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Too much good TV on DVD, too little time!

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Too much good TV on DVD, too little time!

Ever heard of too much of a good thing? You will over the next two weeks, when NBC will release the previous seasons of its four best shows (Friday Night Lights, Heroes, 30 Rock, and The Office) on DVD. If you are a serious TV fan, you need to own these. The question is, when the hell will you have time to watch them? Certainly not this fall, when you’ll be busy watching new seasons of Friday Night Lights, Heroes, 30 Rock, and The Office.

Last year, when The Glutton was but a wee infant, I tackled the subject of feeling compelled to buy DVDs, only to leave them sitting unopened on an overcrowded shelf. I suppose the difference here is that then I was collecting stuff that sometimes wasn’t even very good, but since that time I’ve exercised a little bit of quality control, and these four sets all qualify as top-notch entertainment (at least they would if people still used the phrase ”top-notch”).

TV on DVD has proved to be the biggest offender of taking up prime real estate in my house. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, the sets are just big and unwieldy. On a show like Heroes, you are talking about 23 hours of regular programming plus a few hours of bonus features — and that is just for one season! That means more discs and — when you factor in the fancy-schmancy packaging — more space on your shelf.

Secondly, if you are a big fan of a movie, you buy the movie, but if you are a big fan of a TV program, you could be in for five, six, or — in the case of The Simpsons — 3,247 seasons of a show. Seriously, Seinfeld alone practically occupies an entire wall with all of its various season sets (not helped, it should be pointed out, by the inclusion of a ”puffy shirt” with one of them). Finally, the problem of volume is exacerbated by the mere volume of television out there. With 300 some-odd channels, there is certainly a lot of swill, but there is also more quality TV out there than ever before.

Just this past year on the small screen, you had the aforementioned NBC fantastic four, plus Lost, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Rescue Me, Big Love, Flight of the Conchords, Extras, Brotherhood, Broken Trail, The Sopranos, and Ugly Betty (which was just released on DVD yesterday). And that’s not even getting into all the embarrassing reality shows I digest on a daily basis.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and get every single one of these sets right now or whenever they are released on DVD, because then you would be like me and have your spouse yelling at you for turning your abode into a geek-infested dorm room. But they’re hard to resist, aren’t they? Especially when you see flashy words like ”commentary track” and ”deleted scenes” strewn across the covers. The Heroes set contains a 73-minute original unaired pilot of the drama, which features a different introduction to Sylar as well as a whole terrorism subplot involving ”the Engineer,” a previously unseen character with special abilities. The inclusion of this tantalizing bonus feature is far more insidious than anything Sylar’s ever done, because it basically ensures that any and every fanboy will be immediately relieved of their $40.

But this brings us back to the original question: Outside of these extras, when will we have time to actually go back and watch these episodes that we fell in love with in the first place? Especially when all these sets are being released at the same time? I have no idea, but how can one not shell out the coin for a set with a bonus feature titled ”Kevin Cooks Stuff in The Office”?

NEXT PAGE: Obsession of the Week and The Five

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

Okay, I’m probably embarrassingly late on this and as a result must rescind any and all hipster cred I once possessed, but I don’t care. I am flat-out obsessed with the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines. Why? Because these inmates have found the perfect way to pass the time: memorizing the dance choreography to pop anthems that span both continents and decades. The crowning achievement has to be their rendition of Michael Jackson’s ”Thriller” video, complete with guy in drag playing his date, hordes of unruly undead, and, of course, awesome zombie dance moves! Go ahead and check it out below. I’ll wait…

But they don’t just stop there. These inmates have also taken it upon themselves to bring Queen’s ”Radio Ga Ga” to beautiful orange jumpsuited life. And then there are other songs like the ”Algorithm March,” something called ”Jumbo Hot Dog” and pretty much anything from the Sister Act franchise. (No one said they had good taste.) Of course, I suppose it’s no surprise that these routines are so impressive. After all, the prisoners certainly have plenty of ”time” to practice. And I’m happy to see a prison population getting such good exercise, even if said exercising means pretending to be a cannibalistic zombie or a Whoopi Goldberg fan. Rehabilitation at its finest!

THE FIVE

We’re passionate people here at Entertainment Weekly, and occasionally those passions boil over into heated arguments over particular TV shows. Are they amazing or amazingly awful? Ask two different people and you’ll often get two different responses. Here, then, are The Five Most Hotly Debated Summer Shows at Entertainment Weekly.

1. Scott Baio Is 45?and Single

This show may have incited the ugliest EW civil war since the great Daughtry and Hicks divide of 2006. Dan Snierson swears by this reality entry, and I swear he must have a screw loose for liking it. The whole thing is a sham, and a very unfunny one. Of course, there are several people here who would tell you otherwise.

2. My Boys

Our critic, Gillian Flynn, named it one of the worst shows of 2006, but you will also find several fans of the sports-themed comedy roaming the halls of Entertainment Weekly. (Or is it hiding under their desks?) I’ve caught every single episode. At first it was just because my wife loved it and I was indulging her, but (outside of the horrible narration) I’ve grown to dig it. Especially Jim Gaffigan, who steals every scene.

3. The Hills

It’s pretty simple, actually. Every staffer under 30 loves it. Everyone over 30 needs a barf bag anytime it is even mentioned.

4. John From Cincinnati

Genius, or a big f-you to viewers? Good question, and even my opinion on this show varied from episode to episode.

5. Flight of the Conchords

Believe it or not, there are a few people on staff here who really did not like this quirky comedy. I won’t name names because they have already received enough electronic abuse through taunting e-mails and such. But they will pay, dammit!!!

NEXT PAGE: Reader Mail

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READER MAIL

To stretch or not to stretch? That was the question I posed to you, dear readers, last week in my column on buying an HDTV. Readers were pretty evenly split on whether to keep shows in their standard size, with black bars on the side, or to stretch the image out to fill the screen. That and other musings follow in this week’s mailbag.

Congrats on the new HDTV, Dalton ? welcome to high-tech world with the rest of us! My husband and I decided to not watch TV shows in 4:3 because (a) those pesky black lines distract us from the shows, especially with those giant ”HDTV” letters in them; (b) we paid a mint for a bigger and clearer picture, and the black lines just make a mockery of that investment; and (c) it’s refreshing to see all those stick-thin TV people look almost normal when the picture stretches them out. Happy watching! — Martha Culver

Yeah, that’s what had me stretching at first — trying to get my damn money’s worth. Still can’t help but feel everyone looks a bit funky that way, though.

If you are a guy that likes big butts then stretch that s— out! It works for all hotties, with real big butts or not. However, be careful when watching Jessica Biel, the sides of your TV will crack. — Billy

Why are the sweet sounds of Sir-Mix-a-Lot suddenly dancing in my head?

After nearly a decade of watching widescreen versions of The Matrix, the SE Lord of the Rings movies, the Alien movies on a regular TV, I’ve come to have a sense of pride seeing the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. It meant I was watching the movie in widescreen the way it was meant to be watched. I still to this day judge people who buy pan & scan DVDs (die, pan & scan!). With a widescreen TV, I kind of miss the black bars when I watch a movie, so it’s oddly nice to see them on the sides when watching non-HD TV. — Mike Z

Yeah, you know, the black bars don’t really bug me anymore, and, like you, I’m used to them on top and bottom from years of watching widescreen movies. As I mentioned, I think the stretching thing was more about me trying to maximize my screen size, but I also was concerned with…dammit! Just got Sir-Mix-a-Lot stuck in my head again. Seriously! Once it’s in there you can’t get it out! Let’s just move on.

Oh Dalton, how I laughed in an ”Oh-my-God-I’m-reading-my-life!” kind of way as I followed your HD journey. The initial hesitance, the online reviews, the all-important HD envy that sent me spinning in the first place…I know how you felt. I went through it three months ago…but man, was it worth it! But the detail that got me to write were those dang balloons. You know, those hot air balloons over Vermont? The Sunday night after I got my TV, after DVRing much randomness on Discovery HD, I found myself staring at the slowest-moving TV program I had ever seen. And I LOVED it! Because it was AMAZING! Ahhh, Sunrise Earth. I was captivated, hearing naught but the occasional bird and the firing of heated gas as they propelled the balloons along their lazy, lazy journey. I found myself imagining myself preparing for the week by watching it every Sunday night, exploring my world through the incredible sharpness and detail that was Sunrise Earth. I imagined it as a time of meditation and relaxation ? just me and my HDTV. Then, of course, I was introduced to the rest o’ the world of HD and though I’ve tried to recapture the magic of my first HD sunrise, I can’t. Why? Because holy freaking COW, it’s sooooo boring! But I’ll never forget my first time…and I’m glad that you can relate. — Patrick LaFleur

It’s hypnotic, really. I just sat there watching it and could actually feel drool slithering down my chin because I was too entranced to close my mouth. Even my hyperactive kids just sat there like nature-appreciating zombies. Holy crap, I totally just came up with the best movie idea ever — zombies in a hot air balloon! What are they doing in a hot air balloon? Beats me. How can they hunt down and feed on human flesh from a hot air balloon? I have no idea. But it still would be funny as hell. I have to get the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center on this, pronto.

Dalton, get out! No, seriously, I can’t believe you watch Get Out. My husband always slips this onto the TIVO list ? I innocently watched the first recorded episode thinking it would take me back to our lovely vacation in Mexico, only to be subjected to a 15-minute interlude of Tiffani and Ashli frolicking in an outdoor shower. For shame!! — Shannon Reid

I agree completely! It is shameful. But I have no shame — you know that, Shannon. And I swear, I’m looking at the…uh, nature. Although it is somewhat odd to have a nature show where the hosts are not all completely ”natural,” if you know what I’m saying?. You don’t, do you? Boob jobs. I’m talking about boob jobs.

Please tell me you didn’t miss Planet Earth on Discovery HD. It’s amazing ? find someone with the DVDs. I am also addicted to the MOJO HD network. Three Sheets (which airs on said network) is my new favorite show. — Jackie Malicki

Wanna know what a loser I am, Jackie? I actually held on to the Planet Earth DVDs for months, just waiting to properly view them on my HDTV with up-converting DVD player. Didn’t even open the package until I had the right equipment. You’re right — it’s mind-blowing. Even, dare I say, better than the balloons.

Couldn’t agree more about Entourage. My roommate and I watch it every Sunday night but continue to be in awe of how ridiculous it’s gotten. Now, ever since the Dennis Hopper episode, whenever something really convenient happens, we just say, ”The hippie forgot to place the bets!” — Aaron Fullerton

Yeah, it’s pretty sad how lame it’s gotten. I’ve seen good shows go bad and then bounce back, but I can’t say I hold out that much hope in this case. It’s a lot harder for comedies to get their groove back.

Sick of me dissing Vincent Chase and the boys? Are you a TV-on-DVD addict? And what summer shows do you argue about with your friends? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!

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