I always think of that above line from Chinatown (1974) anytime I read word that those kindly, altruistic souls at CBS DVD-Paramount are only trying to brighten the miserable existences of TV-on-DVD fans by releasing vintage favorites in the universally despised (well, I know I don’t like it—there’s bound to be others) “split-season” format. The latest candidate is Have Gun – Will Travel, the smash hit western originally telecast on CBS from 1957 to 1963. (This bulletin comes courtesy of TVShowsOnDVD.com, by the way.)
HGWT saw its first three seasons released to disc between 2004 and 2006, and though the sales for these sets were a textbook example of “underwhelming” my friend Martin Grams, Jr.—author of The Have Gun – Will Travel Companion—said that CBS/Paramount was committed to making sure it released the remaining seasons. Then, six months later, I had occasion to call him about an unrelated topic—which allowed him to drop the bombshell that the company had changed its mind about HGWT. (I thought about buying seasons four, five and six from Martin but I couldn’t justify the price tag at that time.)
So, it would appear that come March 2nd next year, HGWT will be back as Have Gun – Will Travel: Season 4, Volume 1. TSOD’s David Lambert writes (and I’m not entirely certain whether or not he reflected on the irony of this statement): “…you can strap your spurs back on, because CBS/Paramount is taking you and Paladin for a ride once more…” (Pause as I wait for the laughter to subside.)
I know people have grown weary of me bitching about this, but what really tears it about this arrangement is that the first three HGWT collections were modestly priced, which again chips away at the company’s monk-like belief that this split-season crap is all to benefit to the show’s fans. They did the same thing to Gunsmoke: the first season was released as a single box set, and then they began splitting up the seasons afterward. Now, while I don’t agree with the process I can certainly understand the argument the company makes about how there were more episodes produced per season back then (both Gunsmoke and HGWT’s inaugural seasons yielded thirty-nine episodes) but I don’t see how that would make much of a difference with a half-hour series. Perry Mason? Okay, thirty-nine episodes of that show in one set would be a bit pricey. But the fans are going to buy it—unless you do something totally idiotic like splitting the season in two and charging fans the same price for each.
I’d love to complete my HGWT collection—I eventually bought the remaining seasons from someone on Ioffer, but if I am afforded the opportunity (and the key word here, of course, is “afford”) to replace those bootlegs with pristine versions I’ll do so in a New York minute. Trouble is—there were complaints about the third season release and how some of those shows looked a little “raggedy.”
In other TSOD news, the release date for Hawaii Five-O: The Eighth Season has been confirmed via a press release—the set will hit the streets March 16th. The Matt Houston: Season 1 collection has also got the greenlight, making its debut online and in stores (well, maybe) March 9th.