Think Inside the Box!

Okay, so the whole planet has gone stark, raving football crazy. Every paper you open, every show you see, every conversation you earwig on the bus while pretending to read your book – it’s all one long, chanting procession of footy references and names of players you wouldn’t recognise if they ran up and slide-tackled you.

So, for the next four weeks at least, you basically have three options:
1. Go and hide under your duvet for a month (tempting but not practical)
2. Become a football fan (pure insanity)
3. Shut the curtains, grab some snacks and get stuck into four or five box sets of classic TV (we have a winner!)

Of course, with so many great television shows being made these days, deciding which ones to choose can be a bit overwhelming. So to help you along, I’ve put together my Dream Team lineup of box sets that’s guaranteed to get you through the full 5760 minutes (not accounting for extra time!).

the sopranos

The Sopranos

Starring the late James Gandolfini as mob boss Tony Soprano, this is the one that took a baseball bat to the rulebook and forever changed the way television is made. The violence is brutal, the humour often dark, and every episode bursts through your TV screen and machine-guns you with a clip full of expletives, but those who can handle it will be wowed by The Sopranos’ subtle brilliance. This nicely packaged box set is smarter than a wise guy’s suit, containing all six seasons across 26 discs.



More than 120 years after Sherlock Holmes solved his first crime, Benedict Cumberbach dusts off the iconic hunting hat and reinvents the world’s most famous detective for the 21st century. Obnoxious, rude, and so smart he could work out your mum’s mobile number simply by glancing at your shoes, Sherlock’s intellect is perfectly matched by the pulse-racing plots, which prove to be just as pacey as the super sleuth’s powers of deduction.


Sex and the City

The Spice Girls may get credit for popularising the Girl Power mantra of the mid 90s, but it was Sex and the City that took it to provocative new heights. Originally aired in 1998, the series follows four female friends as they attempt to navigate themselves around the precarious pitfalls of New York’s social scene. This football-blocking box set features 20 discs containing all 94 episodes – even Mr Big would be impressed with that!


breaking bad

Breaking Bad

Desperate to secure the financial future of his loved ones after discovering he has lung cancer, high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) applies his skills to a more profitable venture… cooking crystal meth. With the help of a former student, Jesse (Aaron Paul), Walt gradually morphs from classroom pushover to criminal mastermind as he lies, cheats and schemes his way through the violent underbelly of the drug world – all while trying to hide his new profession from his DEA agent brother in law.

Few programmes have been as talked about in recent years as Breaking Bad (it’s still the most discussed show on Twitter), but don’t let that put you off. It may be as hyped up as the England team, but its six seasons – presented here on 13 discs – are every bit as heart-poundingly addictive as the crystal meth created in them.


Mad Men

Famous in Britain for its mix of 60s fashion and (brace yourselves, ladies!) John Hamm’s mysterious, brooding ad exec Don Draper, Mad Men is actually about so much more than shift dresses and slicked hair. Set in a fictional 1960s New York ad agency, the smokey universe is filled with complex characters – none more so than Draper. Wrapped in secrets and deceit, Don’s greatest advertisement is himself, as he flogs his carefully contoured public image for all it’s worth, but even he can only hide the dark revelations that lurk under his façade for so long.


Only Fools and Horses

Forget football; every plonker knows the Trotters are this country’s greatest invention! So cushty you’d be forgiven for thinking it had fallen off the back of a three wheel van, this Only Fools and Horses box set contains all 7 series of the nation’s favourite sitcom, plus 15 Christmas specials. And yes, you do have to pay the VAT!


The Walking Dead

If football fever has got everyone in your life frothing at the mouth and walking around like mindless zombies, The Walking Dead’s premise probably won’t feel all that far-fetched. When seriously injured cop Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) awakes from his coma he’s surrounded not by family and friends, but the undead. If you think this genre has been (excuse the pun) done to death, don’t let that put you off. The one big advantage The Walking Dead has over the hundreds of zombie films out there is that fact that it has the time to (oops, here comes another one…) truly sink its teeth into this nightmarish world.

There’s plenty of brain-mashing, head-smashing action for the gore lovers, but its true horror is how the survivors of the apocalypse struggle to retain their humanity and gradually become more and more like the terrifying, flesh-eating machines they’re trying to evade.

big bang theory

The Big Bang Theory

The four sci-fi-loving, comic book-reading scientists in hit U.S sitcom The Big bang Theory may know the workings of the universe like the backs of their hands, but when they’re befriended by super-hot waitress Penny (Kaley Cuoco) they soon realise they know nothing about the workings of a woman.  A show that could so easily have been just another variation of the geek genre, The Big Bang Theory makes this list thanks to one man: Sheldon Cooper. Expertly played by Jim Parsons, Sheldon’s bizarre character quirks and social awkwardness give the show an originality and hilarity that will have even the coolest of viewers yearning for a Star Trek marathon and a trip to the nearest comic book store!


Personally, I’ll be going for a combination of Fringe (recommended by Very_Sarah) and Game of Thrones (recommended by everyone). Whichever box sets you choose, you can rest assured they’ll not only take you sanely through the summer, but maybe even the start of next season as well!

Graphics by Svea Carney.

10th June 2014
Written by Mark Seragusa