The O.C.: The Complete First Season
(Warner Bros., $69.98)
[Series: 3 stars] [Extras: 1 star]
If you managed to miss FOX's sexy hit last season, consider this seven-disc set pre-Season 2 homework. From the moment James Dean-like Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) moves from Chino to sunny Newport Beach, you'll be hooked on every step Marissa (Mischa Barton
), Seth (Adam Brody), Summer (Rachel Bilson
) and their juvenile parents make. Already a fan? Don't bother. Watching these episodes in order reveals a woeful descent from Dawson's Creek
-style drama to Melrose Place
histrionics (Marissa held hostage by gun-toting admirer!). Extras: Pointless music trivia, dull commentary
That '70s Show: Season 1
[Series: 4 stars] [Extras: 1½ stars]
Who knew we'd get a kick out of perms and shag carpeting again? This introduction to a motley crew of groovy Wisconsin teens in the era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll is as fresh and funny as when it debuted in 1998. Even a marathon of all 25 episodes won't give you lava-lamp overload, just laughs. Extras: A bummer. The cast rap about their characters and offer too-easy trivia questions followed by a montage of promos. Booooring.
Arrested Development: Season 1
[Series: 3½ stars] [Extras: 3 stars]
Watch all 22 episodes of the first season and you'll see why this irreverent comedy about the dysfunctional Bluth family won the Emmy this year for Best Comedy. The plot centers around the Bluth patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor), who is jailed for shady accounting practices, and his middle son (Jason Bateman), who tries to keep the clan afloat amid a host of shenanigans (like his brothers playing chicken with bulldozers and his brother-in-law's fear of being nude). Extras: Commentaries from the cast are enlightening, but do we really need to see the TV promo again?
Dream On: Seasons 1 & 2
[Series: 3 stars] [Extras: 2 stars]
In this wry 1990-96 HBO sitcom, a horny Manhattan book editor (Brian Benben) keeps falling into bed with the wrong women (one turns out to be a former porn star, another a homicidal maniac).The show is bawdily amusing. But Dream On goes one hilarious step further by inserting cheesy dialogue from vintage TV dramas ("It's not a nightmare—it's a daymare!" screams John Cassavetes) to underscore its hapless hero's emotions. Extras: Executive producer John Landis provides a breezy intro.