What: Irish romance about street musicians.
Why: This low-key kinda-musical--widely acclaimed when it opened in theaters last May--fits perfectly on DVD. Its casual, partly improvised song-driven style feels charming and intimate, as an Irish street singer and a Czech flower-seller wander around Dublin, singing, playing guitar and piano, and unobtrusively falling in love. The story's not that different from an old Fred Astaire backstage musical, but the outdoor settings, European locale and disarmingly off-the-cuff style make it appealingly fresh and homemade.
What: Season finale of MTV's quasi-reality series.
Why: "People are just obsessed with other people's lives," Lauren Conrad told Entertainment Weekly, trying to explain her show's popularity. That obsession never has to end online; you can keep scouring these waxy figures, even after season's end, for clues behind their affectless eyes and passive-aggressive conversations. It makes the show more like the 19th-century novels it resembles--a saga of the choices, manners and morals of young women making their way in the world. Edith Wharton or Jane Austen for the 21st century.
Big Love: The Complete Second Season
What: HBO's polygamy drama.
Why: Ever wonder what Nicki, Barb and Margene were doing five years ago? This new DVD offers tantalizing hints in three short prequels: whiny Nicki in the hospital after her first child, third wife Margene making her first appearance as a peppy "babysitter," and the wives ganging up on Bill to move out of their cramped house. These teasers are indispensable for fanatics, and in the face of this season's over-the-top melodramatics they remind the rest of us that the show once dealt with recognizable humans.