Father’s Day Gift Guide 2011: Pop Culture for Your Pop

Father’s Day is this Sunday, meaning precious few shopping days left to make sure you get something worthy for your dad, grandpa, godfather, uncle and all those other special dudes who deserve recognition this Father’s Day. Dads always seem so much tougher to shop for than moms, so, in the interest of making your last-minute shopping a bit easier, a few recommendations for great gifts from among the pop culture goodies that have crossed the TVScreener.com desk so far this year …

The Ernie Kovacs Collection (Shout! Factory)
For those who already know TV pioneer Kovacs’ work, this collection is a must-own. For those who don’t, the set is a must-get, as Kovacs was to early TV what the Marx Brothers were to early movie comedy, which is to say that many of today’s best comedians have drawn from what the Marxes were doing decades ago, and the same can be said of today’s best talk show hosts and Kovacs. Shout! Factory’s six-DVD set includes selections from Kovacs’ local Philadelphia TV shows and his national NBC primetime efforts, plus his delightful specials (including the classic silent special Eugene), his Dutch Masters cigars commercials, home movies, rare photos and a 44-page booklet with the full scoop on the TV comedy legend.

Human Planet on Blu-ray (BBC Warner)
It’s the follow-up to Planet Earth, with a focus this time on how humans interact with our surroundings. From the awesome lenticular cover to the amazing imagery of the Blu-ray footage, the 3-disc set collects all eight installments of the BBC documentary, including “Oceans,” “Arctic,”  “Jungles,” “Mountains,” “Grasslands,” “Rivers” and “Cities.”



Weeds: Season Six (Lionsgate)
Drug-dealin’ Nancy Botwin and her family kick up the wackiness a notch or 10 this season, as they hit the road to avoid Nancy’s estranged husband and babydaddy Esteban after her older son Shane killed Esteban’s pal. Along the way, Silas tries to become a regular college student, Shane befriends some soccer moms and Uncle Andy continues to fight his feelings for Nancy, who has a fling with a bartender (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and reveals a big family secret when the family heads to her Michigan hometown.
Bonus Features: A gag reel, commentary with cast and crew and a behind-the-scenes featurette with stars Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon.

Nurse Jackie: Season Two (Lionsgate)
Just as her Sopranos co-star James Gandolfini managed to endear mobster Tony to viewers, Edie Falco manages to do the same with Jackie Peyton, a drug-addicted, lying, adulterous nurse. That the show manages to wring dark humor out of such dramatic topics as drug addiction, lying, cheating and some very unfunny emergency room situations is all the more reason to catch up with the Emmy-winning series.
Bonus Features: Audio commentaries with cast and crew and featurettes on stars Peter Facinelli and Eve Best.

Childrens Hospital: Complete First and Second Seasons (Warner Home Video)
Created by funny guy Rob Corddry (who plays clown-faced doctor Blake) and featuring an all-star cast that includes Henry Winkler, Megan Mullally, Rob Huebel, Lake Bell, Malin Akerman and Ken Marino (with guest stars like Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Nick Kroll and Michael Cera), the over-the-top Web-to-TV Adult Swim comedy revolves around a cast of wacky medical personnel who spoof the uber-serious dramas and randy romances of TV medical shows like House, ER and Grey’s Anatomy.
Bonus Features: A gag reel, outtakes and deleted scenes, Adult Swim wraparounds and the “I Killed Cancer” music video.

Royal Pains: Season Two (Universal)
The show got even better in season two, in no small part thanks to cast additions like Marcia Gay Harden and Henry Winkler as Hank and Evan’s papa, Eddie, who they discovered was living in the Hamptons, as well as guest stars like Tom Cavanagh, Mary Lynn Rajskub, John Legend and Jim Gaffigan.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, commentary tracks, Q+As with the cast, a gag reel and featurettes on the show’s guest stars and gorgeous filming locations.

Psych: The Complete Fifth Season (Universal)
The show lives up to its fun and quirkiness vibe in season five, with episodes that saw Gus teaching Lassiter how to tap dance, a spoof/homages to Twin Peaks and Bad Santa, a Boyz II Men makeover of the show’s infectious theme song and some serious movement on the Shawn/Juliet romance. And, of course, there was a fantastic string of guest stars, including Freddie Prinze Jr., John Michael Higgins, Carl Weathers, William Devane, Chi McBride, Kevin Alejandro, Nestor Carbonell, Franka Potente, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Peter Weller, Tony Cox, Jimmi Simpson, Cybill Shepherd and Ralph Macchio.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, audio commentary, cast and crew interviews, a gag reel, a featurette on the making of the “Dual Spires” episode and, in true Psych spirit, a funny behind the scenes feature on the making of a behind the scenes feature.

Friday Night Lights: The Fifth Season (Universal)
It’s still unfolding on NBC, but the devoted fans who’ve loved the show for its entirely too short five-season run will want to complete their set with this collection, which finds Coach Eric and wife Tammy, one of the best TV couples ever, riding off into the sunset, along with the players, family, friends and various other football-lovin’ townsfolk who made this one of the great underappreciated TV dramas ever.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, audio commentaries, a yearbook-style gallery of photos and a featurette on the show’s five seasons.

Breaking Bad: The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray (Sony)
Mad Men gets more attention, but this AMC series is one of the best dramas on TV, and with season three, it only got better. Walter White’s cancer is in remission, but he’s still knee deep in trouble, as wife Skyler files for divorce, a Mexican drug cartel wants him dead, Jesse’s in rehab and DEA agent bro-in-law Hank is about to bust him. Walt’s solution: to cook up one game-changing drug deal, one that, of course, goes much differently than he had planned.
Bonus Features: Audio commentary, featurettes, a visit to the show’s writers room, a family photo album, a gag reel, a feature on the show’s music, an interview with the cast and stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul answer fan questions.

The Kids in the Hall: Complete Series Megaset (A&E Home Video)
A perfect marathon: 22 discs include all five seasons of Kids in the Hall fun, plus the original pilot episode and the recent eight-episode Death Comes to Town miniseries.
Bonus Features: An hour-long oral history of the Kids, audio commentary, 10 best-of compilations, original performances footage, cast bios and never-before-seen footage.


Pawn Stars: Season Two (A&E Home Video)
Spring for the set from the History Channel Shop, which includes a Pawn Stars t-shirt. Old Man, Chumlee, Rick and Big Hoss bobbleheads sold separately.




Best of the Dean Martin Variety Show (Time Life Entertainment)
The title says it all: It’s the best of Dean Martin’s variety show, in which the coolest member of the Rat Pack (IMHO) entered the stage down a fireman’s pole and sang, danced and joked along with pals like Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Orson Welles, Don Rickles, Dom DeLuise, George Burns, Jack Benny, Nipsey Russell, Rodney Dangerfield, Dinah Shore, Jonathan Winters, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Lynde, Andy Griffith, Bob Newhart, Tony Bennett, Phyllis Diller, Duke Ellington, Tim Conway, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ethel Merman, Robert Mitchum, Phil Silvers, and Lena Horne, all who appear on this six-disc, digitally remastered and restored collector’s set.
Bonus Features: Interviews with stars like Bob Hope.

Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Four on Blu-ray (A&E Home Video)
No spoilers about who won this season, but veterans and fan faves Alex Debogorski and Hugh Rowland were neck and neck for much of the season.



IRT: Deadliest Roads: Season 1 on Blu-ray (A&E Home Video)
The ice roads are scary enough, but there were times when I had to look away while watching this spin-off series. Ice road drivers Lisa Kelly, Rick Yemm, David Redmon and, very briefly, Alex Debogorski drove treacherous roads in India, roads that didn’t look like they were safe to walk on, let alone sturdy enough to support heavy loads in rickety trucks. And then there were those steep mountain drops …


61* (HBO Home Video)
Lifelong New York Yankees fan Billy Crystal directed this HBO film, about the 1961 battle between teammates Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) to break Babe Ruth’s record for most home runs hit in a season. It’s a must-own for the baseball devoted, and looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
Bonus Features: Audio commentary by Crystal.


When It Was a Game: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray (HBO Home Video)
All three parts of HBO’s wonderful documentary on baseball are collected for this Blu-ray set, which uses video footage taken by fans at games in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s to shed light on the game’s biggest names from the fans’ point of view. Distinctive voices like James Earl Jones and Liev Schreiber are among those who narrate and provide voiceovers for the specials, which include rare footage of baseball legends like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb and Cy Young.

Burn Notice: Season Four (Fox Home Entertainment)
Well-written, well-acted … Burn Notice is easily one of the most fun spy shows on TV, and season four was another fine effort, as burned agent Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) continued to unravel the mystery of who manipulated him and his career. Coby Bell joined the cast as Jesse, the spy Michael burned while investigating his own case, and, as usual, a list of great guest stars popped up throughout the season, including Garret Dillahunt, Robert Patrick, Richard Kind, Jay Karnes, Tim Matheson, Dylan Baker, Alan Dale and Burt Reynolds.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, audio commentary and featurettes on the rivalry between the writers of Burn Notice and USA cohort White Collar.

The Glades: The Complete First Season (Fox Home Entertainment)
Star Matt Passmore is the main reason to check out this A&E original series, in which Passmore stars as wisecrackin’ Chicago police detective Jim Longworth, who relocated to Florida in the name of lots of sun, golf and easy living, but finds that murder follows him to paradise.
Bonus Features: Deleted scenes, gag reel, audio commentary and making-of featurettes.


Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler (Ecco)
You know that rather colorful style of speaking Tyler revealed on American Idol during season 10? It wasn’t just for show. It’s also the style he uses in this colorful, quick read autobiography. It’s not a quick read because it’s particularly short; it’s that the mega rock star shares his stories – drugs, sex, band fights, rock ‘n’ roll and rehab – in a breezy, straightforward manner. Sample: Tyler on meeting model Bebe Buell, who had a reputation for dating a lot of rock stars, “The thought that I could make her Top 10 made my Dick Clark.”



Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller (Little, Brown)
It’s more than 700 pages long, so you’ve got to really be into ESPN to read this fascinating oral history of the network. But it comes from the bestselling authors of Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, another classic TV tome, and it’s rife with anecdotes about the wild goings-on at the network, so it should keep the SportsCenter-obsessed happy for most of those 700 pages. Interviewees in the book include Mitch Albom, Erin Andrews, Lance Armstrong, Peyton Manning, Chris Berman, Bob Costas, Bryant Gumbel, Craig Kilborn, Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Robin Roberts, Bill Simmons, Hannah Storm, Scott Van Pelt and Rush Limbaugh.


Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe (Henry Holt)
Lowe sheds light on his career path and how he has weathered various ups and downs and scandals throughout his years in Hollywood, and drops lots of juicy anecdotes involving his famous friends and co-stars, including the full story behind how the Brat Pack came to be called the Brat Pack; his teen actor years, which included a lot of time spent at the Sheen household, where his future West Wing co-star Martin was a source of much fatherly advice and where the young Charlie is described as a sweet kid who wanted to be a baseball player; and about his stint in rehab and stories about working on everything from The Outsiders to The West Wing.


Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon and the Writers of Late Night (Grand Central Publishing)
Fallon’s funny Late Night bit is expanded into a gift book that includes notes of gratitude to stuffing, “for always being delicious, even though you’re cooked inside a turkey’s butt”; haters, for “giving rappers so much to talk about”; and sweater vests: “You’re a great way to keep warm while telling your arms to go screw themselves.”


Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV by Ben Shapiro (Broadside Books)
No matter what their political viewpoints, any TV fan who enjoys delving behind the scenes of the industry and their favorite shows will find this book provocative. The sheer amount of reporting Shapiro did is incredible, as he talked to more than 100 top players in TV land, but the fact that so many of them admitted, on camera, that they do indeed inject their political stances into the shows they make is pretty surprising. As are the allegations by actors like Michael Moriarty, who says NBC and Law & Order creator Dick Wolf turned on him when he spoke out against Janet Reno, and The A-Team star Dwight Schultz, who says being a Reagan supporter led to an unpleasant experience with Bruce Paltrow (yes, Gwyneth’s dad), a producer who was then casting for St. Elsewhere.


Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?: The Lost Toys, Tastes & Trends of the 70s and 80s by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont (Perigee Trade)
I know I’m not the only one who will pick up any book that recalls all the pop culture goodness of childhood in the ’70s and ’80s, so like-minded devotees will particularly enjoy this walk down memory lane, as it comes from Pop Culture Junk Mail blogger Fashingbauer. The A to Z rundown includes everything from air hockey and Battle of the Network Stars to Encyclopedia Brown and Fruit Brute cereal to Shrinky Dinks, Trapper Keepers, Underoos, V.C Andrews books, Wacky Packages and Zoom.


Cereal: Snap, Crackle, Pop Culture by Ed Daly (Mark Batty Publisher)
It’s the perfect read to accompany your own bowl of sugary breakfast (or lunch. Or dinner. Or late-night snack …): author Daly lost his Wall Street job and became Mr. Mom (or, as he puts it, “In a day, I went from Wall Street to Sesame Street“), which allowed him time to sample, photograph and analyze many different breakfast cereals, which he reviews in this fun tome. Each cereal gets a letter grade, along with a bit of pithy commentary. Among his favorites are Rice Chex, which he gives an “A” and calls “the champagne of cereals,” while at the other end of the scale, Fiber One gets an “F” and Daly’s comment that “General Mills tells me to rethink fiber. After eating this, I’m starting to rethink my will to live.”


Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Become a Big Kid by Simon Pegg (Gotham)
The Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz comedian is a self-proclaimed supergeek, and he proves it in this endearing autobio in which the zealous Star Wars fan recalls telling Carrie Fisher he used to kiss her photos every night before going to bed, and also talks about getting to work with some of his own movie heroes (Steven Spielberg, for instance) and his famous friendship with fellow funny guy Nick Frost.




King of the Road: True Tales From a Legendary Ice Road Trucker by Alex Debogorski (Wiley)
He’s the world’s most famous truck driver, and, as you would expect from someone who has driven the most dangerous roads for decades and who’s also a devout Christian with 11 children, he’s got a lot of stories to tell, including several about how he’s cheated death many times. Along with his colorful personal history, Debogorski also includes scoop on the famous ice roads, a fun bonus for fans of Ice Road Truckers.




The Old Man and the Swamp: A True Story About My Weird Dad, a Bunch of Snakes and One Ridiculous Road Trip by John Sellers (Simon & Schuster)
I’m a longtime fan of my fellow scribe Sellers’ writing, and his latest book is the perfect Father’s Day gift. He writes of a road trip with his father, a quirky, snake-obsessed guy, the kind of guy who gave his son a baseball card (and not a particularly valuable one) as a wedding gift and who once gifted his (now ex) wife a wrapped Snickers bar. The father-son memoir is laugh-out-loud funny, but also sweet, as the titular road trip gives the writer a chance to really get to know and understand his dad a little better, an act that should inspire other sons to do the same with their papas.


The Ride of a Lifetime: Doing Business the Orange County Choppers Way by Paul Teutul with Mark Yost (Wiley)
It’s not an autobiography, but the details of Teutul’s early life, tough childhood and struggles with drugs and alcohol make the story of his hard-earned business success – he essentially turned $120,000 and a hobby of building motorcycles into a multi-million business – all the more impressive.





101 Mojitos and Other Muddled Drinks by Kim Haasarud (Wiley)
The Blood Orange Mojito … the Pomegranate Mandarin Mojito … the Watermelon Basil Lemonade … all tasty dad drinks included in this beautifully photographed book. Besides, if mojitos are good enough for Burn Notice‘s Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) …







Details: Transfer files in style, thanks to these clever little USB drives that come in the shape of great movie and comic book characters, including Batman and The Joker, Darth Vader and Yoda and, for this weekend’s big superhero movie, the Green Lantern and Kilowog. MIMOBOT also has several other Star Wars characters as USB drives, along with mini hoodies to keep them protected.


Wipeout in the Zone for Kinect (Xbox 360) (Activision)
If you sorta want to try the Sucker Punch and the Big Red Balls, here’s a chance to try them without the certain pain of actually doing them. Based on the TV show, Wipeout in the Zone allows players to try all the wacky stunts contestants play on TV, with snarky commentary provided by Wipeout hosts John Henson, John Anderson and Jill Wagner and cool features like instant replay and paintball action for players not running the course.




Nintendo 3DS
Real 3D graphics, no glasses needed” is Nintendo’s motto for the 3DS, and it’s true. The 3D graphics are so bold, in fact, that it takes a minute or two to adjust to just how in your face they are at first (though a 3D depth slider allows you to adjust the effect). The 3DS also includes a 3D camera, motion and gyro sensor and dual screens, and built-in software that allows you to browse the Internet. And among the fun 3D game titles available for the 3DS: Steel Diver (a submarine battles game), Lego Stars Wars III, Madden NFL Football, Ridge Racer 3D, SpongeBob SquigglePants, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition.

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