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Holiday Season DVD Gift Guide

Email|Print| Text size + By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / November 25, 2007

’Tis the season to be giving box sets and much else besides. DVD player drawers are just as worthy of stuffing as stockings. This year’s offerings on disc run the gamut from the Carmine Hose triumphant to the Coen brothers abundant, multiple ‘‘Blade Runners’’ to multiple Jack Sparrows, and let’s not forget 20th Century Fox’s salute to John Ford or United Artists’ salute to itself.

DVDs for those who've been really, really nice

"HARRY POTTER LIMITED EDITION DVD COLLECTION" (2007)

As if your shelves weren't already buckling from squeezing in the 800-page "Deathly Hallows," along comes a hefty 12-DVD set featuring this year's "Order of the Phoenix" (left) and the four preceding movies. The box includes a pair of exclusive bonus discs, one devoted to interactive games and the other to behind-the-scenes material, as well as collectible metal bookmarks and trading cards. (Warner, $119.97, Dec. 11; "Phoenix" also available separately, $28.98-$34.99)

"UNITED ARTISTS 90TH ANNIVERSARY PRESTIGE COLLECTION" (2007)

Who knows where the house legendarily built by Charlie Chaplin and friends is headed under Tom Cruise's leadership? In like a lion, out like "Lions for Lambs," etc., etc. No matter, the studio has a ridiculously rich legacy to draw from for DVD reissues - and a slew of them are included in this 90-film, 112-disc package encompassing everything from "Annie Hall" and "West Side Story" to the Bond, Rocky, and Pink Panther franchises. A (relatively) slimmer 30-film "Deluxe Gift Set" still has room for "Midnight Cowboy" and "Some Like It Hot." And a series of four-film samplers offer lineups such as Volume 1's "A Fistful of Dollars," "The Magnificent Seven," "Dr. No," and the original "Panther." (MGM, $869.98/$289.98/$39.98, respectively, Dec. 11)

"FAMILY GUY FREAKIN' PARTY PACK" (2007)

From splashy debut to cancellation to unlikely network resurrection, the scatological 'toon's first five seasons are all here, along with poker supplies and a ping-pong set. (Fox, $149.98, available now)

"THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.": THE COMPLETE SERIES (1964-68)

Robert Vaughn does his James Bond riff as American superspy Napoleon Solo in a show that, interestingly, somewhat followed the Bond trajectory from straight-up to silly and back again. Numerous bonuses include a feature-length interview with Vaughn and costar David McCallum, the unaired color series pilot, and McCallum's home movies from the set. (Available from Time Life through ManFromUncleDVD.com, $249.99, Tuesday)

"GILMORE GIRLS": THE COMPLETE SERIES (2000-07)

Of course you need this set - it's your chance to go back and maybe actually keep pace with the dialogue that was gushing out of Lauren Graham's and Alexis Bledel's mouths all these years. Series keepsake book included. (Warner, $258.82; season seven, $59.98; available now)

"EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND": THE COMPLETE SERIES (1996-2005) / "THE KING OF QUEENS": THE COMPLETE SERIES (1998-2007)

There's no TV collection more essential than the recently released "Seinfeld" megaset this season, but when it comes to comedians effectively translating their routines to the tube, Ray Romano's and Kevin James's showcases rate pretty high. The "Raymond" set includes a reproduction of the finale script signed by the writers; "King" comes packed in a mock delivery truck with exclusive retrospectives. ("Raymond," HBO, $279.99; "King," Sony, $232.95; both available now)

For the cinephile with (nearly) everything

"BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT" (1982)

Ridley Scott revisits his neo-noir masterpiece (right), but mostly just to sharpen the visual quality of his 1992 director's cut (the version that dropped cop Harrison Ford's retro voice-over and restored the ambivalent ending that Scott preferred). More power to him: A quarter-century on, the film's vision of the future is as on-target as ever, from cloning to LA as a multicultural bouillabaisse. (We'll forgive those video payphones.) The five-disc, briefcase-packaged Ultimate Collector's Edition includes the various theatrical versions plus a work print; a new three-hour production documentary goes into welcome depth on the movie's utterly immersive aesthetic achievement. (Warner, $78.92; four-disc and two-disc versions also available, $34.99/$20.97; Dec. 18)

"WARNER HOME VIDEO DIRECTORS SERIES: STANLEY KUBRICK" (2007)

The newly remastered presentation of "2001" highlights a six-film, 10-disc collection that includes "A Clockwork Orange," "The Shining," "Full Metal Jacket," an unrated edition of "Eyes Wide Shut," and the feature biographical portrait "A Life in Pictures." Among the new featurettes are "Lost Kubrick: The Films That Never Were" on "Eyes." (Warner, $79.92; individual titles, $19.97-$26.99; available now)

"DRUNKEN ANGEL" (1948)

In one of his early forays into noir, Akira Kurosawa introduces audiences to Toshiro Mifune as a tubercular gangster headed for a showdown in postwar Tokyo. (Criterion, $39.95, Tuesday)

"THE COEN BROTHERS MOVIE COLLECTION" (2007)

Nothing like a few helpings of Joel and Ethan's signature perverse yuks to keep your days from being too merry and bright. "Blood Simple," "Raising Arizona," "Miller's Crossing," "Barton Fink," and "Fargo" are reissued together for the first time. (MGM, $49.98, available now)

"FORD AT FOX" (2007)

Legendary director John Ford is saluted for his influential work during his decades-long relationship with Fox, as studio vault-minders put together a handsomely packaged collection of two dozen films, 18 of which are new to DVD. The extensive lineup includes "Drums Along The Mohawk" (1940), "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940), and "My Darling Clementine" (1946), all with frequent collaborator Henry Fonda; best picture winner "How Green Was My Valley" (1941); and the recently restored 1924 silent "The Iron Horse." (Fox, $299.98; mini-collections, $49.98; individual titles, $19.98; Dec. 4)

On everyone's list

"2007 WORLD SERIES FILM" / "THE BOSTON RED SOX 2007 WORLD SERIES COLLECTOR'S EDITION" And here you thought that the next time Red Sox fans would get to enjoy one of these glossy celebratory recaps, the thing would be displayed as a hologram. Matt Damon narrates the highlight-oriented Series film, filled with all you'd expect (Papelbon riverdancing, the Dropkicks blasting on the soundtrack) and then some (stolen audio snippets showing that, sure, the players took notice of that premature Cleveland boasting during the ALCS). The eight-disc "Collector's Edition" set includes the uncut broadcasts of all four Series games with a customizable audio option that allows you to bump Fox's Tim McCarver for Joe Castiglione or even the Rockies' broadcast team. Games 5-7 of the ALCS are also included. (Series film, Shout! Factory, $19.99, Nov. 27; "Collector's Edition," A&E, $79.95, Dec. 11)

"THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM" (2007)

Damon busts a move - a couple of hours' worth of them, actually - in returning director Paul Greengrass's frenetic capper to the espionage franchise. Greengrass supplies commentary, and featurettes include a look at the movie's "driving school."

(Universal, $29.98, Dec. 11)

"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END" (2007)

The cameos by Chow Yun-Fat and Keith Richards fizzle; and call us movie chauvinists, but we don't really go for all of that "she rescues him right back" stuff. And yet . . . and yet . . . and yet . . . there was Cap'n Jack, Cap'n Jack, Cap'n Jack. A look at the effects behind Johnny Depp's onscreen cloning is the DVD's best featurette. (Disney, $29.99; two-disc version, $34.99; Dec. 4)

"THE SIMPSONS MOVIE" (2007)

In the end, Homer's environmental-themed odyssey probably didn't need to be a movie rather than a standard episode (or three). But admit it, when you hummed the Spider-Man theme last summer, the words you really had in your head were "Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig . . ." Deleted scenes include an alternate ending. (Fox, $29.98, Dec. 18)

"HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2" (2007)

Catch it here first: the full-blown Polynesian dance number that Zac 'n' Ashley rehearsed on TV, but were never seen performing. Because you, um, demanded it? (Disney, $29.99, Dec. 11)

"LOST": THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (2006-07)

Even if the Hollywood writers' strike ends up leaving you feeling as stranded as a Flight 815 survivor in a couple of months' time, you can still get your fix trying to get a better read on the Others with this latest set. Extras include in-depth production featurettes and unaired flashbacks. (Buena Vista, $59.99, Dec. 11)

"CSI": THE SEVENTH SEASON (2006-07)

Return to the crime scenes and see if you could spot the clues that newly departed Jorja Fox wasn't long for the series. The series writers share their thoughts in commentaries. (Paramount, $99.99, available now)

For the kids (and you, too) from Santa

"UNDERDOG" (2007)

Much as we like Jason Lee, his wisecracking voice work here makes the superhero pooch (above) less humble and lovable, for sure. Still, junior dog lovers will be entertained - and the disc includes Underdog's '60s cartoon debut to give parents the nostalgia buzz they're craving. (Disney, $29.99, Dec. 18)

"SPONGEBOB'S ATLANTIS SQUAREPANTIS" (2007)

If you thought the little yellow guy had started to turn kinda, well, square, guest voice actor David Bowie, as Atlantean Lord Royal Highness, begs to differ. Includes production footage from the recently aired event episode. (Paramount, $16.99, available now)

"MY FRIENDS TIGGER & POOH: SUPER SLEUTH CHRISTMAS MOVIE" (2007)

Disney's CG-animated makeover of A.A. Milne's quaint playland might have the cynic in you rightly humbugging, but give it a chance. It's a lot of fun, teaches your little ones some useful problem-solving skills, and boasts a bubblicious Kay Hanley theme, to boot. (Disney, $26.99, available now)

"MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY" (2007)

Rowan Atkinson takes his amusingly excruciating shtick to the south of France - probably the only way that the "Bean" franchise will ever actually hit the Cannes festival. (Universal, $29.98, Nov. Tuesday)

"IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" (1946)

Start the kiddies on the supplemental colorized version included here, if necessary; once they're emotionally addicted like you are, you can bump them to the straight black-and-white stuff. You know you'll lasso 'em sooner or later. (Paramount, $24.99, available now)

Yankee swap keepers

"STALKING SANTA" (2007)

Now here's a bit of mysteries-uncovered fare (below) you won't catch on the Discovery Channel: a myth-busting "Santalogist" (Chris Clark) doggedly hunting for proof of the jolly old elf's existence. (We're talking mockumentary, naturally.) You'll be hooked around the time the filmmakers posit that crop circles are simply evidence of Santa's need for an "alternative landing grid" in those locales where there aren't many chimneys. Narrated by William Shatner, something of a jolly old elf in his own right. (Excel Entertainment, $14.99, available now)

"PLANET EARTH/THE BLUE PLANET: SEAS OF LIFE COLLECTOR'S SET" (2007)

The BBC's 21st century spin on "Wild Kingdom" uses all manner of HD technology to provide glimpses of the natural world like you've never seen before, from the savannah to the tundra to the ocean's depths. (BBC Video, $119.99)

"LITTLE BRITAIN": THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (2003-06)

Sketch comedians Matt Lucas and David Walliams dish up the UK answer to "Kids in the Hall" subversion, only riotously trashier. (BBC Video, $99.98)

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