From various “”Star Trek”” franchises, to “”Xena: Warrior Princess””, 2003 saw a ton of TV programming released on DVD. These are the top five packages released over the last year.
1.Firefly – The Complete Series – What a difference chronological order makes! Suddenly “”Firefly”” goes from being an intriguing failure, to the beginning of what might have become Joss Whedon’s finest work. The package includes commentaries for half of the series [six regular eps and the double-length pilot, “”Serenity””], three eps that never aired in the U.S., and several other rewarding features: “”Here’s How It Was: The Making of Firefly””; “”Serenity – The Tenth Character””; Joss Tours The Set””; “”Joss Whedon Sings The Theme From Firefly”” [not as hideous as he makes it sound in interviews]; “”Alan Tudyk’s Audition””; “”Deleted Scenes”” and a very funny [but way too short] Gag Reel. Each disc has its own sleek plastic sleeve. Final Grade: The Series: A+ Bonus Material: A+ 2. The Dead Zone – The Complete First Season – An unexpectedly formula-free television adaptation of characters and situations contained in Stephen King’s novel and the fine David Cronenberg film, “”The Dead Zone”” featured solid writing, appropriate effects and terrific direction. The first season DVD release features commentary tracks for every, single episode! Plus, for those who acted immediately upon purchasing the set, a DVD of the series’ original pilot was made available for the cost of postage – and featured selective scene commentaries that illustrated the differences between the two pilots, and the reasons for those differences. Other features include: the series’ creators discussing the genesis of the show; interviews with cast, crew and creators; a featurette that takes you inside writings’ meetings; a tour of the show’s visual effects; a featurette on the series’ music, composed by former Culture Club keyboardist, Roy Hay; and interviews with many of the show’s guest stars.Final grade: The Series: A Bonus Material: A+3. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – Season Five – Generally considered to be the last great season of the series, “”Buffy”” Season Five, is notable for a number of reasons: Dracula as Rock Star; Glorificus, The Hell God; the realization that Dawn was literally of Buffy’s blood; “”The Gift””; and “”The Body”” among them. Few series ever reach the pinnacle of quality that “”Buffy”” did every week, and even fewer have as many episodes that quality as classic. Season five had two classic eps: “”The Body””, in which Buffy, Dawn and the Scoobies have to deal with the death of Joyce Summers, and “”The Gift””, in which Buffy discovers why her “”gift is death””. There are the usual four commentary tracks – the one for “”The Body”” is particularly interesting. Oddly enough, there is no commentary for “”The Gift””, which was the series’ 100th episode, and would have been the series finale if UPN hadn’t picked up the show – an oversight that, in combination with the unwieldy foldout packaging, costs the set a half-grade. The other bonus material includes: featurettes like “”Buffy Abroad””, “”Casting Buffy””, “”The Story of Season 5″”, and