The Lord of The Rings, Extended Editions (New Line/Alliance) It's hard to imagine that anyone on your gift list who'd really appreciate this doesn't already have it, but it's the thought that counts. Twelve discs, all three chapters of Peter Jackson's 11-hour epic adaptation of Tolkien's novel, in their extended editions, with multiple commentaries, handsome digipack cases and 18 hours of making-ofs.
The Simpsons: the Complete Fifth Season (20th Century Fox) For the last-minute Christmas shopper - since it doesn't hit the streets until December 21 - another one of the great Simpsons seasons. Kelsey Grammer returns as Sideshow Bob in a great Cape Fear parody, Kathleen Turner contributes her distinctive growl in Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy, Apu comes to life with the Simpsons when he gets fired from the Kwik-E-Mart, Mr. Burns adopts Bart, and the great Citizen Kane parody, Rosebud, with Bobo The Bear....
Pee-Wee's Playhouse 1 and 2 (Image Entertainment) Returning to PeeWee Herman's rambunctiously odd kids' series almost two decades after it first aired, I'm startled to notice not just Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis - everyone remembers Fishburne - but the unknown Natasha Lyonne as Opal, and a pre-Law And Order S. Epatha Merkerson as Reba The Mail Lady. The Image issue has clean, bright colours, which is a polite way to describe a visual style that only Tom Wolfe at his mid-1960s peak might do justice to, but only if he'd checked with Ken Kesey. Very light on extras, and they're gonna make us buy the first-season Christmas special as a second disc. Bastards.
The Ed Wood Box (Image) Ed Wood has the reputation of being the world's worst director, which isn't really fair. If Michael Bay had Wood's budgets and schedules, he could be the worst director in the world. Compare Wood's lunatic science fiction efforts like Bride Of The Monster or Plan 9 From Outer Space with, say, the nudie films directed by Doris Wishman, and you can see the difference between a misguided enthusiast and someone with no actual interest in making films. Image's Ed Wood Box offers the key features - Bride, Plan 9 and Glen Or Glenda? - along with Jail Bait, Night Of The Ghouls and the documentary The Haunted World Of Edward D. Wood. They've even scrounged up a handful of extras.
Mickey Mouse in Black And White: Volume two (Disney) The second of Disney's Tin Box specials shows a Mickey who's visually cruder and not nearly as annoying as he would become. And Minnie's kinda slutty. OK, flirty. Lots of historical goodies, introduced by Leonard Maltin, including numerous Mickey Mouse appearances in other Disney cartoons.
John Cassavetes - Five Films (Criterion) Ten hours of angsty method improv - Faces, Shadows, A Woman Under The Influence, Opening Night and The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie.
Police Story (Fortune Star) Check Chinatown for this beautiful box set of Jackie Chan's first three Police Story films, with original soundtracks and great transfers.
The Director's Label Series Box Set (Palm) Three two-disc sets highlighting the video and commercial work of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), Spike Jonze (Adaptation) and Chris Cunningham. For the painfully hip 15-year-old on your Christmas list.
THE O.C.: FIRST SEASON (Warner) And for the not-so-hip teen, the first episodes of one of last year's TV phenoms. Package includes unaired scenes and an onscreen music track guide for select episodes.