10 home-video releases to give for the holidays.
NEW YORK -- Are you worried there will be nothing to look at once the holiday decorations come down?
Here, in no particular order, is a list of 10 home-video goodies to fill the gap. They may not fit so well in loved ones' stockings, but they'll look just great on a video screen. (More good news: All can be purchased online and are typically available for less than the suggested list price provided here.)
"Batman: The Complete Television Series.'' (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. DVD, $199.70; Blu-Ray, $269.97.) In the later films, Batman was the Dark Knight. "I'm the Bright Knight,'' says Adam West, who starred as Batman (alongside Burt Ward as Robin) in this campy, cartoonish romp that aired for three seasons on ABC in the early 1960s. The set includes all 120 episodes completely remastered and featuring guest stars including Julie Newmar, Liberace, Vincent Price, Bruce Lee and Frank Gorshin in its first home video release.
"Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series.'' (Shout! Factory. $199.99.) Before "Mad Men'' and "Breaking Bad,'' before "The Sopranos'' and "Lost,'' before any viewer dreamed of a new Golden Age of TV Drama, the seeds were planted and blossomed as "Hill Street Blues.'' Boasting serial narratives, tragicomic tales and a brilliant ensemble, it aired from 1981-87, reaping 26 Emmys and paving the way for the great dramas we've been watching ever since. Now all 144 episodes are available in a 34-DVD set telling the full saga of a racially torn, crime-ridden precinct of an urban metropolis where it's always smart to "be careful out there.''
"Downton Abbey - Seasons 1-4.'' (PBS Distribution. DVD, $99.99; Blu-ray, $109.99.) The perfect warm-up for Season 5 of this grand soap opera returning to the air in January. Following the Crawley family and their servants from pre-war England through the storms of World War I and into the social upheaval of England in the 1920s, the lavish episodes -- a dozen discs' worth -- feature a cast led by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith.
"The Jeffersons: The Complete Series, Deee-luxe Edition.'' (Shout! Factory. $229.99.) This was the sitcom story of the American Dream, as lived by George Jefferson, a dry-cleaning magnate who moved on up from humble Queens beginnings to a deee-luxe apartment in the Manhattan sky. Starring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as his take-no-guff wife, it aired for 11 seasons from 1975-85. Here are all 253 episodes in 33 DVDs. You want that on a hanger?
"The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.'' (PBS Distribution. DVD, $99.99; Blu-ray, $129.99.) In its seven parts and 14 hours, Ken Burns' triple profile spans a century from Theodore Roosevelt's birth in 1858 through the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the passing of his widow, Eleanor, in 1962, at age 78. Not only are these three lives intertwined, but also, as Burns' magnificent portrayal demonstrates, they are inseparable from the history of the early 1900s.
"The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years, 1951-1955.'' (Shout! Factory. DVD, $69.97.) Return to the formative days of TV comedy with this beloved star who preferred to be known simply as a clown. Skelton was on weekly television through 1971, but this set compiles 90 episodes from his earliest era, many of which have never been seen since their original airing. Skelton's characters include Clem Kadiddlehopper, Cauliflower McPugg and Freddie The Freeloader, as well as himself as a master pantomimist.
"Sherlock: The Complete Seasons 1-3.'' (BBC Home Entertainment. Blu-ray and DVD, $197.50.) This is the much-acclaimed contemporary Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the timeless sleuth and Martin Freeman as his Watson in all three seasons in a 14-disc set. This limited-edition collection also includes bonus video content and commemorative busts of Watson and Holmes.
"The Sopranos: The Complete Series.'' (HBO. Blu-ray, $279.98.) The full series, all six seasons, all 86 episodes, are now available in Blu-ray in 28 discs. Savor this slice of family life, including the final blackout that "Sopranos'' fans still argue about -- now in Blu-ray fidelity!
"Agatha Christie's 'Poirot' Complete Cases Collection.'' (Acorn. DVD, $349.99; Blu-ray, $399.99.) After a quarter-century run, Detective Poirot's final episodes premiered this summer. As played by David Suchet, Poirot has come face-to-face with characters played by rising stars including Emily Blunt, Damian Lewis, Jessica Chastain and Hugh Bonneville. Revisit his cases in these 70 remastered episodes.
"Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series.'' (Shout! Factory. Blu-ray, $149.99.) This was always a show too cool and delightfully subversive for the kids it was nominally created for. With perhaps the best portrait of unfettered boyhood since Tom Sawyer, Paul Reubens is back in all 45 "Playhouse'' episodes, plus "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special,'' remastered in hi-def. Also on hand are Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne), Reba the Mail Lady (S. Epatha Merkerson), Captain Carl (Phil Hartman) and other Playhouse pals including Magic Screen, Globey and Jambi the Genie. Mecka-lecka hi, mecka-hiney ho!