Gift ideas for everyone: 'Harry Potter,' Adele, 'Law & Order,' and 'Super Mario 3D'
Your gift list can get long with nieces and nephews, grandparents and friends all needing a present this holiday season. Try a few of these items that are sure to please like 'Winnie the Pooh,' 'Ken Burns: Prohibition,' and the video game 'Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.'
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Law & Order: The Complete Series ($699.99)Skip to next paragraph
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This may well be the ultimate gift for a lover of TV crime dramas. "Law & Order," the flagship of what has turned into one of the most enduring television franchises ever, helped reshape the modern crime procedural with its iconic method of walking viewers through each phase of a criminal investigation, from the first moments of the investigation to the ultimate prosecution of a crime. All 20 seasons come on 104 DVDs, including many never-before-released episodes, deleted and extended scenes, and other extras (including an interview with series creator Dick Wolf, a preview of the "Law & Order" interactive game) guarantee that the crime lover on your gift list may disappear for hours on end after receiving this doorstop of a collection.
Ken Burns: Prohibition ($39.99)
Filmmaker Ken Burns continues to map the American story, this time turning his lens on Prohibition. The three-part PBS series is set in the era that led up to bathtub gin and notorious gangland criminals such as Al Capone. The filmmaker, who made his name as a student of the American psyche with his groundbreaking series "The Civil War," walks through the landscape of 19th-century America once again, this time picking up the threads of emerging activism as the antialcohol movement caught fire throughout the small towns and family homes of middle America. The series explores the lead-up to the passage of the 18th Amendment, its rocky course through the American culture, and its eventual end.
Celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James translation of the Bible. Journey into the history of this landmark literary and religious text, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and influential books ever published in the English language. Narrated by John Rhys-Davies, KJB: The Book That Changed the World ($19.98), is a 94-minute documentary with dramatic reenactments detailing the historical backdrop and process of bringing the book to fruition. From John Wycliffe to William Tyndale to Martin Luther, the story chronicles the work of those who died and suffered to ensure the word of God could be heard by the average churchgoer in a common language, rather than Latin. A labor of politics and religious passion, the text was a product of scholars across the contentious political landscape of the day, from the bishops to the Puritans, with the newly crowned King James presiding in an attempt to create a version that would unify his nation. The interview with Rhys-Davies is particularly worth watching. KJV: The Making of the King James Bible ($19.99) is a 46-minute examination of just how difficult that process was. The effort stretched over seven years, employing 50 of the top scholars of the era. This DVD dives into the actual translation process, examining selections for a deeper understanding of how the translators worked directly from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. It also offers the opportunity to go more deeply into the primary scholars' thoughts on such topics as manners and morals, Job, and the New Testament. (Available from VisionVideo.com.)
VIDEO GAMES Super Mario 3D Land ($39.99)
Nintendo's new hand-held system, the 3DS, has an amazing hook. It can pull off 3-D visuals without any silly eyewear. However, just as with 3-D TVs, the 3DS hasn't had enough quality titles to make the device worth its sticker price. Until now. Super Mario 3D Land is a gem. While the fundamentals of a Mario game haven't changed in 25 years – run, jump, power up, save the princess – 3D Land reiterates Nintendo's masterly sense of subtle innovation and careful craft. Mario's new adventure brims with color and whimsy. The levels constantly introduce new tricks and special powers, and then cleverly subvert them just as one wrinkle starts to grow old. While the entire game can be played in 2-D, the 3-D graphics provide a sense of depth, making careful jumps surprisingly intuitive. This is how 3-D gaming should feel. Let's hope other game designers take note.