I'm reviewing this set as an amateurish 'Corrie' fan who wishes to familiarize himself more with life on the cobbles. Having watched only a handful of episodes for nearly 4 years when I was studying in England during the mid-90s (brings back memories!), I now know a lot about the cosy 'Corrie' community watching these discs. Apart from episodes selected from each decade (the lack of plot continuity is regrettably, but understandably, unavoidable), the 'specials' are to be treasured especially for the well-edited footage within character introductions (such as 'The Stars', which I wish were arranged chronologically) and interviews (for example, 'Corrie Controversies' and 'The Street Undressed'). Even if you're not familiar with the situations involved, the extracted dialogues (alternating between the tragic, hilarious, and romantic) are simply brilliant (touching and funny scenes are sandwiched between fiery kisses and gory fisticuffs). Some of the 'specials' are mostly biographical: an in-depth view is given of the actors' real-life drama (domestic joys and sufferings), but with strong reference to their fictional roles in the series. The other 'specials' focus on various relationships, including the major 'Corrie' families (some scenes - for instance, the Tracy and Karen plots - recur in two or more 'specials', but they are hardly monotonous). The golden 12-DVD box has each disc in a separate case (the breaks between the parts of an episode are edited out without any sign of a clumsy jump from one part to another), but (alas) there is no booklet, not even a leaflet; however, the presence of English subtitles for the HOH - except for the short 'Celebs' and 'Best' extras - is a great asset (regional accents can sometimes be difficult to catch). I only wish that the set had more episodes: the seven discs featuring complete episodes could have been filled more generously (the quality of the scripts of the first four decades, notably the '70s, is more exceptional than that of the '00s, but the recent episodes are also enjoyable, notably the one with Ian McKellen playing a con artist). I hope that ITV will re-release (and very soon) the Network collections - 80 episodes from each of the first three decades - with subtitles (an absolute must for me, although I'm not a HOH person): it would also be great if, instead of a random selection, the episodes chosen maintained some sense of plot continuity (perhaps with short connecting narratives between gaps). Until then, I'll be watching this collection so many times (the 1998 Christmas episode is magnificent, but pity the one where Deirdre is released from prison was skipped). Enjoy!
NB Don't buy the 3-DVD anniversary set if you plan to purchase or already have this anniversary box, which contains the three discs from the small collection.