It’s hard to believe, but this is the tenth annual PopCult gift guide, wherein your loyal bloggerly servant spends a few days devoting his blog to gift ideas for you to use to thrill, amaze and delight your loved ones, knowing full well that you won’t give him any credit for thinking up the perfect gift.
Yet, I do it anyway, because I care.
This year we’re doing six days of The PopCult Gift Guide. Day One is DVDs and Blu Rays. Tuesday you can expect cool toy suggestions. Wednesday we’re going to devote to music. Thursday it’s books and graphic novels. Friday’s PopCulteer will be the all-local edition of the Gift Guide. Saturday we wrap it up with the weird stuff.
Today, it’s all about the videos, so let’s kick it off.
Batman: The Complete Television Series
Well, of course this is at the top of the list. The once-reviled, now beloved 1966-68 Batman TV series comes to home video for the first time in any format! After years of legal stone-walling, all the interested parties have finally put aside their differences and the end result is this huge box set.
All 120 episodes of the show (with a few annoyingly unexplained edits), plus three hours of bonus features makes this a must-have set for any Bat-fan. The series is available in a variet of sets, ranging from single seasons on DVD to the mega-deluxe limited edition Blu-Ray, complete with a Hot Wheels Batmobile. You’ll be able to figure out how much money you want to sink into this treat.
Spartacus: The Complete Series
Camp did not die with the Batman TV show. This recent Starz Original series was packed with camp, but also had its fair share of “300” style violence and loads of nakedity. Still, it was a fun gladiator epic that never failed to entertain during its four-season run.
Though it did play a little fast-and-loose with history, you can still watch this series in between viewings of the HBO series Rome, and the classic Masterpiece Theater presentation, I Claudius, and then you’ll have a totally fictionalized version of what happened in Rome for about a hundred years surrounding the birth and death of Christ.
Now you can get the entire series in one package. Amazon even has a special edition with a statue of Andy Whitfield as Spartacus atop a specially-crafted storage box.
Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go
Taken from the recent reunion shows that happened last summer at the O2 Arena in London, this recording of what will likely be the final attempt at gathering all of the surviving Pythons in one place to perform together is simultaneously hilarious and depressing.
It’s hilarious because it’s Monty Python, and they have become a comedic language for generations of fans. Even when they blow their lines, actually, especially when they blow their lines, they have the audience in the palms of their hands. These are master comedians who wake up every morning and, before they brush their teeth, forget more about comedic writing and timing than Judd Apatow ever knew.
It’s depressing because they’re really, really old, and not aging particularly well. This is a comedy show that will, unintentionally, make you very aware of your own mortality.
Still, it’s Monty Python, so die-hard fans will have to have it.
Devilman Complete TV Series
This is a set for the Anime purist. All 39 episodes of Devilman, a 1972/1973 TV series are included in this set. Go Nagai’s pre-Mazinger Z Manga was first developed as this series. It’s a classic of the form, however, you should be aware that there is no English dub in this set, only English subtitles with the original Japanese audio.
In the story Devilman comes to Earth in order to cause the destruction of humanity by the demon world. Unfortunately for the demon world, Devilman takes on a young man’s body, and begins living with the Makimura family where he falls in love with Miki. The demon world then decides to send a new demon, every episode or so, with the intention of killing Miki to free Devilman from his distraction.
It’s an obscure, but historically-important work for the Anime fan on your shopping list.
Secrets of the Dead: Resurrecting Richard III
In this PBS DVD, Scientists examine the bones of a king known for being an evil tyrant. In 2011, a group of amateur historians made an incredible archaeological find: the bones of King Richard III, hunchbacked, with an arrow through the spine. Richard is thought of as the most evil king to have ruled England and also as a fearsome warrior, despite the extreme curvature of his spine.
Now, scientists are testing the bones to find out more about the king and also conducting fascinating experiments to determine whether Richard could have fought so ferociously in battle with such a severe deformity.This is a fascinating story and a very well-crafted documentary.
Robin Williams Remembered – Pioneers of Television
This one-hour special features highlights from Robin Williams’ last full-length television interview, tributes from those who knew and worked with him closely, and clips from iconic moments throughout his career. Williams shares stories about his first stand-up act, his desire to be a serious dramatic actor, and his efforts to entertain U.S. troops overseas. The program also includes an exclusive interview from Williams’ former Mork & Mindy co-star Pam Dawber.
Other celebrities and friends of the late actor interviewed include director Penny Marshall (Awakenings); actors Jonathan Winters (Mork & Mindy), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Yakov Smirnoff (Moscow on the Hudson); comedians Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmie Walker, Louie Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Rick Overton, Blake Clark, and Pauly Shore; and comedy producer George Schlatter.
Disney Mickey Mouse: Season 1
Disney proudly presents the award-winning first season of DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE. The whole family will adore these wonderful new cartoons, complete with an exciting “Making Of” bonus feature. Join Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Daisy and Pluto in a spectacular collection of hilarious animated adventures. Your favorite Disney pals find laughter, adventure and a little mischief as they team up for a whole lot of fun.
This batch of new Mickey Mouse cartoons actually tops the classic Disney cartoons in terms of fun and quality gags.
A Hard Day’s Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
It’s the first Beatles movie. It’s a masterpiece that’s been lovingly ripped-off by everyone from The Monkees to MTV to The Aquabats, and now it’s been restored once again and upgraded to 4K HD on a new combo Blu Ray/DVD by Criterion. You also get a 5.1 Surround mix by Giles Martin as well as a fully-restored mono audio track.
If you’re a Beatle fan, you need it. Just look at this list of bonus features:
This 3 Disc Box Set includes:
* Audio commentary featuring various members of the film’s cast and crew (dual-format only)
* In Their Own Voices, a new piece combining interviews with the Beatles from 1964 with behind-the-scenes footage and photos
* You Can’t Do That: The Making of A Hard Day’s Night, a 1994 documentary program by producer Walter Shenson
* Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Lester, music producer George Martin, writer Alun Owen & cinematographer Gilbert Taylor (dual-format only)
* New piece about Lester’s early work, featuring a new audio interview with the director (dual-format only)
* The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959), Lester’s Oscar-nominated short featuring Peter Sellers & Spike Milligan (dual-format only)
* Anatomy of a Style, a new piece on Lester’s approach to editing (dual-format only)
* New interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years (dual-format only)
* Deleted scene (dual-format only)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection (XXXI)
MST’ies and bowlers share an enduring love of turkeys. This latest collection of episodes from the cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 bowls a perfect game(four turkeys) as comic kingpins Joel, Mike and their robot teammates Tom Servo and Crow riff strike after strike. Not a single instance of bad acting, bad writing or bad filmmaking is spared.
This promises to be a Thanksgiving match for the ages and, needless to say, you will have a ball. Whether it’s ten frames or 24 per second, the snarky anarchy of MST3K will be right up your alley. As an added bonus this set contains new and exclusive Turkey Day intros by Joel Hodgson.
Titles Include: Jungle Goddess. The Painted Hills, The Screaming Skull and Squirm. This set is also available in a limited edition tin collector’s box.
Twilight Zone: The 5th Dimension (Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set)
The list price on this sucker is $350, but Amazon keeps putting it on special for $150, which is quite the bargain.
Rod Serling’s groundbreaking TWILIGHT ZONE Original Series and the classic 1980s Series are together for the first time in THE 5th DIMENSION. The 41-DVD set. This Numbered, Limited Edition boxset is a must-have for any fan of THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
Over 20 Hours of Bonus Features include a New documentary with never-before-seen interviews; the American Masters documentary: Rod Serling-Submitted For Your Approval; Numerous interviews with original cast and crew; Rare Rod Serling interviews, lectures and appearances; Dozens of audio commentaries; Original sponsor billboards; Isolated Music Scores; an 80-page Episode Guide and a Collectible Comic Book (with one of four possible comics).
That’s Day One of The 2014 PopCult Gift Guide. Tomorrow evening look for our picks for toys this year.