They are out there. Waiting. Whether you live in a palatial mansion or a little house on the prairie, the year’s best DVD box and gift sets are waiting, lions at the gate, ready to roar their way onto your wish list and into Santa’s bag. There are many, too many actually, so we found the best of the best. Here, the dozen that earned that accolade.
It’s the best DVD set of the year . . . alive or dead, this is the collection the Santa no one talks about has on top of his want list. As with previous limited editions, McFarlane Toys has once again created a striking, must-own packaging concept for “The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray+ Digital HD Limited Edition” (Anchor Bay Entertainment). The five discs are vaulted in an “asphalt” walker, one of the many unforgettable images that have made the AMC series a global phenomenon among zombies . . . and those who love ’em. Handsomely crafted and intricately detailed, the figurine is based on the original walker designed by award-winning SFX make-up Supervisor and Executive Producer, Greg Nicotero. The perfect companion to, perhaps, the “Screwdriver Walker Head” (Season 2), the “Governor’s Walker Head Tank” (Season 3) and the “Tree Walker” (Season 4).
Do you recall when you were no bigger than one of Santa’s elves and reindeer flew, snowmen spoke and Santa came to town? It wasn’t just in your mind. What better way to kick off the holidays than with the Rankin/Bass family favorites in “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition Gift Set,” crammed with the 45th anniversary editions of “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and “Frosty the Snowman,” plus “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition,” “Frosty Returns,” “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol,” “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Cricket on the Hearth,” as well as all-new bonus material, including singing, fun facts and Christmasey crafts. These beloved Christmas classics have warmed the hearts and hearths of families for 45 years. Whether you are celebrating lasting family traditions or making new memories, no holiday is complete without gathering your family around the living room for the most popular holiday specials in television history. And remember, Santa is watching!
Invite yourself and climb aboard the PT-73 and set a course for classic television comedy with “McHale’s Navy: The Complete Series” (Shout! Factory), a 138-episode voyage of military mirth and madness. With an amazing cast, including Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine, comic genius Tim Conway and the indisputable brilliance of Joe Flynn, “McHale’s Navy” was a mainstay of television viewing throughout its original network run from 1962-1966 and an unsinkable juggernaut in reruns for decades to come. In the Pacific Theater of WWII, veteran seaman Quinton McHale (Borgnine) is commissioned into the Navy Reserve and named skipper of the Torpedo Patrol Boat #73. Along with his crew of good-hearted swabbies who love to have fun, McHale is a constant thorn in the side of his base commander, Captain Wallace B. Binghamton (Flynn). Binghamton is forever trying to find a way to get rid of McHale and his rule-bending crew, while McHale and company are forever scheming to keep him from succeeding. It all adds up to the wackiest tour-of-duty television has ever seen!
It is a British-accented “Peyton Place,” a plentiful primetime soap as it followed the Crawley family and their servants from pre-war England through the storms of World War I, and also into the social, political, and technological upheaval of England in the 1920s. Goody, juicy stuff, this PBS miniseries known as “Downton Abbey” and led by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith, the acclaimed ensemble cast brings to life all the drama and intrigue of the inhabitants of the lavish English country manor. “Downton Abbey Season 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5″ (PBS Distribution) is a limited-edition box set that includes every episode of the first five seasons of this Golden Globe and multi-Emmy-winning series. This set includes the original UK edition of the series as well as more than four hours of previously released bonus video.
This story won’t self-destruct. We promise. “Mission Impossible: The Blu-ray Collection” (Paramount) is a must-have action collection of five flicks in high definition–“Mission: Impossible”; “Mission: Impossible 2”; “Mission: Impossible 3”; “Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol”; and “Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation–as well as access to a Digital HD copy of each film. It may seem impossible to think that the oodles of special features and bonus tracks are equaling riveting. But they are . . . featurettes, commentaries, behind-the-scenes peeks, on-set action, deleted scenes, alternate openings and Cruise, not on control.
The man in the moon may be a lady, but the boss man on Mars is Uncle Martin, our favorite Martian. MPI blasts off into retro heaven with the release of “My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series,” the ’60s small-screen gem starring Bill Bixby as “Los Angeles Sun” newspaper reporter Tim O’Hara and Ray Walston as the perfectly human-looking Martian whom Tim discovers and passes off as his Uncle Martin. The telepathic Martian has powers: He can point a finger and make things levitate, his ray-gun can do some damage (never badly, this was a comedy), he can talk to the animals, cause people to freeze in position and when two retractable antennae pop-up from his head he becomes invisible, always causing more (misadventures). No dummy is Martin: He’s actually an anthropologist from Mars whose close call with the X-15 rockets forced him to crash land in the desert. This complete series collection features all 107 complete, unedited, digitally remastered episodes from the show’s three seasons, along with hours of special features.
For peanuts, you can bring home the peanuts gang at their Emmy-honored best. “Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) brings together 11 beloved “Peanuts” specials that have been brilliantly remastered in all-new 4K Ultra HD transfers to DVD. Each of them has earned an Emmy nomination or won an Emmy. Join Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, Snoopy, Woodstock in “You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown”; “She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown”; “It’s Magic, Charlie Brown”; “Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown”;
“Is this Goodbye, Charlie Brown?”; “Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown”; “It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown”; “Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown”; ‘Why, Charlie Brown, Why”; “You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown”; and our all-time fave, “What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown,” that finds the Peanuts gang in Europe as they visit various war memorials. They learn about the First and Second World Wars, and the sacrifices made by soldiers at various historical battles. In France they learn about the D-Day Invasion of World War II. Charlie Brown and his pals also visit Ypres and find out about the various battles fought during World War I. Linus recites the famous war poem “In Flanders Fields.”
The iconic legend had major roles in only three movies: “East of Eden” (1955), “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) and “Giant” (1956). TCM has gathered a major find: All of the dynamic Dean performances for live television that are rarely seen, especially when grouped together in this manner. His roles here include those of a thief who finds redemption in “Something for an Empty Briefcase” (1953) for NBC’s “Campbell Soundstage”; an accused murderer in “Sentence of Death” (1953) for CBS’s “Studio One”; an ex-convict struggling for a new life in the Rod Serling teleplay, “A Long Time Till Dawn” (1953) for NBC’s “Kraft Theatre”; the restless son of a farm couple (Dorothy Gish and Ed Begley) in “Harvest” (1953) for NBC’s “Robert Montgomery Presents”; a waiter suspected of stealing in “Run Like a Thief” (1954) for NBC’s “The Philco-Goodyear Playhouse”; a lovestruck stable boy in Sherwood Anderson’s “I’m a Fool” (1954) with Natalie Wood, for CBS’s “General Electric Theater”; a “hepcat” killer in “The Dark, Dark Hours” (1954), with Ronald Reagan, for the “General Electric Theater”; and a wealthy man accused of robbing his family in “The Thief” (1955), with Diana Lynn and Mary Astor, for the ABC “United States Steel Hour.”
Chiseled chests. Angular cheeks. Solid six-packs. And buns o’ steel. Everyone’s favorite male models look even more good looking in high definition when “Zoolander” hits the runway for the first time in a limited-edition gift set from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Sporting an original design and swathed in a signature “Blue SteelBook,” this season’s must-have gift comes fully accessorized with new special features: A really, really ridiculously good looking headband and a sneak peek at the highly anticipated sequel “Zoolander No. 2”, which debuts in theaters February 12, 2016. It’s a laugh-out-loud comedy, but first, clear the runway for Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), VH1’s three-time male model of the year. His face falls when hippie-chic Hansel (Owen Wilson) scooters in to steal this year’s award. The evil fashion guru Mugatu (Will Ferrell) seizes the opportunity to turn Derek into a killing machine. It’s a well-designed conspiracy and only with the help of Hansel and a few well-chosen accessories like Matilda (Christine Taylor) can Derek make the world safe for male models everywhere. Available exclusively at Walmart, the ZOOLANDER Limited Edition Blu-ray Gift Set boasts new hilarious footage of Owen Wilson and Justin Theroux rehearsing the epic breakdance fight under the direction of Ben Stiller and an alternate version of the brainwashing sequence told through storyboards. The Gift Set also includes previously released special features, a collectible Zoolander headband embellished with Derek’s world-famous coif, a look at Zoolander No. 2 and Movie Money worth up to $80 towards a ticket to see the new film in theaters.
He’s a modern-day Robin Hood, a wealthy man of mystery, a most debonair rogue. Call Simon Templar what you will, but never cross The Saint. A timeless figure of adventure since his creation by Leslie Charteris in 1928, The Saint has thrilled adventure aficionados with his exploits in a variety of media, including novels, movies, and radio but nowhere was the dashing Mr. Templar more indelibly realized than in his 1960’s television series, presented in one outstanding collection, “The Saint: The Complete Series” (Shout! Factory). Starring the perfectly-cast Roger Moore as Templar, The Saint was a benchmark in the lifespan of the character, and a stepping stone for more in Moore’s career. Featuring thrilling acts of derring-do, beautiful places (and people) and a sly wit, this 33s-disc set is filled with all 118 episodes of The Saint. When sinners strike, call on The Saint!
Those celebrating Hanukkah will relish “Shalom Sesame” (Sisu Home Entertainment), the award-winning series that features furry Grover and celebrity host Anneliese van der Pol as they travel to Israel in the 12-episodes co-produced by Sesame Workshop and Israel’s Channel HOP! Designed to help bring the vitality of Jewish culture and tradition, as well as the diversity of Israeli life, to American children and their families, each 30-minute, live-action and animated DVD focuses on storylines drawn from Jewish cultural traditions, highlighting lessons on Hebrew letters and words, unique sites in Israel, and Jewish values. In addition to van der Pol, the series features guest appearances by lots of famous faces, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Matisyahu, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear and Debi Mazar. The six-disc set also includes a free bonus DVD featuring two programs from the “Classic Shalom Sesame” series, “Jerusalem” and “People of Israel” and a free download trial of an episode.
You think you know funny? Not if you aren’t aware of the brilliantly funny comedian Brendan O’Carroll. Witness his work as loud-mouthed Irish matriarch Agnes Brown in “Mrs. Brown’s Boys,” a hit comedy series from the BBC. Crude, rude and charmingly hilarious, the series has broken viewing records across the United Kingdom and Australia and has become one of the top rated shows in Canada. Finally, Americans can meet her and love her with “Mrs. Brown’s Boys: Complete Series” (Universal Studios Home Entertainment), a six-disc set that will be sending you frequently to the loo. Yep, that’s how funny he/she is!
War is never pretty. But when master filmmaker Ken Burns tackles the subject, Emmy enters the picture. “The Civil War” (PBS Distribution), the significant nine-part series from brilliant Burns, is now fully restored to high definition, achieving the optimal picture quality originally intended. (One of the remarkable things the new resolution does is restore parts of images that were cropped away for the original TV broadcast.) This six-disc collector’s set also features more than two hours of new bonus video; the epic documentary brings to life America’s most destructive and defining conflict. Here is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one.