Prepare Yourself for Fall with 20 Essential TV DVD Sets

The FSR Fall TV Preview

So it is now August, and depending on your situation that could mean something ominous, like going back to school, or something joyous, like the return of all your favorite television series. Since we here at FSR are too cool for school, we are getting our wallets ready for TV on DVD month. So we put our heads together and assembled the essential DVD sets to prepare you for the fall. As well, this should serve as a precursor to our official Fall TV Preview, which will hit the pages of this very site later this month.

Essential TV on DVD“Mad Men” – Season 1
Available: Now

The Golden Globe-winning series for Best TV Drama and actor recently kicked off its second season to much fan fare. Cut from the same fiber as “The Sopranos,” but set in a different era, “Mad Men” has become a near cult sensation. If you haven’t yet discovered it, now is the time — get caught up on season 1 so that you can get in on all of the season 2 action.

Essential TV on DVD“Weeds” – Season 3
Available: Now

It was unexpected to see Mary-Louise Parker take on the role of a pot-dealing soccer mom whose life of crime brings an upscale California community to its knees, but probably even more unexpected that it would turn out to be such an amazing dark comedy. But once you get your first hit of “Weeds,” you’ll be screaming “More MILF weed please, Ms. Nancy.” And in season 3, the game got turned up a notch, getting sexier, more dangerous and infinitely more fun.

Essential TV on DVD“The Wire” – Season 5
Available: August 12, 2008

For years now, people all over have been telling me that “The Wire” is one of the best damn shows on television. And while I am not yet ready to go back and revisit the previous 4 seasons just yet, I am inclined to believe them. As with all the seasons of the show, the fifth and final season had a very clearly defined theme: the media and media consumption. Needless to say, everyone around here is at least mildly interested in that.

Essential TV on DVD“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” – Season 1
Available: August 19, 2008

Summer Glau and Lena Headey make this a much watch. I never realized how gorgeous Glau was, until I saw her in person. I, like many others, was confused as to where this show sat with the Terminator mythos, but it has turned out to be a decent appetizer for more big screen Terminator action to come. Looks like I will be one of those picking this one up.

Essential TV on DVD“Heroes” – Season 2
Available: August 26, 2008

Though it was hindered a bit by the WGA strike earlier this year, the second season of “Heroes” didn’t disappoint one bit. In fact, it pulled out all the stops and delivered surprise upon surprise all the way to the epic final moment, a moment that perfectly sets up season 3, entitled “Heroes: Villains.” As you can imagine, the highly anticipated third round is going to be loaded with some intense stand-offs and unexpected alliances. And if you were one of those folks who got lost in the strike shuffle last year, this is one box set that is required before moving on to season 3.

Essential TV on DVD“Dexter” – Season 2
Available: August 19, 2008

I would easily call “Dexter” one of the most pleasant surprises on television. Since the series is on Showtime, it doesn’t receive a lot of exposure. It should, or darkly dreaming Dexter will have to pay you a visit. Once I heard the premise that it is basically like CSI except that the expert is a serial killer, I was hooked. With a tag line like “Takes life. Seriously”, it’s no wonder that Michael C. Hall is America’s favorite serial killer.

Essential TV on DVD“House, M.D.” – Season 4
Available: August 19, 2004

The mad doctor is back. House is a series that I have watched since the first season, but I have kind of ignored it as of late. Just seems as if it has lost something. I will still be picking the set up, and I’m sure all of you hardcore House fans will be picking it up too.

Essential TV on DVD“Chuck” – Season 1
Available: September 16, 2008

This was one of the better surprises of network television. While the show is not perfect or amazing by any means, it is really funny. It is especially funny for anyone who has or is working in retail. This is just a fun show that takes a normal guy, and puts him into extraordinary situations.

Essential TV on DVD“Get Smart” – Season 1
Available: Now

Since the film Get Smart enjoyed moderate box office success this summer, is it any wonder that the TV series would make its way into stores soon after? The show is a classic, and not much more can be said. It is a TV show created by Mel Brooks. I mean to put that into today’s perspective, that is like Judd Apatow creating a show or two for TV…wait, never mind.

Essential TV on DVD“John Adams”
Available: Now

I could be cynical for a moment and call this just a history lesson for the illiterate or ignorant, but I won’t. Most period pieces are littered with historical errors, a consequence of dramatic storytelling. John Adams though, is one of the best historical, and most entertaining, programs about the birth of our nation that I have ever seen.

Essential TV on DVD“The Office” – Season 4
Available: September 2, 2008

Personally, when it comes to the earlier episodes, I liked the BBC version of the show better. However, the comic genius of Steve Carell has kept this show afloat. The show is still as funny as ever, and I will be buying it pretty much just because of the ‘Fun Run’ episode.

Essential TV on DVD“Prison Break” – Season 3
Available: August 12, 2008

So I never understood how this show could go past one season, much like “24.” Considering the two shows come from the same network, I’m sure that there was a brainstorming session on how to do exactly that. I stopped watching after season one, but I hear the following seasons are actually pretty good. Maybe I should revisit the series?

Essential TV on DVD“Grey’s Anatomy” – Season 4
Available: September 9, 2008

I won’t lie, I was convinced by a girlfriend to give this show a chance. It was good. Then everyone became bigger than the show. Katherine Heigl has a nice little career going for her, but she turned down an Emmy thinking that she was Marlon Brando or something. The off screen drama like the Isaiah Washington debacle and Kate Walsh’s spin-off where she just becomes a slut doctor, have just become distractions. They will kill Heigl off, and the show will tank.

Essential TV on DVD“Smallville” – Season 7
Available: September 9, 2008

This is one of those shows that have kind of lost steam over the years, but how many shows last more than five seasons nowadays? I will keep watching, simply to know how they tie the show’s ending into a Superman type beginning. As well, there are a few nice young ladies named Kristen Kreuk, Erica Durance and Allison Mack who always seem to have me interested for one reason or another.

Essential TV on DVD“South Park” – Season 11
Available: August 12, 2008

Can you believe that “Southpark” is on season eleven? I would have never thought it could make it that far. I still remember Comedy Central advertising the first episode which contained an F-Bomb. Season eleven is solid as a rock with episodes like the 300 parody, the poke at Guitar Hero, Imaginationland, Cartman Sucks and Le Petit Tourette.

Essential TV on DVD“Entourage” – Season 4
Available: August 26, 2008

This is one of my favorite shows, and it hasn’t lost any steam over the course of 4 years. Considering that I follow film, actors and Hollywood, this show is a pleasant break from reality. I’d like to say that I hang out with celebrities all the time, and share experiences like those in the show…but sadly I don’t. However, sometimes you get to gang out with the right celebrities and you take part in moments that are even unbelievable for television.

Essential TV on DVD“Spaced”
Available: Now

I guess that if you would like to see the origins of the men behind Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), go no further. This is one of the most highly rated shows to come from across the pond in a long time. Unless you are one of those “Doctor Who” fans. This show is truly hilarious, and totally justifies the money we spent adding BBC America to our cable bill.

Essential TV on DVD“Gossip Girl” – Season 1
Available: August 19, 2009

“Gossip Girl” came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise. Who could have guessed that a formula that included having beautiful, wealthy teenagers get into a lot of sexy dramatics would work? Of course the premise is a no-brainer, but the writing makes the series stand out as more than the average underaged soap. Plus, their new marketing campaign already has us salivating for season 2.

Essential TV on DVD“Kenny Vs. Spenny” – Volume 1 / “Kenny Vs. Spenny” – Season 4 (For Canadians and true fans)
Available: August 12, 2008

I remember when I first caught this show on The Game Show Network at like 3am. I loved it, and tried to convince my friends likewise. It seemed like none of my friends could get into it, much like most of GSN’s viewers, so the show was canceled on American networks and I was forced to buy the DVD sets from Amazon Canada. Then Comedy Central picked the show up, and season four was born, sort of. The reason that they call this “volume one” is because the season aired in America contained some really old episodes. So if you are a true fan such as myself, or a Canadian, go to Amazon.Ca and buy season four.

Essential TV on DVD“Eureka” – Season 2
Available: Now

Last but certainly not least is season 2 of one of the more provocative and ambitious shows on television. In a perfect little burg known as Eureka, where some of the world’s greatest minds live and work at Global Dynamics, the world’s most advanced scientific facility, strange things seem to be happening. In season two, these strange things include people randomly combusting, becoming invisible and simply disappearing. How cool is that? Needless to say, if you haven’t discovered this little Sci-Fi Channel gem, you might want to pick up both season 1 and 2.

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