Gifts that Entertain: DVDs, Books and More

From classic reissues as well as today’s critics’ picks, there’s a title for everyone on your list—and you can get them delivered right away!

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The Pallisers: 40th Anniversary Edition

The only thing better than reading Anthony Trollope’s six Victorian-era Palliser novels is watching this terrific cast bring them to life. A must-see in the seventies, the 26-episode PBS series stars Susan Hampshire as charismatic Lady Glencora, Philip Latham as her politician husband, Plantagenet Palliser, and such other formidable Brits as Derek Jacobi and Jeremy Irons. $45, buy it here.

Tales of the City: 20th Anniversary Edition

Before there was Sex & The City, there was Tales of the City—and the city was San Francisco. When naive midwesterner Mary Ann (Laura Linney, in the role that made her a star) impulsively decides to move there, her world expands to include the seventies counterculture and a memorable collection of neighbors. Look for Olympia Dukakis, another standout performer, in this six-part adaptation of Armistad Maupin’s novels. $32.18, buy it here.

The Fall

For the thriller lover on your list—Gillian Anderson returns to detecting, this time with a criminal who is definitely out there in a five-episode BBC series.  Anderson stars as a British detective called to Belfast to help snare a serial killer determined to outwit her (Jamie Dornan, just cast in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey).  Fans of The Good Wife will also find series favorite Archie Panjabi in the cast of this much-lauded, highly stylish psychological thriller. WARNING: Not for the faint hearted. $28.21, buy it here.

Weeds: The Complete Collection

Now that a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana—well, where’s the fun in that? We can always depend on Showtime’s award-winning Weeds. Focusing on a down and out mom (Mary-Louise Parker) who turns to dealing pot to support her suburban lifestyle, this smokin’ hot Blu-ray collection includes all eight seasons, spotlighting guest turns by the likes of Albert Brooks, Mary-Kate Olsen and Zooey Deschanel. $55, buy it here.

James Dean Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Film’s iconic outlaw only made three movies before his death in 1955 at the age of 24—and here they are, East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. This limited edition, six-disc set also includes three documentaries and a photo book (to say nothing of appearances by gorgeous Natalie Wood and Elizabeth Taylor and a slew of award-worthy performances). $72.49, buy it here.

Caught in the Act: Actors Acting

Photo improv! This page-turner asks an assortment of thespians to react to such scenarios as, “You’re a graduate student being highly praised by a professor for a thesis you plagiarized.” In this case, Thomas Haden Church’s expression says it all for photographer Howard Schatz in an impressive (and weighty) book that captures the instant talents of such stars as Jane Lynch, John Malkovich, Kathleen Turner and Robin Wright. $41, buy it here.

Bless This Table: Celebrity Family Recipes

What does Michael Buble crave when he gets home to Vancouver? Vegetable Risotto. Filled with such other down-home recipes as Melissa Manchester’s No Big Deal Big Deal Chicken and Celine Dion’s Fried Cauliflower, this cookbook also includes the stars’ prayers and memories—and a few pages to add your own family favorites. Part of the proceeds will go to feed the hungry in America. $30, buy it here.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series

Those with deep pockets will want to dig deep and buy the ultimate binge-viewing experience! Produced by Norman Lear, this mid-seventies soap parody starred Louise Lasser as fictional Fernwood, Ohio housewife Hartman, hilariously tortured by commercial images of domestic perfection. Among the series’ unforgettable players: Mary Kay Place (Big Love), who won a 1977 Emmy as singer Loretta Haggers, determined to make the country big time. $225, buy it here.

Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection

You can still watch it today, “dancin’ your cares away” on The Hub, but how much more fun for even your adult family to join such colorful Jim Henson creatures as Red Rooster and Traveling Man in blasting prejudices and carving personal identities. Bravo, Gobo—take us back to those raucous eighties days. Parents who watched the innovative series back then will truly savor sharing it with their tykes today. $120, buy it here.

Dexter: The Complete Series

Who doesn’t love the serial killer next door? For eight seasons, Dexter Morgan kept audiences glued to their seats as he took care of the bad guys in his own unique fashion. The perfect gift for the die-hard fan , this well executed psychological thriller will also delight new viewers. Make sure to catch John Lithgow’s incredible turn as the Trinity Killer by purchasing the complete series. $168, buy it here.

Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection

Children of the nineties will be awed (as in “Awesome!”) at the idea of a reunion with Zack, Slater, Kelly, Screech, Jessie, Lisa and even Mr. Belding. This classic series is still adored by legions, while timeless episodes like Jessie’s caffeine pill addiction have become part of the pop culture. Allow your favorite now-grownup kids to “wake up in the morning” with their favorite childhood pals by giving them this collection. $40, buy it here.

Boy Meets World: The Complete Collection

As viewers prepare for the planned spin-off, Girl Meets World, take a moment to remember where it all began and watch as Corey and Topanga’s love blossoms. Your young adult children probably learned almost as much from Mr. Feeny as Ben Savage did, so let them relive those lessons with this keepsake edition. $65, buy it here.

Beverly Hills 90210: The Complete Series

There are reasons this is the country’s sexiest zip code and those reasons are named Brandon, Dylan, Brenda and Kelly. For a decade this soapy drama kept audiences watching each sexy twist , while inspiring endless debates over which 30-year-old male actor, Luke Perry or Jason Priestly, was the hotter teen. A nostalgic gift for your thirty-something daughter—or her mother, who remembers it (and them) well. $184.31, buy it here.

Lifetime: 12 Films of Christmas

Nothing lifts our spirits like a Lifetime movie, especially one that comes with holiday lights and glitter. No matter what the plot—and you don’t have to guess, with a Lifetime title—there’s an emotional tug and dramatic décor in films like A Christmas Wedding, A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride and Recipe for a Perfect Christmas. Even better: At two dollars a disc, this set is priced low enough that you can play Secret Santa or Generous Aunt to a dozen friends and favorite nieces. $17.86, buy it here.

Major Crimes: The Complete First Season

Yes, yes, we all loved The Closer’s Brenda, and thought we couldn’t bear it when star Kyra Sedgwick’s departure brought the series to a close. But guess what? Captain Sharon Raydor’s (Mary McDonnell) elevation to department head combined all the joys and grumpy altercations of that series with a tough love, team approach to crime-solving in a spinoff that more than satisfies. This special edition includes featurettes, deletes scenes and —go, Provenza—a gag reel. $20.49, buy it here.

Despicable Me 2

Oh, Gru, you lovable monster you! The newly reformed family man is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to solve another heinous crime. That just might be easier than avoiding AVL agent Lucy’s wacky charms—and keeping his eldest daughter out of a suitor’s harming arms. Also included: Three mini-movies from those trouble-making (and seeking) minions. Buy it here. Even better, for boys of a certain age (say, five and up), head to Toys"R"Us for a separate package containing the Despicable 2 Fart Blaster, featuring different sounds and optional banana-scented farts. $20, buy it here.

Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

Going on toward a century of following that yellow brick road, and we can’t think of a movie to match it. Exploding in color and riotous premises, it also features the inimitable voice of Judy Garland.  Searching for the perfect gift for all ages? Just remember, there’s no place like home—or at least nothing like lasting friendships. $70, buy it here.

Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Complete Seasons 1,2, & 3 Set

They may be knocking everybody off, but we still love our British gentry. First, gift wrap the hottest foreign series since Upstairs, Downstairs. $53, buy it here. Then add a special Downton ornament and/or pieces from the series’ jewelry collection, and you’ll be as stylish as the Dowager Countess. Check them out at ShopPBS.org/DowntonGifts.

Rockabye Baby! Lullaby CDs

Get that hipster toddler on your list to go to sleep with Rockabye Baby’s clever translations of the music their parents love. If not—well, it’s a step up from the sugary songs of yore. Renditions of songs from Kanye West, Elton John, Gunes 'N Roses and Michael Jackson will get your a diapered tyke rockin' away. From $12, buy them here.

Next: Books for Food Lovers

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First Published Mon, 2013-12-09 11:53

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