Holiday gift guide for TV lovers Gadgets, comfy garments
By Lynn Elber
AP Television Writer
The TV lovers in your life deserve holiday gifts that recognize their passion.
There’s lots of ways to achieve that, with creative goods that let fans flaunt their series allegiances or products new and old that adds to the ease and pleasure of TV viewing.
Another solid choice: TV-related books that provide good reason to make time for reading even in the “platinum age” of superb television, as one of the authors has labeled it.
Here’s a list of some appealing picks to consider, with prices as found online. We’re leaving the bargain hunting and naughty or nice decision-making up to you.
Cyberthriller “Mr. Robot” has spawned fun merchandise, official and otherwise. For true devotees, consider a black-and-gold-toned bar necklace inscribed “Mrs. Robot” (under $8) or a print of an original drawing merging the faces of stars Rami Malek and Christian Slater for $19.20 (both at etsy.com/market/mr—robot).
Practical gifts aren’t at odds with the lavishly romantic “Outlander,” if they’re arm warmers ($19.95) inspired by the leading lady’s or a plaid lambswool scarf ($54.95). On the obsessive side, fans of Caitriona Balfe’s Claire and Sam Heughan’s Jamie might covet their roughly 8-inch-high photo depictions ready for desktop display ($12.95 each). All available at outlanderstore.com.
“I am doubtful of all you people” is among the catchphrases from ABC’s sitcom “black-ish” imprinted on T-shirts, mugs, totes and more. Besides that quote from whiz kid Diane, there’s Dre’s buoyant, “When I say cup, you say cake” featured on similarly varied stuff (www.cafepress.com/+blackishtv+gifts, prices vary).
For the discerning viewer, “The Platinum Age of Television” ($32.50, Doubleday) by veteran critic David Bianculli will score a bullseye. He lays out his theory of how TV evolved to its current rarified form in engagingly written, well-organized detail. There are sections devoted to genres including animation, Westerns and medical shows (for that, the dots are connected starting at “Dr. Kildare” and ending with “Grey’s Anatomy”). Other chapters profile such vaunted figures as Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks and Norman Lear.
“Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet” ($30, National Geographic) is a companion book to National Geographic Channel’s hybrid docu-drama series “Mars” about an imagined colonization of the planet. Journalist Leonard David’s book explores the science behind such a mission and the challenges that await the first settlers. There’s a generous selection of photographs taken on Mars and in space, along with maps and commentary from planetary scientists.
“Mad Men” is gone but far from forgotten by admirers, who likely would treasure this two-volume, 1,048-page set detailing the drama’s creation and artistry ($200, Taschen). Volume One uses stills and script excerpts to chronicle its seven seasons. The second volume includes interviews with series creator Matthew Weiner, star Jon Hamm, the show’s writers, costume designer Janie Bryant and others, along with set photos and what’s intriguingly described as “production ephemera.”
THE COMFORT ZONE
Multiple remotes are a TV watcher’s bane. Help control the controls with universal versions, such as the Logitech Harmony Companion (around $150), which can handle nearly all electronics in all rooms of a home, including TVs, gaming consoles and streaming systems. For a major splurge, consider the new Savant Remote + Host, with a cool design and touch screen, at $500. The RCA Universal Remote (about $9) is a thrifty choice.
Introduce your favorite Luddites to a good streaming device and their lives will never be the same, with access to services including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The Chromecast (about $35) gets the job done and so does the Amazon Fire TV Stick ($40), which has added Alexa Voice Remote. The Roku Streaming Stick (about $50) is handy for travelers.
Until everything is voice- or robot-operated, we have to rely on our hands to navigate channels and snack. Enter low-tech solutions to the problem: the Slanket (theslanket.com), Snuggie (mysnuggiestore.com ) or other versions of a blanket with sleeves (priced at $15 and up). It may provoke snickers when unwrapped but could be a sleeper hit. No user guide required; recliner not included.