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2015 - Holiday Gift Guide - Part II - TV on DVD

December 6th, 2015

Agent Carter

The second installment of the Holiday Gift Guide focuses on TV on DVD releases. It's going to be a little short this year, because I was not impressed with last year's batch of new releases. There are five networks, but there are only four shows that debuted last season on this list. (Although I admit I don't watch The Flash (DVD or Blu-ray) or Jane the Virgin (DVD) and the WB doesn't hand out screeners.) There were a few other cable shows that started last year that I love, but this includes stuff like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Daredevil, neither of which are on DVD. Additionally, there weren't as many Full-Series Megasets as years past, at least not ones that I think are worthy for this list. Mad Men might be the only Megaset for a concurrent show that makes the list. This all adds up to a short list this year.


For those who are addicted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
Agent Carter: Season One Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: This was a short-run series that focused on Peggy Carter, who was a hero in World War II. However, when she joined Strategic Scientific Reserve, she's treated as little more that a secretary and is unable to do any field work. That changes when Howard Stark is framed for treason, she begins working to clear his name, with the help of his butler, Jeeves.
Pros: My favorite new show of last season and I'm not alone. The 8-episode run was planned out and every part works. I'm stoked to see season two.
Cons: It was only eight episodes, but the price-tag is nearly as high as a full-22 episode season. Also, the only extras are three minutes of outtakes.
Notes: If you know someone who likes this show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season Two is also worth picking up. The show got better during season two.


For those who like police procedurals that rely on brains...Mmm, brains...
iZombie - Buy from Amazon: DVD
Description: Rose McIver stars as a medical student who goes to a boat party to relax, all hell breaks loose, and she turns into a zombie. She quits being a med student and instead works in the coroner's office, because it gives her easy access to brains. One of the side effects of eating brains is taking on the personalities of the people, as well as seeing some flashes of their memories. She uses these flashes, which she pretends are psychic in nature, to help her solve murders.
Pros: The first season was great and reviews for the second season are even better, so that's good news. (It sucks to get hooked on a show early only to have the quality plummet after a few episodes. I'm looking at you, Gotham.)
Cons: The extras are not great. There are some outtakes and the Comic Con panel, but that's it. Also, it was a mid-season replacement, so there are only 13 episodes for season one. That puts its price-per-minute on the high side.


For those who like their soap operas to have a beat...
Empire: Season One: - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: A TV show from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. It focuses on Empire Records, a Hip-Hop music empire, and the dysfunctional family that runs it.
Pros: I've already mentioned how the ratings for this show started out well and then grew and grew and grew. It really hit it off with viewers. The critics were equally impressed and it even earned plenty of award nominations, including three Emmy nominations. Extras include extended pilot, audio commentary on the pilot, extended musical performances, and even the soundtrack on CD.
Cons: It was a mid-season replacement, so the price-per-minute isn't great. It isn't overly expensive, but it is merely average in that regard. The CD soundtrack does mitigate a lot of the Blu-ray price.


For those who were worried it wouldn't live up to the original...
Better Call Saul: Season One - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: This is a spin-off / prequel to Breaking Bad. In this show, we focus on Bob Odenkirk's Saul and his journey from criminal lawyer to "criminal" lawyer.
Pros: This could have been a disaster, but it was one of the best-reviewed new shows of the year. There are even some who say it is the better than Breaking Bad. Additionally, the Blu-ray is loaded with extras, including an audio commentary track on every episode, plus one of them has two tracks. There are also making of featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes, and more.
Cons: If you liked Breaking Bad, then there's really no downside here.


For those who don't want to be alone...
The Last Man on Earth: Season One - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: The TV show takes place shortly after a virus wipes out nearly all of humanity. It focuses on Will Forte, who thinks he is the last man on Earth. He is ready to kill himself when he finds a woman, Kristen Schaal. Soon more people show up, but have his prayers been answered? Or was Sartre right when he said, "Hell is other people." (I know that's not exactly what he meant, but the misinterpretation fits here better than what he actually meant does.)
Pros: I completely missed this show when it first came out. I had no idea it existed until I got sent a screener. Two episodes in and I was hooked. The critics loved it and it even picked up four Emmy nominations. Extras on the two-disc DVD include audio commentary tracks on two episodes, a making of featurette, Q&A Panel, deleted scene, and outtakes. That's a great selection.
Cons: It's a high-concept comedy, so it won't last very long. If it makes it to syndication, I will be impressed.
Notes: You can end a sentence with a preposition. The rule that you can't do that is from Latin and only applies to languages derived from Latin and English is a Germanic language. It was added artificially by those trying to make English sound more posh. It failed. ... I just realized if you haven't seen the show, you have no idea why I'm talking about this here.


For those who want to buy the world a coke... is that a spoiler?
Man Men: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: Do I really need to talk about this TV show? It ran for seven seasons over eight years and focused on marketing genius Don Draper. Don Draper was amazing at marketing, but everything else in his life was a mess.
Pros: This show earned more than 100 Emmy nominations and is part of a four-way tie for most Best Drama wins in a row at four. The Megaset is loaded with extra, including physical ones like glasses.
Cons: Its award count peaked about midway through the show's run. I think that has to do more with people not wanting it to break records than it has with a decline in quality.


For those who can put a price on Nostalgia...
The Wonder Years: The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon: DVD
Description: The show was set in the 1960s and 1970s and focuses on the Arnold family, specifically the youngest son, Kevin, and his two friends, Paul (Josh Saviano) and Winnie.
Pros: The show only ran for five seasons, but it earned more than 28 Emmy nominations and won four times. There are two versions of the Megaset you can buy. Either direct from Time Life, which includes a few physical extras (magnets, yearbook, and a metal locker case). It also costs $300. On the other hand, the retail edition comes out this week and it costs just $116 and it still has a lot of extras on the discs. We are talking about hours of extras, most of which are interviews with the cast. This is exactly what fans want.
Cons: Two-words... Music Replacement. They couldn't get the rights to all 298 songs used in the show's run, but they came close and there is barely more than a dozen songs that had to be replaced. Here's a list of the songs that were replaced.


For those who want watch some great performances...
Midnight Special - Buy from Amazon: DVD
Description: Midnight Special was a musical variety show that ran from 1973 to 1981. During the show's 450-episode run, it featured countless musical guests, as well as the occasional comedian.
Pros: There is a stellar selection of music from this era, including a wide range of genres. There is 16 hours of entertainment on this 11-disc set. I was a little worried that it wouldn't sound good, because of the age of the source material, but that wasn't a problem.
Cons: The video is a little weak. Also, there are a lot of genres on display here, so there's little chance someone will like everything the show has to offer.

That's really it. ... There are a few others that might have made the cut, but I wasn't able to get a hold of screeners. The X-Files: Blu-ray Megaset and Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series plus Book. I'm not sure if they are worth the upgrade, but if the person you are buying for doesn't have them, then they are worth picking up.

That's it for the TV on DVD releases, which again feels like a short list this year. Next week we have classics, limited releases, documentaries, some Canadian films, etc., before finishing off with miscellaneous releases and anything I forgot.


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Filed under: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, James D'Arcy, Lee Daniels, Will Forte, Jon Hamm, Danica McKellar, Bob Odenkirk, Fred Savage, Danny Strong, Kristen Schaal, Rose McIver