1. thirtysomething: The Complete First Season
From Hope (Mel Harris) and Michael (Ken Olin) desperately seeking a babysitter to Nancy (Patricia Wettig) and Elliot (Timothy Busfield) separating, the story lines are so finely realized, the acting so grounded, that even today’s thirtysomethings can look past the circa-1987 shoulder pads and find every little painful moment relatable. Commentaries from creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, as well as nearly every major cast member, only add to its depth. —Jennifer Armstrong
2. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show
Shandling was breaking down the fourth wall well before it was trendy. Laced with featurettes and commentaries, this complete set of his 1986-90 Showtime sitcom — in which he basically plays himself — is marvelous meta comedy. — Dan Snierson
3. The Shield: The Complete Series
When it comes to antiheroes, Jack Bauer and Tony Soprano have nothing on Vic Mackey and Shane Vendrell. Buy this exhaustive set (crammed with extras) for Michael Chiklis’ groundbreaking portrayal of a villainous L.A. cop, but treasure it for Walton Goggins’ virtuoso turn as Vic’s broken partner. — Lynette Rice
4. The Dana Carvey Show
It lasted only seven episodes on ABC in 1996, but gave us Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, the Ambiguously Gay Duo, and some of the slyest sketch comedy ever. Skits like “Germans Who Say Nice Things” and “Waiters Who Are Nauseated by Food” remain…um, what’s the German word for awesome? — Dalton Ross
5. Ally McBeal: The Complete Series
The landmark show in the single-ladies genre finally got the DVD treatment this year, with 32 discs encompassing all five seasons. And somehow the dancing-baby hallucinations, coed-bathroom dance numbers, and mini-miniskirts play even fresher now than they did back in 1997-2002.
The Worst DVDs of the Year
1. Kath & Kim: Season 1
This execrable “sitcom” starred Molly Shannon, then 43, as the manic mom of a dim brat played by Selma Blair, 36. Crazy, right? So was the decision to put it out on DVD.
2. Dirty Sexy Money: Season 2
This once-promising soap turned into a boring mess in season 2. And watching talented Peter Krause degrade himself with embarrassing material was painful.
3. Bam’s Unholy Union
Not sure who watched MTV’s show about Johnny Knoxville protégé Bam Margera marrying his high school sweetheart, but I doubt even the bride would drop $20 on this.