Amidst the chaos of decorating the house, booking flights, or planning Christmas dinner, deciding on gifts for friends and family is liable to be the last thing on your mind this December. Fanbase Press is here to help with the best recommendations for the must-watch movies and TV shows from the year as suggested by our staff and contributors. Whether you prefer to binge-watch on Netflix or like the look of Blu-ray sets on a shelf, the following TV shows and films are perfect to share with the geeks in your life this holiday season. – Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4
Recommended by Travis Lakata
The cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has shown a consistent, believable chemistry that further impacts each character’s growth, as they’re all “a part of something bigger” – a family. The team of writers divided the season into three story arcs, including Ghost Rider, LMDs (Life Model Decoys), and the Framework.
Ghost Rider brings a completely different dimension to the show, quite literally, as this vengeance-seeking entity looks to exact its own justice – in the form of a flaming skull, deadly chains, and a very fast car that burns rubber like no other. The LMDs present the problem of “Who can we trust?” They look identical to humans, unless you can crack beneath the surface to see their mechanical form. The last storyline traps the team into an artificial world, where they’re rewired with different lives, and most without any memory of the real world.
In addition to an exciting season, the show incorporated a digital series that took place right before the timeline of Season 4. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot emphasizes super speedster Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, and all of her appearances in the show have earned a permanent slot for Season 5.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition
Recommended by Bryant Dillon
DC Animated’s 2011 adaptation of Frank Miller’s ground-breaking graphic novel, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition, is a gritty, hardcore Batman tale that easily outdoes any attempt so far in Zack Snyder’s DC cinematic universe.
Telling the hard-boiled story of an aging Batman’s refusal to hang up the cape, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns features a cast including RoboCop’s Peter Weller, Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ James Arnold Taylor, Conan O’Brien, and more. This Blu-ray really packs a punch and is sure to satisfy those who love to grit their teeth and ask caped crusaders if they bleed.
Available here for sale.
Despicable Me 3 (Geeky Parent Guide Approved)
By Travis Lakata
The third installment in the Despicable Me franchise does not deter its silliness and lovable characters. Released in theaters this past summer 2017, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) discovers he’s not an only child. He finds out he has a brother, and whether or not a life of crime is still his true passion.
Despicable Me 3 introduces new characters, including a vindictive and funny supervillain. This is a perfectly acceptable movie for young ones, but there are plenty of action sequences that you might want to watch ahead of time, just to make sure it’s appropriate for your children.
Despicable Me 3 is available for pre-order upon its scheduled DVD and Blu-ray release date of December 5. It is currently available on Amazon and iTunes. All formats currently run for about $18 to $20.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season One
Recommended by Russ Pirozek
Getting the work of Douglas Adams is a tough task, but the BBC America television series, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, is a project that is definitely up for the challenge. With Max Landis at the helm as the show’s creator and writer, this show is so unique that it would take the running time of an episode to properly explain. Elijah Wood stars as Todd Brotzman, a down-on-his-luck loser who finds himself entangled with an eccentric detective named Dirk Gently, played masterfully by Samuek Barnett. What ensues is a bizarre and engrossing, season-long mystery about a missing girl, a strange dog, body switching, and the general interconnectedness of all things. While the first few episodes create a huge mess, as the first season progresses, all of the disparate threads begin to connect and tie themselves together, weaving what is basically an insane web of events that you can’t help but love. Season 1 is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD on Amazon.
Justice League: New Frontier Commemorative Edition
Recommended by Bryant Dillon
Justice League: New Frontier is a feature film released from DC Animated in 2008, but the commemorative edition of the film was just recently made available on the market. Adapting Darwyn Cooke’s emotional and optimistic DC: The New Frontier limited comic series, Cooke also served as story and visual consultant on this depiction of his Eisner Award-winning work. In addition to the amazing feature content, the commemorative edition of Justice League: New Frontier features a beautiful steel book case featuring Cooke’s artwork and an excellent amount of engaging bonus content.
Justice League: New Frontier Commemorative Edition is the perfect holiday gift for anyone who is looking for a bright return to the roots of this classic characters while still delivering a grounded plot with real-world context.
Available here for sale.
Little Shop of Horrors: Director’s Cut
Recommended by Barbra Dillon
This past October, the cult rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors, found its way back to the big screen, when Fathom Events played the film in movie theaters for two days with an elaborate 23-minute ending cut from the original movie before its release in 1986. While fans may have missed this limited re-release, they are in luck, as the Little Shop of Horrors: Director’s Cut Blu-ray/DVD is available through Amazon with the original ending included as a special feature. Also included is the behind-the-scenes documentary, “A Story of Little Shop of Horrors,” and an opening introduction by director Frank Oz with Richard Conway. Amazon has the special edition available in a variety of formats, including Blu-ray, DVD, and Amazon Video, and it would make the perfect gift for the film fanatic on your holiday gift list. Plus, it will provide hours of sing-a-long fun during the holidays!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 1-5 Collector’s Edition
Recommended by Barbra Dillon
For many readers, it’s a foregone conclusion that there will be a Star Wars fan on your holiday shopping list. While we can all look forward to having another Star Wars movie in theaters this December, you may be asking yourself what to purchase for the Star Wars fan who has everything. Look no further than the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 1-5 Collector’s Edition box set. Available in Blu-ray and DVD formats, this epic release of the phenomenal animated series will provide countless hours of viewing enjoyment in following Anakin, Obi-Wan, Commander Cody, Ahsoka, Darth Maul, and more. The collection also includes behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and creative team, as well as featurettes that document the creative process of the series. Giving the gift of The Clone Wars this holiday season will cement you as THE coolest and best gift giver in the galaxy!
Universal Monsters Steelcase Release
Recommended by Michele Brittany
Seeing the potential of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, and not wanting to make a legal misstep, producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. secured the rights to a film version. Laemmle then sought the screenwriting services of Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston (who also had writing duties on Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Bride of Frankenstein) to adapt their successful Dracula play to film, and he hired Tod Browning (best known for directing Freaks) to direct. A feature-length horror film was not unheard of, but in the early days of talkies, it was a risk. Upon its release, it was reported in the New York Times that audiences were immersed in the story and entertained. Dracula was not only successful, but it provided a blueprint for monster films that would become identified under the label, Universal Monsters. Other monsters to join the notoriously seductive vampire were Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), and Creature of the Black Lagoon (1954).
Universal has released all of these films several times over the years, but earlier this autumn, Best Buy offered up all of these classic monster films in steelbook form. In the case, the monster enthusiast gets Blu-ray, DVD, and a digital code of the film. While the extras are offered in other Universal releases, those releases did not feature the magnificent artwork of Alex Ross. All seven covers capture the spirit of each film, highlighting memorable and horrific moments. Originally selling for $20, Best Buy’s website offers each film, ranging from $14.99 to $17.99 at time of writing.