With Christmas fast approaching we’re all looking for that perfect gift for our loved ones, maybe even the perfect early present for ourselves! Gadgets and tech-bits are all the rage but they’re a pretty sum too and it’s always difficult buying clothes for people when sizes are about as predictable as the weather. So we look to entertainment to fulfil those Christmas wish lists and with 2013 having been a cracking year for film and TV, both in the UK and stateside, box sets seem like a solid option for presents. From entire series DVD sets to special edition Blu-rays, there’s never been a bigger selection of box sets on offer. Here’s our pick of the best of the best.
DVD Box Sets
What: Breathless Series 1
The recent 1960’s drama starring the charismatic Jack Davenport seems to have slipped under the radar for many regular TV watchers but those who did watch it were pleasantly surprised. It paints a vivid picture of London in the sixties and whilst it centres on doctors and nurses it’s far from a hospital drama. With sharp dialogue and an engaging narrative, Breathless is an unexpectedly gripping series that ends with a thrilling cliff-hanger. Anyone who missed it will want to catch up with series one (all six episodes of it) before series two airs next year!
Special Features: None as such but ITV do tend to be a little stingy on the extras. For the price you can’t ask for much more.
How Much: £13.58 Amazon
What: New Girl Season 2
Jess and the gang are back with the second season of New Girl and it’s as quirkily hilarious as ever. Over the course of a whopping 25 episodes Jess has to contend with her growing feelings for Nick, whilst Cece goes down the road of arranged marriage and Schmidt and Winston stumble from one disaster to the next. Featuring a host of guest stars including Jamie Lee Curtis, Rob Reiner, Oliver Munn, Dermot Mulroney and the late Dennis Farina, this is the perfect series to watch with friends.
Special Features: The usual New Girl features including the unmissable gag reel, deleted scenes, an extended version of the fantastic Virgins episode and a feature called ‘Full of Schmidt’.
How Much: £17.00 Amazon
What: Downton Abbey Series 4
There were many critics who thought that series four of Downton was a bit of a let down, that Julian Fellowes was dragging his feet, that the characters were becoming monotonous. And yet viewers tuned in all the same, so either the critics were wrong or the viewers love it so much that they simply don’t care. For avid Downton followers there’s much to be enjoyed with series four, once Mary snaps out of her miserable funk at the beginning of course. Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith are on top form, with the Dowager’s snappy one-liners the highlight of the series as always.
Special Features: A number of small featurettes including ‘The making of’, which provides a detailed look behind the scenes, the ‘Downton diaries’, documenting a typical day on set, and a ‘meet the new cast’ feature, which looks at the new characters in series four, of which there were many.
How Much: £19.99 Amazon
What: Breaking Bad The Complete Series
If we had to pick the stand out television series of 2013 it would have to be the multi-award winning Breaking Bad. Ironic that the second part of the series actually aired on Netflix and not ordinary TV then! So many people would have missed the big finale…but thankfully all five seasons are now available on DVD as a complete set, which is THE perfect gift for fans of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
Special Features: Who needs special features when a series is this good? Well, everyone does actually and you won’t be disappointed with the features here. The box set is jam-packed with insightful featurettes and entertaining interviews with the cast. There’s no better way to remember what’s considered to be one of the best television series ever made.
How Much: £50.00 Amazon
What: Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Definitive Collection 1-13
It wasn’t just Walter White that the world said goodbye to in 2013, they also said goodbye to everyone’s favourite Belgian detective, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Famed for his upward-curled moustache, meticulous manner and his tendency to talk about himself in the third person, David Suchet’s Poirot has become something of a legend over the years. With the final episodes still fresh in people’s minds, this 24-disc box set contains all of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. It’s the ultimate Poirot collection.
Special Features: If 70 episodes is simply not enough then you can go behind the scenes of the classic ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and watch the ‘Being Poirot’ documentary that follows Suchet as he embarks on a personal journey to explore one of fiction’s best loved characters.
How Much: £92.09 Amazon
Blu-ray Box Sets
What: The Hangover Trilogy Limited Edition Steelbook
Released on the 2nd December, the Limited Edition Steelbook features all three Hangover movies, offering three times the laughs. Whilst the critics pounded the third film, the Steelbook is such a neat looking gift that you can forgive the downfalls in order to have the trilogy as a full set. The black book is adorned with a howling gold wolf, the iconic symbol of the highly quotable wolf pack. It’s a limited edition so it’s well worth buying for a Hangover fan whilst it’s still available.
Special Features: If you’re looking for a box set with never seen before special features best look elsewhere. This set is all about the fancy packaging.
How Much: £21.75 Amazon
What: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition
With the second film in The Hobbit series released this month we’ll all be looking to relive the magic of the first film. The Extended Blu-ray 3D Edition of An Unexpected Journey provides the best possible quality for viewing and also has the added benefit of a UV copy, which can be used on tablets and computers etc. There are many, me included, who aren’t entirely sold on the idea of 3D but for those who have 3D capabilities and like having leaves thrown at them from the TV it’s a reasonably cheap present for what it offers.
Special Features: Much like the extended editions of Lord of the Rings back in the day, the extended Blu-ray is really all about the special features, with over 9 hours of extra content. 9 WHOLE HOURS! These really are the best special features on offer and you won’t get them anywhere else.
How Much: £16.99 Amazon
What: Disney Pixar Complete Collection
If you know someone who’s a fan of Disney Pixar and you’ve got a bit of extra cash to splash then the Complete Blu-ray Collection will make one hell of a present this Christmas. There’s Toy Story 1/2/3, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Monsters University, Finding Nemo, Incredibles, Cars 1/2, Wall-E, Up and Brave. That’s not counting the two collections of Pixar Short Films, which will give you hours and hours of Disney goodness. The best thing is it’s not just for kids!
Special Features: Each disc comes with a host of special features, so many that it’s impossible to list them all here without crashing the page. Rest easy in the knowledge that this has tons of extra features from ‘making of’ featurettes and deleted scenes to outtakes and audio-commentaries. It’s worth the money.
How Much: £92.25 Amazon
What: Jurassic Park Trilogy Limited Ultimate Collector’s Edition
If you’ve been following the on-going news about Jurassic World, set for release in 2015, it might have refreshed your love for the dinosaur film series. This Limited Edition trilogy box set is the bee’s knees, complete with 6 discs, digital copies and a T-Rex model. It’s a true collector’s edition for film-buffs and Spielberg lovers alike.
Special Features: It would be worth buying for the T-Rex model alone but to sweeten the deal there’s a ‘making of’ featurette for each of the three films, interviews with Spielberg and his crew, a look at the special effects and art of Jurassic Park 3 and lots of deleted scenes.
How Much: £45.32 Play