The best DVDs to beat the Christmas TV schedules

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If you are to believe Britain’s tabloid media, there is absolutely nothing to watch on television at Christmas but repeats. Repeats, repeats, repeats, year after year. Even Her Majesty is said to be sick of the repeats. With that in mind, here are a few alternative choices of what to watch on DVD to keep one amused over the festive break …

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The Santa Clause Movie Collection

Legendary “toolman” Tim Allen – best known these days as spaceman Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films – plays Scott Calvin / Santa Claus in this rather amusing Disney trilogy that’s become a bit of a Christmas staple. In The Santa Clause, divorced dad Calvin accidentally kills the real Santa on Christmas Eve and has to replace him. The sequel sees Calvin forced to find a wife – the “Mrs Clause” – by Christmas Eve or else he’ll lose the Santa gig. And in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Martin Short’s Jack Frost tries to hijack Christmas for himself. The first film is easily the best, but all three are good fun for the whole family.

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Disney Pixar Complete Collection

Yes, the BBC is bound to be showing a Pixar film or two over Christmas. But what if you want to watch ALL of them over the holidays? Well, this collection (and be sure to get it on Blu-ray) will give you ALL of Pixar’s films up to and including Monsters University. Yup, that’s all three Toy Storys, both Cars, Finding Nemo, Brave, Up and more – as well as BOTH Pixar Short Films Collections. It may sound a little cliched, but there truly is hours of joy here for the whole family.

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Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray

If the Star Wars Blu-ray boxset had been around when the format arrived, every home in the country would now have a Blu-ray player. But now George Lucas’s classic sci-fi saga is available in high-definition. It’s a tale that needs no introduction, full of good guys, bad guys, aliens, space battles, a wheezy villain, great special effects and some ropey dialogue. And the awful awful Jar Jar Binks. Although the newer, “prequel” films in this six-movie collection have their critics (and are loathed by most serious film critics), Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith really benefit from the upgrade to Blu-ray as they were shot digitally, and look glorious. Just a shame that the stories and dialogue are such rubbish. Still, as we all know, the original trilogy is where the magic truly lies, and the adventures of Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia look the best they ever have outside of the local multiplex.

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The Wire

The Wire is – if certain writers for The Guardian are to be believed – The Best TV Show Ever Made (they clearly never watched Gilligan’s Island). This critically-acclaimed drama series looks at the narcotics scene in Baltimore through the eyes of law enforcers as well as the drug dealers and users. The show was created by former police reporter David Simon, who also wrote many of the episodes. This is the full five-season collection – perfect to really get your teeth into.

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Dexter

Who better to spend the holiday season with than a serial killer? Dark, daring, dangerous and utterly delightful, Dexter is probably the best US drama to come along since The Sopranos. It’s the absorbing tale of your friendly neighbourhood killer who just happens to have a day job as a blood spatter analyst in the forensics department of the Miami police force. And if you like your humour blacker-than-black, then you’ve come to the right place.

Of course, Dexter Morgan (perfectly portrayed by Michael C Hall) doesn’t just kill anyone. Oh no, he was raised properly by his policeman foster father Harry. To quiet the bloodlust within (which Dexter refers to as his “dark passenger”) our hero only slaughters those who deserve to die — murderers, paedophiles and other scum who fall between the cracks of the justice system. The rest of his colleagues, including police officer foster sister Debra, have no inkling of Dexter’s night-time hobby.As Dexter himself informs us in the show’s signature voiceover: “I don’t know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all. And I fake them very well. And that’s my burden, I guess.”

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Doctor Who: Series 8

A new year, a new Doctor – the 12th in the show’s 50-year history (or the 13th, if you count John Hurt’s War Doctor). Peter Capaldi took over from Matt Smith and breathed fresh life into the character, with a wiser, more enigmatic but somewhat blunter take on the 2000-year-old Time Lord from Gallifrey. This series of Doctor Who was a marvellous debut for Capaldi’s Doctor, with some terrific stories – the series opener Deep Breath (directed by horror stalwart Ben Wheatley), Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline, to name but three. And Capaldi has been well matched in the acting stakes by Jenna Coleman as his travelling companion Clara. This set is ideal for catching up if you missed the shows when they were broadcast, or giving them a timely rewatch before this week’s Christmas Special.

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Stuart O’Connor