People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
  2009 Holiday Gift Guide
I pride myself on being a pretty good gift-giver, so when the powers that be suggested doing a holiday gift guide, I was on it like white on rice. And I’ll take any excuse I can get to write about great movies and TV shows. If you’re seeking gift ideas for the movie or TV geek in your life, look no further.

The Unit: The Complete Series
This year saw the unfortunate demise of one of my favorite shows on TV, the military action/drama The Unit, which CBS cancelled after four seasons. The show was the brainchild of playwright/filmmaker David Mamet and Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield (of which I’ve only seen the first two or three seasons, but it’s an above-average cop show), and based on special forces veteran Eric L. Haney’s memoir, Inside Delta Force. The show follows the Unit, a squad of U.S. special forces soldiers, led by Jonas Blaine (Dennis Haysbert), one of the most badass TV characters I have ever seen. The Unit, unlike 24, is very much set in the real world, and while it’s a show about the military, it makes a point of not being political. The writing is top notch (Mamet himself wrote several episodes, all of which are among the series best), the acting is excellent (Scott Foley, formerly od Felicity fame, is awesome. Who knew?), and the show is filled with insanely tense moments and cool action. The Unit is great TV, and as much as it sucks that it’s gone, we still got four awesome seasons out of it. If someone on your list is into military stuff, it really doesn not get any better than The Unit.

Gone With the Wind: Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)
I admit I’m not a huge fan of this movie – I find it overlong and boring – but there’s no denying its place in cinema history. So it’s great that Warner Bros. recently issued this gorgeous box set of what many still consider the greatest film of all time. The Blu-ray version has four discs (the standard DVD set is six; both are loaded with extas), and comes with a 52-page hardcover photo and art book, a reproduction of the original 1939 program, and a CD sampler, and all of it comes wrapped in a velvet box. As much as it’s not my thing, I acknowledge that I’m in the minority, and it’s never a bad thing when a movie as important beloved as Gone With the Wind gets a top-quality DVD or Blu-ray package. I almost bought this one in the store a few times, and I don’t even really care for this movie.

The Wizard of Oz: Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)
Another classic film I don’t care for (I actually really, really dislike it, but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this post), Warners again came through with an absolutely killer package for the debut of The Wizard of Oz in high-definition. As with Gone With the Wind, as much as I’m not into it, it’s one of the most important movies ever made, and it’s beloved by millions, and this box set, which includes a watch(!), a 52-page commemorative book, a replica of the original movie budget(!!) and a Blu-ray-exclusive singalong feature (among tons of other stuff), may be considered overdue by some fans, but it looks like it wa worth the wait.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Limited Edition Collector's Set (Blu-ray)
I’ve mentioned previously how much I enjoy animation in hi-def, and while I haven’t seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray myself, I can only imagine how incredible it looks. When it comes to fancy special-edition DVDs (and now Blu-rays), not too many studios do it better than Disney, and this looks like one of the most impressive home video releases they’ve ever done. Whether it’s for an older fan of this classic film (Disney’s first feature-length animated movie, released in 1937) or for someone too young to remember 2D animation, you really can’t go wrong with this beautiful set.

Transformers: The Complete Series/G.I. Joe: The Complete Series
I recently reviewed both of these stellar box sets of the respective classic ‘80s cartoons (read me relive my childhood here and here), and while neither show has aged all that well – which is actually part of the appeal for the nostalgia geeks these collections are aimed, and I certainly count myself among them – these are excellent sets with some really spectacular extras. If there’s someone on your list who grew up with either of these shows (most likely both), both of these great packages come highly recommended.

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut
Okay, I admit, this one’s included just because I love this movie (and wouldn’t mind receiving this set myself on Blu-ray, anybody who’s reading this who knows me, hint hint). Normally I hate double-dip DVD collections – this marks the third DVD/Blu-ray version of Watchmen following the simultaneous theatrical and director’s cut discs released earlier this year – but this is about as comprehensive a version of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the groundbreaking Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel as we’re likely to get. Included is a new, even longer cut of the movie that includes footage from the animated pirate story/comic-within-a-comic Tales of the Black Freighter (previously released as a standalone, direct-to-DVD short), among other changes, and the set also includes the Under the Hood fake documentary (originally included on the Black Freighter DVD) and Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic animated experiment, which is great, I guess, if you hate reading that much (I kid; it’s actually pretty cool). In the final analysis, I’m not sure if I’ll dig this version more than the director’s cut (which I far prefer to the theatrical cut), but as a Watchmen fan, I’m just happy this exists. A perfect gift for the more discerning geek on your list.

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