Blu-ray/DVD options galore for holiday gift giving
By Bob Bloom
“Batman: The Complete Television Series: Limited Edition (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet, Warner Home Video) is among a baker’s dozen of Blu-rays and DVDs that would make entertaining presents for a TV fan or movie lover.
The “Batman” set features all 120 episodes of the campy series that starred Adam West and Burt Ward and featured a plethora of guest stars as villains.
Plus, more than three hours of extras are featured, including interviews with West and Ward.
There’s even a Hot Wheels replica of the Batmobile.
Other ideas for the holidays include:
Classic movie collections:
“The Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection” (Blu-ray, Universal Studios Home Entertainment). Eight films by the noted director are included in this set, including the Blu-ray debuts of “The Sugarland Express,” “1941” and “Always.”
The other five films in the collection are “Duel,” “Jaws,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
Among the highlights are the theatrical and extended versions of “1941,” making of documentaries, interviews with Spielberg, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.”
A pair of compilations will intrigue fans of classic horror movies.
The first, “Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection” (Universal Studios Home Entertainment), features the studio’s output of major creature features from 1931 to 1956.
The Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, Invisible Man, Wolf Man and “Creature From the Black Lagoon” movies and their assorted sequels are offered, as are “Werewolf of London,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”
The set is loaded with extras, including commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes documentaries and featurettes on horror stars, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. as well as legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce.
The most prolific star of thrillers in the 1960s and ‘70s was Vincent Price, and “The Vincent Price Collection II” (Blu-ray, Scream-Shout! Factory) displays seven reasons for his popularity.
The set features “House on Haunted Hill,” “The Last Man on Earth,” “Return of the Fly,” “The Comedy of Terrors,” “The Raven,” “The Tomb of Ligeia” and “Dr. Phibes Rises Again.”
The set includes commentary tracks, featurettes about Price and a booklet with essays and photos about Price and his movies.
“White Christmas: Diamond Anniversary Edition” (Blu-ray, Paramount Home Entertainment). Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star in this holiday classic.
The movie is worth viewing for Kaye’s antics and, of course, hearing Crosby sing the Irving Berlin song, which never grows old.
The set also features a soundtrack CD, with songs by Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Crosby and Kaye.
“The Sopranos: The Complete Series” (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet, HBO Home Entertainment). You better not shout, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why — Tony Soprano and his crew may get annoyed and come after you.
Yes, the critically acclaimed HBO series — all six seasons — is featured in this 28-disc set. You get a chance to again appreciate the fine acting of the late James Gandolfini as well as the superb writing of series creator David Chase.
The extras include roundtable dinners with the cast and creative team, lost and deleted scenes, commentaries and an extensive interview with Chase.
“True Blood: The Complete Series” (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet, HBO Home Entertainment) features all 80 episodes of this series set in the Louisiana town of Bon Temps. You get all seven seasons worth of the bayou, blood, vampires, werewolves and sex.
The set is loaded with hours of extras that look at the last days of filming to bonus features that cover every season of the series.
“Poirot: Complete Cases Collection” (RLJ Entertainment-Acorn Media Group). Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective has delighted mystery fans for decades, as have these TV episodes.
This delightful 33-disc collection features all 13 seasons — 70 episodes — in which David Suchet’s Poirot solves the most baffling of cases with ease and a bit of arrogance.
The extras include Suchet reflecting on his characterization and other on-set and behind-the-scenes features that fans of the show will embrace.
“Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show — The Complete Series” (Shout! Factory). Phil Silvers was a fast-talking comic who made his name in vaudeville, on Broadway and in movies.
In the 1950s, television audiences embraced his portrayal of Sgt. Ernest Bilko, whose constant schemes and scams kept viewers laughing.
This set features all 142 episodes of this peacetime Army-based series that aired from 1955 to 1959.
The set also features more than eight hours of extras, including commentaries and interviews with Silvers.
“Daniel Boone: The Complete Series: 50th Anniversary” (Fox Home Entertainment). Former Davy Crockett star Fess Parker took his coonskin cap out of mothballs to portray Daniel Boone in this popular TV series that ran for six seasons.
The set features all 165 episodes as Boone helps settle and fight for the newly formed United States.
Parker is charming, tough and smart as the frontiersman who, with his Indian sidekick Mingo (Ed Ames) battles spies, renegades, outlaws and other various miscreants.
The 36-disc set comes with extras, including interviews.
“The Wonder Years: The Complete Series (StarVista Entertainment). One of the most beloved TV series of the late 1980s is released in a box set, complete with school locker, that features all 115 episodes on 26 discs.
The series follows young Fred Savage’s Kevin Arnold as he navigates adolescence, school, friends and family.
The set includes more than 23 hours of bonus materials that fans of the series will enjoy.
“Motown 25” (StarVista Entertainment). This musical special that aired in May 1983 featured one of the most electrifying moments in television history — Michael Jackson performing “Billie Jean” for the first time.
When Jackson began his moonwalk the audience, both in the theater and at home, went crazy.
Now you can recapture this moment as well as appreciate the talents of such Motown artists as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and others in this hit-filled box.
The set is loaded with extras, including a booklet about the show that offers several photos and a three-disc set that looks at the history of Motown and the artists who put the label on the map.
“The Midnight Special” (StarVista Entertainment) began airing in NBC in 1972. For nearly 10 years, it went off the air in 1981, this late-night show spotlighted the top acts in rock, from Aerosmith to Santana.
This fantastic journey through music history features sets with performances by Billy Joel, The Doobie Brothers, the Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, Jim Croce, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Donna Summer, Heart, Barry Manilow, Linda Ronstadt and dozens of others.
Another disc spotlights the comedians who appeared on the series, including George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, Andy Kaufman, Steve Marin and Freddie Prinze.
A two-disc set contains about five hours of extras that looks back at the series and a booklet gives background information about the acts and the episodes.
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