Sunday, January 17, 2010

“She thinks her advice is the Constitution/Well, if she’d leave that would be the solution/And don’t come back no more…” has a blurb up that the long-awaited first season release of the 1960s cult comedy The Mothers-in-Law will be unleashed to a TV-on-DVD buying public on either April 27 or May 4th. I know, it does sound like they’re a bit uncertain; they’re going on the information posted on Mothers co-star Kaye Ballard’s website that the set will be out in time for…wait for it…Mothers’ Day. That falls on May 9 of this year, and because DVDs aren’t generally released on Sundays, the reasoning is that the collection will have to be released on either of the two aforementioned dates in plenty of time for you to buy your favorite matriarch one. (It also doesn’t speculate as to whether the two seasons will be included in one big honkin’ set or two separate sets…or four if they go the dreaded split-season route. We must wait and see.)

Further news from the TSOD website confirms that the sixth season of Emergency!—all 24 episodes from the 1976-77 season—will be available April 13th. TSOD also mentions that there is a bit of buzz concerning the six post-series telefilms telecast in 1978-79 and that these could possibly see a disc release sometime in 2011. As for the cartoon spin-off, Emergency +4 (which featured the voices of stars Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth), and Sierra, a 1974 dramatic series spun-off from Emergency! (I’m familiar with the show, but was completely unaware that Emergency! was the father, so to speak) there is no news forthcoming on either program or its DVD chances.

I have to confess that I was never much of a fan of Emergency! though my sister Kat was (not to mention Laura at Miscellaneous Musings)—but I’ve always been impressed at how star Tighe turned out to be a first-rate character actor later in his career. I caught him in a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit rerun two weekends ago (“Avatar,” in which he plays a creepy convicted kidnapper who strikes again after completing his twenty-year hitch in The Big House) and he really turned in a nice piece of work…properly menacing yet resisting the urge to go over the top—but my favorite performances of his are in the John Sayles films Matewan (1987; as one of the union-busting thugs) and Eight Men Out (1988—he’s “Sport” Sullivan, the gambler who has that memorable line: “You know what you feed a dray horse in the morning if you want a day's work out of him? Just enough so he knows he's hungry.”). (Tighe also appeared briefly in the first season of the woefully short-lived Murder One as the veteran cop who worked as the law firm’s investigator…and I’m sure a few Lost fans might recognize him as “Anthony Cooper” as well.)

And finally, in our “It’s not much, but it’s a start” department, the Warner Archive has released a MOD DVD of Operation Heartbeat (1969) (originally titled U.M.C.), the telefilm that served as the pilot for the long running CBS-TV medical drama Medical Center from 1969-76. While James Daly is on hand as Dr. Paul Lochner, the part he would continue to play on the series, the role of Dr. James Gannon is essayed by Richard Bradford—Chad Everett had not been hired for the subsequent series at that point in time. I haven’t seen this pilot (though I watched Medical Center quite a bit during its original run, preferring it over Marcus Welby, M.D.) but the cast features TDOY idol Edward G. Robinson, Kim Stanley, Maurice Evans, Kevin McCarthy, J.D. Cannon (“McCloud!!!”), Audrey Totter and William Windom—so it’s got to be worth a look at the very least. And perhaps this could lead to future season releases of a show that for some odd reason has slipped through the cracks of television history (I can’t remember the last time I saw it in reruns…anyone want to take a crack at this?).

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Scott C. said...

What was it about girls and Emergency!? My little sister loved that show -- lived for it -- and so did her friends. They'd plan their week around the broadcast, and sit there counting the alarms each time a call came into the station ("Five! This one's gonna be huge!").

Maybe the appeal for them was best summed up by an article on the show I once read, entitled, "Action Without Violence."

Toby O'B said...

The last time I saw anything in connection to 'Medical Center' was during the celebration of CBS' fifty years of TV. (I may have the wrong anniversary?)

During an episode of 'Chicago Hope', Christine Lahti's character phased out of a conversation with some boring doctor in the cafeteria and instead began to fantasize that Dr. Gannon was sitting across from her. ('Medical Center' was playing on the cafeteria TV, which is what prompted the daydream.)

They took the old footage of Chad Everett and inserted him into the scene as though he was really there. But it was a one-time only thing, as were all the other such mash-ups and were excised from reruns and DVD releases unfortunately.....

Philip Schweier said...

All I remember of Medical Center was the episode where Robert Reed of Brady Bunch fame plays a guy seeking gender reassignment. Daring for its day, I should think.