By the time Christmas is over, you're going to have some gift cards to spend and some returns to make. Forget buying books or CDs with your Borders gift card (dude, CDs are so 2005) - instead, stock up on some television show boxed sets. Instead of shoveling the driveway or doing whatever people do in the winter in places where it doesn't snow, stay inside and rot your brain AGAIN with these hours upon hours of television goodness. All commercial-free!
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
This is hands-down the best Holmes series out there. Jeremy Brett (as Holmes) basically turned himself into a raving lunatic to bring us the most true-to-story Sherlock possible, and the writers of this first series worked hard to keep true to Doyle's works as well. Fans of House
will appreciate the original "so clever it hurts" character after which Greg House and Gil Grissom are often cited as being modeled after. Brett is a sexy bastard as well.
There's other Granada Television (of Great Britian) Holmes series starring Brett, such as The Return of Sherlock Holmes
and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
, which are also good but Adventures
is the place to start. The original 13 episodes, included in this set, had the best scripts and Brett was still at the top of his game. As the later series came about, the quality of Holmes stories left from which to choose became a stumbling block for the writers. Brett also started losing his mind a bit and his health got worse. By the time The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
was shot (the final series), Brett was literally having to be propped up in order to appear in the shows.
But this first series is can't-miss. Sets are amazingly accurate, Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke as Watson give spot-on performances and the scripts couldn't be more accurate. Investing in this series will definitely up your geek cred by letting you discuss Holmes with your bookstorecoffeeshop buddies as if you've actually read the books.
Freaks & Geeks
I'm a sucker for all things 80's and also for all things geek, so when I picked this box up I immediately joined the ranks of the fans crying "why was this show cancelled?!"
The show is about the Geeks - Sam, Bill and Neal - and the Freaks - Daniel, Nick, Ken and Kim - who go to high school in Michigan in the 80's. Their paths both parallel and cross, as Sam's older sister tries hard to get in with the loser/stoner Freaks while trying to shed her actual identity as a Geek.
The acting is great and the writing is even better. It stands to reason, as writer Paul Feig has gone on to work on shows such as Arrested Development
, The Office
. And the show's executive producer, Judd Apatow, worked on The Larry Sanders Show
, The Ben Stiller Show
, and was co-creator of The 40-Year-Old Virgin
So how did this amazing show get canceled so quick? The Jocks, of course. No one wanted to watch a show about those kids no one talked to in high school. Well no one but the millions of people who identified with said kids - but they aren't the ones in charge.
Put this one in the pile with Newsradio and Arrested Development as "shows that were too good for television" and trust me on this one.
And, if you're buying it from Amazon, don't be afraid to bundle this purchase with the Undeclared
boxed set too. Undeclared
is sort of a follow-up to this show, also created by Feig and Apatow. Different characters and different time frame, and it takes place in college, but the quality is still there.
The Simpsons (Seasons 1-9)
"But I've already seen all of the episodes of The Simpsons
!" I know you have, Spiff, but I think you can watch them again.
Each boxed set comes with over 9 hours of episodes PLUS commentary on every episode. The first couple of seasons got off to a rocky start, but once the writers and actors hit their grooves the show became a classic. Now that the show is in season 18, people are complaining that the air is slowly leaking out of the Simpsons bag. Fair enough, but this didn't become one of the top television shows ever for no reason.
For those of you who feel a little left out when your pals start quoting every line, picking up the boxed sets and watching every episode through will not only make you more culturally aware but kill a lot of time. For those of you who are doing the quoting, the commentary for each episode is worth the price of the set. And watching The Simpsons
without commercials sort of takes away the pain when an episode isn't wowing you right out of the gate.
Seasons 4 through 12, I think, are the best to look for (obviously, they've only released up to 9) so if you're not seriously into it you can pass up the first few seasons. This may not be a series you can watch again and again but you can be sure that if your current Netflix selection is a little dull or if you need some indoor activity for these insanely long hours of winter darkness, popping in a few episodes of The Simpsons
will bring you a few dozen hours of solid comedy television.
The Office (UK)
I can't believe how people love The Office
(US) so much and keep telling me they're not interested in the UK version. The ORIGINAL version. Starring Ricky Fucking Gervaise for God's sake. What's your hangup?
Sure, Steve Carell is awesome and that kid who plays Jim is alright but they can't replace the original. Gervaise is, to put it in words you will understand, "off the hook" - an even goofier boss. And Tim (the UK's Jim) is more sad (and played by Arthur Dent
!), Gareth (Dwight) is more pathetic and the entire office has a bit more of that very creepy and depressing vibe to it.
Now, I'm not knocking the US series. From what I've seen of it, it's cool. Plus it's on TV right now which is more than we can say for the UK version. But you've got to see Gervaise doing "the dance" and see Mackenzie Crook (Gareth) wearing bike shorts. You've got to see the pub quizzes and the Christmas parties and "the kiss."
Everything you love about the American version is here and perfected the first time around. The UK show only lasts 2 seasons (with a Christmas special) and is quite neatly wrapped up with no loose ends. Trust me on this one - it's like the difference between American Coke in a can and Mexican Coke in a bottle (made with real sugar). The American version is great and handy but if you can get your hands on the "original" it'll be pure enjoyment.
The Kids in the Hall (Complete Set)
The cleverest sketch comedy show ever. Took forever to get these shows to DVD so count your blessings and pass the Tim Horton's.
Newsradio (Seasons 1-4)
When was the last time you thought about this show? Oh...every time I mention it on this blog. Right on.
Well, what are you waiting for?
Jeeves & Wooster (complete set)
I said it before in this entry
and I'll say it again - Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry kick ass. This is one of those shows you can watch over and over again and not get bored. Like Holmes
, it's a perfect adaptation of classic British literature. It's fun to watch and it makes u look sm4rt.
Arrested Development (complete set)
I know it's almost a cliche to say this is the funniest show on television ever (American television - see The Office
(UK)) but it really is friggin' hilarious. It goes by so fast, you have to watch it a couple times to fully appreciate it. Which is why you need the boxed set.