Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray (Sony)
It is the best TV drama of all time, and this is the best season of it. Need more reason to gift it (and snag another copy for yourself)? It’s packed with great bonus materials like uncensored episodes, deleted and extended scenes, commentary from the cast and crew on all 13 episodes, a gag reel (levity is a big thing with the serious subject matter of Breaking Bad), “Better Call Saul” commercials with the scene-stealing Bob Odenkirk, karaoke with Gale (ah, Gale …) and, on the blu-ray set, 13 video podcasts. And with the show’s fifth, and final, season set to premiere July 15, now is the perfect time to finally catch up with BB.
Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford (Grove/Atlantic)
Every sports fan has a list of favorite sportswriters, but if yours doesn’t include Frank Deford, it’s clearly because you haven’t read him yet. In this memoir, Sports Illustrated/NPR/The National (sigh … The National) legend Deford recalls his early, post-Princeton days at SI (which operated in a Mad Men-ish atmosphere), his friendships with athletes (like the late Arthur Ashe), covering the NBA in its early years, how sportswriting and the relationships between sportswriters and athletes have changed and how he juggled his career and his personal life. Deford’s writing transcends mere sports coverage, of course, and opening the book to any random section might leave you teary, as it did when I read the chapter on his long friendship with tennis great Ashe.
The Big Bang Theory T-Shirt (Entertainment Earth)
This cool shirt features a graphic of the entire cast … bazinga! It’s not the characters, but a graphic of their trademark outfits. Still a very cool tee.
Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
All great sportswriters are great writers no matter what their topic — think Mitch Albom, the aforementioned Frank Deford and Bissinger, who’s covered topics as diverse as Texas high school football (Friday Night Lights, of course), the Stephen Glass saga (in an article that was adapted into one of my favorite journalism-themed movies, Shattered Glass) and the Jerry Sandusky case. In this memoir, Bissinger writes about a road trip with one of his twin sons, 24-year-old Zach, a “savant, challenged by serious intellectual deficits but also blessed with rare talents: an astonishing memory, a dazzling knack for navigation, and a reflexive honesty that can make him both socially awkward and surprisingly wise.” Bissinger and Zach travel from their Philly hometown to Los Angeles, visiting places they’ve lived throughout the years as the Pulitzer-winning writer pursued his career. It’s a bonding trip, to put it simply, as Bissinger comes away with a newfound understanding of his son, their relationship and how his career pursuits have affected the rest of his life. Warning: It’s tough to get through the book jacket description without tearing up, so the story itself is an emotional one.
The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts by Billy Bob Thornton and Kinky Friedman (HarperCollins)
Yup, he’s just as strange as you’ve heard he is, which he details himself in this colorful memoir (which includes a forward written by his blood vial-wearing ex-wife Angelina Jolie). He does have the weird phobias — real silverware skeeves him; he only likes plastic utensils, for example, and he refuses to say the phrase “tater tots”). But the book also showcases what a fantastic storyteller he is (something fans of Sling Blade already knew) and sheds light on some of his more interesting philosophies, like how too much liquor, Ding Dongs and sex being bad for you proves the existence of some sort of higher being.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season (HBO)
Larry David at his Larry-est, with hilarious guest appearances by Michael J. Fox and Ricky Gervais, the instant classic “Palestinian Chicken” episode and bonus features including a roundtable discussion with David and the cast and a “Leon’s Guide to NYC” feature with J.B. Smoove.
Marvel Superheroes Spatulas (Williams-Sonoma)
In Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America versions, they’re perfecting for the grill or flipping Sunday morning pancakes.
The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America’s Best Restaurants on Wheels (Workman)
Food trucks are all the rage, from NYC to SF, and this photo-packed book collects recipes from some of the best, including such delights as Grilled Cheese Mac and Cheese Sandwich from The Grilled Cheese Truck in Venice, the Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger from Brunch Box in Portland, Oregon, Oatmeal Jammy Cookies from The Treats Truck in New York and Soft Serve Ice Cream with toasted coconut and wasabi pea dust from The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in NYC. One you have to try: Elotes, the Mexican grilled corn on the cob with Cotija anejo, chili powder and mayonnaise.
Teen Wolf: The Complete Season One (MGM)
Yes, it’s a teen show on MTV, but it’s also a funny, suspenseful drama that’s better than several (most?) network dramas, and certainly worthy of primetime viewing by those of us post-MTV demographic. Season two just started, making this the perfect time to check out season one of the remake of the ’80s M.J. Fox flick and find a new summer TV pleasure.
The Last Great Game: Duke Vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball by Gene Wojciechowski (Penguin)
The story of — and the aftermath and everything leading up to — the shot, the 1992 NCAA tournament shot that Christian Laettner hit, with 2.1 seconds left in overtime, to give he and his Duke teammates a 104-103 win against Kentucky in the East Regional. The Blue Devils went on to win the national title, and, while the book is a must-read, watching Laettner make that shot after an inbounds pass from teammate Grant Hill again is a must-see, so click here.
Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage From America’s Leaders by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (HarperCollins)
From one great leader to some others: Capt. Sully interviews a lineup of people he considers great American leaders, to get the scoop on what has inspired them to such success. Among those he interviews: retired Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, NYPD and LAPD chief Bill Bratton and first female governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm.
Seinfeld 50 References T-Shirt (NBC)
Puddy’s 8-ball jacket, the puffy shirt, the urban sombrero, Kramer’s Assman license plate, Jerry’s computer, muffin tops, toilet paper squares, the Kramer painting and George’s naughty photo are but a few of the Seinfeld references on this awesome tee, which includes the graphics and a key to their place in the series (as if anyone could forget how envelopes became a deadly weapon in season seven).
Sherlock: Season One and Two (BBC)
Forget the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law movies (as they are quite forgettable) … this is the best Sherlock story being told. The British series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson, and is written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who conceived the series while working together on Doctor Who. To go into much detail would be to risk big spoilers, so suffice it to say that the show’s first two seasons have won BAFTAs and been nominated for Emmys and that a third season is scheduled to begin filming early next year.
Falling Skies: The Complete First Season Blu-ray (Warner Home Video)
Season two just began, making it the perfect time to catch up with ER alum Noah Wyle, who stars as Tom, a history professor who’s become the leader of the human resistance after aliens invade Earth. Tom’s got an extra incentive to find out what the aliens’ real agenda is: among the people they’ve captured and are holding hostage is Tom’s teenage son.
Shut Up and Give Me the Mic by Dee Snider (Gallery)
5 quick facts about the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” singer: 1. His trademark look — with the wild fashions and hair — is courtesy of his wife, Suzette, to whom he has been married for 30 years; 2. Twisted Sister made him rich and famous, but by the ’90s, he’d lost all his money; 3. He wrote most of the songs on Stay Hungry, Twisted Sister’s breakout album, in less than an hour while his wife went to grocery store; 4. Animal House star Mark Metcalf‘s appearance in the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video — one of the most memorable videos of all time — cost $1,000 and a round-trip plane ticket; 5. Snider’s wife helped their friend, Howard Stern, cultivate his rock star image (wearing sunglasses all the time, for instance), and Snider credits Stern with helping him realize he had talents outside music, which has led to his multi-hyphenate radio/TV/book/Broadway career (and comeback).
Game of Thrones Xbox 360 Game (Atlus)
The books, the HBO series and now, Game of Thrones is a 30-hour-plus RPG, where gamers play as one of two original characters who join the action in Westeros during the struggle for power of the Seven Kingdoms. The game’s story is unique to the world of Game of Thrones, as the two original characters — both former soldiers of Robert’s Rebellion — are enemies who must now work together against another common enemy. Should be a nice way to tide over the GoT fan ’til the third season of the HBO hit premieres next April.
Baseball’s Greatest Games: Collector’s Edition (A&E Home Video)
The collection of 10 classic baseball games comes with a bonus disc featuring additional footage, interviews from the games and an audio play-by-play track. As for the games, they include the 1960 World Series, game 7, with Bill Mazeroski’s game-winning home run; 1975 World Series Game 6, which was ranked number one on MLB Network’s 20 Greatest Games list; 1986 World Series Game 6 (Bill Buckner … ohhhh); and the 2004 American League Championship Series Game 4, with the Red Sox comeback after a 19-8 loss in Game 3 (and beginning their run to their first World Series win since 1918).
Doctor Who TARDIS Hooded Robe (Entertainment Earth)
Doctor Who fans will never get the chance to travel inside the TARDIS, but now they can lounge about in the soft, terry cloth comfort of this TARDIS-design robe.
Maverick: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video)
For a fan of classic TV westerns, it doesn’t get better than Maverick, with James Garner playing the titular, wise-cracking cardsharp who, despite his high-stakes poker habits, often found the desire for a big payday taking a backseat to doing the right thing in a moral dilemma.
Episodes: The First Season (Lionsgate)
Matt LeBlanc plays Matt LeBlanc, or rather a version of himself, in this hilarious, underrated Showtime comedy. LeBlanc (the TV version of him) is itching to make a post-Friends and Joey career comeback, so he hooks up with a British duo (who are a personal and professional team) to make a new TV show. Various fun ensues, especially from LeBlanc’s complete willingness to poke fun at himself, and a season one cliffhanger adds a nifty little dramatic twist that will leave you anticipating season two, which premieres on July 1.
Sons of Anarchy Chucky’s Chili T-Shirt (FX)
Chucky’s Chili is “a head above the rest” the t-shirt says. HA! SOA fans will get the joke … everyone else should be busy watching the series DVDs so 1) they’ll eventually understand why it’s funny and 2) because it’s one of the best dramas on TV.
The Sarah Silverman Program: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
Whether annoying her sister (played by her real-life sister Laura) and her sibling’s boyfriend Officer Jay (Jay Johnston), hanging with her geeky gay neighbors Brian and Steve (Brian Posehn and Steve Agee) or plotting to marry Doug (her dog), Sarah Silverman has never been funnier than in this, her short-lived Comedy Central series. The DVD set collects all 32 episodes from the show’s three seasons, as well as animated shorts, behind-the-scenes videos, audio commentary, audition videos and the show’s 2007 Comic-Con panel.
History of the World in Two Hours Blu-ray (A&E Home Video)
Of course you are not going to learn in great detail everything you need to know about the Big Bang and the billions of years that have passed since, but this two-hour (actually, less than two hours minus the commercials that accompanied the network airing) History Channel special is still a novel and fun way to get an overview of, as the title promises, the history of the world, in 3D.
Titanic: The Complete Story (A&E Home Video)
The 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s journey has come and gone, but our fascination with the ship and its tragic ending lives on, and this collection of History Channel specials unfolds the ship’s complete story. Death of a Dream focuses on the ship’s storied unsinkable structure and the unheeded iceberg warnings that did it in; The Legend Lives On tells the story of the overpacked lifeboats and the passengers that were stranded and doomed to death, as well as the sea expedition to delve into the tragedy’s unanswered questions; and Titanic’s Achilles Heel, in which elite divers use CGI and other modern technologies to investigate the possibility that the Titanic had a fatal design flaw that caused it to sink.
Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred — returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET). Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) […]