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Originally published December 13, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Page modified December 13, 2013 at 12:58 PM

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Top 5 DVD gifts: cute animals, Cirque, ‘Oz’

Seattle Times theater critic Misha Berson selects a roundup of gift-worthy DVDs for young and adult viewers.


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Though streaming TV and film features is common, there’s always a place under the tree for special new additions to a DVD collection. Here are a few new releases Santa should consider:

1. “The House of Eliott” (Acorn). High-life London in the 1920s. Romance. Intrigue. And haute couture outfits to die for. That’s what makes the reissue of the early 1990s British series about a pair of penniless sisters who create their own fashion empire so delectable. The boxed set has all three seasons, on nine discs.

2. “Animal Odd Couples” (PBS). A chimp with a soft spot for a tiger cub, a tortoise whose pal is a baby hippo and other surprising matchups in the animal kingdom are featured in this sweet and informative PBS documentary for all ages, with biologists and others explaining what these critter couples see in each other.

3. “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” (Paramount). Another chance to ooh and ahh over the enchanting live spectacles created by the Montreal-based circus troupe that has become a worldwide sensation. This new two-disc set has segments from Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas shows, including “O,” “Ka!”, “The Beatles’ Love,” “Mystere” and “Viva Elvis!” among others.

4. “Double Feature: Damian Lewis” (BBC). Long before he became a conflicted Marine and renegade U.S. congressman in Showtime’s “Homeland,” the Emmy-honored Lewis was well known in Britain as an actor equally adept at comedy and drama. This twofer shows off his versatility: He’s a charismatic innovator who keeps reinventing himself in the first-rate Stephen Poliakoff TV feature “Friends & Crocodiles,” and he’s Benedick, a TV newsman whose barbed bantering with co-anchor Beatrice turns to love talk, in a modern “retelling” of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

5. “The Wizard of Oz: 75th Anniversary Edition” (Warner Home Video). The sparkling new transfer onto DVD of this family-friendly movie classic is a joy in itself. But the extras are generous, too: a bounty of deleted scenes from the film, a good “Making Of” documentary, cast interviews and more.

Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic



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