2016 TV Gift Guide: The Top 10 Gifts for the TV Lover in Your Life

TV Lists Gift Guide
2016 TV Gift Guide: The Top 10 Gifts for the TV Lover in Your Life

From stocking stuffers (pint-sized Lorelai Gilmore!) to you-won’t-be-getting-a-birthday-present this-year splurges (a complete, limited edition, Matthew Weiner-signed set of Mad Men scripts), Paste’s annual guide to the top 10 TV gifts has something at every price point, and for nearly every taste. (Alas, no Magic 8 Ball with dating advice from Insecure’s inimitable Molly. Maybe next year.) With these ideas in hand, you’ll be sure to leave your favorite TV fanatic smiling this holiday season.

1. Matthew Weiner. Mad Men. Art Edition A (Script Edition) (Taschen, $850)

“You have everything, and so much of it,” Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) once reminded Don Draper (Jon Hamm), but even the dapper ad man—or, for our purposes, the most devout Mad Men fan—might have perked up at Taschen’s scintillating collection of complete scripts, sequential stills, illustrations and interviews. From the precise period aesthetic to the immaculate costumes, the nine-volume set—signed by series creator Matthew Weiner—captures Mad Men’s intoxicating brew of narrative depth and visual flair, treating one of the finest TV series ever produced for what it was: high art. Matt Brennan

2. Downton Abbey: The Complete Limited Edition Collector’s Set (PBS Store, $124.99)

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Whoa, Nelly! For all you millions of Downton Abbey fans out there, this is the mother lode. All 52 episodes, 8 hours of previously released content, 5 hours of all new stuff and a fair amount of collectible bits and bobs so you too can pretend you’re at the beginning of the fall of the British Empire. For example, use the working pull-bell to signal Carson that it’s time for tea. (Or to ask your significant other for more snacks… they’ll love it!) The set also features “The Costumes of Downton Abbey,” an exclusive booklet featuring a foreword from executive producer Gareth Neame and a hardcover book with photos of and quotations from your favorite characters. This is clearly binge-worthy, but unlike the Dowager Countess, you’re going to have to wait for the weekend. The only real caveat is that this set is DVD only. Mark Rabinowitz

3. Drink ’Em While You Watch ’Em: Wine Glasses For TV Viewing (HBO & PBS, $49.99)

These really don’t need a lot of explanation: They’re the kind of gift that pretty much sells itself. If, like myself, you think Tyrion Lannister’s “I drink and I know things” and literally every word that ever came out of the Dowager Countess’s mouth on Downton Abbey are some of the best lines on TV over the past decade, then these are for you. In fact, I am drinking sherry out of my Game of Thrones goblets right now. Care to join me? Mark Rabinowitz

4. Firefly Jayne Bear Plush (Quantum Mechanix, $19.99)

Every year we try to mix this list up with a nice mixture of fancy and fun. This here is your fun. On offer from one of the best online retailers in the ’verse, Jayne bear is the second best thing there is to curl up with in your bunk. Complete with the hat his maw knit for him and his cargo pants, all that’s missing is Vera. Seriously, we all know that life can be a great big pile of Niú fèn, so don’t we all deserve this? Mark Rabinowitz

5. Funko’s New Sitcom Offerings (Funko, prices vary)

If it seems like we write about Funko a lot in these lists, it’s because we do. They’re just that cool. While the geek-centric stuff they do—Batman the Animated Series, DC TV, Buffy, Battlestar Galactica Classic—are all good and I want them, they’re also kind of… obvious. No, what makes Funko cool for us is the “Wait…. they did what?” items. And really, nothing evokes that spirit more than their recently released Pop! Vinyl quartet of Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak and Sophia Petrillo. Yes, The Golden Girls now have their own action figures. Yeah, it was a massive hit, but not everything screams “little doll with a big head, giant eyes and no mouth,” or so you thought. (Blanche gets a mouth, oddly.) Considering how fast these ladies are flying off the store shelves, I’d put your order in, pronto! Also new to Funko are Pint Size Heroes Steven Universe and Lorelai, Rory and Sookie from Gilmore Girls. Mark Rabinowitz

6. Acorn TV (Acorn.tv, $4.99 monthly / $49.99 annual gift)

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Simply put, this is by far the best bargain on the list. Sure, $10 for a Funko figure is pretty reasonable, but $4.99/month for pretty much all the entertainment “from Britain and beyond” you can handle? Come on! From the classic (I, Claudius, Foyle’s War, Agatha Christie) to the modern (The Brokenwood Mysteries, A Place to Call Home, Doc Martin), Acorn has it all, including feature films. And before you think, “Hey, I could probably get this on Netflix or PBS,” think again: Acorn has more than 80 exclusive programs, including Brideshead Revisited, Jack Irish and Lovejoy, with new shows added every week. In addition to web streaming, Acorn TV is also available on Roku, Apple TV (4th Gen.), Samsung Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, iPhone, iPad and more. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment of riches. What are you waiting for? Mark Rabinowitz

7. Vintage-Inspired TV Posters (Etsy, $17.50)

If Netflix’s recent revival of Gilmore Girls has you dreaming of a diverting season in Stars Hollow, or the state of American politics has you imagining a simpler life in Pawnee, these vintage-inspired travel posters for famous TV locales are the perfect way—as Parks and Recreation’s Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and Donna Meagle (Retta) might say—to “Treat. Yo. Self.” From the idyllic (Downton Abbey’s country village) to the tongue-in-cheek (Veronica Mars’s Neptune, Calif. and the seedy Albuquerque of Breaking Bad), each color print is as transporting, in its own way, as the series to which it pays homage. You’ll have to move fast, though: The cut-off dates for delivery by Christmas are Dec. 8 for standard shipping, Dec. 15 for priority mail. Matt Brennan

8. Star Trek: The Original Series – The Roddenberry Vault (CBS Home Entertainment, $76.99)

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When a show has tens of millions of fans from all over the world that can recite every episode and film from memory, that argue sub-atomic minutiae, that have sparked a global convention empire…. Well, you have to work pretty hard to appease them. The Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection, released in September (and which we’ll be covering next week) was a… fine effort. This set, however, goes beyond, like all good Trek. It turns out that there’s literally a vault with thousands of hours of ST: TOS footage left on the cutting room floor, and CBS and The Roddenberry Estate have begun the work of cataloguing and preserving it. The first batch—I can only assume there will be more—is this set: Twelve episodes from Seasons One and Two, three of them with all new commentaries, recorded with the newly discovered footage in mind. There’s actually a lot of new material, a mix of bloopers, alternate angles and deleted scenes, plus a three-part, 90-minute documentary, Inside the Roddenberry Vault, and three shorter docs. I’ve had my mitts on this for less than 24 hours, so in-depth here I will not be going, but trust me…you want this. Mark Rabinowitz

9. Adventure Time: The Official Cookbook (Insight Editions, $29.99)

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A cookbook presented as if Finn discovered it on Founder’s Island and… added to it? Ooo! (Get it?) Loaded with classics (grilled cheese and tomato soup, spaghetti and meatballs), along with some… originals (Ice King’s Yeeargh! On Toast, anyone?), it’s the perfect gift for any Adventure Time fan, but it’s also a legit cookbook, not a gag gift. That tomato soup, I mentioned? Made from scratch with whole, peeled tomatoes and veggies. Want your kids to eat healthy while having fun eating? Whip them up a batch of Wizard Battle Tortellini with a Grass Ogre Salad! Me? I’m looking forward to some Anti-Demon Fried Rice and Grass Sword Spicy Green Beans. Mark Rabinowitz

10. TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time, (Grand Central Publishing, $19.99) and The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific (Penguin Random House, $32.50)

Perhaps you’ve heard we’re in the era of “peak TV”? The medium, once shunned by movie stars and looked down upon by the erudite, is thriving. In TV: The Book, longtime TV critics and friends Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz take on TV’s greatest debate: What are the top 100 shows of all time? You may not agree with their choices, but you’ll love reading how they defend them. Their rat-a-tat banter as they explain their rules and ranking system and write lovingly about their picks (including The Wire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly) brings you right into their thought process. I especially love the chapters at the end where they squeeze in talking about beloved shows that didn’t make their list (The Good Wife and Little House on the Prairie, among others). In The Platinum Age of Television, veteran critic David Bianculli intersperses interviews with some of TV’s greatest creators and performers—including David Milch (Hill Street Blues), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Amy Schumer and Carol Burnett—with insightful discussions about genres as varied as children’s programs, soap operas and medical dramas. His in-depth knowledge and conversational style will make you feel like you’re talking to an old friend. These two books are a must for any TV lover. Amy Amatangelo

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