The Telegraph has published an article that celebrates the virtues of watching a DVD box set with your Significant Other.

Because when it comes to bonding, middle-class style, the box set rules supreme. There is nothing – nothing, I tell you! – more fabulous, more consolidating, than curling up on the sofa with two glasses of chilled white and seven red-hot seasons of Hustle. Apart, perhaps from 44 discs of The   West Wing, or 68 episodes of thirtysomething (yes, folks, get out your credit cards for a modern classic); or seasons 1 to 3 of Damages – that’s a helluva lot of togetherness in anyone’s book.

The thing about box sets is they are addictive. Even the most time-starved professional or put-upon parent finds them impossible to resist.

Of course, being a British newspaper, the Telegraph warbles on about the class-related implications of watching a box set, and the ‘keep up with the Joneses’ fashion pressures of the whole exercise.  Bless the British: they just can’t fight their instinct to use every single element of life as a way to judge others.  But ignore all of this nonsense.

Tristan and I have been box set devotees for several years.  In 2005 and 2006 we chose to do without a television set, deciding instead to seek our entertainment through the viewing pleasures offered by DVDs and our laptop screen.  We became addicted to several series over the intervening years, and even made box sets part of our family traditions; Boxing Day was also known as ‘Watch an entire season of 24 Day’.  And we still turn to box sets when there’s nothing good on telly – of the following list of our box sets, there would be few that we haven’t worked through at least twice.  At present, we’re embroiled in The Sopranos – we finished season one last night and will get stuck in to season two this evening.

Anyway, here’s a list of DVD box sets that I recommend:

  • The West Wing
  • The Sopranos
  • 24 (every season – I know Jack Bauer better than members of my own family)
  • Mad Men
  • Band of Brothers
  • Damages (although we need to buy season three)
  • The Good Wife (and I think we are a season or two behind here, too)
  • The Unit
  • Jeeves and Wooster
  • Sex and the City
  • House
  • The Thick of It
  • Downton Abbey

We’ve also got the first season of The Wire, although we haven’t got round to watching it (and I know that the whole thing was reputed to be amazing, so we’ll get on to it).  And I still want to buy Scruples.

I love box sets because, until the days of Sky Plus, I was dreadful at remembering to watch a programme at a certain time every week.  And programmes like The Sopranos tended to be on at 10 pm when they were originally televised, which was too late for me.  Also, I like instant gratification; if I’m really enjoying a programme I don’t want to have to wait for a week before I can watch the next episode.

And box sets enable you to relive series that, while fabulous, came to a natural end – The Sopranos and The West Wing, for example – or decent programmes that were cut off in their prime (The Unit). And then you can spend a few weeks talking like Paulie Walnuts, or clapping yours in a big, exaggerated jock way, like Josh Lyman.  Fabulous!  Best of all, if you accidentally miss a fabulous series while it’s on TV, you can catch up (which is why I bought the Downton Abbey box set for Tristan, for his birthday; I saw both series on TV, but it passed him by).

Like many things in New Zealand, we pay over the odds for box sets.  We’ve got around this by buying a multi-region DVD player and ordering things from HMV in the UK; with the strong Kiwi dollar, it makes even more sense.  No stupid local mark-ups will stop me from enjoying my box sets.

If you are also a box set fan and can recommend any good ones, let rip in the comments box!

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3 thoughts on “All hail the box set

  1. 24 box sets became an addiction with Kev and I in the uk. We didn’t have sky and it wasn’t on free tv yet. Problem was, we’d start and at the end of each episode we’d look at each other and say “just one more”. Invariably it would be 11pm on a Sunday night and we couldn’t get to bed!

  2. We’ve been hooked on Sons of Anarchy lately – enough motorbikes and guns to keep Simon happy, enough relationship angst to keep me happy! Simon is also a lover of the box set – we’re looking to what seems like eight thousand seasons of Silent Witness, and a beautiful looking box set of BBC’s Life which we got for Christmas to get us through the winter nights this year.

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