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2009 Gift Guide

Monitor picks for TV, movies, music, and games.

(Page 5 of 7)

The blurb on the packaging says the box set contains "13 of Paul Newman's best films." Well, not exactly. The set includes the Robert Altman stinker "Quintet" and 1958's forgettable "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!" (a romantic comedy costarring Joanne Woodward, who married Newman that year). Missing are classics like "Cat on Hot Tin Roof" and "Cool Hand Luke." But it also contains some greats: 1960's pool hall drama "The Hustler"; 1969's Wild West romp "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"; and 1982's "The Verdict," a courtroom drama with Newman as an astonishingly convincing alcoholic lawyer. 1974's "The Towering Inferno," a lightweight piece of disaster porn with an all-star cast (Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, and even O.J. Simpson) is still a lot of fun. Almost all of the films were produced by 20th Century Fox, which released this box set along with a 132-page booklet that is filled with both gushing promotional prose and fantastic stills of the late actor.

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Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series ($279.98) Buy on

Battlestar Galactica sneaked onto what was the Sci Fi Channel in 2003 as a remake of the cheesy 1978 series of the same name. But this showcase for the unsettling and first-rate performances from the likes of Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos immediately lifted the series about a struggling remnant of humanity adrift in a hostile universe to the rarefied realms of instant cult hit and an award-winning critical favorite. The complete four seasons arrive with a whopping price tag. But trust us when we say the folks who love this show will love to see it all wrapped up just for them.

Ally McBeal: The Complete Series ($199.98) Buy on

Whether it was the dancing-baby sequence or the co-ed bathroom at the Boston law firm where TV's Ally McBeal worked, this dramedy about an eccentric, off-balance law school grad desperately seeking love and fulfillment redefined television drama while at the same time introducing many elements – and performers – that have become staples of contemporary TV drama and comedy. The show used voice-overs and often-hilarious fantasy sequences, liberally sprinkled with pop music from across the decades. This 32-disc set comes with a soundtrack of music favorites and a retrospective that taps alumni Calista Flockhart, Robert Downey Jr., Portia de Rossi, Jane Krakowski, Lucy Liu, and creator David E. Kelly.