Back in August 2004, I started up a list of classic TV shows that—at the time—had not yet been released to DVD and with each passing year (well, more or less), I’d add additional lists of series that I’d certainly make the effort to purchase if I was indeed fortunate to see a release. I used to do the lists around August of each year—though for some reason I waited until December in 2009…and as for 2010, I never got around to putting one together at all. I guess for all intents and purposes I sort of lost interest in compiling the lists…but every now and then I like to take a look and see if any of the programs mentioned are available on disc.
Car 54, Where are You? was on my very first list and I was pleased to learn—via TVShowsOnDVD.com—that the 1961-63 cult sitcom, created by veteran comedy writer Nat Hiken and starring Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynne, will see its inaugural season released to DVD on April 12th of this year (it had originally been slated for a February release). Car 54 is being released (to commemorate its golden anniversary) by a company called Shanachie Entertainment; the SRP on this is $39.99 but I haven’t seen an online listing for the 4-disc set anywhere of this post (many stores often give you a bit of a discount). In the interest of full disclosure, I always have both seasons of the sitcom on DVD but because the press release states that the new collection featured episodes culled from the only existing 35mm prints getting it for the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives will probably be a no-brainer. (I have stated in the past that if a company offers a show on DVD in pristine, untouched-by-syndication form I’ll be the first in line to purchase it except in extenuating circumstances…yes, My Three Sons, I’m talking to you…)
Another series from the “I’d buy that for a dollar” list (the phrase originated in the 1987 RoboCop; a friend of mine from my
days used to use it on a frequent basis) in the 1959-63 sitcom adaptation of the comic strip Dennis the Menace. The show’s first season is coming to DVD in a five-disc set from Shout! Factory on March 29, and I don’t mind telling you I’ve already pre-ordered this set from Amazon due to its wallet-friendly price of $20.99. Despite my aversion to cute kid actors, I must confess a fondness for the Dennis series; I purchased a nearly complete set from a reputable bootlegger a year or two ago and after tucking a few episodes under my belt discovered to my delight that it holds up much better than I remembered. Sure, the producers had to make a few concessions to get the show on the air—Dennis’ behavior was considerably toned down from the holy terror he was in the funny papers; on TV he was just a precocious little scamp—but the shows are fitfully amusing and you also can enjoy the great Joseph Kearns in his signature role as the constantly put-upon Mr. Wilson (who was also softened considerably for boob tube audiences). The first season collection has some interesting bonus features, including that Donna Reed Show episode that features a guest appearance from Dennis (Jay North) and Mr. Wilson…though I should point out that this installment has already been released to DVD in the third season release of The Donna Reed Show. Morgantown
While we’re on the subject of America’s most perfect sitcom mom, TSOD had an interesting blurb that MPI Home Video will be releasing seasons 4 and 5 of Reed since Virgil Films and Entertainment let their license to issue the series on disc lapse (seasons six, seven and eight of the show are owned by Sony—and if they get around to putting them on DVD I will be stunned beyond belief). Nothing definite about the fourth season has been decided yet but the scuttlebutt (according to Mary Owen, Donna’s youngest daughter) is that it may make an appearance either near or after Mother’s Day of this year.
In other white-bread situation comedy news, Shout! Factory has confirmed that the sixth and final season of Father Knows Best will be released this year (details are pending) allowing FKB fans to complete the entire run of the series on their DVD shelves. (There is a dark cloud to this silver lining, however, Season 6 will be one of those loathsome Shout! Select releases…boo…hiss.) More definite news is out on the sixth and final season of another family sitcom classic—Leave it to Beaver: Season 6 will be released to stores on March 1…and kudos to Shout! for allowing each season to be sold separately to spare those of us who already purchased the first two seasons (from Universal) the pain of having to re-buy them in their Complete Series set.
I stated a few months ago that should Classic Media release the fifth and final season of Rocky and Bullwinkle separately from their big honkin’ box set that collects the entire run of the show (The Complete Series: 100% Bull, which was released January 11) I would issue a formal apology for bad-mouthing them at the time the complete set’s release was announced. I’d like to think I’m a person of my word: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Kudos to Classic Media/Vivendi for resisting the temptation to screw a few people who have been collecting the show season-by-season for these many years; the fifth season of this classic animated cartoon series will be released March 29th.
As noted previously, sister Debbie made certain I had some TV-on-DVD under the Christmas tree to open up in the form of The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume 1—and during my extended stay at the Double K Ranch Mom, Dad and I amused ourselves watching Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) outwit the authorities in classic fashion…and in color, no less. CBS-Paramount will celebrate the day the running stopped with the release of Season 4, Volume 2 on February 15th…just a few Tuesdays from now. Debbie also got me a copy of The Lucy Show: The Official Third Season as well, and everybody’s favorite comedic redhead will be the talk on the DVD streets April 26th when The Lucy Show: The Official Fourth Season winds up in an online store near you.
For those of you who can’t get enough of Lucy (it wasn’t easy turning down an “I Love Lucy” pun), Ms. Ball’s not-quite-as-celebrated third sitcom, Here’s Lucy, will see its fourth season released (via MPI Home Video) about a month earlier on March 29th. (Amazon.com has got a good deal on this one, too—I ordered it at the same time as the Dennis the Menace set.) One of the fourth season episodes is a fun little romp entitled “Lucy and Mannix are Held Hostage”; the title, of course, should tip you off that Mike Connors plays his signature TV role as a guest star, and it’s a shame CBS-Paramount couldn’t have cut a deal to include this episode as an extra on the Mannix: The Fourth Season set released recently.
Another fourth season release due out this year (April 12th) is the final season for the 1967-70 revival of longtime TDOY fave Dragnet. I bought the third season set and it arrived in early December of last year, and one of the nifty extras on that collection was a rare episode from the show’s original run, a
November 10, 1955 telecast entitled “The Big Smoke.” I haven’t had an opportunity to open Season 3 up yet but if the probability of releasing a collection of the early Dragnets is remote due to its monochromatic status I’d just like to thank Shout! Factory for this little bonus and to encourage them to cook up more of the same for Dragnet 1970: Season Four.
Shout! Factory will continue to ramp up the nostalgia in April—April 19th, to be precise—with the release of a 6-DVD box set entitled The Ernie Kovacs Collection. I won’t use up any bandwidth to tell you what’s on this fabulous set because TSOD has all the details here but from the sound of that press release there’s a mother lode of true TV treasure for Kovacs fans. If I’m flush with cash by the time this set is scheduled to be released I may make an investment, it sounds so good.
What’s Timeless Media Group got on tap for classic TV lovers, I hear you say? (Well, somebody said it—I stopped talking to myself several years ago.) Only season 3 of the classic television oater The Virginian, which can also be seen weekday afternoons at on Encore Westerns. This particular collection will be of interest to
fans (that’s Scott C. and I) because it contains the backdoor pilot “We’ve Lost a Train,” the episode that inspired the spin-off series starring Neville Brand, Peter Brown, William Smith and Philip Carey. The Virginian: The Complete Third Season has a street date of March 15th; coincidentally, Encore Westerns will show “Train” three days later on March 18. Laredo
A classic television series that is coming to DVD though nothing has been made official is It Takes a Thief—the inaugural season, released by eOne, was originally scheduled for February but that date has been pushed back to the summer of 2011. There’s also some scuttlebutt that the penultimate season of Hawaii Five-O (season 11) is headed for DVD on April 19th but nothing has been made official by CBS-Paramount yet. Britcom fans will enjoy hearing that there’s more Last of the Summer Wine headed for Region 1 DVD when Vintages 1988 and 1989 hits the streets on April 12th. Another Britcom favorite that some people may remember (this one got quite a workout on West Virginia Public Television) is Fresh Fields, a series about a bored housewife named Hester Fields (Julia McKenzie) whose quest for self-improvement begins to drive her husband William (Anton Rodgers) a bit nuts. The show ran for four series between 1984 and 1986 (a total of 27 episodes) and later inspired a sequel series entitled French Fields, which found the former show’s protagonists moving to
Northern France (French ran for three series [nineteen episodes] between 1989 and 1991). Series one and two will be released by Acorn Media as “Set 1” on February 22.
Finally, Classic Media/Vivendi Entertainment—those amazing, incredible, wonderful people who are releasing a separate season five of Rocky and Bullwinkle…oh, I did that already—are releasing a couple of collections that may be of interest to the budget-minded TV-on-DVD consumer. You may remember that the company released a huge honkin’ box set back in 2008 entitled The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection; an 8-DVD compendium featuring all of the Hal Roach Our Gang sound comedies (both one- and two-reel) released between 1929 and 1938. That collection was released by Genius Products (a misnomer if ever there was one) but because Vivendi is now the distributor for RHI Entertainment (which owns the Our Gang comedies) the company is planning to release a “low-end” single disc DVD on March 15th entitled The Little Rascals: Volume 1, which will contain ten comedies and is available at Amazon for a pre-order price of $7.93.
Classic Media is doing the same thing with “that daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains”—selling a single DVD of ten Lone Ranger episodes (also available at Amazon for a pre-order tariff of $7.93; the release date being April 19th) to those people who didn’t want to pony up the admittedly pricey 75th anniversary box set also released in 2008 that contained the first two seasons of the popular children’s western show. Now, I don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to the budget Our Gang collection—but speaking as someone who owns the Lone Ranger set I can tell you that you can either cheap out on the single disc release…or DeepDiscount.com has the whole enchilada—all thirteen DVDs with the first 78 episodes—for the sale price of $31.09, which is more than half off what Amazon was selling it for when it first came out. But it’s available at that price for a limited time, so you need to jump on that bad boy (DD also offers free shipping) while supplies last. Hi-Yo Silver…awaaaaayyyyyy!!!