Friday, December 19, 2008

A knight without armor in a savage land

Barrie Maxwell has a new Classic Coming Attractions column over at The Digital Bits that’s definitely worth your attention, particularly since he mentions that Criterion is considering the so-not-available The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) for an upcoming release. (If you’ve never availed yourself of the opportunity to see this wonderful noir featuring Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle, please do so at your earliest opportunity—even if you have to wait on the Criterion DVD.) He also mentions that the films included in October’s MGM-UA Alfred Hitchcock Premiere CollectionThe Lodger (1927), Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937) and The Paradine Case (1947)—not available for purchase separately will see that status change February 10, 2009. (This is good for me, since I really didn’t fancy the idea of buying the whole enchilada just to get the one or two films I needed.)

But what jumped out at me was a throwaway announcement about the Home Theater Forum’s Hollywood Meet that states Paramount/CBS DVD is apparently committed to releasing the remaining seasons (four, five and six) of Have Gun – Will Travel on DVD to fans…they’re just not certain about when they’ll get around to doing it. Apparently the high muckety-mucks at Paramount have been wringing their hands because the number of episodes in each season of HGWT is so large it requires more discs than your usual run-of-the-mill TV-on-DVD release, and that they’re finding “resistance” to the cost of each set. Where this resistance comes from, Barrie doesn’t make clear—personally, it sounds like a lot of PR hooey; fans of the show will buy the sets, come heck or high water…nevertheless, the studio and CBS are making noises about splitting up the remaining seasons (groan) and while my position on split-season releases is known throughout the blogosphere if that’s the only way to continue getting them I guess I’m boned. (Kind of pisses me off, really—the quality of the episodes on the Season 3 led me to believe that they dashed off the project one weekend in somebody’s basement.)

For more positive news on the TV-on-DVD front, announced yesterday that Shout! Factory will bring the famed Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off Rhoda to DVD on April 21, 2009 in honor of the sitcom’s 35th anniversary. Rhoda has been a much-requested series to get the DVD treatment for sometime now, and while Mary Tyler Moore fans continue to wait and see whether or not 20th Century-Fox is going to release the rest of its seasons, it’s nice to see the folks at the Factory stepping up to the plate on this one. I’m not certain if I’m going to fork over the simolians for this set (I remember watching the show growing up and after Rhoda married Joe things kind of went downhill after that—Rhoda wasn’t funny when she was happy) but I wouldn’t have any objections to renting it when it comes out. Your mileage may vary, as always.

Another vintage chestnut of 70s TV will also be making the DVD rounds as the first season of The Paper Chase (the critically-acclaimed series based on the popular 1973 film) will hit the streets on April 7, 2009 (also courtesy of Shout! Factory). Chase premiered in the fall of 1978 on CBS and lasted one season; not too surprising, as its competition was Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, still sipping the sweet nectar of their lowbrow success. But Chase grabbed an Emmy as “Best New Drama” that year and PBS picked the show up for reruns…then in 1983, Showtime resurrected the show for three seasons with all new episodes that won the series even more awards and kudos. If I have a little extra coin in my jeans pockets come April, I may entertain thoughts of buying this one—even though I don’t think the series ever really topped its inaugural season on the Tiffany network. Still, TDOY gives a shout-out to Shout! for at least being bold enough to experiment with reviving these great series from the past.

One more tidbit that may be of interest to classic TV fans: I’ve talked about the Timeless Media Group release of the complete run of the 1950s crime drama M Squad on the blog before, but I just thought I’d mention that this set is now available at for the incredible price of $55.78. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen yet on this collection to date (even my beloved DVD can’t match it), which contains 15 DVDs (spotlighting all 117 episodes of the show) and a bonus CD, a re-release of the 1959 RCA Victor LP Music From M Squad. Grab this while there’s still time!


Bobh said...

That really is a great price at for "M Squad," Ivan. I purchased my set at DVD Pacific for around $62 shipped. One caveat on this set, however . . . the audio visual presentation is really all over the map based on my viewing of the first two discs so far. As I say in my Amazon review, this is not for videophiles.


Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

One caveat on this set, however . . . the audio visual presentation is really all over the map based on my viewing of the first two discs so far.

That's the main reason why I was reluctant to pony up the original asking price for this one, Bob...I have a "rootpeg" set of M Squad and the quality of the shows varied at best.

I've also purchased the Texan set--is the video quality of that collection about the same?

Linda said...

I think I'd pay just to have a decent copy of "Rhoda's Wedding," which I loved...but you're right, a married Rhoda was pretty dull.

Max said...

I'm torn about season sets being split into two volumes. As someone who buys TV on DVD, I'd rather have each season complete on one set. However, as someone who also is in the DVD sales business, I know from experience that the high cost of those big season sets tends to be the kiss of death, sales-wise, especially these days. Pricey sets of DVDs just aren't selling too well.

Anonymous said...

Ivan -- I've e-mailed you twice now with no response. Drop me a line, will ya? There's ready cash in hand here, pal! :-) Harlan

Rick Brooks said...

I'd feel a lot more sympathy for Paramount's position if I thought they would simply divide the MSRP of a full set in half for a season set rather than dividing it in half, then tacking on 5-10 bucks.

And even if S4, 5, and 6 sets have more episodes, how many more discs are we talking about here? It's not like they have to suddenly sell some jumbo M-Squad set. I'm not sure the marginal cost of adding an extra disc would "make" them "have to" charge more for the season set.

Bobh said...


I don't have Timeless Media's "The Texan" and have no near term plans to acquire it, but have hear that the transfers are reasonable good. "Laramie" will be my next likely purchase from Timeless.