision, and they unfold, as one character puts it, "like a beautiful dream and terrible nightmare all at once."

Among the extras are a compelling feature-length documentary on the series, a half-hour discussion among Lynch and some cast members, and an interactive map that points out where some of the key events of the spooky story took place.

"Gilmore Girls: The Complete Series" ($258, Warner Bros.)

Here's a set for fans who just can never have enough of quaint and quirky Stars Hollow. It comes packed in an adorable padded vinyl doll box, which is sturdy enough to hold 42 discs and more than 110 hours of Lorelai-and-Rory memories.

The bonus treats the usual documentaries, deleted scenes and trivia. But the highlight is a 60-page glossary of "Gilmorisms" to help you keep up with all the witty pop-cultural references on which the show prided itself.

"My So-Called Life: The Complete Series" ($69.99, Shout!)

The series that launched Claire Danes' career lasted for only 19 episodes over a six-month period in 1994, but has gone on to attain legendary status among television buffs -- and rightfully so. It set a standard for teen dramas that few have attained.

The bonus material in this six-disc set includes a "My So-Called Life Story" featurette, commentaries, interviews and a 40-page booklet in which such people as Joss Whedon and Janeane Garofalo pay loving tribute to the series.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.