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One Size Fits All

12 Aug, 2006 By: John Latchem

Several notable TV series are going out with a bang on DVD this holiday season as home video marketers cap successful rollouts of season sets with pricey collections containing entire series.

Warner Home Video is preparing boxed sets for two of its long-running NBC series: “Friends” and “The West Wing.”

“These are well-regarded, well-loved series,” said Rosemary Markson, Warner's VP of TV marketing.

“Friends” is no stranger to the complete-series treatment. Its 10 season sets were combined in a limited-edition box released last November that quickly sold out.

“Based on the positive response we received, we decided to re-release the complete series as a continuing product,” Markson said.

While the first box was simply a casing for the previously released seasons, Friends: The Complete Series — due Nov. 14 (prebook Oct. 3) at $299.98 — is a completely unified redesign, according to Markson.

“We created six small booklets, each representing a different character, that contain the 40 discs in chronological order according to when they aired,” Markson said. The set also includes a commemorative booklet with episode information, cast photos and the original pilot treatment for the show.

“The West Wing” is being given similar treatment. The West Wing: The Complete Series hits Nov. 7 (prebook Sept. 26) at $299.98. The 45-disc dossier-style set organizes the 154 episodes according to season and includes a copy of the pilot script with an introduction from series creator Aaron Sorkin.

Warner worked with retailers to create a slim-box design ideal for conserving shelf space, Markson said, “to have the greatest flexibility with placement in the store” that would also look good on consumer shelves.

Those who collected the individual seasons of “The West Wing” won't be left out in the cold. Warner is releasing The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season Nov. 7 (prebook Oct. 3) at $59.98.

Markson said the set will include a hybrid version of the highly publicized live debate episode, which originally aired in separate versions for East Coast and West Coast audiences. The producers combined the scenes they preferred from each version to create the final edit, which also is the version that will be syndicated on television. The DVD includes a featurette about the live episode and a special multi-angle viewing mode from the director's point of view.

Not to be outdone, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is wrapping up its series of complete-season sets of “M*A*S*H” with a 36-disc boxed set that contains all 11 seasons, the feature film and two bonus discs of never-before-seen extras, including a trivia game, a featurette on the show's fans and a 30th anniversary reunion of cast and crew. The Martinis and Medicine Collection is due Nov. 7 at $199.98. Season 11 comes out individually the same day.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment Nov. 21 releases Alias: The Complete Fifth Season at $39.99, day and date with Alias: The Complete Collection — Seasons 1-5, a $199.99 limited-edition collection of all 105 episodes that includes a hardcover book and an exclusive bonus disc in a hidden compartment.

A&E Home Video is following its June 2005 release of the seventh and final season of “Homicide” with Homicide: Life on the Street — The Complete Series. The package, due Nov. 7 at $299.95, includes 122 episodes on 35 DVDs, presented in limited-edition file-cabinet packaging. A bonus disc will include “Law & Order” crossover episodes, which have not previously been released on DVD as well as Homicide: The Movie.

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