Sunday, December 11, 2005

Holiday Gift Suggestions - A Brief Guide DVDs

Here's the second installment of my holiday gift list. This one is a far less specific about products than my earlier listing. I had planned to make specific suggestions but as I point out these would reflect my tastes and that doesn't really help anyone. It's less about suggesting specific material than perhaps offering a little guidance as to directions that someone buying DVDs as gifts might find helpful. (In other words I'm weaseling out a bit on my title.)

Since the format debuted DVDs have been a natural gift choice, just as prerecorded tapes were before them. I'm not going to try to suggest movies. For one thing there are so many choices out there and individual taste is the most important aspect of this. I can recommend The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (and it is something I want in case someone who is buying for me is reading this) but most people would look at the words "Silent Movies" and run in terror (probably including anyone who is buying for me), so I'll mostly restrict myself to an overview of TV related material.

Season Boxed Sets
Boxed sets of seasons of TV series are a perfect gift, and practically suggests itself. If someone has the first three seasons of 24 for example, what could be a more natural Christmas gift than 24: Season Four. You can also make choices based on what a person watches on TV or in reruns what they'd like or the sort of show they might enjoy. A Smallville fan might appreciate The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season and Lois and Clark: The Complete First Season. It's tricky though. A Star Trek might not be interested in Babylon 5 and vice versa. I could list a number of titles - indeed that was my intention when I started to write this - but those would reflect my tastes and even when they are outstanding productions, both in terms of the programs themselves and what is on the DVD, they aren't ideal for everyone.

Children's Programming
Anyone buying DVDs for children needs to be aware of a few things. Age is very much a consideration. Brian, my almost three year old nephew loves Thomas The Tank Engine and The Wiggles but will he like them when he's six? I can practically guarantee you that he won't like them when he's nine. Another thing to be aware of is that if you're a parent you had better like the DVDs because you are going to be seeing and hearing them a lot. Particularly with the youngest children they want to see the same video - and sometimes the same episode - over and over again in a period of minutes not hours or days. Would your sanity survive that sort of repetition of Barney the Dinosaur, Blue's Clues, or The Wiggles? Incidentally one interesting idea that I've heard of is playing old silent comedy shorts like Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton for younger children (I haven't had a chance to try this with Brian yet). Apparently they appreciate the slapstick comedy and the music and don't mind that it isn't in colour and that the people don't speak. There are some very affordable sets of this material out there, although of course it's a case of caveat emptor and you get what you pay for.

Special Interest DVDs
There are a lot of DVDs that fit into this grouping, touching on just about any interest, and not all of them were TV shows but it is an area that people might want to consider when giving DVDs for Christmas. lists the following categories: Art & Artists, Cooking & Beverages, Crafts & Hobbies, Dance, Educational, Fitness & Yoga, Health, History, Home & Garden,Metaphysical & Supernatural, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Parenting & Childcare, Religion & Spirituality, Self-Help, Sports, Transportation, and Travel. And I'm convinced that if you put a little more work into searching for DVDs - looking in hobby publications and the like - you can find even more material, often from small producers who aim for a very specialized market.

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