Tuesday, November 29, 2011



It’s that time of year again – the holidays. A time when many people go crazy trying to find that perfect gift for a relative or friend. If that friend or relative is a TV buff, there are myriad TV-related gifts available that are sure to brighten his/or her holiday season.

Here’s a list some of my favorites, DVDs and games, several of which are in my personal collection. For purchasing, check local retailers, bookstores and Internet retailers. Also check TV network sites, most of them have “company” stores that sell products related to their series.

Let’s start with TV DVDs. Boxed sets of complete series or individual seasons of shows are readily available.

“Rome.” (Two seasons)
This series ran for two seasons from 2005-2007 on HBO and followed the lives of two Roman soldiers who became involved in the historical events of ancient Rome, starting in 52 B.C. The cast includes Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Lindsay Duncan and James Purefoy. This is a great gift because it’s part history lesson and part soap opera as lives and loves are intertwined with scheming, murder, vengeance and politics. It’s a must and is on my shelf.

“The Mentalist,” the complete Third Season.
From ancient Rome to modern-day California, this hit CBS drama stars Simon Baker as a fake psychic obsessed with finding Red John, the man who killed his family. Baker’s Patrick Jane goes about his mission to find the killer while working as a consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation on cases. If you are not familiar with “The Mentalist,” this 24-episode set is a good place to jump in and catch up, as Jane gets closer to tracking down Red John. As with most boxed sets, this one includes some unaired scenes and other features. The cast includes Robin Tunney, Tim Kang, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti.

“Chuck,” the complete Fourth Season. This is the little series that could. Every spring it has been on the verge of cancellation by NBC, but yet has managed to make it through four full seasons and now is in its fifth and final season of 13 episodes on the Peacock network. In a nutshell, Chuck Bartowski is a computer nerd who accidentally unloaded national secrets into his brain. When the government got wind of what he had done, they sent two super spies to protect him. Over the years the trio – Chuck, and his protectors Sarah and Colonel Case,y have traveled the globe to protect the country from the bad guys. The 24-episode fourth season finds Chuck trying to reunite his family and figure out how to propose to Sarah. Included are deleted scenes and a gag reel. Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski and Adam Baldwin head the cast.

“Prime Suspect,” the Complete Collection
. This wonderful police drama starring Helen Mirren is likely never to be duplicated again on television. Mirren’s portrayal of the driven, flawed and troubled Detective Jane Tennison won her an Emmy Award, and the series took home Emmys and a Peabody Award. First airing in 1992 on PBS’ “Mystery!” series, the drama continued for six more seasons, ending in 2006. Created by crime writer Lynda LaPlante, “Prime Suspect” featured many top British actors as guest stars over its run, including Ralph Fiennes, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Bell and Jonny Lee Miller. The boxed set includes a behind the scenes special, photos and cast filmographies. This is a must have for any collector.

“Absolutely Fabulous, Absolutely Everything,” the Complete Collection. When it comes to comedy, this wonderful British series is the top of the top. Well, actually, it’s way over the top. Edina, a London PR agent, and her best friend Patsy, a fashion magazine editor, drink, smoke and carouse through life in a series of hilarious adventures that are side-splittingly funny. Eddy and Pats will try and do anything to recapture their youthful days in 1960s swinging, mod London. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley star in the series written by Saunders. This nine-disc set includes outtakes, the pilot episode and photo galleries.

“Pride and Prejudice,” 10th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition. Jane Austen’s romantic classic that first aired on the A&E Network in the mid-1990s put the spotlight on two young actors who would later become stars – Colin Firth (Oscar winner) and Jennifer Ehle (Tony Award winner). Set in 19th century Georgian England, strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet has to make an advantageous marriage – she has five younger unmarried sisters. But she is opposed to marriage for the sake of marriage — she wants to marry for love. Enter the inscrutable Mr. Darcy, a friend of the Bennets’ new neighbor and a man Elizabeth initially despises. It takes awhile, but Elizabeth comes to realize Darcy is the man for her — but does he feel the same way? Watch and find out (as if you already don’t know!). This three-disc set includes the entire series, plus a bonus disc that goes behind the scenes of the making of the series as well as cast biographies. This is just the DVD to watch on a chilly winter’s night with a cup of tea in hand.

For those of you interested in playing board games tied to TV series, here are a couple of the more interesting ones based on hit series.

“24,” DVD board game.
This game includes a DVD, game board, movers, cards and instructions. Based on the Emmy-winning Fox series, players are agents and they collect clues to try to prevent an attack by terrorists. The DVD provides clues to players, some true, some false, and players must figure out which ones are legitimate as the DVD timer runs down. Series star Kiefer Sutherland narrates.

“Modern Family Game.” The ABC series “Modern Family” has won two straight Emmy awards as Best Comedy series and is a hit with viewers. So naturally there is a board game based on the series and involving its three related families. The game, for two to six players, is a test of your knowledge of the series and its trivia. Included are game board, game cards, answer pad, dice, game tokens and rules. The first player to visit each household and get back to their TV viewing couch wins.

“NCIS,” The Game
. CBS’ top rated series gets the board game treatment for one to six players. Players visit the scene of the crime, take statements and check into headquarters. Plot twists may or may not occur. Players, as a group, must decide who to arrest. If deadlocked, the player who is Agent Gibbs decides. The game includes a board, game cards, crime scene cards, movers, clue manuals and rules.

Donna J. Plesh is a veteran television writer and reviewer who also writes stories that may be viewed at www.thecolumnists.com

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