What makes a great DVD? Sure, the content of the movie/show/concert/whatever itself is imperative, but more important for whether something is to be deemed a success on the format is the audio/video quality, packaging, and the scope and depth of the bonus features. Here are the shiny discs that I think were the best to come out in 2009:
The State: The Complete Series - I have been waiting years for this to come out and when I finally had it in my hands it did not disappoint. This 1990s sketch comedy time capsule has it all: 90 minutes worth of unaired sketches, the original pilot, interviews, outtakes, deleted scenes - almost all of which have commentaries attached to them. Well, it's not quite complete, as most of the original wall-to-wall 90s alt rock, pop, and hip-hop soundtrack has been replaced with generic music (though that was created by the guy who composed the show's theme song and other incidental music, so it could've been worse). But, hey, if that's what it took for this awesome show to finally get a DVD release, so be it. Definitely dip your balls in this one.
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut - The one complaint mainstream audiences had with this film is that at 162 minutes, it was too short! Okay, not really, but this expanded version fleshes out the dense story and stretches out the run time to 215 minutes by extending scenes, putting deleted ones back in, and most notably inserting chapters of the animated "Tales of the Black Freighter" throughout the movie. Director Zack Snyder's old 300 buddy Gerard Butler gives voice to the comic book buccaneer trying to stop a ship of pirates from terrorizing his home, which parallels the movie's narrative. Also among the plethora of bonus content is a faux documentary about the Minutemen and the entire Watchmen motion comic.
The Office: Season Five - Like with all of this consistently funny show's DVDs, the season five set is a must-have for fans and gives you a lot of bang for your sitcom buck. Each episode seems to have almost another episode's worth of scenes taken out. And unlike most DVDs' deleted scenes, the ones left on this show's cutting room floor are actually worth watching and are as funny as what made it onto air.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season Four - Aside from the show being hilarious, I consider this one of the year's best solely for the inclusion of a full length live performance of their instant classic musical episode "The Nightman Cometh". You've got to pay the troll toll if you want to get this
Zack and Miri Make a Porno - Writer/director Kevin Smith loves the DVD format and tends to pack his movies' sets to the gills with deleted scenes, outtakes, and featurettes and this is no exception. Yes, Z&M wasn't one of Smith's best efforts (though it does have 2008's single best cinematic image in Elizabeth Banks' O-face), but its DVD is up to par with all of his other ones. The only thing lacking is the standard highly entertaining "Kevin Smith and pals" commentary, which was omitted because the film's disappointing box office put him in a pot-hazed funk and he didn't want to dwell on the production at the time.
Note: There was a smaller than usual pool to choose from, as I slowed down my DVD purchases greatly this year in anticipation of the Great Blu-Ray Upgrade (projected for 2010).