From ‘Mad Men’ opus to Roku, presents for TV lovers abound

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - 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 lets 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.

THE GOODS

• Cy­berthriller “Mr. Robot” has spawned fun mer­chan­dise, of­fi­cial and other­wise. For true devo­tees, con­sider a blackand-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/mr­robot).

• 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 (http://www.cafe­press.com/+black­ishtv+gifts, prices vary).

THE BOOKS

• 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 about $15 and up). It may pro­voke snick­ers when un­wrapped but could be a sleeper hit. No user guide re­quired; re­cliner not in­cluded.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

This prod­uct image re­leased by Roku, Inc. shows the Roku Stream­ing Stick.

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