How can you not love holidays that celebrate, and even encourage, clashing colors, free-flowing adult beverages, and rampant fiscal irresponsibility? The herculean shopping marathons alone can be enough to bring a burly lumberjack to his sawdust-littered knees. Add in all the parties, Christmas cards, wrapping, cooking, eating, thank-you notes, and other miscellany that dot the holiday landscape and you can find yourself going from wassailing with joy to wailing in despair quicker than Santa dropping down a well-greased chimney.
So, what’s a reveler at the end of their rope to do? Why, buy some excellent television on BluRay/DVD and escape the yuletide madness for a while, that’s what. This list is in no particular order, just stuff I want you to buy me for Christmas. Feel free to get a copy for yourself while you’re at it.
#1 Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series
Those who know me won’t be surprised that I led off with the Doctor and his TARDIS. I’ve got a special bond with this show as it’s nearly as old as me and Peter Capaldi is only a couple of years older than I am. Us geezers gotta stick together.
Series 8 of Doctor Who saw a new Doctor whose personality harkened back to the classic years of a slightly colder, harsher Gallifreyan who still had a warm spot in his hearts for our big, blue marble. Capaldi nailed the role, being a lifelong fan himself, and the chemistry between he and Jenna Coleman has been simply fantastic. Both characters developed a lot in just twelve episodes and made us love them even more than we already thought we did.
The set won’t be released until December 9, but that’s still plenty of time to have it in your tired hands well before Christmas.
#2 Doctor Who: The Matt Smith Years
Continuing our journey through time and space, we can enjoy all the Matt Smith episodes of Doctor Who until the end of time. The BluRay set consists of a whopping 16 disks with every bowtie and fez-filled episode (series 5-7), all the specials, including the 50th Anniversary Special, and lots of extras. There’s the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Proms that celebrates the wonderful music from the show, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, The Day of the Doctor: From Script to Screen, The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, and more.
The whole thing comes packaged in a book-style holder adorned with beautiful Gallifreyan symbols. I’m sure they mean something, but I’m too busy being curmudgeonly to look it up. Feel free to look for yourself, just don’t do it on my lawn.
Buy it here: Doctor Who: The Matt Smith Years [Blu-ray]
#3 Orphan Black: Season 2
You might be asking yourself why I’ve only picked season two of Orphan Black, but that would be a stupid question. Any card-carrying Clone Club fan should already have season one purchased and nearly worn out from watching. Heck, you might already have season two, but get a few to hand out to your friends. They’ll be besides themselves with glee.
Season two of Orphan Black does the impossible – it gets even crazier, and clonier, than season one. And like any good release, this comes filled with lots of extras. There’s Orphan Black: The Cloneversation, Clone Club: Character Profiles, Making of the 4 Clone Scene, The Two Clone Smackdown, From Script to Screen, and Behind the Scenes with the Hair and Make-up Artists of Orphan Black. That last extra is something everyone should see to help you really appreciate all the details that go into making Tatiana Maslany look, sound, and feel like completely different people, often within a single scene.
#4 Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series
Okay, so when you read “complete” that’s not entirely accurate, until you add “original UK series” to it. What that means is you get the first 3 series of Torchwood sans Miracle Day, which wasn’t technically a UK-only production. A lot of fans won’t be terribly disappointed that the most recent run of the show isn’t in this set, and neither am I. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed Miracle Day, but after those first three series it just wasn’t the same.
This adult spin-off of Doctor Who has a cult following of its own, with fan-fave Captain Jack Harkness leading a team of investigators into mystery and danger. Oh, and sex. If it moves, Captain Jack will make a move on it. So, if you’re not feeling amorous, stay very, very still.
In addition to 31 episodes of the show, you’ll also be treated to 10 hours of extras. That’s over 26 hours of Torchwoodiness in a single box, people!
#5 Red Dwarf: The Complete Collection
Again, “complete” is a bit of a misnomer since this set only covers series 1 through 8 and there are now 10 in all, but smegheads everywhere will delight in this big, red box of scifi silliness. Inarguably the best series about a slacker, a hologram, a cat, and an android stuck on a gigantic spaceship 3 million years in the future to ever air on any screen ever, Red Dwarf is a staple for fans of both science fiction and comedy. Bonus points if you have a curry fetish.
Unlike Lister, this set is no slacker. The total run time of the entire set is an amazing 26 hours piled onto 18 DVDs (Sorry, no BluRay version … yet.). Besides every “official” episode you’ll also find lost and extended episodes, cast commentary on all episodes, deleted scenes, smeg-ups (outtakes), and a documentary for each series. But wait, there’s more! There are interviews with the cast and crew, information about the practically unknown US pilot, featurettes, trailers, promos, audio books, radio sketches, raw FX footage <deep breath> music cues, photo galleries, hidden Easter eggs, a collector’s booklet for each series, and more.
Buy it here: Red Dwarf: The Complete Collection
#6 X-Files: The Complete TV Series and Movie Collection
A show that will always remain firmly ensconced in my top-10 list of greatest television shows of all time, and one that put the heebies in my jeebies, this masterpiece by Glen Morgan and James Wong should be on the shelves of scifi geeks everywhere. Sadly, the series hasn’t gotten the HD BluRay treatment yet, but don’t let that stop you from seeing if the truth really is out there.
When you buy this collection, get your wheelbarrow ready because you’re going to get 54 damned disks of creeptastic goodness. That includes every episode from seasons 1-9 plus the two motion pictures, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and The X-Files: Fight the Future. The show was broadcast during the transition from the 4:3 aspect ratio to the new “widescreen” 16:9 format, so seasons 1-4 are in fullscreen while subsequent seasons and the movies are in widescreen format.
If you’ve never seen the show, you’re in for a frighteningly great treat. If, like me, you’ve seen every episode and movie several times, this is the perfect way to continue reliving all the weirdness in what is probably the first television series to make copious use of cell phones and flashlights. Seriously, you guys, they never flip a light switch! I bet their battery bills were astronomical.
Buy it here: X-Files: The Complete TV Series and Movie Collection
#7 Fringe: The Complete Series
A show that started out as kind of the X-Files younger cousin, Fringe soon found its own voice and became a cult hit of its own. Season one was mainly an oddity-of-the-week show, but once it built its own mythology, aided by unforgettable characters like Walter Bishop, Fringe took off with a story about alternate realities, mad scientists, cows, and bald people from the future. The stories were so much fun, but the characters are what really made the show. I especially loved the relationship between Walter and Astrid, his long-suffering and oft misnamed assistant. A running gag on the show was that Walter almost never said Astrid’s name correctly. He’d call her Astro, Asterisk, Asgard, Ostrich, Aphid, and just about anything else that sounded vaguely like her name.
This set is no slacker, packing 20 discs in the BluRay version and 28 discs in the DVD version containing almost 76 hours of footage. It also comes with an unreal amount of extras too numerous to list in their entirety here, but you can check the links below to read up on every little bonus in the box.
#8 The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series
Speaking of other dimensions, every episode of The Twilight Zone takes us into an entirely different dimension. This classic anthology series and absolute masterpiece of storytelling by the late, great Rod Serling is truly timeless. Several attempts have been made to revive the show as both a movie and a couple of television series, but none quite compare to the original. Like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, this is the original and the best.
I am thankful that Syfy airs a Twilight Zone marathon each New Year’s Eve and I never miss it, but having ever episode in my sweaty, little hands is even better. You should have it in your hands, too. That way, we can pretend it’s New Year’s Eve every damned day.
This set is a high-definition remastering of all 156 episodes of the show and it looks wonderful. Extras include audio commentaries, Twilight Zone radio dramas, interviews, still images, a blooper reel, a Twilight Zone comic book, and more.
#9 Stargate SG-1: The Complete Series Collection
You know, I really loved the Stargate movie, but one thing about it that frustrated me is they didn’t have the time to explore the full potential of gate travel. Well, the series really took care of that problem … and then some. With 10 seasons and 214 episodes, they left no gate un-dialed. Naturally, no show can reach its full potential without a great cast of characters and Stargate SG-1 had that in spades. From the wisecracking O’Neill to the stoic Teal’c, every character was memorable in his or her own way.
Unfortunately, this set only comes in DVD format for now, but it still looks great and is even more fun to watch when you can check out any episode whenever and wherever you please. But you’ll need to clear your schedule for this one because it contains an unimaginable 165 hours of footage! That’s almost 7 solid days of continuous gate travel. Man, that’s a lot of wormholes. Feel free to insert your own bad joke here.
I would list all the bonus material that comes with this set, but we’d all grow old reading about it. There are four discs of bonus material alone and if you check out the link below you can see exactly what I mean when I say there’s a lot of extras. Now dial in the coordinates to the purchase site and lock in your chevrons for some fun, action-filled science fiction.
Buy it here: Stargate SG-1: The Complete Series Collection
#10 Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Series
Spin-offs often pale in comparison to the original, but that was not the case with Stargate Atlantis. Somehow, they managed to put the genie back in the bottle, shoot the bottle to a different galaxy, and reproduce the fun and excitement of Stargate SG-1 with a few twists and a host of new characters. Finding the famed lost city of Atlantis is, in fact, a city-sized spaceship built by the Ancients, a team makes the trip to the Pegasus galaxy to fight new foes, visit new planets, and crack wise under different stars.
With five full seasons under its belt, Stargate Atlantis is no slacker and many fans, myself included, felt it had a few more years left in it when it left the air. The next best thing is owning every episode ever made and all it takes is a click on the link. A credit card wouldn’t hurt, either.
You’ll get every episode of the series along with a spate of extras that could fill its own galaxy. Stargate Atlantis also comes in a choice of BluRay or DVD so you can pick the format you like best. Between this and SG-1 you may never leave the house. Not that that’s a bad thing.
#11 Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series
If you like gritty, tough space dramas, they don’t come any grittier or tougher than the reimangined Battlestar Galactica. With apologies to Glen Larson’s original, this offering by Syfy is a far superior product that kept us all on the edge of our seats for four seasons. Even now, it’s missed by fans, many of whom were not happy with the ending, but that’s a discussion for another day.
If you’ve seen the show, there’s really nothing I can tell you because you’re already hooked. If you’ve never seen it, what the frak is wrong with you?
Again, I would really like to list everything that’s included in this set, but it would take far too long. You can see everything at the links below, and by the time you’re finished reading about all the stuff packed inside you’ll find that somehow you’ve already ordered it. It’s just that good.
Just say a Cylon made you do it. Who can resist the temptations of Number 6? amiright???
#12 Star Trek: The Complete Original Series
“Space … the final frontier.” These are the words that launched my love of science fiction as a child. For that reason, and the fact that so many subsequent shows took cues from it, Star Trek is at the top of my list. Or, rather, the bottom since I’ve saved the best for last.
Often a bit “cheesy” by today’s standards, Star Trek broke new ground on many fronts. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a future where everyone was treated equally wasn’t a commercial success when it originally aired, but it became a fan favorite almost immediately afterwards. In fact, NBC had canceled the show after its 2nd season, but a fan-driven campaign flooded the network with letters pleading with NBC to renew the series. Back in the 1960s when computers and the internet were practically nowhere to be found, and even calling long-distance cost extra, organizing a campaign of this magnitude was truly mind-boggling.
Beautifully remastered with updated special effects and surround sound, Star Trek almost feels as if it were made yesterday. You can even compare the original copy of each episode with the remastered version which really highlights how much effort was put into making the old Enterprise really shine. So give her all she’s got and order a copy today in either BluRay or DVD format. You might even make Spock crack a smile.
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