Welcome to the TVWW Holiday Shop, 2015!

Here, for your holiday shopping ease, is a collection of new and classic TV shows on DVD for all interests, all of them guaranteed to please, so long as you match the right gift to the right person. That’s your job. Presenting high-quality options, that’s ours.

If you buy from Amazon after clicking directly from this list, TV WORTH WATCHING gets a small (but, to us, invaluable) percentage of each sale, on the selected DVDs and anything else ordered during that visit.

If you like TV WORTH WATCHING, it’s a way to send two, two, two gifts in one.  Costs you nothing more.  Helps us stay alive… 

Check back soon for more Holiday discounts!

-- David Bianculli

(Please note – Amazon pricing fluctuates before and after Black Friday, Christmas, Year End and Holiday Clearance sales. We may miss daily price changes and try to update frequently.)

Mad Men: The Complete Collection [Blu-ray and Digital HD]
Lionsgate Studios, 23 discs
$128.99  $99.99  $89.99

Maybe the best TV gift of the season, this is the milestone example which brings together all the elements of our new television age: a brilliant antihero scoundrel, novel-depth exploration of the cast of characters swirling around him, and a cultural exploration — in this case, the clashing optimism and distress of the 1960s backbeat. Along with Breaking Bad, Mad Men will live on as the signature series of our decade. Includes Matthew Weiner interviews, Mad Men Advertising Archives and more. —EG


1: DVD
Apple Corps., 1 disc

The Beatles continue to explore their catalog and find new, relevant ways to remaster and release their archives. This time it’s 1, the 2000 collection of their hits which reached #1 in the US or UK charts. 1’s extra here should be of keen interest to TVWW readers who are dedicated Beatle fans since it includes digitally edited and enhanced promo videos for each of the songs — some of which have long been thought of as the forefathers of today’s music video. [Also available in Blu-ray audio/video.] —EG

The Comeback: Limited Series (2015)
HBO Studios, 4 discs

Perhaps one of the smartest of the now well-worn territory of the “mockumentary,” Lisa Kudrow returned this year for another six episodes of The Comeback as mid-life star Valerie Cherish who submits herself to a round-the-clock film crew in an effort to restart her television career and get a Bravo reality series. This comeback of The Comeback is even more notable since it returned after the last season aired nine years ago on HBO. Kudrow is gifted, and a natural for the stream-of-consciousness improv style. —EG

Better Call Saul: Season One
Sony Pictures, 1 disc

If there were any doubts that Vince Gilligan had made a misstep by signing up and producing a prequel to Breaking Bad, Season One put them to rest immediately. There was fertile and original territory in this backstory of Walter White’s crook lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) turning from underdog attorney to wily defender of the Albuquerque criminal class. Plus, we get the return of the unmistakable world of Breaking Bad art direction and the return of everyone’s favorite cleaner, ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks.) —EG
Justified: The Complete Series
Sony Pictures, 19 discs
$77.95 $62.99

Readers are familiar with TVVW’s enthusiasm for this recently completed Peabody Award-winning series that began as an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard short story. Justified smartly created its own moral universe of shifty mobsters and corrupt politicians set in the hillbilly foothills of Kentucky. U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) dispensed a similarly outside-the-lines quick-draw justice. Justified was remarkable not only for its spry screenplays but maybe even more for the dialog – an uncanny channeling of Leonard’s trademark voice for the smart, quick and sarcastic — all delivered in the character’s Kentucky drawl. —EG

The Knick: Season 1
HBO Studios, 4 discs

Director Steven Soderbergh’s examination of medical progress at the turn of the 20th century in New York City is as revelatory as it is gruesome. Not for the squeamish, The Knick (fictional Knickerbocker Hospital) shows the wretched trial and error that gave birth to modern surgery techniques, all through the brilliant works of Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), who crashes his way through scientific breakthroughs and his own demonic cocaine addiction. Soderbergh’s mashup of historical set pieces, modern camera work and pulsing electronic soundtrack make the series one of television's true works of art. —EG

Indian Summers
PBS (DIRECT), 4 discs

For those looking for the successor of Downton Abbey’s stirring drama and lush art direction, this is it. This year’s Season One of Indian Summers is a stew of political and romantic intrigue as the ruling British class in India begins to confront the beginning of the end of colonial rule. —EG

Parenthood: The Complete Series
Universal Studios, 23 discs
$63.99 $59.96

One of the few happy by-products of the end of a beloved series is the subsequent release of that series in a complete DVD box set. With this collection covering all 103 episodes, NBC’s 2010-2015 drama series is there for the savoring, all over again or for the first time, with an eye on both comedy and drama in family dynamics. Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erica Christensen and Craig T. Nelson are among the stars. Family dramas don’t get much better than this. —DB

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child: Double Feature Collector’s Edition

NCircle Entertainment, 1 disc

Who is this creature with terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws?  He has knobbly knees, and turned-out toes and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.  His eyes are orange, his tongue is black and he has purple prickles all over his back. It's the Gruffalo! Never heard of it? The Gruffalo is the wonderful David and Goliath-like story by British writer, playwright and performer Julia Donaldson about a very creative little mouse who outwits his predators. Oscar nominated in 2010, the animated short was followed by The Gruffalo’s Child, included here. —MN

A Christmas Carol: The Concert
Newport Classic, 1 disc

This completely original 2013 PBS musical version of the Dickens novel is cleverly written and performed in front of a theater audience. It gives a lovingly crafted new performing perspective to the often-told story. We’re thinking this new adaptation could be a favorite for years to come. —TB

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Deluxe Edition
Warner Home Video,

It was weeks before Christmas and all through the ‘net,
Couch potatoes were worried by gifts yet to get.
So here is an answer that’s really a cinch,
Click the link that’s above and you’ll get The Grinch.
Spinning trumtookas and Cindy Lou Who,
Smiles and laughter are long overdue.
So bring it along on your movable feast
As you sit down to dine on the yummy roast beast. LD

A Charlie Brown Christmas: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Warner Home Video

Why wait for ABC to rerun this classic 1965 animated Christmas special? Give it to anyone with (or without) children, and you’ll be handing them a very handy holiday pick-me-up. Charles Schulz’s first TV special is remastered here and remains his, and TV’s, best. (Includes It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.) —DB

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways
RCS, 4 discs
$15.99 $11.18 $10.84

“Eight cities, eight episodes, eight songs.” Dave Grohl, formerly of Nirvana and now of Foo Fighters, concocted an absurdly ambitious concept for the group’s next album. Record each song in a different studio, in a different city – and don’t write the song until you get to that city, absorbing its culture while retelling the history of its local music scene. And he emerged not only with Sonic Highways the album, but Sonic Highways the HBO documentary series: eight episodes, each taking place in a different city as Grohl seeks out musicians, producers and musicologists, and ending with the song written in that city. —DB

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series [Blu-Ray]

HBO Home Video, 20 discs
$107.32 $89.95

Violent, profane and strangely addictive, this Prohibition gangster drama proved to be one of HBO’s most intriguing tales, thanks to its finely detailed cast of mercurial characters. Boardwalk Empire never won the awards The Sopranos did and it never drew the kind of audience numbers Game of Thrones did, and still does, and yet it remained one of TV’s most fascinating experiences. The production design benefits greatly from the Blu-Ray treatment — there are set pieces here as exquisite as anything you’ll find on the big screen. It’s the story that counts, though, and watching Boardwalk Empire is to be reminded how even unpleasant characters can cast a spell, if the writing and acting are good enough. —AS

The Great American Dream Machine (2015)
Entertainment One, 4 discs

I’ve been waiting for a collection of this groundbreaking 1971-72 PBS series to be released on home video for decades. Well, it took a while, but here it is: a 4-DVD compilation of perhaps the most varied variety show in TV history, complete with an enthusiastic essay by… me. Dream Machine made hay out of politics, social class, and gender, all with a grand mix of man-on-the-street interviews, short documentaries, scripted comedy, and so, so much else. Albert Brooks did short films here years before he did the same thing for Saturday Night Live – and look for Chevy Chase pre-SNL, as well as Charles Grodin, Penny Marshall and Dick Cavett. If you know nothing of this series, you should get it and dive in.  DB

Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season
HBO Studios, 2 discs
$19.96 $11.99

After Mike Judge’s ineffectual reprise of Beavis and Butthead, the creator of King of the Hill aimed his sights on a live action ensemble comedy set in the titular new economy circus, Silicon Valley. A very smart send-up of the follies of Internet company culture, the series revolves around the head of a tiny startup — an awkward genius who has an idea that might be worth hundreds of millions — if he can outwit the corporate vultures aligned against him. Silicon Valley is full of riotous fun with foul-mouthed nerds backing their way up the business ladder. —EG

[Season 2 available here.]

Game of Thrones: Season Five [Blu-Ray]

HBO Studios, 4 discs
$79.98 (Pre-order $39.99)

A gift certificate will have to do for now: This box set is not due to be released until March 15, 2016. What’s different this time is that HBO has chosen to make the season available on streaming video, in 1080p HD, on both iTunes and Amazon Prime. Game of Thrones fans looking for a collectible box will either have to settle for hard-to-find special edition single-season sets of the first three seasons, or else spring for the UK box of seasons 1-4 (multi-region Blu-Ray player required). What this means, of course, is that a deluxe multi-season Blu-Ray box set will be released in the US eventually, just not this holiday season. The best things come to those who wait. Oh, and the Lannisters send their regards. —AS

Law & Order: The Complete Series
Universal Studios, 104 discs

Sure, the sticker shock is steep, but it’s worth remembering that when Law & Order: The Complete Series first appeared in 2011, just four years ago, it retailed at $699.99. Watching Law & Order today is to be reminded of how a mainstream TV series can adapt to changing faces over time. Those stories “ripped from the headlines.” Law & Order coined that phrase like no other TV series before or since. There are better looking TV DVD box sets out there, but few that can hold your interest for as long. —AS

Portlandia: Season 5

Video Service Corp, 2 discs
$13.19 $12.69

Fans of Portlandia know this is an earthy-crunchy mash-up of fringe characters firmly rooted in Portland, Oregon — and also in their alt-culture self-righteousness. The Peabody award-winning series thrives on the duo pairings of SNL alum Fred Armisen and sidekick Carrie Brownstein, perhaps most notably their “Spyke and Iris” characters, a self-important couple dedicated to discovering only the most authentic and obscure before other hipsters do.  —EG

Fargo: Season One

Fox Home Entertainment, 4 discs $19.73 $14.99

One of the best new series of the past year, this FX continuation of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo is its own story, its own little universe, with its own characters – but somehow, fits perfectly with the humor, unpredictability and delightfully performed antics of the original film. Martin Freeman is great. Billy Bob Thornton is even better. —DB

Nip/Tuck: The Complete Series

Warner Home Video, 35 discs

This dark show about plastic surgery, created by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) was way ahead of its time when it aired on FX in 2003. The McNamara/Troy plastic surgery center is ripe with the most vain and complicated characters. Drs. Sean McNamara and Christian Troy (Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon) are the family man and playboy full of insecurities that plastic surgery can never change. But the pair deliver some of the most bizarre requests, mixing their bloody surgeries with campy humor. —CK

Sons of Anarchy: Complete Series Gift Set
20th Century Fox, 30 discs Blu-Ray  $139.96

I caught an episode of this FX series during one of its gory shoot outs (OK, so that's almost every episode) but I am grateful someone begged and convinced me to watch this crime drama from the beginning. Built around a motorcycle club, by the middle of the first season, you see exactly where the show is going.  The series is less about the violence and delightfully more about the personal family dynamics between the club’s brutal yet somehow lovable characters — who have the most endearing bonds that can distract and destroy. (Includes pine box, collector’s photo book, “Making Of”, deleted scenes, more.) —CK

House of Cards: Season 1
Media Rights Capital, Blu-Ray, 4 discs

Season 1 of this Netflix series set in Washington, D.C. nails it with this original political drama. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) are wickedly engaging and this low-down pair that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "power couple" while protecting their turf. Every time I became slightly bothered by some of the unbelievable story lines,  a real news headline would take over the 24-hour news cycle, reminding me that there really are people involved in elaborate exercises of manipulation and ruthlessness. This is what makes this series such a gem. You feel like a very entertained political insider.  —CK

Season 2 avaiable here -- Season 3, here.

Breaking Bad: The Complete Series Boxed Set

Sony Pictures, 16 discs

The Breaking Bad complete series is now in an affordable boxed set with tons of special features from all seasons, including a two-hour documentary. This is an essential collection for those who want to return to total immersion into one of the great series of our time — the tale of a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher turned crime kingpin after getting a terminal cancer diagnosis. —EG

Olive Kitteridge
HBO Studios, 2 discs

This particular treasure deserves a spot in a solid home-video library. Frances McDormand stars in the title role, playing an acerbic, intelligent, often depressed woman over a period of decades. This four-part 2014 miniseries, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, features Richard Jenkins as Olive’s husband, and Bill Murray as an acquaintance she meets later in life. Lisa Cholodenko directs. On sale at Amazon. —DB

The Fugitive: The Complete Series (2015)
Paramount, 32 discs
$79.99 $46.42

This is the complete collection of a classic television series that held the single-episode record for viewers of its 1967 series finale until Dallas broke that record in 1980. The story of a doctor falsely accused and convicted of killing his wife, The Fugitive followed Richard Kimball as he went on the road each week under a new alias, hunting the real killer. The series had perhaps some of the most evocative black and white cinematography on television when it switched to color for its final ’66-’67 season. —EG

Six Feet Under: The Complete Series
HBO Video, 24 discs

HBO Video replaced its lavish gift box with this slimmer set, minus the two soundtrack CDs and the superior packaging. But all five seasons are here, of a series that captivates, challenges and entertains from beginning to end – especially the end. What a series finale. And what a joy to see so many cast members who have gone on to other great things: Peter Krause in Parenthood, Michael C. Hall in Dexter, Frances Conroy in American Horror Story, and Richard Jenkins in movies, just for starters. And series creator Alan Ball, of course, went on to True Blood. So clearly, there is life after Six Feet Under, but what a joy this HBO series was, a show that confronted death while celebrating life, from the unlikely setting of a family-run funeral home. —DB

The Saint: The Complete Series (2015)
Shout! Factory, 33 discs
$111.63 $109.65

The Saint, along with another ‘60s import spy series, The Avengers, introduced American broadcast audiences to the wit and eccentricity of British drama and humor on a weekly basis. Roger Moore (who would later assume the James Bond mantle in the ‘70s) starred as handsome rake Simon Templar, the epitome of sophistication and danger cool. Moore broke the fourth wall each week, speaking directly to the audience, and then was crowned by his signature animated halo before the opening credits rolled.  —EG

True Detective: Season One
HBO Studios, 3 discs

This dark tale of a search for a ritual killer by two polar opposite detectives expanded television boundaries with all ten episodes written by series creator Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. With Woody Harrelson and co-starring Matthew McConaughey, who gets the feature role of bleak existentialist Rust Cohle, who has an uncanny skill to get the truth out of the most unwilling suspects. Maybe one of the most comprehensive dramatic visions to come along, the set includes cast interviews, audio commentaries, deleted scenes and more. —EG

X-Files: The Collector’s Set [Blu-Ray]
21st Century Fox, 55 discs
$299.99 PRE-ORDER $269.98

Do you want to believe? It’s been a while but a complete collection of Mulder and Scully’s adventures as investigators of the paranormal is finally out there. And in HD, too. The last new episode aired in May 2002, so it’s been a long wait for X-Files believers. The wait looks to have been worth it, though, with all 208 episodes spread over 55 discs, together with DVD extras like deleted scenes, audio commentary by creator Chris Carter and features explaining what the truth was exactly, and what exactly the deal was with that black oil and all those so-called “super soldiers.” A gold mine for those looking for total immersion in this series that is returning for a special event run in 2016.  —AS

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey [Blu-ray]

20th Century Fox, 4 discs
$28.38 $19.99

Rebooting the original Carl Sagan PBS series, this 2014 version, with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, brings glorious state-of-the-art CGI to explore all the lessons of the universe. Segments illustrating historical moments in scientific discovery are done in animation by Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy team. Don’t let that association mislead you — the sober-minded animated segments are critical to the clarity and success of the series, as is Tyson’s obvious passion for his subject. A great gift for anyone in the family.  EG

Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection Remastered

BBC Home Entertainment, 3 discs

After Monty Python's Flying Circus ended, John Cleese went on to star in this 1975 sitcom about Basil Fawlty, an obnoxious hotel manager at the center of all kinds of madcap farce. Words really don't do justice to Cleese's brand of physical comedy, his own Python sketch about “The Ministry of Silly Walks” being a prime example. Fawlty’s often paired against his wife and more often, against his incompetent Spanish waiter, Manuel (Andrew Sachs), who torments him to no end with his bungling and mangling of the English language. With both six-episode seasons, commentary from Cleese, extended cast interviews and outtakes. EG

Simon and Garfunkel -- The Concert in Central Park
Columbia Europe, 1 discs

The 1981 reunion of the two singers in New York’s Central Park was (this time the adjective is justified) electric. Combined with the record-breaking audience of a reported half-million people, it made my hair stand on end (or was that my Garfunkel emulation?). This is a great present for the Boomer in your life. —TB

Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home

A La Carte Studios, 4 discs

Julia Child all but invented televised cooking. Jacques Pepin is considered the dean of American chefs by many, and he continues what she began many years ago by bringing understandability, fun and non-intimidating methods to those who love to cook -- as well as those who love to watch those who love to cook. This late '90s pairing produced an eminently watchable PBS classic. They have fun, they disagree (white versus black pepper is a continuing issue), they drink wine happily at the end (once there was beer). And most importantly, they give viewers the chance to watch great food being made. (Includes 10 hours, 22 Episodes and over 85 recipes.)  —TB

The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset
Lions Gate, 16 discs

This TV classic British spy import is a natural companion to The Saint. It’s a hard-to-find compilation of Avengers episodes from 1965-1968 featuring Diana Rigg’s three seasons as Emma Peel, who played opposite the late Patrick Macnee’s John Steed as secret agents uncovering dastardly plots against Her Majesty’s government. The set includes 51 episodes in all, spread over 16 discs. It begins with Rigg’s early black-and-white episodes and concludes with the decidedly wacky, later color episodes. In Rigg’s final episode, Mrs. Peel was reunited with her presumed dead and never-seen husband Mr. Peel, and Linda Thorson’s Tara King took over as Steed’s sidekick. The Avengers would last just one more season, which makes this set all the more collectible. —AS

Sherlock: Season One
BBC Home Entertainment, 2 discs $24.96

The 2010 Holmes-Watson reboot, Sherlock, lands the two together in modern London with the Internet and cell phones as the sleuthing tools of the day. This BBC series has been one of the most popular of recent US imports and it’s easy to understand why: from the bold reworking of the original stories to solid performances by Martin Freeman (who recently starred in the FX adaptation of Fargo) as Dr. Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, the new Sherlock is a must-see for loyal fans of the original works. Season One is on sale at Amazon at 30% off, Seasons Two and Three at 25%. —EG

The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series (2015)

Mill Creek Entertainment, 9 discs
$19.69 $17.49

You aren’t going to find better deals than this newly repackaged release of Garry Shandling’s hilarious, impressively influential HBO comedy show. All 89 episodes, spread over nine discs, for under $20. That’s crazy cheap. And this series, which ran on HBO from 1992-98, is crazy good. You get the lead troika of Shandling as neurotic TV talk host Larry Sanders, Rip Torn as his always-simmering producer, and the recently Emmy-awarded Jeffrey Tambor as Larry’s neurotic TV sidekick — and Shandling’s skewering of the talk-show world that is as observant and honest as it is biting and hysterical.  DB
Starlight Vista, 26 discs

Finally, one of the most requested DVD titles has been released: The Wonder Years. The musical elements were a seminal part of the series, and the music rights, for home-video release, proved too complicated and expensive to acquire. But the problem has been overcome and the vast majority, more than 100 of the 115 episodes, are presented with the songs intact. That’s fabulous news. And the even more fabulous news is The Wonder Years holds up beautifully in every way and hasn’t dated at all. The music, the tone, the message and the nostalgia: Everything remains pitch-perfect.  —DB

Anyone who loved Seth Rogen in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up will be just as delighted by this one-season NBC wonder, a high-school comedy-drama created by Paul Feig, with Apatow as a writer-producer and Rogen as one of the high schoolers. Shout! Factory did a great job with this 2004 video release – and giving it as a gift is a way to find it even more grateful fans. —DB

Action: The Complete Series (2014)
Mill Creek Entertainment, 1 disc

Chris Thompson, who had written for The Larry Sanders Show, created this other sly send-up of show business, this time a short-lived (13 episodes) 1999-2000 Fox series about a sarcastic Hollywood studio executive named Peter Dragon. Jay Mohr stars, and plays Dragon with a delicious mix of aggression and exasperation. Illeana Douglas plays his assistant, and guest stars include Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Salma Hayek and Buddy Hackett. Action has no laugh track, and plays more like a series of sharp satirical mini-movies. —DB

Trumbo (2007)
Magnolia Home Entertainment, 1 disc
$10.25 $9.99

As Bryan Cranston stars this year in the new feature on the true story of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, it’s a very good idea to revisit the 2007 documentary, written by his son Christopher. The film recounts Trumbo’s fall as one of the most renowned writers of his day (and U.S. Communist Party member) to an unwilling political activist who eventually served time in 1950 for refusing to testify while in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Trumbo spent the next ten years writing scripts under pseudonyms and received two Academy Awards (one posthumously) for screenplays he had to write while exiled from Hollywood. —EG

The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns: 25th Anniversary Edition
PBS (DIRECT), 6 discs
$59.19 $55.00

The landmark 1990 documentary miniseries by Ken Burns has been restored and enhanced [Blu-ray] for its silver anniversary this year. The Civil War put Burns and his company on the map (on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line) and it's maybe the essential documentary for a video library as it forever changed the game for historical storytelling. (Includes over two hours of bonus video.) —DB

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
PBS Video, 7 discs
$46.77 $39.96

This Ken Burns documentary is being offered by Amazon at a 50 percent discount – and since this 2014 joint biography of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt emerged as the venerable filmmaker’s best work to date, that’s a bargain indeed. If you didn’t see this, you should – and if you don’t get it as a gift for someone else, get one for yourself. —DB

The Singing Detective
BBC Video, three discs
$30.65 $27.99

You didn’t think I’d forget to suggest my favorite TV miniseries of all time, did you?  This British drama with music isn’t everyone’s cup of Earl Grey – but for Dennis Potter fans, or adventurous and thoughtful TV viewers, this is the ultimate. —DB

Forgotten by many, this 1955-59 sitcom is revered by some – including Larry David, who considers it TV’s funniest comedy, and by Britain’s Radio Times, which not too long ago voted the series the Number One sitcom of all time. Silvers plays a quick-thinking, quicker-talking sergeant running an Army motor pool. Great cast, great setups and deliveries, with the type of tight writing and hilariously uncomfortable situations that bring to mind Fawlty Towers and, yes, Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Now 50% off of last year's pricee from Shout! Factory. —DB

The Wire
: The Complete Series
HBO Studios, 23 discs
$73.98 $62.99

The Wire was created and written by former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon whose first book was adapted for the other great Baltimore crime series Homicide: Life on the Street. (Simon’s last series, Treme, wrapped up last year.) This gripping 2002-'08 series pulled no punches as it looked at the tragic spectrum of corruption not only in the drug trade, but in government, the media and unions. It was often hard to rank who would go lower to get what they wanted. The Wire should be part of any detective-crime library alongside True Detective and Breaking Bad. –EG

Carnivàle: Season 1 & 2

HBO Studios, 4 discs each
$29.99 $22.34 / $15.34

Nothing like the circus as a place for the unsettling and bizarre, as American Horror Story: Freak Show highlighted in all its gory glory. Carnivàle, the 2003-'05 HBO series, made the traveling big top even more compelling by setting it in the Dust Bowl era and making it the supernatural battleground between forces of good and evil. A rocking good way of exploring old-time American values, Carnivàle got five Emmys after its first season and had a great cast including Amy Madigan, Ralph Waite, Clancy Brown, Nick Stahl and Michael J. Anderson from Twin Peaks. One of the great cinematic TV efforts, the series got cut short after its second season. EG

When Things Were Rotten
CBS Home Entertainment, 2 discs $17.49

If you have a friend who’s a big Mel Brooks fan (and if not, why are they friends?), here’s a recently released treat: Mel Brooks’ very short-lived Robin Hood spoof from 1975. This TV series lasted only 13 episodes – and they’re all here, starring Dick Gautier as Robin, Dick Van Patten as Friar Tuck, and Misty Rowe as Maid Marian. Until now, this DVD release was one of the missing links in the Mel Brooks chain of outrageous comedy, so this compilation hits the bullseye.  —DB

The Point
BMG Video, 1 disc

Trust me, please: If you’re looking for a gift for a young child, or anyone with any vestiges of childhood left in them, this DVD release of the 1971 animated TV special, with music and story by Harry Nilsson, is perfect. This is where “Me and My Arrow” came from, and lots of other songs, images and punch lines I’ve never forgotten – and never want to. A children’s classic that’s a joy to watch with them. Or without them. And, this year, under $11. DB

Lonesome Dove (2-Disc Collector’s Edition)
Genius Entertainment, 2 discs

This 1989 epic is one of the last truly great miniseries and always a timeless gift for western fans. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones star in Larry McMurtry’s story of Texas Rangers past their prime – but still prime examples of fascinating characters. Duvall gives a career-best performance as Augustus McCrae, and Jones does likewise as fellow retired Texas Ranger Woodrow Call. In addition, the supporting cast standouts include Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Rick Schroder, Chris Cooper, and Steve Buscemi. Extras include a 6-hour director’s commentary and original on-set interviews. Special Amazon price at $12.99 DB

Naked City: The Complete Series
Image Entertainment, 29 discs
$60.23 $55.67

The 1958-'63 Naked City was perhaps the forefather of gritty police dramas to follow, like Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue that not only looked at the crime but also into the personal dramas of the detectives behind the investigations. The series had a guest star roster that would go on to be the top actors of our time including Robert Redford, Peter Falk, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Walter Matthau and many others. All 138 episodes included. —EG

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
BBC Video, 2 discs

Eons before the 2005 movie version, but after the original BBC Radio version, this 1981 miniseries presented a very low-budget, high-concept version of Douglas Adams’ fabulously inventive space oddity. It’s all here, from the talking galactic book guide to the deadly Vogon poetry. This set is five years old now, but a real bargain – and, for Adams-come-latelies, a real eye-opener. —DB


The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection
Image Entertainment, 28 discs (DVD), 24 discs
$146.99 $136.99 $134.99

(Blu-ray) $217.98, 24 Discs
$189.99 $170.99

The Writers Guild of America voted The Twilight Zone Number 3 on its list of all-time best-written TV series, right behind the much more modern The Sopranos and Seinfeld. For a series that launched in 1959 to rank so highly on the list hints at just how good Rod Serling’s superlative TV anthology series really is. And this is a superlative package, with all 156 episodes and an ark-sized raft of extras, including tons of commentary and the original unaired pilot. You'll be stunned by the transfer quality as well as the venerable TZ content. Only a few TV series from the medium’s Golden Age remain a core part of our common cultural heritage, but The Twilight Zone manages to capture the imagination of each new generation of viewers. Also available on Blu-Ray. —DB