Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Archival entertainment

Radio Archives/Nostalgia Ventures has just released a new collection in continuation of their tenth anniversary celebration, and it’s a pip—a fourth volume of twenty more long-lost broadcasts (on ten CDs) of O’Henry’s “famous Robin Hood of the old West” starring Jack Mather in the titular role, and Marvin Miller at the announcer’s mike. The shows also feature the legendary “man of a thousand voices,” Mel Blanc, in role of Pancho—having taken over the role when actor Harry Lang passed away in August of 1953. Now, copies of The Cisco Kid series have been in the hands of old-time radio collectors for many years, of course…but here’s what makes these broadcasts so special:

However, a few years ago, Radio Archives uncovered a large collection of original "Cisco Kid" syndication discs in Des Moines, Iowa -- uncirculated and seldom played 16" vinyl transcription recordings which had for many years been carefully preserved by a local advertising agency. These programs have, for the most part, been unheard since the 1950s and most have never been available to collectors - until now, that is. In addition to their rarity, a unique feature of these restored broadcasts is the reintegration of regional commercials, voiced by well-known announcer Marvin Miller ("The Whistler", "The Railroad Hour"). The series was sponsored on a number of Midwestern radio stations by the bakers of Butter-nut Bread, and the program recordings we found were accompanied by separate discs containing a virtual raft of original commercials - three uniquely created spots for each individual broadcast, in fact, that even today can inspire a listener to get up and make a peanut butter and jelly on white bread. As presented in this set, the commercials have once again been edited back into the programs, allowing you for the first time to hear these shows just as they were originally aired in the mid-1950s.

So for those collectors who are always on the hunt for uncirculated shows, this new CD set is just the tonic for you. Of course, Radio Archives has other goodies available—including a new edition of Doc Savage pulp fiction reprints—variety with series like The Big Show, The Lux Radio Theatre and The MGM Theatre of the Air. (And in keeping with my enthusiastic acquiescence with the Archives’ new CD covers, check out the one for Birds’ Eye Open House with Dinah Shore to your right—and read up on this series of music and mirth back in the halcyon Salon days of TDOY.)

While I’m on the subject of entertainment, I have a few TV-on-DVD announcements to pass along, courtesy of the good people at TVShowsOnDVD.com: Virgil Films and Entertainment will release a small collection on April 13th entitled The Donna Reed Show: The Best Of. This set is a value-priced collection of four shows (101 minutes total) that will retail for $14.99 SRP, which means you might find it online for a bit cheaper. David Lambert goes on to speculate that this doesn’t necessarily mean that Virgil Films has given up on the series; just a little something for fans who don’t particularly want the Full Donna of season-by-season sets (of which we have seen three so far).

MPI Home Video has announced that they’ll be releasing two of The Honeymooners specials originally telecast during the 1970s on May 4th: The Honeymooners: Second Honeymoon (1976; Ralph and Alice Kramden are getting ready to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary…but Ralph becomes convinced that Alice is great with child and Norton takes it upon himself to teach him how to take care of a baby) and The Honeymooners Valentine Special (1978; Alice is secretly buying Ralph a suit for Valentine’s Day…he mistakenly believes she’s measuring him for a coffin and is seeing another man…wacky complications ensue). Both of these will retail for $14.99 SRP and contain “Bonus 1960s ‘Color Honeymooners’ Sketches” not seen since their original airings.

Finally, an update on The Goldbergs and what is being touted as “The Ultimate” collection: the set—which will contain 71 episodes (and 12 radio broadcasts)—will be on six DVDs available in mid-March…but will not, unfortunately, be available in stores. It’s a Shout! Factory release, and as such will only be available online through the company’s direct-to-consumer program. How’s that for a vote of confidence?

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