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Exercise the Firefly way

Tom Long

Sunday 22 April 2007, by Webmaster

Exercising at home boring you? Here’s DVD relief

You started the year out with the best of intentions and the latest in aerobic home exercise equipment. It felt good, and now the pounds are off, the pulse is down. But even though it’s nearly the end of April, you’re not out of the woods yet.

No matter how many tunes you put on your MP3 player, you can’t take staring at a blank wall anymore while exercising.

Here’s what you can do to help: Turn on, tune in and space out, thanks to TV shows on DVD.

You don’t want anything too addictive. What you want are seasons of shows that are either just good enough to keep you interested, or have a limited number of episodes, so you won’t be tempted to consume them so quickly. Premium cable shows from HBO and Showtime commonly have 10-episode seasons (as opposed to the norm of 22 shows on broadcast networks), so you’ll pace yourself. And there have to be broadcast shows you always meant to check out, but never did.

Now’s your chance. You don’t have to buy the DVDs, just rent the seasons one disc at a time.

But no cheating by just watching sitcoms. Your average sitcom without commercials runs just 22 minutes, and what kind of a workout is that? Stick with hourlong dramas, which last about 43 minutes without commercials.

Five safe bets for exercise viewing

● "Firefly: The Complete Series" (20th Century Fox, $49.98): Another way to go is with shows that were prematurely canceled. The 14 episodes in this series about a ragtag group of future folks bumming around the galaxies were created by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" auteur Joss WhedonAlan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe and feature great dialogue, solid action and surprising heart.

● "The Unit: Season 1" (20th Century Fox, $49.98): This middling CBS hit about an elite group of soldiers who travel the world saving the day is surprisingly solid stuff, focusing on the heroes’ home lives and female counterparts as much as the action. Starring Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick and Scott Foley.

● "Supernatural: The Complete First Season" (Warner, $59.98): Fear keeps the adrenaline flowing as this young-skewing CW show keeps the scary moments coming in old-fashioned ghost stories with a contemporary spin. Two 20-ish brothers (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) drive about the country, hunting spooky things and listening to heavy metal.

● "Big Love" (HBO, $99.98): If you want quality (and slightly longer episodes due to never having had commercials), check out the HBO shows you’ve missed. This 12-episode season introduces us to Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), a Utah businessman who also happens to be a polygamist with three fascinating wives (sneaky ChloŽ Sevigny, patient Jeanne Tripplehorn and ebullient Ginnifer Goodwin), a diverse brood of kids, and plenty of problems keeping his lifestyle hidden.

● "Rome: The Complete First Season" (HBO, $99.98): Addictive, but there are only 12 epi-sodes, so slow down and enjoy it. This epic series blends history with outrageous drama and a multitude of characters. Note: lots of violence, nudity and sex.