SEATTLE — There are plenty of stream-it-and-leave-it attractions. But when giving a boxed DVD set as a holiday present, it’s best to stick to classic fare that will be on hand for repeated viewings. Here are five coveted DVD packages released this year that could well stand the test of time (and technology):
n “Brideshead Revisited, 30th Anniversary Collection”:
Forget the more recent two-hour movie based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel about the disintegration of a titled English Catholic clan, told from the perspective of an artist who falls under their spell.
To fully relish the panoramic story, there is this definitive 14-hour television adaptation from 1981. Rich in psychological, political and spiritual nuance, the series boasts a glittering cast led by Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Claire Bloom.
n “Lost Empires”:
In one of his first leading roles, a boyishly appealing Colin Firth co-stars in this intriguing 1986 miniseries. He plays opposite John Castle, who plays a cynical magician who takes Firth’s naive character on tour with him on the World War I-era British vaudeville circuit, introducing him to a grimy/glamorous backstage and onstage milieu (including a down-at-heel comedian, played by Sir Laurence Olivier). The picture can be grainy due to the film transfer, but the serio-comic ode to a vanished entertainment world will fit into any well-rounded DVD library.
n “Dora the Explorer: Celebrate With Dora”:
A fine present for a young viewer who can’t get enough of the animated Nickelodeon TV character Dora, the intrepid little girl whose wanderlust and curiosity take her hither and yon. This set includes three festive and instructive DVDs: “Dora’s Christmas,” ‘‘Dora’s Halloween” and “Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure.”
n “Human Planet”:
How do humans adapt to harsh physical habitats? It is a fecund subject indeed for this hit BBC series, collected in its entirety on three discs. Whether it’s deep-sea divers risking life and limb to fish along the ocean floor, or Africans staving off hunger by pilfering fresh-killed meat from a pride of lions, the series is a bounty of marvels for nature buffs.
n “Treme: The Complete First Season”:
The second season of this must-see HBO drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans comes out on DVD in 2012, and the show has been renewed for a third season. But the debut season of this superb series can stand alone as great TV drama.
Set three months after the hurricane devastated much of the city, “Treme” is suffused with the Big Easy’s unique music and culture (cameos by performers such as Doctor John and the Neville Brothers). And the semidocumentary style adopted by creator-producer David Simon (“The Wire”), with entwined narratives of a racially diverse community struggling to recover from crushing tragedy, makes for very compelling viewing.