The encroaching rise of streaming services and digital media almost certainly spells doom for the monolithic, dozens-plus-disc DVD/Blu-ray gift set. But finding a new revenue stream is another holiday season’s problem. In the meantime, if you’re still willing to fork over hundreds of dollars for a lavishly-produced physical set, someone somewhere is more than happy to accommodate your wish.
(Note: All prices listed are the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, but prices in the real world will vary — and probably skew much lower, but no guarantees.)
“Breaking Bad: The Complete Series” (NR, Sony Pictures): The likely king of this year’s gift set crop is, fittingly, the show that ruled the water cooler in 2013 as well. It’s also one of the more creatively-presented sets, packaged inside a money barrel replica that makes for great fan service but a potentially awkward fit for most bookshelves. That, along with the asking price, makes this a set solely for the truly dedicated. All extras from the individual season sets are bundled in, and new extras include a two-hour documentary about the final eight episodes, a 16-page liner notes booklet, a challenge coin designed by show creator Vince Gilligan and a Los Pollos Hermanos apron. (If you do not understand the significance of that apron, this set may not be for you.) MSRP: $300
(Note: For those who already own the first four-and-a-half seasons of “Breaking Bad,” the second half of the fifth season is newly available on its own as well. Along with eight of the best episodes of television ever made, the set includes commentary on all eight episodes, an alternate ending, deleted/extended scenes, bloopers and a nearly two-dozen-strong collection of behind-the-scenes features and “Inside Breaking Bad” episodes.)
“The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection” (NR, StarVista): The especially special thing about this set? Much of it — 54 roasts of the likes of Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Muhammad Ali and Ronald Reagan from “The Dean Martin Show” and “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts” — is new to DVD instead of repackaged content. Also bundled in: A trove of sketches from “The Dean Martin Show,” seven episodes from “The Dean Martin Variety Show,” four Dean Martin television specials, 11 new behind-the-scenes features, roaster/roastee interviews, Martin home movie footage and a 44-page book of photos, anecdotes, liner notes and memorabilia. MSRP: $250
“Doctor Who: Series 1-7 Limited Edition Blu-ray Giftset” (NR, BBC): It’s a little odd to release a gift set this ornate for a show that’s still on the air, and that little voice in your head that suggests a newer and more complete set will probably trump this one in the not-so-distant future probably has a point. Nevertheless, here we are. Includes every episode (so far) of the rebooted series, as well as all the specials and all the extras that originally appeared in all those season sets and specials. New bonuses include a sonic screwdriver replica universal remote control, three art cards, an exclusive comic book, and a few new behind-the-scenes features. MSRP: $350
“Dexter: The Complete Series Collection” and “Dexter: The Complete Series Collection Exclusive Gift Set” (NR, Paramount): Then again, given how poorly “Dexter’s” final season went over with much of its fanbase, maybe an incomplete set with only seven seasons isn’t such a bad idea after all. Both collections include every episode, all previously-released extras, two new making-of documentaries and some new shorter behind-the-scenes features. The regular (so to speak) edition comes packaged inside a box that resembles Dexter’s box of slides, while the more exclusive edition comes bundled inside a large, faceless mannequin head that will likely haunt you for the rest of your days if you welcome it into your home. The latter set also comes with a hardcover art book. MSRP: $460 for the box, $545 and possibly your soul for the head.
“The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment” and “WWE: Raw 20th Anniversary Collection” (NR, WWE): World Wrestling Entertainment never has been one not to do commemoration right, so celebrating two birthdays at once is no problem (even if the lesser anniversary gets the arguable better party). “The History of WWE’s” centerpiece is the retrospective documentary of the same name, but the set’s extras — two handfuls of uncut matches, an assortment of landmark segments and a handful of stories and segments that did not appear in the documentary — may be the bigger draw for fans who already know the history. “Raw 20th Anniversary Collection,” on the other hand, is a genuine treasury, with 20 episodes (including the premiere) presented in their uncut glory. That’s hardly comprehensive for a show with more than 1,000 episodes in the can, but until WWE creates its own streaming service with every episode available on demand, this makes for a nice slice of history. A bonus disc with a feature about the history of “Raw” rounds out the set. MSRP: $40 for the 50th anniversary set, $90 for the 20th anniversary set.
“Weeds: The Complete Collection” (NR, Lions Gate): Every year seems to produce at least one set with packaging that backfires, and the otherwise pretty “Weeds” set gets a nod with an acrylic outer casing that’s pretty prone to cracking. If you pick this one up, perhaps do so in person instead of online. Provided it’s crack-free, the package is otherwise attractively designed, presented like a hardcover book with lots of photos (though little else) lining the page-like sleeves that hold the discs. Extras include a cast roundtable, three cast retrospectives and everything that previously appeared in the individual season sets. MSRP: $120
“Mama’s Family: The Complete Series” (NR, StarVista): Just in case you haven’t warmed up to shows about weed-dealing suburbanites, meth-dealing science teachers and serial-killing detectives, there’s always a classic ready to save the day. Includes all 130 episodes, including new broadcast masters of the first two seasons. New extras include a cast reunion roundtable, new cast/crew interviews, a one-on-one with series star Vicki Lawrence, the “Eunice” TV movie, “Mama’s Family” sketches from “The Carol Burnett Show” and an introductory note from Lawrence.