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Here’s my list of some of the better DVD/Blu-Ray gift options for 2014.

A warning: If you give one of these as a gift, and the person who gets it has actually read this article, he or she will know you cheated and aren’t at all original in your gift giving. But that’s OK … we all have our shortcomings.

The prices listed here are from Amazon.com as of the time of this writing (and for some reason, Amazon.com prices change ALL THE TIME, so consider yourself warned).


BLOCKBUSTER GOODNESS

Guardians of the Galaxy (Blu-ray) $19.99: One of the year’s better blockbusters is out on Blu-ray just in time for stocking-stuffing. Giving this one also provides a nice excuse for you to make somebody a mix tape.

Godzilla (Blu-ray) $14.99: At the beginning of the year, I said this was the film I most anxiously anticipated, and that if it were a bad movie, I would spiral into severe depression. As things turned out, I enjoyed it immensely, and I have a distinct spring in my step. The Blu-ray is cool, with some fun mock documentary stuff about Godzilla and behind-the-scenes items.

Edge of Tomorrow (Blu-Ray) $24.99: This was a blockbuster wannabe that fell a little flat at the box office. Tom Cruise’s character gets caught in a death loop and must die thousands of times—and the film is amazing. Give this one to that science-fiction-loving person who refused to plunk down the dough at the IMAX theater. They will love it, for sure.


FOR THOSE WHO ESCHEW CABLE AND MISS COOL STUFF ON TV

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Blu-ray) $83.81: Far and away, this is the best Blu-ray of the year. If somebody you know loves Peaks, get them this. When they open it, just throw your hands up like you scored a touchdown and start dancing.

One of the greatest TV shows ever made gets a spectacular treatment, full of archived features. You also get Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and the movie’s long-rumored deleted scenes. Yes, the movie would’ve been a little more fun had director David Lynch kept some of these in.

The show is coming back for season three in 2016, so this works as a nice primer for more things to come.

Family Ties: The Complete Series (DVD) $55.29: Alas, this classic series will probably never have a date with Blu-ray, meaning you will never see Justine Bateman’s Mallory Keaton in HD glory.

Batman: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) $174.96: Adam West and Burt Ward finally get their due on Blu-ray. I would suggest boycotting this, because the two fools skipped out on Reno Comic Con this year, but that would be unprofessional. If you feel like springing for another $400, get them the cool collectible dolls available over at sideshowtoys.com. There are some people on your list worth $700, right?

Fargo: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray): $29.96: I had my doubts about this one, but the Coen brothers movie’s TV-show offshoot, which stars Billy Bob Thornton, proved to be a worthwhile endeavor. The Blu-ray comes with audio commentaries, deleted scenes and making-of docs.


CULT GREATNESS

UHF (Blu-ray) $18.38: Shout Factory has grown into one of the cooler purveyors of cult-cinema home-viewing. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one and only foray into being a movie headliner was great satire in its day, and it’s still funny. Michael Richards kicked ass as Stanley the Janitor, and the “We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!” moment still kills me. You get a Weird Al commentary, his 2014 Comic Con panel, deleted scenes and more.

Eraserhead (Blu-ray) $26.49: What can bring on the holiday cheer quicker than an embalmed cow fetus crying for its mommy? Nothing whatsoever, I say! Gift this one along with the aforementioned Twin Peaks box set to give that special someone a joyous David Lynch geekgasm. It’s a Criterion Collection release, so that means it costs a little more than the average Blu-ray—but it’s totally worth it.

Snowpiercer (Blu-ray) $9.99: This came out this year, and it’s an instant cult classic. Yes, it’s an apocalypse film, but there’s lots of snow in it, so that qualifies it as a holiday movie, sort of. Even though this one is about the survival of the planet and contains some gross stuff, it’s no scarier than that freaking creepy The Polar Express animated movie.

Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go (Blu-ray) $18.74: The alleged last Python show ever was a little sloppy, but everybody still alive in the troupe is like 139 years old now, so we’ll cut them some slack. The five remaining Pythons were fun during this stretch of live performances in London, with big musical numbers and a surprisingly nimble Terry Gilliam, who jumped 10 feet off the ground during the Spanish Inquisition sketch.

Frank (Blu-ray) $12.99: Here’s another movie from 2014 that next to nobody saw, although it’s already garnered that instant-cult-classic badge. Michael Fassbender wears a big mask on his head the whole time, and the result is one of the year’s funniest movies. Give this to the music-lover who idolizes Syd Barrett.


GIVE THE GIFT OF GARBAGE TO SOMEONE YOU DESPISE

Blended (Blu-ray) $22.99: Remember when we used to gather ’round the TV in the living room around holiday time, ready for a good laugh? We’d have the fireplace going, and we’d pop in the latest Adam Sandler flick for chuckles. We’d roast candy canes, and smoke marshmallows, safe in the knowledge that Sandler would provide a couple of good gut-busters. Those days are so gone. Long gone. This movie is a crime against movies, people, dogs and various insects. Give it to somebody you can’t stand, and then run out of the house as soon as they unwrap it.


THE BOX SET I WANT THE MOST

Halloween: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray) $79.99: Hey, I’m not shy. This is probably my only chance to let folks know what I really want under the Christmas tree (over at their place, because I don’t have a Christmas tree). This puppy comes with all of the Halloween movies—even the ones Rob Zombie did—and a big load of extras. So … now you know. Would somebody buy this for me, please?

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

1. Neighbors (Universal)

2. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)

3. X-Men: Days of Future Past* (20th Century Fox)

4. Edge of Tomorrow* (Warner Bros.)

5. Godzilla (Warner Bros.)

6. Mr. Peabody and Sherman* (20th Century Fox)

7. Blended (Warner Bros.)

8. A Million Ways to Die in the West* (Universal)

9. Chef* (Universal)

10. Brick Mansions (20th Century Fox)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)

2. Neighbors* (Universal)

3. Godzilla (Warner Bros.)

4. Edge of Tomorrow* (Warner Bros.)

5. Million Dollar Arm (Disney)

6. Chef* (Universal)

7. A Million Ways to Die in the West* (Universal)

8. Blended (Warner Bros.)

9. The Fault in Our Stars (20th Century Fox)

10. Brick Mansions (20th Century Fox)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)

2. Neighbors* (Universal)

3. Chef* (Universal)

4. Godzilla* (Warner Bros.)

5. Blended (Warner Bros.)

6. The Fault in Our Stars* (20th Century Fox)

7. Third Person (Sony)

8. Brick Mansions (20th Century Fox)

9. Think Like a Man Too (Sony)

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Godzilla* (Warner Bros.)

2. Neighbors* (Universal)

3. Blended (Warner Bros.)

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

5. Brick Mansions* (20th Century Fox)

6. The Fault in Our Stars* (20th Century Fox)

7. Think Like a Man Too (Sony)

8. The Signal* (Universal)

9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

10. Moms' Night Out (Sony)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Godzilla* (Warner Bros.)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

3. Blended* (Warner Bros.)

4. Brick Mansions* (20th Century Fox)

5. The Fault in Our Stars* (20th Century Fox)

6. Think Like a Man Too (Sony)

7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

8. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox)

9. Moms' Night Out (Sony)

10. Draft Day (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Brick Mansions* (20th Century Fox)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney)

3. Blended* (Warner Bros.)

4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

5. Moms' Night Out (Sony)

6. Oculus (20th Century Fox)

7. Need for Speed (Touchstone)

8. Divergent (Lionsgate)

9. Draft Day (Lionsgate)

10. A Good Man (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Blended* (Warner Bros.)

2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

3. Oculus (20th Century Fox)

4. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox)

5. Need for Speed (Touchstone)

6. Draft Day (Lionsgate)

7. A Haunted House 2 (Universal)

8. Moms' Night Out (Sony)

9. Heaven Is for Real (Sony)

10. Divergent (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Blended* (Warner Bros.)

2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony)

3. The Other Woman (20th Century Fox)

4. Divergent (Lionsgate)

5. A Haunted House 2* (Universal)

6. Oculus (20th Century Fox)

7. Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return* (20th Century Fox)

8. The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate)

9. Rage (Image)

10. A Good Man (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

Doctor Who (Saturday, Aug. 23, BBC America), season premiere: The Only TV Column That Matters™ is glad to be rid of Matt Smith and his stupid hair—bring on the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Season … OK, series 8 of Doctor Who introduces a less warm-and-wacky Doctor: Capaldi’s incarnation is an all-business Time Lord who doesn’t care all that much for humans or niceties—my kinda guy. While the timey-wimey shakeup is intriguing, I’m more interested in the new BBC America series that follows …

Intruders (Saturday, Aug. 23, BBC America), series debut: This supernatural-murder-conspiracy-horror production from Glen Morgan (The X-Files) doesn’t have a breakout star like Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, but it does sport an even creepier premise than cloning: “A secret society devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others.” Yeesh. John Simm stars as an ex-Los Angeles cop with a nagging twinge of a British accent whose wife (Mira Sorvino) disappears after exhibiting strange behavior and awkward jazz dancing (uh oh—Black Box flashback). There’s also a little girl (Millie Brown) who flips between sympathetic and terrifying personalities, an assassin on a mission (James Frain), an outta-nowhere appearance from screen vet Robert Forster, and the feeling that Intruders isn’t going to start making sense until a few episodes in. You know, like Orphan Black.

True Blood (Sunday, Aug. 24, HBO), series finale: The sensational-to-sucktastic arc of True Blood goes like this: Season 1: Exciting newness! Sookie, Bill and a reasonable amount of characters to keep up with! Sexy times! Season 2: Godric! More sexy times! Season 3: Time for the werewolves to get some! Russell! Season 4: Uh … fairies? King Bill? Season 5: The Vampire Authority … Billith … fuuu … Season 6: The ejection of extraneous characters and bullshit begins! Probably too late! But here’s some sexy times! Season 7: Let’s win back the fans by killing off everybody they still love! Will True Blood truly end the way I’ve been wishing at least one brave series to conclude for years now—by snuffing out the entire cast? The Shield, The Sopranos, Rescue Me, Wilfred—they all blinked. To the True Death, Bon Temps!

Rising Star (Sunday, Aug. 24, ABC), season finale: The sub-CW ratings indicate that this will be a series finale as well. Rising Star is yet another karaoke competition that claims it will launch a superstar music career, even though these shows have proven themselves to be the Witness Protection Program of the entertainment business. But! Rising Star has a twist: The “judges” (Josh Groban, Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris) don’t have the final say—you do, ’Merica! Well, you would if you were watching, anyway. I’m no math surgeon, but if American Idol and The Voice, which are still viewed by tens of millions, can only produce obscurities for the state-fair circuit, then the “winner” of Rising Star will be buried near the Earth’s core, shot into space or employed as Kesha’s fluffer.

Legends (Wednesdays, TNT), new series: Most of the press around TNT’s new Legends refers to star Sean Bean’s propensity for screen deaths (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Family Guy, etc.), and little about how the producer of 24 and Homeland and Sean goddamned Bean ended up on a basic-cable FBI potboiler with a C-list cast and dialogue that actually includes lines like “trust no one” and “pulling this cowboy crap.” Still, the dumb-fun factor of watching Bean out-act everyone as a grizzled agent who’s been undercover for so long that he doesn’t know who he is anymore—another line sure to be uttered—can’t be denied.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 26!

Blended

After a terrible blind date, two single parents (Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler) and their kids end up sharing a vacation suite at an African safari resort and going through the same rom-com motions you’ve come to know and tolerate. (Warner Bros.)

Cat Run 2

Amateur detectives Anthony (Scott Mechlowicz) and Julian (Alphonso McAuley) return, this time unraveling a military murder case while, natch, trying to not get killed by a female ninja assassin (Winter Ave Zoli). If it ain’t broke … (Universal)

The League: Season 5

Andre’s wedding blows up; Ruxin quits the fantasy football league; Taco opens a Pubercuts salon; Kevin and Pete are generally useless; Jenny frets over no longer being able to give dogs boners; and Rafi and Dirty Randy get their own episode! (Released Sept. 2; Fox)

Sons of Anarchy: Season 6

Jax struggles to get SAMCRO back on the legit path (again), only to see more members and family killed (again). The season with the most violence, depravity and musical montages was also the highest-rated yet—coincidence, America? (Fox)

The Walking Dead: Season 4

Idyllic life inside the prison ends when the governor comes calling, forcing Team Rick back on the road, en route to alleged safe zone Terminus, which doesn’t sound very safe at all. They should make a comic book out of this. (Anchor Bay)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Aug. 26)

Bongo: Killer Clown, Criminal Minds: Season 9, The Double, Elementary: Season 2, Haven: Season 4, Jim Norton: American Degenerate, PMS Cop, Portlandia: Season 4, President Wolfman, Revenge: Season 3, Trust Me, Young and Beautiful.

Published in TV

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