Father’s Day is near and here are a few last-minute gift suggestions for the dad who loves watching movies and binge consuming TV shows in his man cave.
Cheers: The Complete Series (Paramount Home Video, Not Rated, price range — $59.49 to $117.99) — Television viewers flocked to a place “where everybody knows your name” between 1982 and 1993 and appreciated one of the best situation-comedies in the history of the medium.
For 11 series, NBC chronicled the life and loves of former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson), now a local bar owner and collector of oddball Bostonians who practically lived in his establishment.
The legendary ensemble cast included Shelley Long as the snooty cocktail waitress Diane Chambers, Woody Harrelson as not-to-bright bartender Woody Boyd, Rhea Perlman as the wickedly cynical waitress Carla Tortelli, George Wendt as resident barfly Norm Peterson (“Norm!”), Nicholas Colasanto as the kindly but dense bartender Coach Ernie Pantusso, John Ratzenberger as know-it-all barfly Cliff Clavin, Kelsey Grammer as psychiatrist and Cheers regular Frasier Crane, Kirstie Alley as corporate bar manager Rebecca Howe and Bebe Neuwirth as Mr. Crane’s foil Lilith Sternin.
Creators James Burrows and Glen and Les Charles timeless series received a record 117 Emmy Award nominations (28 wins) over its run, was near universally praised by critics and a constant ratings winner after an initial rocky start.
The entire 275 episodes have been reissued in the DVD format and now are offered in a more affordably priced and tightly compacted package with 45 disks spread out between two plastic containers.
Extras are light throughout with an interactive tour of the bar, character-themed featurettes compiling some of the best zingers from the shows, a tribute to Mr. Colasanto and a gag reel.
However, every episode is packed with sharp writing and guaranteed laughs. Expect dad to go off the radar and binge watch this hilarious television series.
Clint Eastwood: The Universal Pictures 7-Movie Collection (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Not Rated R and PG, price range $59.86 to $84.98) — A classic collection of 1960s and 1970s films pays tribute to one of the toughest actors and most accomplished directors in the history of movie making.
This 7-disc, Blu-ray set offers a trio of Mr. Eastwood’s famed westerns — “Two Mules for Sister Sara” (1970), “Joe Kidd” (1972) and “High Plains Drifter” (1973) — along with a quartet of his thrillers — “Coogan’s Bluff” (1968), “The Eiger Sanction” (1975), ” The Beguiled” (1970) and his directorial debut in “Play Misty for Me” (1971).
Most appreciated will be the actor’s “man with no name” persona in “High Plains Drifter,” the James Bond-style action in “The Eiger Sanction” and very unsettling performance of Jessica Walter as a stalker in “Play Misty for Me.”
Extras are very light and really only found in “Play Misty for Me” with its 49-minute tribute from 2001. However, focus here should be giving dad a chance to appreciate in high-definition, the cinematic evolution of an American icon.
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series (HBO Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, price range — $99.99 to $239.99) – The entire five seasons of the fictional odyssey of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, builder of an Atlantic City-based bootlegging empire during Prohibition, gets compiled into one massive Blu-ray set to highlight yet another HBO, critically acclaimed, award-winning, viewer-embraced television series.
The period drama stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky and an amazing array of real, legendary gangsters such as Al Capone (Stephen Graham), Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Charlie “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza), Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef), Bugsy Siegel (Michael Zegen) and Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci).
“Boardwalk Empire” offers historical insight into the brutally violent, early years of organized crime in America.
Owners get all 56 episodes spread out over 20 disks in glorious, high definition, with all of the extras found in the original releases of the individual season sets (that’s 28 optional commentary tracks, vintage newsreels and interactive character chronicles to name a few) as well as the final platter offering exclusive bonuses to the collection.
These include a 30-minute overview of the series featuring words from Mr. Buscemi and executive producer Martin Scorsese and another 30 minutes of featurettes highlighting production design, visual effects and cinematography.
Once again, this is binge-watching smorgasbord, especially for dads who are enamored with mobster culture.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (PBS Home Entertainment, Rated TV-14, price range from $57.64 to $129.99) — One of the most influential families in American politics was meticulously chronicled by award-winning documentarian Ken Burns back in 2014.
This Blu-ray set offers the 7-part, 14-hour extravaganza that explores the triumphs and tragedies of the Roosevelt family focused on Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor between the years 1858 and 1962.
The narrative mixed classic Burns’ photo-panning techniques, rare film footage, interviews with historians and voice-over work from some leading actors who read notes, speeches and letters. The cast included Paul Giamatti as Teddy, Edward Hermann as Franklin and Meryl Streep as Eleanor with notable voices of John Lithgow, Ed Harris, Billy Bob Thornton, Eli Wallach and Keith Carradine lending vocal cords support.
Enlightening and often riveting throughout, viewers learn of a one-man force of nature named Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, a man so indestructible he once took a bullet in the chest by an assassin and continued to speak to an adoring crowd for another hour.
Or, the incredible trials of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who guided a nation through the Great Depression and a World War while suffering from the debilitating effects of polio.
If 14 hours is not enough, producers add extra vignettes and deleted scenes (almost 100 minutes worth) including 12 minutes on the importance of FDR’s relationship with Margaret Daisy Suckley, for example, and a 30-minute look at the massive documentary with words from Mr. Burns.
Gift givers can also package this fantastic history lesson with the 48-minute companion CD ($18.99) that offers many of the original music tracks created by David Cieri with speech excerpts of FDR in action.