With the availability of ever more TV shows and movies through online streaming, the Christmas-season custom of buying big boxes may seem out of fashion. Only it isn’t yet.
Current holiday shopping, and releases earlier in 2012, offer plenty of chances for people to spend serious dollars on DVDs, Blu-rays and combo packs. And, in case the show itself is not enough, the presentations often come with special packaging or souvenirs. Those include a dragon’s-egg paperweight in the collector’s edition of Game of Thrones’ first season, a selection of Henry Mancini’s music from TV’s Peter Gunn in a complete-series box, and an extended cut of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode in the second-season Blu-ray set (on sale Dec. 4).
Bringing shows to the high-definition quality of Blu-ray is yet another excuse for putting out new sets, often at premium prices. That Star Trek: TNG box has a suggested retail price of $130, and complete-series box of Friends on Blu-ray lists for about $280. And some shows have fans who will want everything associated with a favorite.
Consider Visual Entertainment’s recent releases of Cagney & Lacey, the 1982-88 police drama. The complete-series box that goes on sale Tuesday was formidable enough, with 32 discs, 119 episodes starring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless, and a $139.99 price tag. But for $30 more, and only from www.cagneyandlacey.com, fans can get a set with even more material spread across 36 discs: the series pilot (with Daly and Loretta Swit), the first six episodes of the series (with Daly and Meg Foster), four TV-movies made after the weekly series ended, interviews, an autographed photo of Gless and Daly and the 12-hour audiobook of Cagney & Lacey … And Me, a memoir by series producer (and Gless’ husband) Barney Rosenzweig.
Consider, too, the new Watchmen: Collector’s Edition, from Warner Bros. It includes the out-of-print “ultimate cut” of the movie, the original theatrical cut (on DVD), archival extras and a hardcover edition of the graphic novel on which the movie was based. How badly will fans want it? Warner thinks about $75 worth.
The following list of current, upcoming and relative recent releases offers many other chances to test how tightly shut your wallet is. Unless otherwise noted, the sets are available now.
Broadway: The American Musical (PBS, $39.99 Blu-ray). High-definition release of the six-part history of American musical theater.
The Carol Burnett Show (Time Life, $199.95 DVD). Time Life offers a lot of configurations of classic TV variety shows, including several different Burnett sets. But this monster includes 50 episodes on 18 discs, four discs of bonuses including appearances by Burnett on the old Garry Moore Show, a booklet and a box that opens like a curtain rising.
Dean’s Ultimate Collection: The Dean Martin Variety Show (Time Life, $195.95 DVD). As with Burnett, there are different packages of Dino’s shows, but this one has 17 discs, with both previously released material and a previously unreleased Christmas telecast (which is also being sold separately).
Doctor Who: Limited Edition Gift Set (BBC, $249.95 DVD). Forty-one discs including six seasons with the Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, plus art cards, a comic book and even “a collectible 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver.”
Entourage: The Complete Series (HBO, $249.99 DVD, $299.99 Blu-ray). All eight seasons of the comedy-drama about young men in Hollywood, on 18 discs, with extras; the Blu-ray is the first authorized release of the first five seasons in that format.
The Epic Drama Collection (A&E, $99.95). Nine-disc DVD repackaging of A&E movies Shackelton, Napoleon, Longitude, The Crossing, The Lost Battalion and Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor.
Francis Ford Coppola Five-Film Collection (Lionsgate, $39.99 Blu-ray). On sale Dec. 4. Compilation of Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Now Redux, Tetro, The Conversation and — in its Blu-ray debut — One From the Heart.
The Fugitive, The Most Wanted Edition: The Complete Series (CBS/Paramount, $207.99). The entire David Janssen series about wrongly accused doctor Richard Kimble, with a bonus disc and a soundtrack CD. But be careful. Amazon.com’s sales site has this warning: “We have discovered some audio and playback issues in a select number of the episodes and alternate music cues in 1 episode … If you purchased the box set and have experienced any of these issues, we will provide replacement discs for the affected episodes free of charge. Please email (email@example.com) or call (877-DELUXE-6) (877-335-8936) to provide details about your purchase and request your replacement discs.”
Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season Collector’s Edition (HBO, DVD/Blu-ray combo, $99.97). The first season has already been released on video, but this box is more elaborately packaged, and adds both a dragon’s-egg paperweight and a Blu-ray of the second-season premiere.
Harold & Kumar Blu-ray Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner, $49.99) has a collectible tin and three movies: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay and A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.
Harry Potter: Wizard’s Collection (Warner, $499.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo). All eight movies, including the 3-D Blu-ray of the last two, plus a bonus disc, various souvenirs and a splendid box.
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (Paramount, $99.98 Blu-ray). The four films in the Jones series — or, as I think of it, two classics, one goodie and the most recent film — in excellent Blu-ray, with extras including a new documentary and previously unreleased footage, and a compact pack.
JAG: The Complete Series Collector’s Edition (CBS/Paramount, $310.99). On sale Dec. 11. Ten seasons of the CBS drama, plus a bonus disc and souvenirs like a replica of the show’s famous challenge coin.
Men in Black Trilogy (Sony, $95.99 Blu-ray). On sale Nov. 30, the same date that Men in Black III will be on DVD and Blu-ray. The trilogy set includes the two previous movies and a figurine.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory, $119.99). The ’90s kid favorite, including three seasons, a miniseries and bonuses in a 19-disc set.
Peter Gunn: The Complete Series (Timeless, $99.99). All three seasons of the cooler-than-cool private-eye series starring Craig Stevens and Akron’s own Lola Albright, with a bonus music CD.
Steve Martin: The TV Stuff (Shout! Factory, $34.93). Six hours of Martin’s standup and variety specials, the short film The Absent-Minded Waiter and more.
Tarantino XX (Lionsgate, $119.99 Blu-ray). Seven Tarantino movies (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds and the two parts of Kill Bill), plus one he wrote but did not direct (True Romance), with hours of extras.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection (Lionsgate, $99.98). Nicely boxed collection of the original fighting-turtles show.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com. including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.