Last Minute Holiday Shopping Guide: Part 1 - Mania.com



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Last Minute Holiday Shopping Guide: Part 1

By Anthony C. Ferrante     December 18, 2006


24 - Season Five
© Fox

It’s that time of year again where shopping becomes warfare and finding that perfect gift is some times more stressful than actually buying it.

 
That’s where this Gift Guide comes in handy. It’s not the end-all, be-all of Gift Guide’s. Instead, it offers up some of the things we think are cool out on the market and wouldn’t mind getting stuffed in our stockings as well.
 

So if you have that hard-to-by for friend, family member, co-worker or homeless person who is into genre entertainment, then this should offer some guidance (by category of course) for the busy holiday season already spinning in motion.

DVD’s

With so many box sets, “special editions,” and TV series on DVD, this is perhaps the easiest route to finding a simple, yet appropriate gift. And when complete seasons of shows like ALF are on DVD, you know you can’t lose with anything you buy in this department.

 

24 – SEASON 5

Suggested retail price: $59.98

What it is: We’ve been championing this series since it first came on the air, and Season 5 was its strongest yet. Kiefer Sutherland plays Counter Terrorist agent Jack Bauer who continues to save the world from mass destruction in this real time series where each hour is one real-time hour of a very, very long day. Of course his biggest enemy this time around is the president of the United States.

Why it’s cool: While the show is addicting as hell, if you missed the whole season, it will be like crack as you get sucked into the series on DVD where you have all 24 episodes at your disposal. In addition to commentary, documentaries and deleted/extended scenes, this set also features a 15-minute mini-24 episode bridging Season Five with the forthcoming Season Six debuting on Fox in January.

Where you can get it: Major retail outlets and online. 

LOONEY TUNES – GOLDEN COLLECTION, VOLUME 4

Suggested retail price: $64.98

What it is: All those great Warner Bros. cartoons you grew up when you were a kid, but have since become politically incorrect to show to your own kids are packaged in the latest set from Warner Bros. which lovingly restores Bugs, Daffy and the whole clan the way they were meant to be seen.

Why it’s cool: Each disc is split into specific themes with Speedy Gonzales fans getting a whole disc to themselves and another one devoted to the various “Cats” in the Looney Tunes cannon. Since many of these cartoons have gone unseen for many years, the collection is a must for die-hard cartoon collectors. Plus, how can you resist a disclaimer on the back that says “…intended for the adult collector and may not be suitable for children.” No wonder the generation who grew up on these cartoons are so screwed up.

Where you can get it: Major retail outlets and online 

THE JAMES BOND ULTIMATE COLLECTIONS – VOL. 1-4

Suggested retail price: $89.98 each

What it is: Every James Bond film has now been pre-packaged and divvied up into four separate volumes, making sure die-hard collectors get the good movies with the bad. There’s no rhyme or reason to the pairings, though each set gives you at least one Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan outing with lesser-Bonds George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton thrown in randomly. If you need somewhere to start, Volume 2 has the best overall line-up with THUNDERBALL, DIE ANOTHER DAY, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (and you can cooly overlook LICENSE TO KILL and A VIEW TO A KILL if you prefer).

Why it’s cool: While the previous box sets of Bond movies had their share of special features, these new “Ultimate Collections” boast remastered film prints, and dossier files digging deep into the evolution of each film

Where you can get it: Major retail outlets and online 

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (FOUR DISC EXTENDED EDITION)

Suggested retail price: $42.99

What it is: Taking a cue from the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, a whole new extended version of the film has been cobbled together in addition to three additional discs of bonus material.

Why it’s cool: It’s one of the best fantasy novels of all time and it proved that you don’t have to be LORD OF THE RINGS to conjure up some big screen loyalty from fans. The extended edition includes expanded scenes, a longer climactic battle scene and enhanced special effects not to mention numerous making of documentaries including a whole disc devoted to visualizing the movie and a feature length documentary on WARDROBE author C.S. Lewis.

Where you can get it: Major retail outlets and online. 

THE SUPERMAN COLLECTION

Suggested retail price: $99.98

What it is: Just about every single Warner Bros. Superman film artifact is collected in his incredible box set including director Richard Donner’s cut of SUPERMAN II which finally completes the film the way he originally intended it before he was fired off the project.

Why it’s cool: Even if you’re stuck with owning SUPERMAN III and SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, just because they’re here, this set is still worth owning because you also get SUPERMAN RETURNS and Bryan Singer’s documentary LOOK, UP IN THE SKY: THE AMAZING STORY OF SUPERMAN which delves into the entire filmed legacy of the Man of Steel. Die-hard fans also will be able to get the original theatrical cut of the 1978 SUPERMAN on DVD for the first time (it was previously only available in the extended DVD cut that was released a few years ago which is also represented here).

Where you can get it:  Major Retail outlets and online. 
 

WALT DISNEY TREASURES

Suggested retail price: $32.99 each

What it is: Every year around this time, Disney dips into their vaults for these limited edition sets packed in a cool silver tin. Each set usually consists of content that the Mouse House feels will appeal more to collectors as opposed to mainstream audiences and hence the limited production run. This year’s sets include THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB PRESENTS THE HARDY BOYS (featuring black and white episodes the originally aired on that hit afternoon children’s program in the ‘50s), YOUR HOST, WALT DISNEY from 1954 featuring highlights from the prime time series DISNEYLAND (which later became the WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY) featuring some of the best episodes hosted by Walt himself, MORE SILLY SIMPHONIES VOLUME TWO - 1929-1938 (the second set of excellent musical themed animated shorts) and THE COMPLETE PLUTO VOLUME TWO (showcasing the best cartoons of Mickey Mouse’s dog pal from 1947-1951)

Why it’s cool: The silver tins look great on the shelf, plus you also get film historian Leonard Maltin putting things into a historical perspective. They’re always informative and entertaining and these two-disc sets are always chock full of material that hasn’t been unleashed from the Disney vaults in a very long time. The cartoons are no brainers for animation lovers, while you’re going to have to find a complete Walt Disney fanatic before you shell out the money for YOUR HOST, WALT DISNEY or THE HARDY BOYS.

Where you can get it:  Major Retail outlets and online. 

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE Complete First Season

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (1975-1976)

Suggested retail price: $69.98

What it is: All the episodes from the first season of the groundbreaking skit comedy are finally corralled on to an impressive DVD set featuring the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner and Garrett Morris. Due to rights issues with the musical performances, it’s taken this long to get SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in seasonal sets and it’s well worth the wait.

Why it’s cool: Pop culture references from the ‘70s may feel dated, but watching these digitally remastered episodes reminds everyone how funny, fresh and innovative SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE was in its early years. Some episodes felt like extended “concert shows” (Paul Simon ambushing 80 percent of the second episode), while Jim Henson created specific “monster” muppets for most of this season, although those skits have not aged well at all. Perhaps the most interesting bonus feature is the “screen tests” of all the major performers which shows how accomplished and funny these performers were before they even hit the air– most importantly Aykroyd who has “star” written all over him as he goes in and out of a dozen different characters in under six minutes. Like MONTY PYTHON, the original years of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE were funny because everyone involved was young, naive and unaware of the limits of their abilities and created a time capsule of some of the most biting and hilarious comedy on TV. The show didn’t hit its stride until Season Two (and then derailed after the cast and creator Lorne Michaels left in 1980), but it’s a gift to finally relive the original series without seeing it cut to pieces for syndicated re-airings.

Where you can get it:  Major Retail outlets and online.

MUSIC

 

Danny Elfman: SERENADA SCHIZOPHRANA

DANNY ELFMAN – SERENADA SCHIZOPHRANA Suggested retail price: $18.98

What it is: A Danny Elfman score without he film tie in (though selections did appear on the soundtrack of the IMAX movie DEEP SEA 3D.

Why it’s cool: Elfman was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra in New York to pen this gorgeous piece of music and while it does have a “score” feel, it still stands out as one of Elfman’s most adventurous and entertaining musical compositions in some time. Now if only someone can convince him to do another rock album (or reunite with Oingo Boingo one last time), then it truly would be Christmas.

Where you can get it: Major Retail outlets and online.

GAMES

With the Wii and Playstation 3 new to the market, it’s obvious that if you can nab either of those two consoles for your gamer, you will be on their “nice” list for years to come. However, since the price point is high and the availability limited (if not questionable), unless you’re willing to shell out an exorbitant price on eBay to purchase one of these puppies, they’re still a pipe dream until Nintendo and Sony manufacture enough to satisfy the demand for regular consumers. In the mean time, here are some alternate choices for the serious gamer.

F.E.A.R. - FIRST ENCOUNTER ASSAULT RECON

Suggested retail price: $59.99

Format: Xbox 360

What it is: This creepy first-game shooter finally hits Xbox 360 and it was well worth the wait as you infiltrate an aerospace compound battling all sorts of creepy baddies.

Why it’s cool: Director John Carpenter gave his endorsement of the P.C. version of this game last year, so if one of the Masters of Horrors is hooked, you will be too. And the great thing about Xbox, is being able to play with your friends (and enemies) online.

Where you can get it:  Major Retail outlets and online.

JUSTICE LEAGUE HEROES

Suggested retail price: $39.99

Format: Xbox, PSP, Nintendo DS, Playstation 2

What it is: All the major D.C. heroes come together to battle Brainiac and his cronies in this great new superhero game.

Why it’s cool: You get to play Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and more while getting to truly use all their powers in ways that games in the past have only scratched the surface with. The game play is flawless and the graphics top-notch. Each format has their own special bonus, but for completist, the Nintendo DS version is actually a “prequel” game. Now you have to shell out money TWICE to get the full experience.

Where you can get it:  Major Retail outlets and online.

TARANTULA: THE ULTIMATE GAMING KEYBOARD

TARANTULA: THE ULTIMATE GAMING KEYBOARD

Suggested retail price: $163.13

Format: P.C.

What it is: With P.C. gaming has gained speed over the years, Razer has come up with a keyboard to make gaming with your computer even easier.

Why it’s cool: It has programmable keys with up to five different profiles so you can have different configurations for different games, quick response when pressing keys eliminating the messy delay you get with cheaper keyboards and an “anti-ghosting” capability that allows multiple keys to be pressed at the same time.  The sleek black design gives it a high-tech look and you can replace buttons with various hot keys ranging from “guns,” “knife,” “zoom in/out,” and more. There’s even the ability to add on to the keyboard with such accessories as BattleLight which allows your keyboard to illuminate with an iridescent glow and “BattleEye” that allows you to dock a webcam for real-time visual feedback from your online opponents.

Where you can get it: Online at www.razerzone.com, retail outlets, www.amazon.com


Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 1 of 1
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noblenonsense 12/20/2006 1:14:42 PM
No love for Gears of War? Marvel: Ultimate Alliance?
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