Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and The Larry Sanders Show, together at last.
Some people will tell you that the economy is frozen in a recession that may never thaw. That makes Blu-ray/DVD box sets more valuable than gold. And, gold, as Glenn Beck tells us, is more valuable than money. We’re not sure of the math there, but stay with us because what we’re trying to say is that buying box sets is an excellent investment in your future. Or, rather, of your future . . . unto two or three hundred hours of TV viewing. So, skip film school and grab a few Criterion DVDs. Or, pocket the money you would’ve spent on Red Bull and vodka and emergency contraception and pick up Jersey Shore. From the Monkees to the Ramones, from Larry Sanders to Colonel Kurtz, there’s something for everyone this holiday season, making the DVDs you don’t want to keep ideal holiday gifts.
THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW: THE COMPLETE SERIES | $149.99 DVD | If you even vaguely enjoy laughing and don’t know The Larry Sanders Show, you’re a failure. A decade before 30 Rock, Garry Shandling mined the personal angst of a fictional late-night talk show host and his co-workers for meta-comedy with a surprising emotional core. Starring Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn, and a seemingly endless parade of celebrity cameos, these 89 episodes make a strong case for Larry Sanders as the best — or at least most honest — comedy show ever. The Complete Series includes every minute of it, along with a trove of commentaries, interviews, and deleted scenes from the 2007 “best of” collection. If this isn’t essential, neither is breathing.
AMERICA LOST AND FOUND: THE BBS STORY | $99.95 DVD; $124.95 BLU-RAY | The Criterion Collection performs more Christmas miracles than Santa Claus. Its release of the America Lost and Found Blu-Ray/DVD set brings together seven films made during the brief heyday of BBS Productions, an invaluable player in the late-’60s/early-’70s era of personal and frequently drug-fueled filmmaking. As usual with Criterion, the films range from acknowledged classics (Easy Rider, The Last Picture Show, Five Easy Pieces) to difficult films overdue for popular rediscovery (The King of Marvin Gardens, A Safe Place) to pure weirdness (the Monkees film Head, co-written by Jack Nicholson plus Nicholson’s directorial debut, Drive, He Said). Rounded out with commentaries, interviews, and documentaries, the box will delight the whole family, particularly if the family also enjoys hallucinogens.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: VOLUME XIX | $69.97 DVD | If Criterion catered exclusively to television-dependant latchkey children of the ’80s and ’90s, they’d be Shout! Factory. Shout! is responsible for such lovingly assembled DVD boxes of TV gold as Freaks & Geeks, the surreal It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and, now, 19 volumes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In volume 19 Joel, Mike, and their Satellite of Love robot companions suffer through Ed Wood’s deliriously inept Bride of the Monster; the killer half-dinosaur/half-octopus Jaws rip-off Devil Fish; a film entitled Devil Doll that manages to make ventriloquism look even dumber; and Robot Monster, a ’50s sci-fi film whose titular moon monster looks suspiciously like a gorilla in a diving helmet.