27 Awesome Gifts for Entertainment Buffs

Our selection of entertainment offers serial killers, beloved sleuths, LGBT-friendly toons, and more.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

December 20 2013 4:00 AM ET

Our Little Psycho
If you know a fan who, like me, was profoundly sad when Dexter, the groundbreaking Showtime series about a serial killer we all kind of loved, folded up shop, this is the gift for them. Dexter: The Complete Series Collection includes all eight seasons of the show in an ultra-collectible faux wood re-creation of the actual blood slide box that the titular Dexter Morgan used to catalog his victims (Yes, the thing that Debra found and ruined half of everything.) The 25-disc collection comes with some killer special featurettes too, and a book, Grafix, which features artwork and photos from throughout the seasons. But it's the show itself, and actor Michael C. Halll — who played gay in Six Feet Under and Kill Your Darlings — that is the draw. As Morgan, a likable forensics expert with a "dark passenger" that made him an ethical vigilante killer, Hall resonates with many LGBT viewers because he's fighting so hard to hide who he is, something that he can't change any more than we can. $202.49, Amazon.com

We Still Wish We Could Do That With Our Noses

Here's a TV series that everyone loved for generations (perhaps you do too in reruns). Now you can get the entire series on DVD, and it offers more riches in playback mode. Bewitched: The Complete Series features all eight seasons of the influential comedy, and a whole lot of queer, including Dick Sargent (who played Darren number 2), Agnes Moorhead (who played Endora), Paul Lynde (who played campy Uncle Arthur), and eventually Diane Murphy (one of the twins who played Tabitha and is in adulthood an out lesbian). For a tiny cast, that's a lot of queers. But it's even better because Elizabeth Montgomery told The Advocate back in the '90s that she always thought the show's premise was a metaphor for living in the closet. "Don't think that didn't enter our minds at the time," she told us. "We talked about it on the set ... that this was about people not being allowed to be what they really are. If you think about it, Bewitched is about repression in general and all the frustration and trouble it can cause. It was a neat message to get across to people at that time in a subtle way." Sargent came out very publicly, and he and Montgomery became visible LGBT activists after the series was over, serving as grand marshals in LA's Pride parade. $39.26, Amazon.com


America's Oldest Lady Dick 
When Netflix removed Murder, She Wrote from its lineup this year, fans were in an uproar. No matter now — the entire 12 seasons of the show are now available in this giant, must-have DVD set. Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Series comes with 264 episodes on 63 discs with tons of great guest stars like Courteney Cox, George Clooney, and Joaquin Phoenix. But the real star will always be Angela Lansbury, the Broadway superstar who was nominated for 12 consecutive best actress Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher, a small-town writer with a knack for solving murders (and being in proximity to them in the first place). A true feminist, the widowed Fletcher was quick-witted, intelligent, and in the words of Ron Burgundy, always classy. I watched the show with my grandmother growing up, and I still think of her every time I watch it now. Oh, and my aunt (and legions of gay men) loved Magnum, P.I., another 1980s-era series now in a nifty boxed set. Magnum, P.I.: The Complete Series is a great 42-disc collection of the fun detective show and showpiece for the world's best 'stache. Prepare to be mesmerized by it. Murder, She Wrote: $101.49; Magnum, P.I.: $79.99, both Amazon.com 

For the Hip Pop-Culturalist
From the moment you notice that the introduction was written by some dude named Judd Apatow, you’ll begin to suspect that Inside Mad: The "Usual Gang of Idiots" Pick Their Favorite Mad Spoofs, edited by John Ficarra (Time Home Entertainment), isn’t just another Mad Magazine anthology. It started as a project in which Mad contributors wrote about their favorite material or mused on the collaborative process between writers and artists, and quickly morphed into something more. Interwoven between contributor reminiscences are pieces by Hollywood celebrities reflecting on their favorite Mad panels and how Mad influenced their careers and changed their lives. With celebs such as Whoopi Goldberg, Roseanne Barr, David Lynch, George Lopez, and The Heat director Paul Feig, the contributors run the gambit of pop-culture icons. $14.97, BarnesAndNoble.com  

The F Words of Comedy
Fans of Matt Groening's other comedy, Futurama, we're distressed when Comedy Central canceled the show this year (for the second time; the network revived it after Fox canceled it years ago). Hypnotoad still urges them to buy Futurama Volume 8, which includes the hilarious and outrageous last 13 episodes, bonus features, and a look at the cult hit's writers' room. There are a lot of gay undercurrents and relevant social themes but no real LGBT characters (Amy and Leela have proved themselves as bi). And if your bud is a closeted Seth MacFarlane fan like me, then consider Family Guy Volume Twelve. You get 22 uncensored episodes with material not seen on TV, tons of commentary, the show's Comic-Con panel (I swear, as someone who was there, it's worth the price alone), lots of guest stars (Sofia Vergara, Jon Hamm, Johnny Depp, and more), and yes, there’s an episode that is hilarious until it gets to a sad, transphobic moment that ruins it all and makes me promise to  never watch the show again. Until I can't stop myself. That’s the MacFarlane power (but I signed a petition and lodged a personal complaint about the show's continued egregious missteps in dealing with its lone transgender character). So your recipient may feel guilty receiving it but will watch it nonetheless. Futurama: $19.96; Family Guy: $21.99, Amazon.com 

Dancing Queens
Diva lovers and disco fans will dig James Arena's new book, First Ladies of Disco: 32 Stars Discuss the Era and Their Singing Careers (McFarland), which offers up Gloria Gaynor, Evelyn Champagne King, and dozens more women who launched the disco era in the 1970s and '80s, all talking about how they view the impact of their music, their careers in retrospect, and their connection to their gay fans. $35, McFarlandPub.com 

Old Movies For New Buffs
Mill Creek released 10 different DVD collections this year in its signature series, each of which offers eight movies in a given genre in one set. While we love the Captive Comedies and Dark Passengers, among others, the two most giftable sets this season are Deadly Desires and Crimes of Passion. Deadly Desires has some great performances from Richard Gere, Kim Basinger, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, and Charlize Theron and includes a few classic films like Gere's No Mercy and Elisha Cuthbert's quasi-lesbionic The Quiet. Crimes of Passion includes two films with unspoken homoerotic undercurrents (David Duchovny's Playing God and Kevin Kline's Consenting Adults) as well as films with Bruce Willis, Halle Berry, Goldie Hawn, Daryl Hannah, and more. $9.98 each, MillCreekEnt.com

Something Your Chinese Grandma Will Like
So here's the deal with Charlie Chan: A movie character based on a series of books, Charlie Chan is one of the most-debated fictional characters of all time. Was he an Asian stereotype at a time when America knew little about its Asian-American citizens? Absolutely. But he was also a hero to many Chinese and Chinese-Americans, who grew up watching the films, looking up to him as a role model who was preferable to the Fu Manchu evil genius character popularized around the same time. While the American-made Charlie Chan films (in which the character was played by a Swede, a Scot, and an Anglo-American) were both beloved and denounced in America, they were the most popular films in China in the 1930s. Watching Warner Bros.' new Charlie Chan Collection, a four-disc remastered DVD set with Sidney Toler’s last Chan film and three more with Roland Winters as the titular detective, I could finally understand some appeal. Chan was smarter than the boorish white guys, never subservient to others, and he offered some real wisdom even though it sounded like fortune cookie shtick. “Puzzle always deepest near the center,” for example, could describe the enduring debate over the movies. $25.89, WBShop.com

For the Tweens on Your List
With all the furor over The Hunger Games and Ender's Game and so on, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones seemed to have not gotten as much attention as it deserves, but trust me, in its new Blu-ray combo pack and DVD versions, it'll be a hit with any tween on your list. Based on the best-selling young adult series, the Sony movie follows Clary Fray (Lily Collins), an everyday teen who discovers she's so much more. But unlike Harry Potter, she takes pretty quickly to being a badass and joins a gang of Shadowhunters (half-angel warriors protecting the world from demons that ordinary people can't see) that also includes a sullen but hot gay kid. You'll enjoy watching it with the kids too, although try not to feel ancient when you realize that Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) are both playing people old enough to have teenage children. Egads. $19.99, Amazon.com

And All That Jazz
Author Sam Wasson's Fosse is a massive biography befitting Bob Fosse, the larger-than-life sex machine behind some of Broadway's biggest hits. It'll take days of reading to get through the book (which looks almost half a foot thick!), but there's never been a better time to explore the life and impact of Fosse now that Cabaret is returning to the stage in 2014, Pippin returned to Broadway (and won a Tony) this year, and Chicago is still one of the longest-running Broadway musicals of all time. The book covers it all, from his personal life (Wasson says Fosse's "outsized sexual appetites" arose from the abuse he endured at the hands of the older women he performed with as a teen, and talks out the impact of his need for attention on his relationships with stars including American Horror Story's Jessica Lange, Dustin Hoffman, and more) to his career (and how his iconic style influenced generations of performers and has touched the average American — think Kurt's "jazz hands" on Glee). $17 and up, Amazon.com

The Perfect Graphic Novels
If she loved the books or the movie — at least the original series, though Rooney Mara was fab too — then here's a gift set she'll love. Vertigo released Book 1 of the official graphic novel adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last year and Book 2 this year; both are by lesbian novelist Denise Mina. Our favorite fearless bisexual punk heroine Lisbeth Salander joins forces with crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist to crack a decades-old case in this graphic novel that that's every bit as sexy and thrilling as Stieg Larsson's original book. With Vivek J. Tiwary’s debut graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle, he'll get the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary gay manager who discovered and guided the Beatles from obscurity to global stardom before his lonely death at 32. But unlike some fawning Hollywood bios, this book is a great story of Esptein's struggles as a gay man (when it was still a felony in the U.K.) in Liverpool (then a working-class port town) who was also Jewish (at a time when anti-Semitism was pervasive). And for real fanboys and girls, there's the Before Watchmen series, the controversial, long-awaited prequels to the best-selling graphic novel of all time. Our fave: Before Watchmen: Minuteman/Silke Spectre Deluxe Edition, in which Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke take a look at Silke Spectre’s early years with her overbearing superhero mom. Tattoo: $15.85 each; Beatle: $37.62; Before Watchmen: $22.56; all Amazon.com  

Bear Neccessities
In Kevin Clarke's awesome new Bruno Gmunder coffee table book, Beards: An Unshaved History, awesome hairy dudes explore the greatest male accessory of all time from a gay perspective. From the clones of the 1970s to today's resurgence of bears, there's tons of facts, trivia, photos, and sex appeal. $79.99, TLAVideo.com

Linda Hunt as an Action Hero
If you loved Linda Hunt long before she was the star of NCIS: Los Angeles, even before you thought (erroneously, it turns out) that she was the inspiration for a character in The Incredibles, then we've got the gift for you: Space Rangers: The Complete Series. In this short-lived 1994 CBS series, there was a team of intergalactic cops stationed on Fort Hope, led by lesbian Academy Award-winner Hunt as the matriarchal commander. It's set in 2104, and civilization has gone interplanetary, but there are still bad guys (organized alien crime) and good guys (the Space Rangers), and some hot Amazonian space babes and so much more. It's not long, but boy is it fun. $9.98, Amazon.com

Stocking Stuffer Alert
The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories series has been one of the most beloved projects to come out of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s online creative coalition, hitRECord, and now there's a fresh new collection of stories small in scope but outsize in impact. For The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3, Gordon-Levitt culled, edited, and curated thousands of submissions of tiny stories told through words and art, coming up with a quirky, witty, irreverent little pocket-size book of stories that defy size. $14.99, HitRecord.org  
 
Throwing Like a Girl

A great gift for the girljock in your life is Nine for IX from ESPN films, a DVD set of nine outstanding documentaries about women in sports, all done by female filmmakers and executive-produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal. Each film highlights one story, one moment, or one person affecting the culture of women's sports in the last 40 years. The set includes Let Them Wear Towels, which looks at why equal access for women sports reporters has been a hot button issue for decades, and the riveting Pat XO, a biopic about beloved lady coach Pat Summitt that we've never seen before. Priceless, really, but $24.92, Amazon.com
 
The Holy Grail of Graphic Novels
Everyone who loves graphic novels has heard of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, probably the most critically acclaimed graphic novel of all time, especially because it sort of set the standard for the lyrical fantasy genre. (Plus Gaiman's wife is famed bisexual musician Amanda Palmer, so, you know, a cool dude you may have heard of through her instead.) Now the crème de la crème of gifts for fantasy lovers is out, and I can't afford it but will gladly bed anyone who can and promises to send it my way. Inspire your own devotion by gifting DC Entertainment's The Sandman Omnibus Silver Edition Autographed by Neil Gaiman, a stunning 25th anniversary commemorative set with all 75 issues of the groundbreaking series in two deluxe silver-finished hardcover volumes, with silver-gilded pages, artwork from some of the industry's greatest illustrators, and a Sandman art page personally signed by Gaiman. Only 500 are being produced, and DC has promised not to do a second printing. Gorgeous, want it, call me? $499.95, ShopDCEntertainment.com

Springfield Celebrates Marriage Equality
The Simpsons Season 16 Blu-ray or DVD set includes all 21 hilarious episodes the longest-running scripted show in television history. There are tons of meticulously slapped-together special features (tons of Easter eggs, commentary, deleted scenes, and a bonus holidays of future past episode) as well some of our favorite celebrity guest voices, including Lucy Liu, Amy Poehler, Jason Bateman, Stephen Hawking, Jane Kaczmarek, and more. The best part, though (besides "Treehouse of Horror" XV) is the 10th episode, "There's Something About Marrying," in which Springfield legalizes same-sex marriage to increase tourism, Homer performs same-sex weddings to get a cut of the profits, and Marge's sister Patty comes out as as a lesbian (even after events in the episode test her). The episode was inspired by San Francisco's 2004 same-sex weddings and became the highest-rated episode of the season (10.5 million people watched), and both Fox and creator Matt Groening took a lot of crap from conservatives for it. Love it. $42, Amazon.com

The Christopher Isherwood Collection
It’s the year of Christopher Isherwood. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux released The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy; Harper Perennial released the comprehensive final volume of his diaries, Liberation: Diaries 1970-1983; and FSG also released three (out of the 20 he wrote) classic novels from the celebrated author and gay rights activist. The latter — A Single Man, The Memorial: Portrait of a Family, and Down There on a Visit — are lovely little books with new redesigned covers by Charlotte Strick that would look wonderful on anyone's nightstand.

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