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2016 - Holiday Gift Guide - Part II - TV on DVD Releases

December 8th, 2016

Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection

The first installment of our Holiday Gift Guide was a little shorter than I would have liked, because there wasn’t much in the way of first-run releases and franchise box sets. The second installment is going to be even shorter. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of TV on DVD releases that would make worthy gifts, but we limit ourselves to first seasons and complete series Megasets. You don’t need us to tell you if Modern Family: Season Seven would make a good gift, for example. If the recipient hasn’t started watching the show yet, they are likely not into it. (There is an exception to this rule this year, but more on that down below.) The number of high-quality new shows that have a first season out on DVD / Blu-ray are very limited. Atlanta is amazing, but the first season is only out on Video on Demand. The first season of Luke Cage is only available on Netflix. Furthermore, there are not a lot Megasets worth talking about. That said, we begin with not just a Megaset, but a Gigaset. Perhaps even a Teraset!

For hardcore Trekkies...
Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray
Description: This includes all Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: The Animated Series on Blu-ray, as well as all pure TOS era movies (The Motion Picture through to The Undiscovered Country). Plus a new documentary. Some physical extras. And more. It’s huge.
Pros: Being a fan of Star Trek tends to be expensive, so I was assuming this box set would cost much more than the MCU Phase box sets. I was assuming the price tag would be at least $200, if not closer to $300, and that’s with the Amazon discount. That’s not the case. At the moment, it costs just $130 on Amazon. Considering that’s three TV shows with a combined 12 seasons between them and six movies, this is an amazing deal. On the other hand...
Cons: Most of what’s here has been released on Blu-ray in the past and fans of Star Trek might have almost everything offered here.


For fans of Star Trek who have almost everything offered above. ...
Star Trek: The Animated Series - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray
Description: Created in the 1970s and featuring the voice work by most of the original cast. (Walter Koenig was the only member of the original cast not in the show, but he did get to write an episode.)
Pros: The show had a surprising number of top-notch Sci-fi writers working on the scripts and even used some scripts that were originally written for the fourth season of The Original Series, but adapted for a 30-minute running time. Extras are good for a show that only lasted two seasons over 40 years ago. There are audio commentary tracks on three episodes, text-based commentary tracks on two more, and two featurettes with a running time of just over 30 minutes.
Cons: It’s a Funmation animated series. It’s a little on the cheap side and more than a few episodes have recycled ideas from The Original Series. Also, while it is technically two seasons, there were only 22 episodes made.


For fans of a much more recent animated series...
The Legend of Korra: The Complete Series - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: This is the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender and it takes place 70 years after the events of the first series. It focuses on Korra, who is this generation's Avatar, but who is struggling with that role. Over the four seasons, she grows from an inexperienced bender into a very capable woman who learns about more than just bending.
Pros: I’ve previously reviewed a couple of the seasons and even included season one in a previous gift guide. The show is awesome and the extras were great.
Cons: There’s nothing new here, so it is not worth the double-dip, but if you know a fan of the original show that missed out on this one, it would make a great gift.


Doo-doo-DOO-doo, Doo-doo-DOO-doo, Doo-doo-DOO-doo...
The Twilight Zone: Complete Series - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray
Description: Rod Sterling’s anthology series is arguably the best-known, and most-beloved, such series, and there have been dozens of them over the years. (In fact, The Twilight Zone returned in the 1980s and again in 2002, while they are working on a fourth incarnation that could start as early as 2017.)
Pros: Not only is it one of the best anthology series ever made, it’s one of the best shows ever made. Throughout the show’s five-year run, it produced some of the best episodes ever aired on network TV. The 24-disc set is loaded with extras, including approximately 100 audio commentary tracks, dozens of interviews, archival footage, and plenty more.
Cons: There’s nothing new compared to the previous single-season Blu-ray releases. On the other hand, those releases are out of print and this box set costs about $100 less than buying collections of the original release.


I know I’m breaking my rules, but hear me out...
Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-6 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: It’s Game of Thrones. Do I really need to describe it? I’ve previously reviewed four seasons of the show and those should give you all of the information you need.
Pros: This is the Wikipedia page for all of the awards and nominations Game of Thrones has earned over the years. It’s very long and 100% deserving. Also, the show’s Blu-ray releases have been amazing.
Cons: There’s nothing new here, but if you know someone who started watching the show late, then it would make a great gift. And that’s the key. Normally we don’t include shows that are this far in, and we especially don’t including box sets that are incomplete like this one is. However, unlike most shows, Game of Thrones has seen a huge increase in viewers over the years. The number of viewers tripled from season one to season six. Tripled. The number of viewers grew by nearly 3 million over the past three years. So there are a lot of Game of Thrones fans started late and many of them haven’t gone back to watch earlier seasons. For them, this box set is awesome. That said, if they have the past three seasons, it is cheaper to buy the others individually.


For those who gave the show a second chance...
Supergirl: Season One - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: Melissa Benoist plays Kara Zor-El, a.k.a., Kara Danvers, a.k.a., Supergirl. She arrived on Earth years after Superman and kept her powers secret, until she was forced to use them to save her adoptive sister. From then on, she’s had to fight a series of super villains from D.C. history.
Pros: Last year was not a good year for new TV shows. Supergirl was clearly the best new Network TV series and won for Best New TV Drama at the People’s Choice Awards. Meanwhile, the second season is a serious step up in quality.
Cons: The first season starts off slow and the action scenes look cheap, even for TV. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or Blu-ray.


Groovy...
Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: It’s the continuation of the Evil Dead franchise, but in a TV show. Ash accidentally unleashes Deadites into the world and he has to try and fix this problem. He has help from a couple of friends, Pablo Simon Bolivar and Kelly Maxwell, while being chased by a couple of women, Amanda Fisher and Ruby Knowby.
Pros: This is an intentionally B-movie show and I love it, for the most part. Plus, there are plenty of extras on the DVD / Blu-ray with every episode having an audio commentary track.
Cons: The show takes a few episodes before the old Ash really shines through. Also, there’s a death in the show that still annoys me.


For those who remember that slow speed chase...
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Description: The People v. O.J. Simpson is a “TV Mini-series” about the O.J. Simpson trial, which was dubbed the Trial of the Century back when it happened. It wasn’t a shining moment in the American court system.
Pros: The show led the Emmys with 22 nominations, including 9 wins, although there is a caveat there.
Cons: It’s a ten episode first season of American Crime Story; however, it was treated as a mini-series, which put it up against weaker competition. There are just not that many mini-series made each year. So its Emmy count is inflated because of this. Also, its extras are weak with just a 30-minute featurette and an interactive timeline. Even so, the quality easily outshines these problems.


NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA BATMAN!!!...
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
Description: It’s been a bad year for the Batman brand with both BvS and The Killing Joke being hot garbage, but that just means there’s no better time to return to the glory days of the original live-action series, only this time it is animated.
Pros: The original actors provide the voices for the characters and the writers certainly got the tone spot on. It is campy fun, and sadly, “fun” is not a term most people will use to describe the D.C.E.U. at the moment.
Cons: The extras are a little weak with just four featurettes with a total running time of 40 minutes. Also, it’s not technically TV on DVD release, but a direct-to-video release based on a TV show. Close enough.


So that’s it for TV on DVD releases. There are only nine of them, including one that’s not really TV on DVD. This isn’t a lot, but it is one better than last year. The number of top-notch TV on DVD releases is drying up. This is partially due to a weak year for new releases and partially due to the rise of streaming for TV shows. It’s just a better format for a lot of shows. Next week we will have classics, limited releases, foreign-language releases, and some Canadian films, before finishing off with miscellaneous releases and anything I forgot.


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Filed under: Holiday Gift Guide, Evil Dead, Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe, Bruce Campbell, Jill Marie Jones, Walter Koenig, Lucy Lawless, Chyler Leigh, Ray Santiago, Janet Varney, Dana DeLorenzo, Melissa Benoist
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