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DVD collections fit for the holidays

By Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee –

Are you trying to find just the right gift because last year’s coupon for the Chocolate-Covered-Meat of the Month Club was a flop? Skip the traditional tie, toy or candy, and consider the one gift that keeps on entertaining (without adding pounds): A DVD set.

There’s a wide variety from which to choose this holiday season. The following is a list of DVD sets you can pick up in stores or online. The suggested retail prices are listed, but the actual cost may be lower.

—“Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection” ($299.99): When it comes to action movies, Bond films leave you shaken and stirred.

This set includes all 22 James Bond films from “Dr. No” to “Quantum of Solace.” There’s even a slot for the latest Bond thriller, “Skyfall,” when it is released on DVD next year.

Nine of the Bond films — including “Goldeneye,” “A View to a Kill” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” — have never been released on Blu-ray.

—“Doctor Who: Limited Edition Gift Set” ($249.95): You don’t have to own a Tardis to travel through time to buy the complete seasons of the latest incarnations of the long-running science-fiction series. Included are six seasons featuring Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith as the Doctor.

Along with 70 hours of programming, there are three specials, three original art cards, a 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver and the comic, “Doctor Who at Comic Con.”

—“Lawrence of Arabia” ($95.99): This special edition of the David Lean film marks the 50th anniversary. Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif star in the film that won seven Academy Awards, including a Best Director Oscar for Lean and Best Picture.

The director’s cut has been restored from the original negative.

—“Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season” ($99.97): Fans of the brilliant and brutal HBO series can pick up the entire freshman season in this set that includes a Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy. There’s also a bonus disc that looks at the first episode of season two.

It comes in a collector’s box that features the sigils of the four main houses and a dragon egg paperweight.

—“Friends: The Complete Series” ($279.98): What better gift to give a friend than all 236 episodes of the NBC comedy featuring the lives and loves of Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel? Besides the more than 110 hours of the series, there’s an additional three hours of bonus features.

To make it easier to sort through the 21 Blu-ray discs, a 32-page episode guide is included.

—“The Fugitive: Most Wanted Edition The Complete Series” ($226.99): This series is worth owning because it has one of the best endings in TV history. After 120 episodes of watching Dr. Richard Kimble run for his life after being accused of murdering his wife, the series ends with the real killer — the one-armed man — being caught.

David Janssen and Barry Morse turn in outstanding performances.

—“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection” ($99.98): Cowabunga! It’s a totally tubular 23-disc set featuring all 10 seasons of the original animated series about four turtles who become the crime fighters Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

As if that wasn’t enough for all the “Turtle” fans, the set comes in a plastic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” party van.

—“Desperate Housewives: Complete Collection” ($149.87): For eight seasons, residents of Wisteria Lane faced more life, death, lost love, found love, twisted plots and creepy characters than a full year of a daytime soap. You can catch up on all the antics of the housewives through this 46-disc set of all 179 episodes.

True fans will recognize the discs come in a replica of Mary Alice’s infamous steamer trunk.

—“The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy” ($89.93): Mel Brooks is best known for directing the feature films “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles.” But there’s a lot more to his comedy career.

The new release includes five DVDs and one CD containing interviews, film clips and archival television footage from throughout his career. In addition, there’s a 60-page book featuring vintage photos and program notes.

The first 300 customers to order directly from will receive a copy autographed by Brooks.

—“Entourage: The Complete Series” ($249.99): Doug Ellin created this cable series based on his friendship with Mark Wahlberg. It’s the often quirky look at the life of a rising film star (Adrian Grenier) and his three longtime buddies.

The set features all 96 episodes. If you want the complete series on Blu-ray, it costs $50 more.

—“Watchmen” ($74.98): When the film was originally released in 2009, it didn’t include the animated “Tales of the Black Freighter.” This new release includes that omitted material edited into director Zach Snyder’s original cut.

If that’s not reason enough to pick up the set, it also comes with a copy of the original graphic novel, the original theatrical cut and a 12-chapter motion comic.

—“Carol Burnett” ($295.95): The box set of 50 episodes of the long-running variety show has several of Burnett’s favorite skits, including “Went With the Win!,” a parody of “Gone With the Wind.” Guest stars include The Jackson 5, Steve Martin and Betty White.

There are 20 hours of bonus material.

—“Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection” ($119.99): The set includes the Quentin Tarantino directed movies “Inglorious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Jackie Brown,” “True Romance” and “Death Proof,” plus the feature “Quentin Tarantino: 20 Years of Filmmaking.”

—“JAG: The Complete Series” ($199): The set packages 10 seasons of the military legal drama starring David James Elliott and Catherine Bell with a bonus disc of interviews, a Challenge Coin, and a 40-page JAG manual. “NCIS” fans will want to pick up the set since this series is a spinoff of “Jag.”

“The Jagged Edge” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the series that aired from 1995-2005.

—“Mission Impossible: The Complete Television Series” ($359.99): This appears to be the most explosive set for the holidays — the 56-disc set comes in a package that looks like a massive stick of dynamite.

The series follows the adventures of the Impossible Missions Force on their secret spy missions around the globe. Included are all 171 episodes of the original series that aired in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, along with the two revival seasons in the late ‘80s.

—“All in the Family: The Complete Series” ($199.99): This series may seem tame by today’s standards, but when it was broadcast in the early 1970s it was the first show to push the boundaries of language and topics on TV. Creator Norman Lear’s groundbreaking work opened the door for many of the gritty and realistic dramas and comedies on the air today.

Included are the original and second “All in the Family” pilots.

—“Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park 100th Anniversary Collector’s Set” ($129.95): The 12-disc set has 26 hours of highlights for the team. They include the Carlton Fisk home run to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series and the 1986 ALCS Game 7 where the Red Sox clinched the American League pennant.

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