This holiday season, give a gift that makes an impact beyond the "Wow!" upon initially opening it. The best books, CDs and DVDs offer hours of reading, listening and viewing pleasure for the lucky recipients. Compiled by Tom Beer, Glenn Gamboa and Diane Werts.
To see more holiday gift guides, visit newsday.com/giftguides.
40th no. 1
MAY 13 "Saturday Night Fever" fever. Yvonne Elliman's rendition of "If I Can't Have You," hit No. 1. In doing so, the movie's soundtrack album became the first soundtrack to score four No. 1 singles -- a record that still stands. The others were three BeeGees' songs: "Night Fever," "Stayin' Alive" and "How Deep Is Your Love."
'Orphan Black: Complete Series' (BBC)
Tatiana Maslany didn't win her best-actress Emmy for playing one character but playing five. (Or was that six? Maybe seven?) Her "clone club" versatility powered BBC America's recent thriller of human engineering for five smart seasons, now packed together in a handy sleeve. Bonus 64-page book of Classified Clone Reports, "written" by series character Delphine Cormier, fleshes out Maslany's "genetic identicals" with bios, diary entries, police reports, institute memos, more. It's a sweet add to existing on-disc peeks behind the show's tricky multirole production. $100 DVD/$110 Blu-ray.
'The Photo Ark,' by Joel Sartore
Could one man - a sort of modern-day Noah - photograph one each of all the world's animals? National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is giving it a try. In May 2016, he photographed his 6,000th animal, and after more than a decade on the project, he's still at it. Meanwhile, there's this collection of his animal portraits, a format that gives each creature both personality and dignity: Gee's golden langurs are severe and proud (there are only four left in existence); Budgett's frog is cute and playful (but apparently has devilishly sharp teeth). National Geographic, $35. More info: shop.nationalgeographic.com.
Bob Marley & The Wailers' 'Exodus 40: The Movement Continues' (Island)
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Marley's landmark album, his son Ziggy went back to the original session recordings to create new versions of classics like "Waiting in Vain" and "One Love/People Get Ready." The set includes this version of the album's songs, the original album and a live version recorded in 1977. The vinyl version of the set includes 7-inch replicas of the "Waiting in Vain" and "Smile Jamaica" singles.3 CDs ($54.98) or 4 LPs ($149.98).
'David Bowie: A New Career in a New Town (1977-82)'
The boxed set (from Parlophone) collects all of Bowie's work from his Berlin period - including "Low," "Heroes," "Stage," "Lodger," "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" and "Re:Call 3" - with both "Lodger" remastered by producer Tony Visconti specifically for the set. The vinyl version of 13 LPs goes for $249.98, while the CD version of 11 CDs will be $149.98. More info: davidbowie.com.
'Porky Pig: 101' (Warner Archive)
A five-disc collection of 101 theatrical Porky Pig cartoons from 1935 to 1943, half of which have never been available through Warner Home Video. Many of these shorts, such as Chuck Jones' excellent "Porky's Prize Pony," haven't been seen publicly in decades. All have undergone some form of restoration. Buyers, take note: These classic cartoons predate modern sensibilities. Commentary from a range of interesting folks, including John Kricfalusi ("Ren & Stimpy"), Joe Dante ("Gremlins") and the late director Frank Tashlin. $47.99 for five DVD discs.
Bob Dylan's 'Trouble No More'
The massive eight-CD package, $174.98, features more than 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings from what is known as Dylan's spiritual period, around the releases "Slow Train Coming," "Saved" and :Shot of Love." However, the biggest surprise may be the DVD, which includes "Trouble No More: A Musical Film," combining previously unreleased footage from Dylan's 1980 tours with sermons written by Luc Sante and performed by Michael Shannon. More info: bobdylan.com.
'The Crown: Platinum Edition' (Sony)
It's the royal treatment for this award-winning first-season Netflix drama of 10 episodes. Its intimate rendering of the family and reign of Queen Elizabeth II stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith, with John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. (Season 2 starts Netflix streaming Dec. 8.) The silver-edged sleeve holds an old-style foldout package of hard plastic trays with four discs, which offer only a bonus photo gallery. But the "platinum" box adds informative physical items -- Windsor family tree chart, replica coronation newspaper reports, collectible coin and strong booklet excerpt from companion book "The Crown," sorting fact from dramatized fiction.
$56 Blu-ray (Amazon-exclusive Platinum Edition; regular sets list at $56 Blu-ray/$46 DVD).
The Smiths, ‘The Queen Is Dead’ (Warner Bros.)
The box set of The Smiths' landmark 1986 album that included "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" and "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" includes a remastered version of the album, a disc of demos and B-sides and a live concert from the period in Boston. The DVD includes the 14-minute film Derek Jarman directed that was inspired by the album. 3 CDs, 1 DVD, $39.98.
'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' 35th Anniversary Limited Edition
Steven Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster comes to 4K Ultra HD looking as sharp as you'd expect, reflecting all the L.A. smog of its era and film grain of its production format. What it doesn't reflect is any new effort in bonus features, simply retaining the interviews and other extras of the film's 2012 Blu-ray set. Audio steps up to DTS:X (similar to Dolby Atmos), with 4K rendering HDR color gamut. $40 for two discs. More info: uphe.com.
If you have a 4K Ultra High Definition television, you probably bought it precisely to watch movies like this one. Christopher Nolan's visually dazzling sci-fi epic, starring Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut searching for mankind's new home, gets a state-of-the-art home video release that also includes Blu-ray. Fifteen featurettes on the film's sets, props, visuals and other aspects. $31.99 for three 4KUHD/Blu-ray Discs. Available Dec. 19.
‘100 Amazing Facts About the Negro,’ by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
This illustrated history by the well-known Harvard scholar and television documentarian is an homage -- and a corrective -- to a 1957 volume, "100 Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof," by Joel Augustus Rogers, billed at the time as "A Negro 'Believe It or Not.' " Gates combs through African-American (and world) history to answer such questions as "Who was the first African to arrive in America?" and "What black man made many of our favorite household products better?" (Answers: Juan Garrido and Herbert C. Smitherman Sr.) Pantheon, $40. More info: penguinrandomhouse.com.
'CMA Awards Live 1968-2015' (TimeLife)
This country music collection of 127 awards-show numbers on 10 discs reaches back to Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" and Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," then moves forward through Little Big Town's "Girl Crush" and Taylor Swift's "Begin Again." Also singing: young Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson; icons Tammy Wynette and George Strait; stalwarts Alabama and Reba McEntire; current stars Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood; dozens more. New interviews with legends like Charley Pride, Naomi Judd. Printed program guide lists the songs. Bundled booklet details all years' CMA winners. 10 DVDs, $120.
Various Artists, ‘Saturday Night Fever (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 40th Anniversary Edition’ (Capitol)
How deep is your love for the disco era classic? The 40th anniversary edition includes the original soundtrack in both CD and LP form, as well as new remixes from Serban Ghenea of the Bee Gees hits including "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever." Director John Badham's cut of the movie is on the Blu-ray, with the soundtrack updated to use surround sound. 2 CDs, 2 LPs, 1 Blu-ray $89.99.
'Paperbacks from Hell'
If you know anyone who grew up obsessively reading Stephen King and V.C. Andrews novels, look no farther for a present. This volume by Grady Hendrix bills itself as "The Twisted History of ''70s and ''80s Horror Fiction," collecting the deliriously lurid mass market covers of favorites such as "The Exorcist," "The Omen," "The Amityville Horror" and "Red Dragon." Just thumbing though these pages will bring back your youth -- and terrify you all over again. Quirk Books, $29.99. More info: quirkbooks.com.
'The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition' (Paramount Home Media)
Yes, another "Godfather" home video collection -- but this one is being touted as a limited-edition run of 45,000 sets. Francis Ford Coppola provides audio commentary for all three films. Trivia cards, character chards, magnetic poetry (!?) and an added disc of featurettes. $35 for four Blu-ray Discs.
‘The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums,’ by Will Friedwald
If someone you know has Frank Sinatra (or Ella Fitzgerald or Tony Bennett) in heavy rotation, here's just the right present. Friedwald, a jazz and cabaret critic and author of "A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers," singles out 57 albums by vocalists from Fred Astaire to Cassandra Wilson. Yes, the usual suspects are here, as they should be -- Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours," Billie Holiday's "Lady in Satin" -- but so are some surprises. "God Bless Tiny Tim," anyone? Pantheon, $40. More info: penguinrandomhouse.com.
Elvis Presley, ‘A Boy From Tupelo: The Complete 1953-55 Recordings’ (RCA)
This set, which collects every known live performance and radio recording from his early years, does a great job at showing how Presley created his distinctive style, especially in songs like "Harbor Lights" or "Blue Moon," where multiple takes show how his vocal approach evolves, from crooner to something wilder. An included 120-page book is made to look like a datebook that chronicles Presley's early years, with rare photos and pictures of memorabilia. 3 CDs $39.98.
'Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray' (Universal)
This collection skips around a bit but hits many highlights, including 1942's lesser-known "Saboteur," the mid-period classics "Rear Window" and "North by Northwest," the surprisingly intense "Frenzy" and Hitchcock's final film, "Family Plot." Each film comes on its own disc with bonus content. Plus, there are two discs with a total of 10 episodes from Hitchcock's television series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." $85.69 for 17 Blu-ray Discs.
‘France Is a Feast,’ by Alex Prud’homme and Katie Pratt
Some of us can never get too much of Julia Child and her remarkable culinary life. For fans of the movie "Julie & Julia," along with Child's own memoir, "My Life in France," comes this book, subtitled "The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child." Bringing together more than 200 pictures taken by Julia's husband, Paul, the book is a valentine to France in the aftermath of World War II, with plenty of photos of the irrepressible Julia, in the kitchen and out. With stories collected by Child's great-nephew Alex Prud'homme, her co-author on "My Life in France." Thames & Hudson, $35. More info: thamesandhudsonusa.com.
'CSI: Complete Series' (CBS)
This hefty box of 337 episodes can do double duty as weightlifting gear: Its sturdy green sleeve contains four thick EpikPak plastic cases to hold its 93 discs. As TV's sleek-glass-lab trendsetter, CBS' Vegas-set smash would seem ideal for Blu-ray. But just two of its 15 season sets were released in high-def, and here again, it's just DVD. At least it includes 2015's separately released "event" finale. All the voluminous season-set extras are retained, with featurettes and cast/crew appearances, from originals William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger on down to late adds Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue. $200 DVD.
'Green Acres': The Complete Series
Oliver, Lisa, Eb, Mr. Haney and the whole Hooterville gang can finally be seen in all 170 episodes of the surreal cornpone series from those silly-sitcom '60s. This may be the Dada masterpiece of its era, with hard-as-nails hotcakes and pigs that go to school, set in ramshackle rural houses with the latest Barbie-pink appliances. Bonus features may be slim, but they're superb. A 38-minute featurette has a historian tracing the series' creation, production and impact, while a vintage "Merv Griffin" talkfest half-hour shows how sharp stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor could be. A fact-filled finale-episode commentary puts the show in perspective with its cultural/TV times. $140 for 24 discs, shoutfactory.com.
Garth Brooks, 'The Anthology Part 1' (Pearl)
Brooks looks at the first five years of his career, from 1989 to 1993, and the five albums that he produced in that time. The set includes "Garth Brooks," "No Fences," "Ropin' the Wind," "The Chase" and "In Pieces," as well as 19 previously unreleased songs and demos, the era that brought us "Friends in Low Places" and "The Dance." The included 240-page hardcover book includes Brooks' stories of his early years and more than 150 previously unreleased photos, including one of his job application at Cowtown Boots in Nashville. 5 CDs, $39.98.
'The Complete Monterey Pop Festival' (Criterion)
This three-disc set is essentially a small research library on the Monterey International Pop Festival, the 1967 music fest that gave the world such iconic images as Jimi Hendrix igniting his guitar and The Who's Pete Townshend smashing his. This collection features D.A. Pennebaker's documentary "Monterey Pop" (1968), plus his two short concert films of Hendrix and Otis Redding. Every complete available performance and/or outtake by the Byrds, the Association, Simon and Garfunkel, Tiny Tim, Laura Nyro and many others. $69.95 for three Blu-ray Discs.
Mariah Carey's 'Butterfly' 20th anniversary
Mariah Carey is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her "Butterfly" album with a collector's edition version, $29.99, featuring a Carey photo pressed on the vinyl for . "Butterfly" includes hits like "Honey" and "My All" and fan favorites like "The Roof." More info: mariahcarey.com.
'Planet Earth Collection' (BBC Earth)
Here's a less expensive gift that's gorgeous -- and sets the standard for 21st century nature video. This high-def bundle of "Planet Earth" (2006) and "Planet Earth II" (2016) boasts narration by the BBC's renowned David Attenborough. His first series captures animals/landscapes more intimately than ever. The second addresses their plight vs. human "progress." Making-of featurettes, commentary, more; in embossed "earth" slipcase. $65 Blu-ray.
George Michael, ‘Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged Deluxe' (Columbia)
This set combines a remastered version of the late singer's "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" from 1990 with the first American release of his "MTV Unplugged" special from 1996, which includes his gorgeous cover of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" and a stunning acoustic version of "Fastlove." The DVD includes a "South Bank Show" documentary of the making of "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" and the CD of bonus material includes "Fantasy" with Nile Rodgers. 3 CDs, 1 DVD, $59.98.
'Men in Black Trilogy 20TH Anniversary 4K Collection' (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
A six-disc collection of Barry Sonnenfeld's three blockbuster hits starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as paranormal policemen. Despite long gaps between each installment -- the first film was released in 1997, the last in 2012 -- the franchise has remained a popular favorite. Featurettes, commentary tracks and even music videos. $75.99 for three 4K Ultra HD and three Blu-ray Discs.
‘Queen in 3-D,’ by Brian May
What could be better than guitarist-songwriter Brian May's backstage photos of the rock group Queen in its '70s and '80s heyday? The same photos in 3-D. May, a photo buff, carried a 3-D camera with him on tour and into the recording studio, but many of his photos have not been seen publicly. Reproduced in a coffee-table-book format with an accompanying OWL 3-D viewer, May's snapshots put you right there with Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and John Deacon; a final section depicts the band's current incarnation with Adam Lambert. London Stereoscopic Company, $60. More info: shop.londonstereo.com.
'Bob Hope Specials: Thanks for the Memories — Deluxe Box Set' (TimeLife)
Fans of the revered 20th century comedian would love this coffee-table-book-size box. Don't confuse this with last year's six-disc set of the same name. It does include that case, with 13 of his star-filled TV specials. But it also holds previously released sets "Entertaining the Troops" (1940s-'90s), "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" (1974) and "Bob Hope: TV Legend" specials -- 19 discs in all. "Hope for the Holidays" recalls Christmas telecasts. "Shanks for the Memory" has Hope/celebs playing golf. Plus: bloopers, presidents' appearances and 32-page family picture book with stories, timeline, memorabilia. $200 DVD.
Queen, ‘News of the World: 40th Anniversary Edition’ (Universal)
The album that kicks off with "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" gets the super-deluxe treatment for its 40th anniversary, including a new analog version for the vinyl album and CDs featuring B-sides and alternate versions of the classics. The DVD includes a one-hour documentary, "The American Dream," which features material from the band's 1977 American tour. There are also three posters and a replica laminate from the tour. 3 CDs, 1 DVD, 1 LP, $145.
'D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage' (MVD)
Lech Kowalski's 1980 documentary about the early years of punk rock focuses on the Sex Pistols' 1978 tour of America -- a brief, brilliant disaster that sent cultural ripples throughout the country. The film, available for the first time on disc (in both Blu-ray and DVD formats), also features live performances by the Dead Boys, Sham 69 and Billy Idol's Generation X. A full-length documentary on the documentary, by former MTV producer Richard Schenkman. $39.95 for two discs. Available Dec. 8.
‘Looking Backward,’ by Michael Lesy
More than a century before we scrolled through endless pictures on Instagram, people saw the world -- in 3-D -- with a stereoscope. This volume, subtitled "A Photographic Portrait of the World at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century," collects 250 remarkably crisp black-and-white images, from the boardwalk of Atlantic City to the villages of Russia and beyond. Among the historic events captured are the Spanish-American War (1898) and the San Francisco Earthquake (1906). W.W. Norton & Co., $49.95. More info: wwnorton.com.
'Peanuts Holiday Collection' (Warner)
Savor that upgraded Ultra HD big- screen and native 4K Blu-ray player with this sparkling remaster of three animated favorites -- "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," and the one that started it all, 1965's "A Charlie Brown Christmas." And wow, do those cartoon lines and colors really pop! Plus there's a choice of original "classic" picture (squarish screen) or cropped "widescreen," not only on the main title but on two bonus half-hours per holiday! No 4K equipment yet? This compact black case also packs Blu-ray versions, so you're set for now and later. Note, however, that among these previously released Blu-ray discs, only Christmas offers two bonus specials, "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown" and "It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown." There's just one for the other Blu-rays ("It's Magic, Charlie Brown," "The Mayflower Voyagers"), where 4K discs add a second ("Charlie Brown's All-Stars," "Play It Again, Charlie Brown"). $45 4K+Blu+digital (six discs)
Stone Temple Pilots, ‘Core Super Deluxe Edition’ (Rhino/Atlantic)
The set celebrates the 25th anniversary of the band's debut, with hits like "Plush" and "Sex Type Thing," as well as the life of the late Scott Weiland. In addition to a remastered version of the album, a CD of demos and B-sides, a CD of two concerts and a CD of the band's "MTV Unplugged" special, as well as a DVD of videos from the album. Ordering it through the band's website will also get you a replica of the 7-inch U.K. single version of "Plush." 4 CD, 1 DVD, 1 LP, $79.98.
'The Vietnam War: An Intimate History'
If anyone you know was riveted by the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS, they'll appreciate this companion volume. Here the reader can spend more time considering the history of the war, the powerful images that captured it and the personal stories of those who experienced it. "The Vietnam War was a tragedy," writes author Geoffrey C. Ward. "But meaning can be found in the individual stories of those who lived through it, stories of courage and comradeship and perserverance, of understanding and forgiveness and, ultimately, reconciliation." Alfred A. Knopf, $60. More info: penguinrandomhouse.com.
'100 Years of Olympic Films' (Criterion)
One of this year's more impressive collections is a retrospective of 53 newly restored documentaries covering 41 editions of the Olympic Games. Among the highlights are such famous titles as Kon Ichikawa's "Tokyo Olympiad" (1964) and Leni Riefenstahl's "Olympia" (1938), plus lesser-known films from Claude Lelouch, Milos Forman, Carlos Saura and others. Includes a 216-page hardcover book by film historian Peter Cowie. $399.95 FOR 32 Blu-ray or 43 DVD discs. Available Dec. 5.
Picador Modern Classics
Here are some highbrow stocking stuffers: pocket-size editions of indispensable works of contemporary literature. The latest volumes in the series are nonfiction works by iconic women writers, including Joan Didion's definitive 1960s essays, "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"; Susan Sontag's meditation on war, "Regarding the Pain of Others"; Hillary Mantel's memoir of illness and recovery, "Giving Up the Ghost"; and Barbara Ehrenreich's portrait of working-class America, "Nickel and Dimed." Picador, $16 each. More info: macmillan.com.
'Samurai Jack: Complete Series' (Warner)
Cartoon Network's Emmy-grabbing action epic gets a cool shiny slipbox to hold its five season sets, now wrapped in vivid custom art. First four seasons are now remastered, alongside finale run done in high-def widescreen. Metal art print captures the show's striking visuals. On-disc treats include making-ofs, creator profile and commentaries. $113 Blu-ray+digital.
'The Before Trilogy' (Criterion)
Made over the course of nearly 20 years, Richard Linklater's three romantic dramas -- "Before Sunrise," "Before Sunset" and "Before Midnight" -- track the relationship between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), who meet as young bohemians on a Vienna-bound train and together face the realities of middle age. "Dream Is Destiny," a recently-aired PBS documentary on Linklater; a new interview with the director and his two stars; and more. $99.95 for three DVD or Blu-ray Discs.
Billy Joel's 'The Stranger' 40th anniversary picture disc
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Joel's breakthrough album, which includes the hits "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" and "Just the Way You Are," as well as classics like "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Vienna," the West Babylon-based indie label is issuing a special picture disc of the album, featuring the front and back cover artwork pressed on the vinyl. More info: brookvalerecords.com.
'Phantasm 5 Movie DVD Collection' (Well Go USA)
Don Coscarelli's oddball horror flick from 1978, about a teenager who discovers a bizarre conspiracy at the local cemetery, underwent a painstaking restoration spearheaded by J.J. Abrams, a longtime admirer. This is the first time all five films in the franchise have been collected. Each film comes with some combination of trailers, deleted scenes, featurettes and Coscarelli's commentary tracks. $29.98 for five DVD discs.
'Mythology,' by Edith Hamilton
Generations of readers have learned the Greek, Roman and Norse myths from Hamilton's volume of lively retellings, originally published in 1942. This handsome edition celebrates the book's 75th anniversary with full-color illustrations by artist Jim Tierney. The gang's all here, including Zeus, Hera and the other gods of Mount Olympus; Perseus and the snaked-wigged Medusa; Theseus and the Minotaur; mighty Hercules. Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99. More info: hachettebookgroup.com.