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posted: 12/4/2013 5:00 AM

10 video releases to give for the holidays

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  • The new "Futurama" box set includes all 124 episodes, plus four feature-length adventures.

      The new "Futurama" box set includes all 124 episodes, plus four feature-length adventures.

  • Clark Kent is forced to confront his extraterrestrial past in "Man of Steel 3D."

      Clark Kent is forced to confront his extraterrestrial past in "Man of Steel 3D."

By Frazier Moore, Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Tired of staring at your Christmas tree or flickering menorah -- or at legions of rival shoppers at the mall?

Here, in no particular order, are 10 home-video releases to give or get this holiday season. All are available online (to spare you another shopping expedition) and are typically available for less than the suggested list price here:

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"'Big' 25th Anniversary Edition" (Release date Tuesday, Dec. 10. Fox Home Entertainment. Blu-ray and DVD combo, $19.99.): Everyone loves this 1988 comedy starring Tom Hanks as a 12-year-old man-child, even now as "Big" hits its 25th birthday. Also starring Robert Loggia and Elizabeth Perkins. Directed by Penny Marshall.

"Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (Shout Factory! All 325 episodes plus bonus features on 38 discs. $249.95.): This Norman Lear comedy was a groundbreaking spoof of a daily soap opera, presented five nights a week in 1976 and '77. Louise Lasser stars as the addled Fernwood, Ohio, suburban housewife, surrounded by a loony bin of fellow citizens including a country-singing best friend and her devoted husband (Mary Kay Place and Graham Jarvis), Fernwood's devious mayor (Dabney Coleman), and identical twins Barth and Garth Gimble (Martin Mull).

"Futurama" (Release date Tuesday, Dec. 10. Fox Home Entertainment. $199.98.): Never as appreciated as Matt Groening's signature cartoon series, "The Simpsons," this time trip to New York City of the next millennium is at least as inspired, with a narrative as sprawling as the universe it lampooned. The set includes all 124 episodes, plus four feature-length adventures.

"Cleopatra" (Fox Home Entertainment. Blu-ray, $24.99.): What can you say about this epic belly-flop whose co-stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, upstaged their legendary characters with their own headline-making hanky-panky? Can there be any doubt that this is a masterpiece of wretched excess? Now its four-hours-and-then-some grand display is available in a newly restored and re-mastered edition to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

"'Downton Abbey' Seasons 1, 2, 3" (PBS Distribution. DVD, $89.99; Blu-ray, $99.99.): If perchance you haven't already glommed onto the first three seasons of this plush soap opera, or if you want them for your permanent drawing-room amusement, they're available just in time for the U.S. premiere of season 4 next month. Carrying the viewer from pre-war England through the storms of World War I and into the social upheaval of 1920s-era Britain, this 9-disc set has bonus videos including "Downton Abbey: The Making of" and "Behind the Drama."

"'Doctor Who': The Complete Series 1-7" (BBC Home Entertainment. Blu-ray, $349.98.): This seemingly immortal British sci-fi series began in 1963, but here is a new collection drawn from the past decade or so (designated as seasons 1-7 -- go figure), including Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, Tenth Doctor David Tennant and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, plus extras like a Doctor Who Universal Remote Control Sonic Screwdriver. (Life-size police phone box, however, is not included.)

"Man of Steel" (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Blu-ray Combo Pack $35.99, with additional formats and product options available.): The fate of mankind lies in the hands of one man (yet again) with the home-video release of this 2013 Superman adventure. Starring Henry Cavill, with Zack Snyder directing, it finds Clark Kent forced to confront his extraterrestrial past and embrace his hidden powers when Earth is threatened with destruction. Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne and Russell Crowe co-star.

"The Canyons" (MPI Home Video. DVD, $24.98; Blu-ray: $29.98.): This might have marked the cred-restoring comeback of Lindsay Lohan, and a career resurrection for director Paul Schrader (who long ago made "American Gigolo" and wrote "Taxi Driver"). Instead, this erotic thriller is an instant camp classic and a further erosion of Lohan loyalists' argument that she can act. Lohan plays the girlfriend of a Los Angeles movie producer, portrayed by adult movie actor James Deen, who together engage in erotic encounters with couples found on the Internet. Worth the purchase price for gleeful hate-watching.

"Photo: A History From Behind the Lens" (Acorn/Athena. DVD, $49.99.): These 12 episodes follow the development of photography from its beginnings to more recent times, from the surrealists to the primitives, the press, experimental photography of the 1920s, and the art of digital illusion. Its big-picture lesson: how the camera has changed the way we see the world.

"'Breaking Bad': The Complete Series" (Sony. Blu-ray, $299.): A great score for any drama addict's stash. Starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, it's the best TV drama series of all time -- or, if it isn't, Heisenberg dares you to convince him there's a better one. The set includes all five seasons on 16 discs plus an all-new two-hour documentary, a commemorative money barrel and a Los Pollos Hermanos apron for cooking fried chicken (or other things).

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