Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sittin’ on the dock of the (e)bay and other points of interest

I’ll come clean and admit it—I had a post prepared for yesterday but listing the items in my latest eBay auction took a hell of a lot longer than I had anticipated…and by the time I finished, I was ready to call it a day. So I’m offering this up as a means of getting back into the habit of regular posting.

Before I start, I’d like to take the quick opportunity to point classic movie comedy fans toward a pair of posts composed by my blogging compadres that I thought were really first-rate. First, “Uncle” Sam Wilson at Mondo 70: A Wild World of Cinema offers a unique take on one of Harold Lloyd’s sound comedies (I’m not sure if this post of mine inspired his review, but I’ll go ahead and greedily take the credit anyway), The Cat’s-Paw (1934). Sam’s perspective on the unjustly neglected film is enough to want to make me take a second look at Paw (which I may do if I can free up some time this weekend), and though I still believe it can’t quite measure up to Movie Crazy (1932) or The Milky Way (1936) I’d recommend it for those fans who haven’t gotten around to taking a peek to it.

Anthony Balducci wrote an interesting essay on another subject discussed previously here at TDOY: the never-ending Shemp vs. Curly debate. He reviews the newest Three Stooges two-reeler collection and has heady praise for its high Shempster content—and while I will readily admit that I am a tad biased on the subject it’s definitely a must-read.

I also want to thank Yair Solan for the encouraging words he left here on my mini-review of Kelly the Second (1936); he argues that the conventional wisdom of comedian Charley Chase not being able to “carry” a feature film is stuff-and-nonsense—something that I always suspected was the case, but an individual’s opinion like Yair’s carries quite a bit of weight, particularly when Mr. S. is the go-to guy on all things Chase at his website, The World of Charley Chase. I went ahead and added a link to it at the right and I’d encourage anyone with a casual interest in the career of one of film comedy’s most talented practitioners check it out as soon as possible. (An encouraging bit of news that I gleaned from Yair’s site is that Becoming Charley Chase—a four-disc DVD set that was all set to be released in January of this year by All-Day Entertainment until the economy went into the crapper—has been rescued by VCI, who has re-scheduled it for a summer release. Ain’t that a darb?)

Having got all the shameless self-promotion out of the way, leave us take a look at some classic television DVD releases headed your way very, very soon:

Father Knows Best: Season 3 – This release has been in the pipeline for quite some time now (June 9) but TVShowsOnDVD.com has a heads-up that this set will not only contain thirty-seven episodes from the beloved family sitcom’s third season, but a pair of episodes from the short-lived comedy-drama starring Robert Young, Window on Main Street (1961-62; the episodes are “A Doctor Comes to Town” [10/16/61] and “The Chambermaid” [date unknown]). But wait, there’s more: purchasers of the set will also receive a bonus of three of Father’s radio episodes—including the audition show of December 20, 1948 (“Betty’s Engagement”). If you’ve never had the opportunity to listen to the radio version of Father, you’re in for a real treat—the kids on the show are smarmy brats (honestly, you’ll want to strangle all three of them) and Young is hardly the kind and all-knowing patriarch played on the tube. This Season 3 set is being put out by the good people at Shout! Factory, so you know you’re investing in a good thing…maybe (I just remembered the Room 222 release, which gave me second thoughts).

Petticoat Junction: The Official Second Season – TVShowsOnDVD.com also reports that the second season of the bucolic sitcom starring Bea Benaderet and Edgar Buchanan will be headed down the tracks for a July 7th release, containing all thirty-six episodes of the series’ sophomore year on five discs. I don’t know whether I’ve told this story previously but I had a rather—well, I don’t want to call it unpleasant but I suppose I have no other choice—experience with a seller at ioffer.com from whom I purchased what she advertised was the “complete series run” of Junction…and an inventory of the purchase revealed that one episode was missing (“Kate and the Manpower Problem”) and five episodes had no sound tracks (“Billie Jo’s First Job,” “Kate Bradley, Volunteer,” “Hooterville Crime Wave,” “For the Birds” and “The Shady Rest Hotel Corporation”). When I called her attention to this, she apologized and sent me a replacement disc containing the missing soundtrack shows…and the soundtracks were still missing. I get the occasional e-mail every now and then from a faithful TDOY follower asking if a certain series can be found in “rootpeg” form and while I’m always happy to give them the available skinny I cannot stress the concept of “caveat emptor” too strongly—many dealers collect this stuff like baseball cards and OTR on mp3’s and so very few of them take the time to make certain all the episodes are there and intact. (So even though I’ve had cross words for CBS DVD-Paramount in the past, I’m grateful that they’re going with another Junction release.)

Zane Grey Theatre: The Complete First Season – VCI has had this release in the pipeline for quite some time now, but have made it official—the first season of this top-rated Western anthology (hosted by and frequently starring Dick Powell) will finally hit the streets on June 9th. From an e-mail sent to me by VCI:

VCI is proud to announce a special DVD release of one of the greatest western anthologies of all time. Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre. The complete first season has been digitally remastered and restored. This is one DVD every collector should have.

Wonderful tales of the Old West laden with history and adventure are presented in Dick Powell's
Zane Grey Theatre, a half-hour western anthology TV series that debuted on CBS, October 5, 1956 and ran for 5 whole seasons. Dick Powell served as the host for the entire series and also starred as various characters in 15 episodes. The series was originally based on the short stories and novels of western author Zane Grey, but as the series continued, new material was included. Aaron Spelling, who later became a legend in Hollywood, wrote twenty Zane Grey episodes.

I’ve never seen this series, so suffice it to say I’m looking forward to grabbing a copy when it comes out (assuming I’ll have the necessary scratch with which to make said grab). VCI’s forays into classic television—including their Burke’s Law and Honey West releases—have been a real revelation, with extras like classic commercials added and well-written liner notes from the likes of Clifford “Laughing Gravy” Weimer (who made the Honey West collection come alive).

The Lucy Show: The Official First Season – We all knew it was a matter of time before this was released to DVD—I just want to say that I’m really looking forward to grabbing this one too (see previous paragraph on why this may be a bit of a setback) when it comes out July 21st. The box art for this release has already gotten my vote as one of the best this year, and the extras (interviews with Lucie Arnaz and Jimmy Garrett, original cast commercials, network promos, etc.) alone are enough to trigger the old saliva glands. As I have stated on a number of occasions, I equate The Lucy Show with tap water—I can’t imagine a time it wasn’t on in the afternoons courtesy of our CBS affiliate, WCHS in Charleston, WV and with the exception of the public domain shows (a nice collection of which was released by Mill Creek some time ago) I’m willing to wager I haven’t seen a lot of these reruns in close to 20-25 years. (Just one question: why is CBS-Paramount calling the Lucy Show, Petticoat Junction and Beverly Hillbillies releases “official”? Is it due to the public domain thing?)

1 comment:

Bobh said...

"Just one question: why is CBS-Paramount calling the Lucy Show, Petticoat Junction and Beverly Hillbillies releases “official”? Is it due to the public domain thing?"

That's undoubtedly why CBS Paramount is calling these DVD sets the official releases due to the numerous PD releases of these shows. "Lucy" has 30 episodes that are PD (only two in season 1 and most from season 5 and a few in season 6). I'm not sure about the exact number of "Petticoat" PD shows . . . I think it's around 22 or 23 from season 1 only. "Hillbillies" has an amazing 55 season 1 & 2 eps. that are PD . . . really sloppy work by the legal team responsible for copyright renewals.

I wouldn't get rid of the Mill Creek PD set (or other "Lucy" PD sets) as it will take some time to get to seasons 5 and 6 (if the show gets that far on DVD).