DVDs draw TV past into the present

December 23, 2003|By ALBANY TIMES UNION

Television has recognized there's gold in their old vaults, and is converting everything shy of test patterns into DVDs.

Here are some of the releases of TV shows - both legendary and not-quite-so-classic - that make great gifts:

Band of Brothers (2001 miniseries, HBO; $119.99). One of the greatest World War II works ever filmed, this miniseries was overshadowed by the aftermath of 9/11.

I Love Lucy: The Complete First Season (1951, CBS; $99.98). It was this show, this season, that established television's sitcom format. You can love or hate Lucy for that.

Roots (1977 miniseries, ABC; $59.98). One of the medium's most important events, this multigenerational saga about the slave trade sparked a national debate a little more than a quarter-century ago.

Homicide: Life on the Street - Seasons 1 & 2 (1993-1995, NBC; $69.95). This challenging, realistic cop series, filmed in Baltimore and starring Andre Braugher, was a critical fave that always struggled to stay on the air because of mediocre ratings.

The Prisoner - Complete Series (1968, CBS; $149.95). Patrick McGoohan plays No. 6, a government agent who was either a prisoner or a test subject in a surreal village where nothing was as it seemed. Though it only ran for 17 episodes, The Prisoner is cited as one of the most daring dramas ever created. (It also spawned a pretty good Iron Maiden song.)

Brian's Song (1970 TV movie, ABC; $14.98). The James Caan-Billy Dee Williams original about doomed Chicago Bear running back Brian Piccolo is one of the all-time great tearjerkers.

The Honeymooners: Classic 39 Collection (1955-1956, CBS; $49.99). Ralph Kramden served as the prototype for characters ranging from Archie Bunker to Homer Simpson.

The Sopranos: Complete First Season (1999, HBO; $99.98). This is arguably the single greatest season a television series ever enjoyed: The first year of HBO mob drama.

Petticoat Junction: Four Classic Episodes (1963-1970, CBS; $4.98). It's official: There is no TV series out there that's not eligible for DVD treatment.

Sports Night: Complete Series (1998-2000, ABC; $59.99). This dramedy about a fictional sports network deserved a better fate. Penned by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), it starred Baltimore native Josh Charles.

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