Yes, I know, it’s cutting it pretty darned close to wait until the last couple of days of January 2008 to run a Best of 2007 list, but that’s the problem with these TV DVD sets: there’s a whole lot of viewing involved to get through them, and you don’t want to give anyone the short end of the stick just because your schedule didn’t allow you to give their set a look. With the confidence that I’ve had a chance to check out the majority of the cool stuff that came out in ’07, however, I hereby present my personal picks for the Top 20 TV DVDs of last year. And when you've read through my list, check out Bullz-Eye's Best of the Best staff picks for 2007!
My So-Called Life: The Complete Series
Otherwise known as “The Show That Made Claire Danes Famous.” Everyone talks about all the teen angst in this series, but there’s plenty of adult angst to be had as well, so don’t you go thinking that old folks can’t enjoy it as well. As usual, Shout! Factory has put together a fantastic set, chock full of audio commentaries and new documentaries featuring new contributions from virtually everyone both in front of and behind the camera. Well, except for Jared Leto, that is. Strangely, however, the set doesn’t suffer for his absence.
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume One
The oft-forgotten child of the “Indiana Jones” films finally makes it onto DVD, and the result shows why it took so long. The series finds young Indy encountering historical figures and events every time he turns around, and just in case historical license makes you twitch, they’ve also included a wealth of documentaries to provide you with the whole story about the persons, places, and things that make guest appearances. This set, as well as the subsequent volumes, should be in every high school library in America.
Not Just the Best of “The Larry Sanders Show”
When HBO released Season 1 of “The Larry Sanders Show” but never followed up with any subsequent years of the series, fans were gnashing their teeth in anger. Apparently, so was Garry Shandling, who struck a deal to produce a collection of Larry’s best episodes, then added a ridiculous amount of new material, including video documentation of his new visits to several of his most memorable guest stars to mutually reminisce about their experiences. So now can we get Season 2?
Heroes: Season 1
It was perhaps inevitable that the first season of NBC’s “Heroes” would be overflowing with bonus material, given how much the network had catered to the fans with exclusive online content. Of course, in retrospect, it provides the perfect reason why the writers are so up in arms about not getting just compensation for this material.
Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series
Doctor Who: The Complete Third Series
No point in tying up two spots, is there? Series 2 might have the edge as far as overall quality, thanks to the acting tour de force provided by both David Tennant and Billie Piper in the finale, but, really, it’s not like Series 3 was anything even remotely resembling a disappointment. Long live the last of the Time Lords, that’s what I say.
Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition
First off, it’s not definitive. If it was, it’d include all of the special features from the individual sets for Seasons 1 and 2. But it does have the advantage of including the pilot, and it’s also the first time anyone’s succeeded in getting David Lynch involved in the series’ DVD release, so we can’t dismiss it out of hand, either. When it comes down to it, most fans will still prefer this to the separate season sets.
How I Met Your Mother: Season 2
As ever, the funniest sitcom on CBS gets a nice DVD release. Best inclusion: the uncut video for Robin Sparkles’ “Let’s Go To The Mall.” Dammit, now I’ve got it stuck in my head again!
The Closer: The Complete Second Season
Yes, Kyra Sedwick’s Southern accent will drive you insane at first. Once you learn to tune it out, however, you’ll find police drama blended with personal drama, a great ensemble cast, and one-liners to rival those on a sitcom.
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: The Complete Series
After releasing a few individual seasons of “Dr. Katz,” Comedy Central apparently realized that, for as successful as the sets were, it was clearly only the fans who were doing the buying. As such, they cut to the chase and just released the complete series. Yeah, it’s a slight bummer if you already dropped the dough on Seasons 1 and 2, but the additional episodes and new special features more than make up for it. The set includes three so-called “lost” episodes featuring Dave Atell, Whoopi Goldberg, and Conan O’Brien, the original “Short Attention Span Theater” shorts, a live performance of the show with the original cast members and guest performers Kathy Griffin, Andy Kindler, Maria Bamford, and Paul F. Tompkins, follow-ups on past patients, and a highly substantial booklet to accompany it all. Way to do it up right, Comedy Central.
Kidnapped: The Complete Series
There are plenty of nominations in the field of Best Series Not Given a Chance to Thrive by NBC, but this one felt the most unjust to me. Jeremy Sisto and Delroy Lindo turned in Emmy-worthy performances, and the series kept moving at a breathless pace from episode to episode. There’ll probably never be any sort of revival, particularly now that Sisto has got a great new gig on “Law & Order,” but if anyone does want to bankroll “Knapp and King: Together Again,” I’m ready and waiting to watch it.
Eureka: Season One
I didn’t know what to expect from this show, given that the whole “fish out of water” thing has been done to death, but A) the idea of a small Northwest town populated solely by the smartest people in America was intriguing, and B) Colin Ferguson does a great job as Sheriff Jack Carter, an average Joe who forever trying to prove that he’s smart enough to be taken seriously. The special features are particularly good, too, but special mention should be made of the inclusion of commentary podcasts done by Ferguson and the producers during the show’s initial run.
WKRP: The Complete First Season
Of course it’s disappointing. Once it was announced that the studio wasn’t going to pony up the dough to cover the use of all of the original music included in the episodes, everybody knew it was going to be disappointing. But you can’t deny that the stuff that is here is among the funniest TV has ever had to offer.
Grosse Pointe: The Complete Series
Another one of those “gone too soon” series, as well as a perfect example of why clever TV writers eventually turn to cable, movies, or drugs and alcohol. (I don’t know the stats on which direction they take most often.) Here, Darren Star took everything he learned about teen melodrama on “Beverly Hills 90210” and skewered it mercilessly. The results were hilarious, but the kids who were watching “Dawson’s Creek” at the time didn’t get the joke.
Medium: The Third Season
Generally, a show’s third season wouldn’t rate so highly on my list, but the way “Medium” evolved over the course of this year was remarkable, ending in a manner that managed to reinvent the direction of the series without changing the characters in any unbelievable way. Plus, the special features find the studio continuing to treat “Medium” fans right.
Kyle XY: The Complete First Season
It’s still hard to believe that I’m such a big fan of an ABC Family series, but it’s true. “Kyle XY” aims at a teen demographic without dumbing things down to a point where adults will want to leave the room, and the resulting mystery – who is Kyle, and where does he come from? – keeps you gripped from first episode to last.
The Business: Season 1
Shows that spotlight the inner workings of Hollywood are forever dangerous, since the interest in such things drops pretty dramatically once you leave the confines of Southern California. With “The Business,” the performances are so strong and the material so funny that you manage to slip behind the scenes without feeling completely lost.
The Drew Carey Show: The Complete First Season
Some say the show lost something when it abandoned “Moon over Parma” as its theme song, but whether that’s true or not, it’s fair to say that time has been good to Drew’s sitcom, if only because we’ve just about forgotten that he recycled most of his stand-up routine within the first few episodes. There’s also a great documentary about the series on the set, but don’t get used to seeing Carey contribute to the special features for any future seasons; he hates talking about himself and only did it this once because co-creator Bruce Helford asked him to.
Robin Hood: Season One
A classic character reinvented! The BBC’s really been on a roll lately, and this unique retelling of the “Robin Hood” story, with its kick-ass action sequences and decidedly historically-inaccurate dialogue, proves to be yet another imminently watchable series from across the pond.
Saturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season
It’s not as historically important as the Season 1 set, but it’s certainly funnier, thanks to the cast having had a chance to gel the previous year. (It’s worth noting that when Chevy leaves and Bill Murray fills the void, the show doesn’t miss a beat.) The hosts are great, the musical guests are probably the best of any single season, and the famous New Orleans special is a car wreck that must be seen to be believed.
I Pity The Fool: Season 1
No-one who hasn’t seen this show will ever believe how funny it is, and I can dig that. All I’m saying is that Mr. T takes on reality TV by doing good deeds, making fun of his reputation as a tough guy all the way, and the result is both uplifting and hilarious. If there’d been even the slightest hint of a special feature on this set, it would’ve rated higher than the last spot on this list.