Tis the season to give the gift you can't help but watch
By Garrett Conti
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
This holiday season, entertainment is on a lot of wish lists. That means shoppers will be looking for their favorite films and TV shows to give to family members and friends. There are a lot of excellent options out there, especially when considering the wealth of collections that have arrived over the past few weeks. Here are some of the top contenders:
“Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” (15 discs, 15 films, $299.98). Fans of the master of suspense can't ask for much more out of this sterling package from Universal. Included in the set are some of Hitchcock's best films, including “Rear Window,” “Psycho,” “North By Northwest,” “Vertigo” and “Rope.” Also, when you're done with each one of the 15 motion pictures, dig into the awesome set of special features.
“Tarantino XX” (10 discs, eight films, $119.98). Cinefiles looking for something a bit more recent than Hitchcock would be wise to request this collection of films from director Quentin Tarantino. All of the best of Tarantino is here, including “Pulp Fiction,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Jackie Brown,” “Kill Bill I” and Kill Bill 2.” In addition to eight films, there is a good collection of featurettes, including a couple of documentaries that examine Tarantino's storied career.
“The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection” (22 discs, 50 episodes, $199.95). Running throughout the late 1960s and most of the 1970s, “The Carol Burnett Show” stood out as a comedy showcase for Burnett and supporting players like Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Tim Conway. This collection from Time Life is a must-own for fans and might just bring back some wonderful memories.
“Friends: The Complete Series on Blu-ray” (21 discs, 236 episodes, $279.98). One of the most-popular sitcoms to ever hit the tube, “Friends” — starring Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston — has been available as a complete series on DVD before, but this is its first stop on Blu-ray. The result is a crisper picture with better sound and some new featurettes. Fans shouldn't have any problems sitting through all these episodes, all over again.
“Bond 50” (23 discs, 22 films, $329). Jaw-dropping is one of the terms that should be used when considering this collection from 20th Century Fox. The set dropped right before “Skyfall” hit theaters, and it includes all of the films, through “Quantum of Solace,” featuring James Bond, Britain's best spy. Additionally, this majestic package is loaded with lots of extras, including a pop-up trivia option. It's also the first time a number of the Bond films have been available on Blu-ray.
“Dark Knight Trilogy” (five discs, three movies, $52.99). If you were one of those fans waiting for all of filmmaker Christopher Nolan's gritty franchise to be available in one package, your time has come. “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” are all together in this nice collection from Warner Bros. Plus, the list of special features for this limited-edition package is as epic as Batman's crime-fighting skills. Featurettes on just about every aspect of the trilogy are available.
“Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection” (eight discs, eight movies, $159.98). This is one of those special sets of films that can be enjoyed by young and old, alike. Some classics films can be found here, including “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man” and “The Wolf Man.” Experiencing performances from legendary stars like Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Colin Clive is plenty of fun. Special features are heavy here, as well.
“American Experience: The Presidents” (17 discs, 11 biographies, $99.99). History buffs won't be able to get off the couch after opening up this collection, which includes biographies on Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, the Kennedys, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and a handful of others. Coming from PBS, this is good stuff. These biographies are an interesting looks at past leaders of the United States.
“Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures” (five discs, four movies, $99.98). Like the complete series of “Friends,” the complete adventures of Indiana Jones — played masterfully by Harrison Ford — has been out on DVD, but this is its first time on Blu-ray. It's an excellent transfer to Blu-ray, as the sight and sound of the four adventure pictures are exquisite. Paramount also has stuffed the package with loads of special features, so this would make a great gift for fans of the globe-trotting action star.
“Downton Abbey: Seasons 1 & 2” (five discs, 16 episodes, $59.99). One of the more popular shows of the past few years, this import from Britain has made impressive strides here in the new country. Authentic costumes and settings, strong storylines and talented performers are a few of the reasons why “Downton Abbey” has found a strong following. For those out of the loop, this five-disc collection will go a long way in catching anyone up for what looks to be a show with plenty of momentum.
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