Sunday, December 6, 2009

“Why don't we cut all the banana oil...”

…and get caught up with the latest TV-on-DVD news, courtesy of the fine folks at TVShowsOnDVD.com. Lots of announcements for classic television in the pipeline, but let’s take a bit o’time to deal with old business.

The Infinity Entertainment Group release of The Jerry Lewis Show: The Collection scheduled to be released on November 24th has changed the wedding date again—this time to this Tuesday, December 8th. As previously mentioned, the set will contain the first thirteen episodes from Lewis’ comedy-variety series telecast on NBC from 1967-69. The release of the first season of Wagon Train, scheduled for November 17th, has also been held up—its new street date is now December 15th.

Now onto new business:

The Abbott & Costello Show, the classic syndicated comedy series (1952-54) starring the beloved team who made Universal as wealthy as Croesus back in the 1940s, was originally released to DVD on two box sets (Volumes One and Two) back in 2006 by Koch Entertainment (distributing for Passport Video). Koch has since become E1 Entertainment, and is announcing that come March 23rd of next year they will re-release the fifty-two episodes in a set entitled The Abbott and Costello Show: Collector’s Edition. In reading the TVShows blurb, it would appear that this nine-DVD collection will offer precious little that wasn’t already in the earlier releases (there will be some extras, but no word on what will be available); but since both volumes are now out of print it will allow A&C fans a second chance to grab these comedy classics.

Then Came Bronson, the popular cult series about a man’s quest to find himself by riding the nation’s highways and bi-ways on a motorcycle, hasn’t as yet secured a DVD release—but its pilot has, and is available for purchase at the Warner Archive. (TVShows acknowledges that they missed the initial announcement and they credit “longtime reader” Bob Huggins for the info—a man generally known better at TDOY as “Master of His Own [Public] Domain.”)

There are strong rumors a-swirling that another cult favorite, Ellery Queen, will be securing a DVD release in 2010—the mystery series has a devoted following despite the fact it ran for only one season in 1975-76, yielding twenty-two episodes and a two-hour pilot (“Too Many Suspects”). I remember being a fan of this show when it was originally on the air, and while there have been many actors to play the part of Frederic Dannay-Manfred Lee’s literary creation (including Ralph Bellamy, who did a short-lived movie series for Columbia between 1940-42) the one I always associate with the part was the great Jim Hutton (I even have a picture of Hutton in my mind when I listen to the radio series). This was a show that was well-plotted and well-written, with a magnificent cast in David Wayne (as Ellery’s cop pop), Tom Reese (as Sgt. Velie), Ken Swofford (as snoopy reporter Frank Flannigan) and especially John Hillerman as a rival radio sleuth named Simon Brimmer. I read somewhere that the show’s writers were forced to use Hillerman’s character sparingly—not because he wasn’t popular, but because they had to create two plausible solutions for each murder so as not to appear like Simon didn’t know his business (of course, Ellery would always be right and Simon wrong) and that proved rather taxing for the staff from a plot perspective (the object being to churn out the scripts as fast as possible).

Back in the halcyon days of junior high, a old mate of mine was a huge fan of the short-lived comedy-variety series Van Dyke and Company, since it allowed its star (you know, the one who sometimes tripped over the ottoman in the 1960s) to showcase his improvisation talents. According to this blurb, Dick Van Dyke’s short-lived 1976 series will be getting the DVD treatment in 2010—but the details are still very sketchy at press time, so I’ll try to pass along any update info when it develops.

The question of whether Timeless Media Group’s acquisition of the television western classic The Virginian will be released in season sets would appear to have been answered with the news that the show’s freshman season will hit the streets March 9th of next year with (groan) split season releases The Virginian: Season 1, Part 1 and The Virginian: Season 1, Part 2. Each set will contain fifteen episodes on six discs and while Timeless is certainly no stranger to the concept of split-season releases (it took them four sets to get the entire run of Laredo to DVD) I couldn’t help but be tremendously amused at a bit o’editorial comment from David Lambert when he opines that the reason the series is being released in two sets is “to help keep costs under control for fans, we presume.” (This just in—Mr. Lambert also believes in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy. I can’t wait until Rick Brooks reads about this one.)

The beloved family sitcom known as Father Knows Best is chugging along with its season-by-season releases; Season Four is scheduled to be made available March 23rd of next year though the content, extras, etc. remains unknown as of this post. (It will, however, be released as a five-disc set courtesy of the good people at Shout! Factory.) Another family comedy warhorse, My Three Sons, will see Season 2, Volume 1 arrive on February 23rd. It will be put out by CBS DVD-Paramount, and I was sort of surprised that the TVShows announcement didn’t say anything about threatening to kill family pets if people don’t come out in droves to purchase it. (Also, no word on whether they substituted any music for this one although I strongly suspect it’s already been decided upon.)

This next announcement is a bit beyond my jurisdiction but rumor has it that the first season of Matt Houston, the 1982-85 detective series starring Lee Horsley as a Lone Star awl billionaire turned California sleuth and Pamela Hensley as his Harvard-educated lawyer sidekick who was in charge of piloting his private helicopter. I can’t say I was a devotee of the show though I did drop in on it from time to time; some of the plots were a little offbeat (there was one about a murdered gourmet whose corpse was found encased in mold of orange Jell-O) and in its first season, Paul “Wishbone” Brinegar played one of Houston’s ranch hands. In the second season, Houston turned over the awl bidness to a recurring character named Murray Cross (George Wyner) and concentrated solely on sleuthing. In the final season (Houston ran for 3 years and sixty-seven episodes) TV icon Buddy Ebsen joined the cast as Matt’s uncle Roy—a retired detective whose career as a sleuth wasn’t particularly promising. (That’s really the only reason why I mentioned this—though it is a bit premature since Ebsen doesn’t turn up until the final season…which I’m sure will be a long time away from a release, assuming the first season sells well and CBS-Paramount doesn’t do a split-season number on this one, too.)

Finally, the long-running legal drama starring the former constable of Mayberry, NC—you know who I’m talking about—Matlock, will see its fourth season released by CBS-Paramount March 2nd. Again, this is a bit beyond the TDOY purview but I’m mentioning this only because for as long as I can remember, my father has insisted that the spokesman for Allstate Insurance is actor Kene Holliday, who played Tyler Hudson on this program (and this disc release will be his swan song with the series). I tried to explain to Dad that Dennis Haysbert was the guy in the Allstate commercials—not Holliday—but he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that I’m right. I couldn’t tell him about Haysbert’s role in 24 because my father’s never watched the series—and when I tried to jog his memory by informing him that Haysbert plays Pedro Cerrano, the baseball player with the voodoo obsession in Major League, he claimed never to have seen the movie. (He has, by the way.)

And yet he can remember seeing Holliday in the short-lived sitcom Carter Country (1977-79). Go figure.

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1 comment:

Rick Brooks said...

Ivan, you said it best re: The Virginian and the announcement at TSOD! I was almost willing to give Timeless *some* benefit of the doubt considering the show's longer episodes, but I thought the TSOD comment was just too much, and, yes, it did provide a legitimate LOL moment.