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Snowed In? The Best TV Shows on DVD to Marathon From Your Couch

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Dec 28th 2010 9:00AM
'Arrested Development
If you ask me, the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is the best week of the year -- and probably not for the reasons you're thinking. Yes, most of us are still reveling in a post-holiday food/present/unresolved family tension coma in preparation for the new year, and I'm here to recommend embracing it: Turn it into a shrine to lethargy and sloth that would make Homer Simpson blush.

There's no other time during the year when you are expected to do less, so what better way to celebrate this time of lowered expectations than by hunkering down, bunker-style, armed with only Cool Ranch Doritos, a remote control, a helper monkey, and a bunch of complete seasons on DVD?

There is no better way, and there's no better time. People will be disappointed if you don't celebrate this period of unbridled self-indulgence. Here are some picks to get you started with what is soon to become tradition. Pass it on.

'Arrested Development': This show is the single most re-watchable series available on DVD, and it's almost better to watch all three seasons (well, two and a half) in succession. The show's appeal and humor hinges so tightly on self-referentiality and complex, interwoven jokes that viewing all at once is your best shot at getting them all. I've probably watched the complete series 10 times, finding connections and jokes that I never picked up on each time through. It's perfect for fans and newbs alike.

'The Sopranos': I know what you're going to say: "Hey, jackass! I don't have 70 hours to dedicate to a TV show! I have cats to groom!" But I would be quick to inform you that there are 168 hours in a week, so 'The Sopranos' wouldn't even take up half of your time. It's just too good a show to ignore on a list like this. Each episode is like a one-hour movie and has a depth that will keep you engaged for the entire series. What a lot of people forget about 'The Sopranos' is how funny it is. You can watch it as a comedy if you're looking to get something completely different out of a series known for its drama.

'The O.C.': My first exposure to 'The O.C.' was during a holiday week five years ago when my wife and I, on the recommendation of several of my students, watched the first two seasons over the span of about 4 days. Yes, we have children, but they can be surprisingly resourceful when you tell them to "Get your own food" or "Put a Band-Aid on it." We resisted 'The O.C.' for so long because we were raised on 'Beverly Hills: 90210' and insisted that any other California-based teen drama would surely be sacrelige. What we found was sheer bliss, with enough cheese, genuine gut-wrenching and stomach-turning moments, and completely trivial teenage drama to reel us in for the remainder of the series. The four seasons make it pretty manageable as well.

'Run's House': Yes, a reality show made the list, and you're right to wonder what is wrong with me. 'Run's House' isn't your typical reality show, however, because it actually feels real. (Imagine that!) I know this because I enjoy it for reasons other than those that force me to watch anything Kardashian based, and my wife enjoys it for reasons other than those that force her to watch anything Housewives based. It's funny and endearing, and light enough to make it feel like you aren't wasting your life away by watching it.

'Extras': This week is a time to check out that show you may have heard about but never got around to watching. For those of you in this category, let me highly recommend 'Extras,' the HBO sitcom from the mind of Ricky Gervais. In typical British fashion, the seasons are short (six episodes each) and few (two seasons), with an epic special to cap off the series. It can easily be done in one particularly anti-social day -- two, tops -- and the way Gervais blends humor with despair may have you watching it a second time through.

'Boy Meets World': In case you hadn't heard, they've just agreed to release seasons four through seven of 'Boy Meets World' after holding out for years following the release of one through three. If you're between the ages of 18 and 35, you're probably watching the newly released season four as we speak. There's no reason you shouldn't be going all the way back to season one to put the caboose on the nostalgia train. This is a great show to bring the whole family in on, passing down the holiday week DVD tradition to your children, your children's children, and your children's children's weird older friend.

Tell us: What's your Holiday week DVD pick?

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he's got unicorn skills. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

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Ugh..Arrested Development. Rented it a long time back and only got through 4 episodes. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing funny at all...How do you spell BORING?

The Sopranos? Watched season 1 on DVD. It was ok, but just didn't have the urge to continue. Maybe some day.

December 30 2010 at 2:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

movies from the 50s,60s and 70s...all Blake Edwards films especially-- Breakfast at Tiffany's, all the Pink Panthers with peter sellers....love actually was sweet, Family Guy, that 70s show....most of the stuff you've mentioned too dark, sick, violent....we don't need anymore sex, violence and just plain white trash behavior on TV.

December 29 2010 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just got "Freaks and Geeks" for Christmas-can't beat a Judd Apatow production!

December 29 2010 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The 5th series of Doctor Who plays like one long episode, with the ongoing story popping up throughout. Great fun.

December 29 2010 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about two and a half men watching Charlie bag em, shag em, and skedaddle.

December 29 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have no desire whatsoever to see any of the so-called 'best' shows listed. They all suck in my opinion. I wouold rather curl up in front of the fire with a good book, or watch an old black and white series (I own quite a few). At least those shows taught morals and decency.

December 29 2010 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about a good book? I would rather read than watch any of the trash on tv.

December 29 2010 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bjreg3's comment
Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously)

This isn't "Book Squad."

December 29 2010 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pat Doolin

I could handle a day of Big Bang Theory!! Sooo funny!

December 29 2010 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pat Doolin

For me, snow days have always meant watching the movie "Lonesome Dove", but sometimes I love to watch the M*A*S*H DVD's we have. New this year is "Little House on the Prairie"...can't wait to get started on those!

December 29 2010 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Big Bang Theory seaaons 1-2-3 . I can watch them over and over.

December 29 2010 at 8:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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