Thursday, September 24, 2009

The men from Laramie

I received an e-mail from faithful TDOY reader Larry Shell about an hour ago, and Larry informs me that on a visit to a Sam’s Club in Linden, NJ (population: 40,014—sal-ute!!) he spotted a Laramie DVD box set for $49.95. This wasn't one of the Laramie sets Timeless released recently, but a set containing the complete series (emphasis mine)!” he explains. “These seem to show up either before there is ANY kind of announcements about their release or months before their announced release date. So his burning question is: Does Sam’s have a special arrangement with Timeless Media Video?

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard whisperings (some folks have even remarked on in the comments section in the past…I’m just too lazy to look those up) that Sam’s has gotten the jump on Timeless Video product before it’s officially announced or shows up at TVShowsOnDVD.com. A complete series box set containing all 124 episodes of the western originally telecast on NBC from 1959-63 would be a sweetheart of a deal…particularly if it has a price tag of $49.95; I paid $35.92 for the third season alone at DVD Pacific—and at the time, that was the lowest price available online. Naturally, after making that purchase, Amazon.com marked the third season down even lower in a sale of Timeless’ sets, selling the collection for $24.99.

Amazon is no longer offering Laramie: The Complete Third Season at the discount price, and I’m curious as to whether that might have anything to do with the news that many individuals who purchased the set were disappointed with the visual quality. I’ve not opened my copy, but I have seen at least one episode—“The Runaway” (01/23/62)—on Timeless’ Classic TV Western Collection and while it’s certainly not of CBS DVD-Paramount caliber I didn’t think it was all that bad—it wasn’t unwatchable, let’s put it that way. When you factor in the info that Universal/NBC is just leasing the rights to these shows to Timeless and not providing them with fresh prints from the original negatives (if they exist at all) I don’t get too wound up about pristine picture quality. (Perhaps I should—but I prefer to focus my rants in the direction of this idiotic “split-season” crap.) Also, at a time when discretionary spending is taking a beating from the economy, any company willing to take a chance on releasing shows that don’t receive a great deal of exposure except in people’s memories is aces in my book. In summation, maybe Timeless decided to go ahead and bunch all four seasons together in the lower-priced collection because of the visual quality concerns. I don’t have all the answers—but if I turn on the Public Domain signal, maybe Bob Huggins can fill us in.

Larry also mentions that he spotted a collection combining the first and second seasons of The Guns of Will Sonnett “…which I don’t recall seeing announced nor is it available at Amazon…” This set was announced—I mentioned it here—and it is available at Amazon for the low price of $23.99 (and if I could scrape that up, believe you me I’d have a copy by now)—another great bargain, and if you’re not familiar with this underrated series it’s certainly worth a flutter. I was going to give Larry a demerit for not paying attention in class (particularly since I just now discovered that he was the individual who pointed out that Sam’s was selling these collections in the first place—including Sonnett!) but since he signed off on his e-mail as “Larry Shell, Cub Reporter” I’ll give him a pass. (I also hereby declare that Larry is now TDOY’s official cub reporter—wave the flag high and proudly, Lar!)


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