With "The Wire," you're largely buying it if you don't already have the previous DVD sets, as the only notable new features are the three prequel films (with Young Omar, Young Prop Joe, and the first meeting of McNulty and The Bunk) that were made before season five, plus a gag reel. But that's a great price for the single greatest drama in TV history, and even if there were no special features, I'd want to own it if I didn't have the season-by-season sets.
"Deadwood," on the other hand, has an extra disc with brand-new features, which I'll talk about after the jump...
"The biggest lie is the idea that we are entitled to a meaningful and coherent summarizing, a conclusion, of something which never concludes. In that regard, this is the lie I'm telling myself so I don't set fire to anything." -David MilchThat quote's from the highlight of the bonus disc, in which the creator of "Deadwood" tours the old sets and talks about where he might have taken the show in the fourth season, or in the movies that are now never going to be made.
I know a lot of "Deadwood" fans still blame Milch for bringing the show to a premature end, even though everything I know about the situation says that Milch was the fall guy in a financial dispute between HBO and Paramount, and that the whole "He was so excited to begin work on 'John From Cincinnati' that we had to put 'Deadwood' on hold" was a lie agreed upon so that at least Milch could have something on the air where he could employ a lot of the "Deadwood" cast and crew.
But regardless of your feelings for Milch and whatever role he played in the show's sudden demise, there's no denying his passion for the project as he walks through the ghost town, admits to feeling depressed being there, and does one of his patented stream-of-consciousness monologues about the nature of endings. (See above.)
The Milch featurette makes a wonderful double feature with one of my favorite DVD bonuses of all time. Titus Welliver, who played Al Swearengen's protege Silas Adams, turns out to be a brilliant mimic, and he tries to imagine Milch meeting with various classic '70s actors (Pacino, DeNiro, Walken, Duvall) to see if they would want to play Swearengen. Even though Welliver is in full "Deadwood" costume, complete with beard, he nails all five impersonations, particularly Milch's crooked posture and leisurely syntax. It's hysterical.
There's also a half-hour feature on the real Deadwood, a tour of the set, and an hourlong conversation with the cast and crew from 2005. Plus, the packaging makes the whole thing roughly the size of any of the single-season sets, which is good for those of us with limited shelf space.
Christmas is almost here, but if you need a last-minute gift idea for the TV lover, here you go.