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A MOUNTAIN OF DVDS REQUIRES A SHERPA.

Byline: Rob Lowman Entertainment Editor

We won't bore you with the statistics. As you well know, there is a DVD explosion. Suffice it to say, sales are going through the roof, and companies are releasing discs of everything that has ever been filmed, including those home movies your dad took of you at your 10th birthday party.

Since I write a weekly column, I'll try to make your holiday shopping a bit easier by offering some gift suggestions. Some sure-fire stocking stuffers aren't out yet but the release dates are noted. I did not include music DVDs, of which there are thousands, but will try to spotlight them in a future column.

ON DECK

``The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King'' (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition) (New Line; $39.99, Dec. 14). This five-disc set includes a new version of the Oscar-winning third ``Ring'' installment, with 50 minutes of never-before-seen footage incorporated into the film, making it about 250 minutes. There is also all kinds of commentary from everyone involved and features on the production.

``Spider-Man 2'' (Columbia; $29.96, Nov. 30). This two-disc set of perhaps the best-ever comic-to-film translation includes commentary by director Sam Raimi and the film's star, Tobey Maguire, plus behind-the-scenes features and a blooper reel.

``The Bourne Supremacy'' (Universal; $29.98, Dec. 7). The popular second film about Robert Ludlum's trained assassin (Matt Damon) has deleted scenes and a number of making-of featurettes.

``Sex and the City - Season Six, Part 2'' (HBO; $49.99, Dec. 28). This was the send-off for the popular and trendsetting cable series starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Extras include three never-before-seen alternate endings to the series finale, two farewell tributes, commentary and deleted scenes. ``Season Six, Part 1'' came out earlier this year ($49.99).

``24 - Season Three'' (Fox; $69.98, Dec. 7). The popular TV thriller got a little weirder but no less exciting last season. The seven discs include commentary and deleted scenes.

NEWER FILMS

``Shrek - The Story So Far'' (DreamWorks; $54.99). This four-disc set of the animated green giant includes both films plus ``Shrek 3D'' and ``Shrek: The Story So Far Bonus Disc,'' which is loaded with extras.

``Harry Potter - Years 1-3 Collection'' (Warner; $59.92). If you're looking for a gift set for those who haven't already bought any of the films (``Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,'' ``Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'' and ``Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban''), this collection includes all three two-disc sets. Or you can just get the recently released ``Azkaban'' for $29.95.

``Elf'' (New Line; $29.95) One of the few genuinely delightful holiday films released in a while. It includes commentary by director Jon Favreau and star Will Ferrell, deleted scenes, featurettes and games.

``Fahrenheit 9/11'' (Columbia; $28.95). Michael Moore's film didn't unseat President Bush, but it is still an interesting work. Extras include the documentary ``The Release of Fahrenheit 9/11,'' the ``Iraq, Pre-War'' featurette and other extras.

``Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'' (Universal; $29.90). Jim Carrey is terrific in this mind-blowing comedy. Disc includes a making-of documentary, a conversation with director Michel Gondry and Carrey, deleted scenes and a music video.

``The Passion of the Christ'' (Fox; $29.98). Critics flailed away at Mel Gibson's movie, but despite its flaws it also achieves some greatness.

``Kill Bill - Vol. 1'' and ``Kill Bill - Vol. 2'' (Miramax; $29.99 each). Quentin Tarantino's halved slice-and-dice epic is a triumph of pop flair that works better together.

``Mystic River - Special 3-Disc Edition'' (Warner; $39.98). Had ``Rings'' not been an Oscar shoo-in, Clint Eastwood's dark mystery would have been a contender. The set includes commentary by stars Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon, a featurette with cast and crew interviews, a making-of featurette and selections from ``The Charlie Rose Show.'' The film is also available with no extras for $27.95.

``Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Special Two-Disc Set'' (Fox; $39.90). Peter Weir's adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's historical fiction, starring an excellent Russell Crowe, is the other worthy best-picture candidate from last year. On two discs there are numerous extras, including commentary, deleted scenes, multi-angle studies of scenes, and art galleries.

``The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara'' (Sony Pictures Classics; $26.98). Errol Morris' Oscar-winning documentary is always timely. It contains 24 additional scenes and former defense secretary McNamara's lessons from his life in politics.

CLASSICS

``Star Wars Trilogy (Fox; $69.98). George Lucas went all out in the first DVD release of the first three films. Looks great, sounds great - worth it even if you aren't a Jedi.

``Fanny and Alexander'' (Criterion; $59.95 for the miniseries and $29.95 for the three-hour theatrical feature). Both editions include numerous extras.

``Short Cuts'' (Criterion; $39.95). Robert Altman's brilliant dystopian vision of Los Angeles includes a conversation with Altman and Tim Robbins, a full-length feature and other extras on two discs.

``Gone With the Wind Four Disc Collector's Edition'' (Warner; $39.92). There is plenty to watch on this grand edition of the 1939 epic, including commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer, a featurette on the restoration process, a 45-minute feature called ``Melanie Remembers: Olivia de Havilland Recalls 'Gone With the Wind,' '' documentaries on Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, a full-color reproduction of the original 22-page souvenir booklet that was sold from 1939-41 and other extras narrated by Christopher Plummer.

``The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection'' (Universal; $59.98). This is the better of the two Marx Brothers sets. It includes five movies - ``Duck Soup,'' ``Horse Feathers,'' ``Monkey Business,'' ``The Cocoanuts'' and ``Animal Crackers'' - and archival footage from the ``Today'' show with Groucho and Harpo Marx. On six discs plus a 40-page collectible booklet.

``The Marx Brothers Collection'' (Warner; $59.92). This set is notable for including ``A Night at the Opera.'' The other six films are of lesser note, but each has laughs. Extras include commentary by Leonard Maltin on ``A Night at the Opera''; commentary by Marx Brothers expert Glenn Mitchell on ``A Day at the Races''; three new documentaries of the brothers; and vintage shorts and cartoons.

``Dr. Strangelove - 40th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition'' (Columbia; $34.95). Stanley Kubrick's Cold War absurdist nightmare still resonates today. The two-disc set includes two documentaries, featurettes, interviews with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, and a scrapbook with original production photos and an essay written by Roger Ebert.

``The Ultimate Oliver Stone Collection'' (Warner; $129.92). Before the ``Alexander'' debacle, Stone made a lot of good films. Included on this set are ``Salvador,'' a special edition of ``Platoon'' and three documentaries, ``Wall Street,'' ``Talk Radio,'' ``Born on the Fourth of July,'' ``JFK,'' ``The Doors,'' ``Heaven & Earth,'' ``Natural Born Killers,'' ``Nixon,'' ``U Turn'' and ``Any Given Sunday,'' plus the documentary ``Oliver Stone's America.''

``That's Entertainment Trilogy Giftset'' (Warner; $49.92). This three- film set, which showcases film's musical golden age from the early '30s to the mid-'60s, has plenty of great stuff to sing about. A fourth disc contains three documentaries.

``Aladdin - Special Edition'' (Disney; $29.99). With Robin Williams as the Genie, ``Aladdin'' is one of Disney's best animated features. Extras include games and activities as well as four deleted songs.

``Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts With the New York Philharmonic'' (Kultur; $149.95). These concerts and talks by Bernstein are still a great way to learn about classical music. On nine discs.

``John Cassavetes: Seven and One-Fifth Films'' (Criterion; $124.95). With films like ``A Woman Under the Influence,'' this is a solid tribute to the maverick director.

Martin Scorsese Collection (Warner; $59.92). A decent collection from one of the world's great filmmakers. The set includes ``GoodFellas,'' ``After Hours,'' ``Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore'' ``Who's That Knocking at My Door?'' and ``Mean Streets.''

``The Film Noir Classic Collection'' (Warner; $49.92). ``Murder My Sweet,'' ``Gun Crazy,'' ``The Asphalt Jungle,'' ``The Set Up'' and ``Out of the Past'' make up a fine group of tough guys and molls. The titles are also available individually at $19.97 each.

``Field of Dreams - 15th Anniversary'' (Universal; $26.98). This film is a perennial for baseball fans and fathers and sons. It includes commentary by director Phil Robinson, remastered picture and sound, newly discovered deleted scenes, five featurettes and a 90-minute documentary. On two discs.

``The Chaplin Collection: Volume 2'' (Warner; $99.92). ``Volume 1'' came out last year, but this collection is nearly as good. Included on remastered discs are two of Charles Chaplin's most brilliant films, the luminous 1931 ``City Lights'' and the masterful dark comedy ``Monsieur Verdoux'' (1947).

``Schindler's List'' (Universal; $26.98). Released for the 10th anniversary of the Holocaust film, this edition includes the featurettes ``Voices From the List'' and ``Behind the Shoah Foundation With Steven Spielberg.''

TV BOX SETS

``Angels in America'' (HBO; $39.98). Mike Nichols' adaptation of Tony Kushner's brilliant play about the AIDS epidemic in the '80s is one of television's greatest achievements. On two discs.

``Seinfeld Limited Edition Gift Set'' (Seasons 1-3 with Original Script, Salt & Pepper Shakers and Playing Cards) (Columbia; $119.95). From the yada-yada-yada crowd comes one of the biggest TV-to-DVD highlights with lots of fun extras. Seasons ``1-2'' and ``3'' are available individually for $49.95 each.

``Arrested Development'' (Fox; $39.98). The discs for the Emmy-winning series - the most inventive network sitcom in years - includes 22 episodes plus an extended pilot, commentary tracks, a behind-the-scenes featurette and other features on three discs.

The Wire - The Complete First Season (Warner; $99.98). HBO's richly textured and gritty crime drama deserves more attention. The set includes all 13 episodes and commentary on five discs.

``Columbo - The Complete First Season'' (Universal; $58.98). Peter Falk's portrayal of the wily detective made him one of the greatest characters in TV history. The set includes the two original Columbo movies - ``Prescription: Murder'' and ``Ransom for a Dead Man'' as well as seven episodes on five discs.

``Alias - The Complete Third Season'' (Buena Vista; $69.99). The series from J.J. Abrams, who's directing the next ``Mission: Impossible'' and is the man behind ``Lost,'' gets a little bizarre but always stays entertaining. On six discs.

``Da Ali G Show - The Complete First Season'' (HBO; $29.95). Sasha Cohen, who plays Ali - a wannabe rap personality who does interviews with unsuspecting real-world figures like Donald Trump - does commentary on the two-disc set.

``The Office - The Complete Collection'' (First and Second Series Plus Special) (BBC; $59.92). You'll never look at your co-workers the same way again after watching the Golden Globe-winning comedy series created by Ricky Gervais, who also stars. The series had the good sense to limit itself to 12 episodes and a special.

CAPTION(S):

6 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) VIGGO MORTENSEN in ``The Lord of the Rings -- The Return of the King''

(2 -- color) JEFFREY TAMBOR, left, and JASON BATEMAN in ``Arrested Development''

(3 -- 6 -- color) no caption (DVD covers)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 28, 2004
Words:1830
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