SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE COMPLETE GRANADA SERIES (MPI, 1984-1994)
Jeremy Brett delivers a high-intensity vision of the great detective that captures his vanity, humour and dark side like no other actor before him. The supporting cast is equally pumped, especially Edward Hardwicke , whose Dr. Watson is neither dunce nor fuddy-duddy. Faithful adaptations of the original Conan Doyle stories feature sharp writing and strong period recreation.
The box is short on extras (only three commentaries and three interviews), but the dramas make it a must for any serious fans of Holmes or traditional British crime. At $223.99 at amazon.ca.
STARGATE SG-1 (MGM, 1997-2007)
Stargate comes in a giant set: 54 discs, all 214 episodes of the multi-award-winning science fiction series about the exploration of the universe and ongoing conflicts among scientists and soldiers on the mission. Thoughtful stories that blend science and mysticism and good effects work make Stargate highly rewatchable.
The series has always been generous with extras. Everything from the single-season boxes is here, along with four discs of worthwhile new material, including star Richard Dean Anderson discussing his work as a mime and docs on both the mythology and the science behind the series. $258.50 at amazon.ca.
TWIN PEAKS: DEFINITIVE GOLD BOX EDITION (Paramount, 1990-1991)
David Lynch 's surrealist thriller/soap opera remains highly amusing and subtly disturbing. Credit Lynch's ability to suffuse apparently ordinary drama with a sense of profound unease and Angelo Badalamenti 's ethereally eerie music.
Kyle MacLachlan is a hoot as FBI agent Dale Cooper (think Fox Mulder on acid), who comes to a small mountain town to investigate the murder of teenager Laura Palmer. Check the international version, also included, for a different resolution to the case.
The extras feature an extensive and thoughtful making-of retrospective, along with some bizarre goodies, notably the Japanese coffee commercials and a conversation with Lynch, MacLachlan and co-star Mdchen Amick . $84.99 at amazon.ca.
INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: LEADING MEN, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Russell Crowe, Al Pacino (Shout Factory)
Founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan and later made famous by Lee Strasberg, the Actors Studio is an organization for professional actors and directors to develop their craft. It's been home to a host of the greats, including Pacino, De Niro and Dustin Hoffman.
Inside The Actors Studio presents extended onstage interviews conducted by James Lipton before the school's senior students, and De Niro and the others rise to the occasion. They're frank and detailed about their careers and craft.
Pacino is particularly articulate and revealing in a two-hour episode. It's about as good a look at these actors and their art as you can get. The extras are more interview bits, trimmed for length and well worth watching. $31.96 at amazon.ca.
MASTERS OF HORROR: SEASON 1 BOX SET, Vol. 1 & 2 (Anchor Bay, 2005-2006)
Masters Of Horror offer the best contemporary horror around. The box has all 13 made-for-pay movies made by some of the top directors in the field: John Carpenter ( Cigarette Burns ), Stuart Gordon ( Dreams In The Witch House ), Dario Argento ( Jenifer ) and Tobe Hooper ( Dance Of The Dead ).
The movies look good and move fast; at an hour, they've no time to waste. There's no shortage of wetwork for the gorehounds, but it's the atmosphere and varied, unusual stories that lift this series high.
Pick of the lot is Takashi Miike 's Imprint , so bizarre and disturbing that neither Showtime in the U.S. nor Scream in Canada was willing to air it.
Every movie comes with extensive, well-made extras, 40 hours worth in all, with a roundtable discussion on the bonus disc. Each volume goes for $39.98 at amazon.ca. A bargain.