It's still not too late to pick up some holiday gifts in the form of DVD sets and not just your run-of-the-mill network television series. Here are some of my top picks from Acorn Media with a variety of the best of British Television series and miniseries, but some wonderful PBS programs as well. You can purchase online or in stores.
Foyle’s War ($99.99) for online purchase: acornonline.com
While WWII rages across the Channel, police detective Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) reluctantly remains on duty in his quiet English coastal town, investigating crimes related to the conflict: murder, espionage, treason. This award-winning British series blends mystery with history, moral complexity, and period atmosphere. Complete collection of Sets 1-5 includes all 19 episodes seen onMasterpiece Theatre and Mystery!. With Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks. Approx. 32 hours on 19 DVDs.
Joseph Campbell: Mythos – The Complete Collection ($99.99) for online purchase: AthenaLearning.com
Hosted by Academy Award® winner Susan Sarandon, these remarkable talks broadcast continually on PBS explore subjects ranging from Arthurian romances to modern myth. Over a career that spanned nearly 40 years, eminent scholar Joseph Campbell inspired artists, academics, and laypeople with his passion for myth and is best known from The Power of Myth interviews with Bill Moyers, inspiring George Lucas to create Star Wars, and his “follow your bliss” philosophy. The DVD 6-Vol. boxed set includes all three series, plus a 12-page viewer’s guide with a never-before-published essay from Joseph Campbell, biography of the scholar and more
Slings & Arrows ($63.99)
“To be or not to be, that is the question, eh?” A hit on the Sundance Channel, this quirky Canadian series has been compared to Six Feet Under. Follow the outrageous fortunes of a dysfunctional Shakespearean theatre troupe as it struggles with artistic egos and conspiratorial board members. Paul Gross (Due South) and Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall) lead the cast. "Absolutely addictive"—New York Times. Includes all 18 episodes plus an all-new bonus disc; CC; approx. 14 hours on 7 DVDs.
DOC MARTIN: SERIES 1-4 ($49.99)
He’s surly, self-centered, rude and uptight—but he’s the only doctor in town. Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly) stars as Doc Martin, a hotshot London surgeon forced to change careers when he develops a fear of blood. Relocating to a sleepy, scenic Cornish fishing village, he offends everyone in town and falls in love with a beautiful teacher. Collection includes the first 4 seasons of this wildly popular Britcom seen on public television. “Absolutely bloody hilarious”—London Evening Standard. 30 episodes, 24 hours, 9 DVDs,
THE DUCHESS OF DUKE STREET COMPLETE COLLECTION ($80)
Collector’s set of the beloved BBC series seen on Masterpiece Theatre. Created by Emmy® winner John Hawkesworth (Upstairs, Downstairs) and fondly remembered from its Emmy®-nominated PBS Masterpiece Theatre run (1979-80), The series remains a standard of BBC excellence to this day. Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sense and Sensibility) stars as Louisa Leyton, a culinary wizard who ascends from servant to manager of a posh London hotel. Christopher Cazenove (A Knight’s Tale, TV’s Dynasty) co-stars as Charlie, the dashing love of her life. Nominated for an Emmy® and multiple BAFTAs, including Best Drama Series and Best Actress.
- Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Early Cases Collection - 45 mysteries, 13-Disc Blu-ray $250, 18-Disc DVD $200, Series 1-6
- As well as earlier 2012 releases: The Costume Drama Classic Collection (15 discs, $99), The Best of Foyle’s War (6-discs, $50), Midsomer Murders: Mayhem & Mystery Files (15 feature-length mysteries, $150, Series 10-11), and Poldark: The Complete Collection (8-discs, $80). Fortysomething starring Hugh Laurie as a funny, pre-House doctor on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Sandi Berg is also a freelance journalist and writes about television for several magazines including Written By (Writer's Guild of America), Life After 50 and Whole Life Times Magazine.