Need a little help finding gifts for those "difficult" relatives? Take a look at these DVD and VHS treats.

Almost Famous -- Untitled: The Bootleg Cut

FOR THE SON WHO SPENT MUCH OF THE YEAR IN DETENTION The Complete Prisoner Mega-Set (1968, A&E, 884 mins., unrated, 10 discs, $149.95, only on DVD, on sale now) Before Patrick McGoohan took to playing bad guys in movies like Silver Streak and Braveheart, he was arguably the smartest actor ever to work in British TV. How else to explain The Prisoner, the slippy, trippy spy series created by and starring McGoohan? Granted, it ran for only 17 episodes — strange how sometimes the best programming doesn’t get the chance it deserves — but that just makes it easier to collect in a handy boxed set. It’s daring, allegorical, and very, very intelligent. But don’t be afraid: A little thinking never hurt anyone. — Marc Bernardin

FOR THE PALE NEIGHBOR WHO DRINKS TOO MUCH COFFEE Twin Peaks: The First Season Special Edition (1990, Artisan, 366 mins., unrated, 4 discs, $59.98, new to DVD, on sale Dec. 4) Who killed Laura Palmer? What is the symbolism of the dwarf? Huh? These questions and more will be answered, kinda, by a four-disc set devoted to the surrealistic small-town murder mystery conjured by David Lynch and Mark Frost (although the biggest mystery may be why the two-hour pilot is omitted from this collection). The goodies: new interviews with the cast and crew, episode analysis by the directors, archival material from the fanzine Wrapped in Plastic, and optional Log Lady introductions. And if you have to ask who the Log Lady is, then consider yourself lucky to be seeing this head trip for the first time. — Troy Patterson

FOR THE BROTHER-IN-LAW WHO THINKS COOL BEGINS AND ENDS WITH KENNY G Jazz (2001, PBS, 1080 mins., unrated, 10 discs, $199.92, also on VHS, on sale now) Rightly or wrongly, Ken Burns has earned a rep as the premier pop documentarian of our time. So it’s worth taking note when — having already tackled Baseball and The Civil War — he dips into that most elegant of American art forms, jazz. The final piece of his American trilogy may seem intimidating at 19 hours, but it should be long: He starts tracing the music’s history in the 1890s and works forward. And hey, if that’s not enough Burns, keep an eye out for his 15-DVD set on Mom and Apple Pie due next year. — Daniel Fierman

FOR THE PICKLED AUNT Absolutely Fabulous: Complete DVD Collection (1994-95, BBC, 540 mins., unrated, 4 discs, $99.98, also on VHS, on sale now) The award-winning British comedy, which plays like equal parts Thelma & Louise and Sex and the City, comes in a luscious little boxed set cheaper than a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Follow the wicked misadventures of best friends Patsy and Edina as they deliver deliciously decadent humor while indulging in sex, drugs, and the battle of the bulge. All 18 episodes from the first three seasons are featured on three discs, plus an extra disc of bonus materials that includes a guide to all things AbFab. With new episodes airing on Comedy Central starting Nov. 12, take this opportunity to catch up on the unseemly female behavior that began it all. — Sunny Lee

FOR THE UNCLE WHO WALKS FUNNY Monty Python Live! (2001, A&E, 270 mins., unrated, 2 discs, $39.95, also on VHS, on sale now) None shall pass…up an offer to get their grubby little paws on more Python, in this case a double-disc set full of retrospectives and odds and ends (mostly odds with this group) spanning three decades. Begin your comedic quest with 1982’s Live at the Hollywood Bowl (featuring stage renditions of sketches like ”Silly Walks”), and 1998’s Live at Aspen reunion. There’s also Parrot Sketch Not Included: 20 Years of Python, an anniversary special that runs through all the classic Circus clips. And now for something completely different: Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus, a bizarre (even for this bunch) episode shot entirely in German, Holzfaller (a.k.a. lumberjack) included. — Dalton Ross

FOR THE DAD WHO THINKS HE’S STILL ”GOT IT” Ultimate Jordan (2001, USA, 330 mins., unrated, 2 discs, $26.98, only on DVD, on sale now) It’s the ultimate in sports porn: a full five and a half hours of Michael Jordan highlights. Suspiciously timed to his triumphant comeback, this two-DVD set from NBA Entertainment features not only MJ’s five high-octane films — including Come Fly With Me, which reminds those who have forgotten that the man used to take on teams practically by himself — but also goodies like his top 10 dunks, assists, and clutch shots. It’s a great opportunity to look back and ask, again: How, exactly, did Jordan do what he did, and why did he do it so often to the Cleveland Cavaliers? — DF

FOR THE NEPHEW WITH THE BIG EARS Dumbo: 60th Anniversary Edition (1941, Walt Disney, 64 mins., G, $22.95, also on VHS, on sale now) When confronted with a tender, heartrending masterpiece like Dumbo, it’s hard to believe that the same company is responsible for Atlantis: The Lost Empire, a movie that feels sprung from a Happy Meal brainstorming session. Disney’s elephant-with-the-big-ol’-ears stunner comes to DVD with kid-friendly supplements like a storybook read-along, a few animated shorts, and a pair of sing-alongs — as well as a commentary by animation historian John Canemaker and a retrospective doc for the grown-ups. (Unfortunately, Dumbo is still saddled with some rather unfortunate stereotypes — the crows play like Stepin Fetchit caricatures — but history is history, for better and for worse.) — MB

FOR BOTH THE HEAT- AND THE COLD-MISER Rankin/Bass Present (1964-92, Sony Wonder, 290 mins., unrated, 3 discs, $56.98, only on DVD, on sale now) You’d have to be a castaway from the Island of Misfit Toys not to get a kick out of this three-disc set, which compiles five classic children’s TV specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and Frosty Returns. And though the subpar Frosty sequel can be left on ice, toy-toting youngsters (and their retro-loving parents) will dig the ’60s and ’70s programs Santa Claus, Little Drummer Boy, and Rudolph, which use the Claymation-like ”animagic” technology and feature some catchy Christmas tunes courtesy of Fred Astaire and Burl Ives. — Brian M. Raftery

FOR THE JOURNAL-KEEPING YOUNGER BROTHER Almost Famous/Untitled: The Bootleg Cut (2000, DreamWorks, 159 mins., R, 2 discs, $26.95, only on DVD, on sale Dec. 4) Given that it’s a roman a clef about director Cameron Crowe’s teenage initiation into the world of rock criticism, it’s no wonder that Almost Famous’ fully loaded rerelease gleefully meshes reality and fiction with its slew of additional goodies. Untitled, the director’s cut (almost 40 minutes longer than the theatrical version), includes commentary tracks from both Crowe and his mom, Alice, the inspiration for Frances McDormand’s hand-wringing fusspot. Crowe also perpetuates the legacy of Stillwater with a 24-minute CD, rehearsal footage from their San Diego show, and six songs from the Cleveland gig excerpted in the film. It’s enough to get even the most stuffy cineast ready to rock.

Almost Famous -- Untitled: The Bootleg Cut
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