August is the perfect time to take advantage of the new trend of popular TV shows coming to DVDs. Marc Bernardin picks five must-have collections
The Simpsons, The Simpsons, ...
Credit: The Simpsons: Fox

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3

Forget summer reruns — watch TV shows on DVD

Let’s get this out of the way right up top: Reruns are for wussies, especially during the summer. You can never be exactly sure when they’ll be on, or when some crappy reality show will pre-empt them. You can’t count on them to run in order, and you can never be sure it’s not going to be the one episode you’ve already seen. Luckily, this year brings a revolution that’s going a long way towards making reruns a sucker’s game: TV shows on DVD.

The floodgates have opened, and there’s no need to spend your August at the mercy of the networks (or have to watch ”The American President” every friggin’ night on basic cable). Here are five TV collections to see you through to September:

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Fox, $59.98) You could buy the first season’s boxed set if you want to see where Joss Whedon’s fantastic supernatural series began, but you’d only get 13 episodes. Go for the gusto and follow Sarah Michelle Gellar’s teen titan as she does battle with the undead for a full season, one that features a few commentaries from co-executive producer Marti Noxon.

ROOTS: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Warner, $59.98) It won awards, it made television history, and it changed the world. Those are three very good reasons to pick up this set, which traces the journey of young Kunta Kinte, taken from his native Africa and sold into slavery in the United States. Most of the eight two-hour episodes have audio commentaries by members of the cast and crew to help in the educational endeavor. No, it’s not light viewing, but haven’t you had enough of that this summer?

THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Fox, $49.98) You know it, you love it, and occasionally, it flew right over your head. ”The Simpsons” consistently proves itself the smartest show on TV, so there’s no shame if you missed a joke or two. All the better to catch up with it on DVD, where commentary tracks by the producers helps you plumb the untold riches.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION SEASON THREE (Paramount, $139.99) Boldly go where this series really started to get good. Follow Capt. Picard and his sturdy unitarded crew as they do battle with time travel, petulant omnipotent aliens, and the Borg. Not too much in the way of fabulous supplements — lots of relatively stale retrospective documentaries — but you get to warp into the pinnacle of televised Trek.

TWIN PEAKS — THE FIRST SEASON SPECIAL EDITION (Artisan, $59.98) Who killed Laura Palmer? Who cares? The point isn’t the solution to the riddle, it’s puzzling it out along the way. The first season of David Lynch’s little TV experiment set a new standard for episodic quirk, one that it would never again match. Though you won’t get Lynch’s hard-to-find original pilot, this set is a mother lode of Peaks arcana — one that you’ll need more than one damn fine cup of coffee to get through.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3
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