Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sign right here…

Before I take a quick look at some of the classic TV shows-on-DVD announcements of recent, I wanted to ask a small favor of the TDOY faithful.  You may remember that about a month ago I wrote a post about the DVD collection Sgt, Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show – The First Season, and suggested that those of you out there in TDOY Land who didn’t own a copy of this set do what you could to purchase one to insure that CBS Home Entertainment/Paramount would release future seasons of this classic sitcom.  I later found out from Mick Clews of the British Phil Silvers Appreciation Society that in communication with CBS DVD he learned that the odds of seeing the remaining seasons of Bilko were extremely remote.

Bloodied but not bowed, the B.P.S.A.S. is getting up a petition to send to CBS-Paramount asking them to reconsider their decision to make the show a “one-and-done”—and they’d be most appreciative if interested (or even casually interested) TDOY fans would stop by and attach their John Hancock to it in an effort to convince the company that failing to consider making Phil Silvers fans (both present and future) happy by getting this TV classic accessible on disc would be kind of a boneheaded decision at best (and that they might be haunted by the ghosts of the people who worked their butts off on this program).  You’ll find the petition here, so if you could take a couple of minutes to stop by and sign it the B.P.S.A.S. would really appreciate it…and so would I.  I’d even be in such a good mood that there might be a later trip to Dairy Queen in the works.  (Bribing people with ice cream…it’s the American way.)

People question whether this sort of action really has any effect—I myself sometimes have strong doubts.  But I think if these companies become aware that there’s an audience for these sort of releases they’ll make the effort because that’s how this whole supply-and-demand thing works, if I remember anything from my studies in college (and I’m lucky if I can recall ten percent of it).  Let’s take an example like TV’s The Bob Newhart Show—in 2005 and 2006 Fox Home Entertainment released the first four seasons of this classic 70s sitcom to DVD and then their desire to release the remaining sets cooled like an inactive volcano. reported this week that Amazon had put up listings for season five and season six for pre-order (both sets are listed at $20.99 each) and even though further details have yet to be forthcoming this is pretty wonderful news.  I’ve been watching the occasional repeat of Bob Newhart on Me-TV for some time now, and it’s still uproariously funny—probably one of the shining examples of character-based comedy in the history of the televisual medium.

In other “it’s about damn time” news, MPI Home Video has announced that to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the very first “Honeymooners” sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show (though at the time it was known as Cavalcade of Stars), they’re going to release a big honkin’ box set entitled The Honeymooners Lost Episodes 1951-1957: The Complete Restored Series on October 4thThis announcement here by TSoD gives you a rundown as to what will be on the set, but the main thing to keep in mind is that it’s fifteen discs of all the Honeymooners skits produced from 1951-1957, including half-a-dozen skits that were recently discovered in Gleason’s vaults (apparently when he discovered these the first time he didn’t look as carefully as he should).  Many of these skits have been heavily edited in order to fit into the half-hour shows that were sold to syndication to supplement the “Classic 39” (these half-hours also get a nightly workout on Me-TV).  When I learned about the news of this release, I raced to Facebook to inform Rick Brooks of these developments (he’s the biggest Gleason fan I know outside of my pal Maureen) but the price tag on this set is a little daunting—$129.98 SRP, so even with an online discount we may end up having to have a whip-around to make certain this becomes a fixture in the library of the Cultureshark Institute (Mr. Brooks does have a couple of kids to look after, and I hear they can get a little expensive).  Now that I think of it, I may have to do a little extra fundraising because a set like this would be most welcome in the House of Yesteryear as well.

Another “complete collection” announcement from TSoD concerns the 1968-70 espionage series It Takes a Thief, which starred Robert Wagner as reformed cat burglar Alexander Mundy, whose filching talents have been appropriated by the governmental organization SIA as part of a “parole” deal (Mundy was sort of under a form of house arrest, stealing for Uncle Sam under the supervision of his superior Noah Bain, played by the great character thesp Malachi Throne).  I got the opportunity to revisit this show during its run on RTV (it was shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in my neck of the woods…and then later was moved to 11pm weeknights) and I have to be honest…I didn’t enjoy it as much as I once did (though I did get a kick out of seeing Bette Davis guest star in one episode, “Touch of Magic”) but I’m glad Thief fans are going to get the chance to collect the entire run of the show (66 episodes in all) when eOne Entertainment releases the whole enchilada on October 11th with a SRP of $199.98 (ouch).

TSoD put up a couple of release dates for some Shout! Factory products that I mentioned here on the blog thanks to an individual who scanned a video catalog that was sent to him in a shipment of Factory DVDs he purchased.  According to the catalog, the long-awaited second season of TV sitcom Hazel is scheduled for a November 1st release (the SRP is $34.99) and the sixth season of police procedural chestnut Adam-12 is due out December 13th (SRP $34.93).  There was also an announcement for a collection entitled Mr. Magoo on TV—but the details on this set are pretty sketchy as to the content (it’s due out November 8th).  Because the SRP is $79.98, I imagine it’s going to be loaded up but as to what (maybe the 1964-65 series The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo?) we’ll just have to be patient for additional details.

Timeless Media Video’s upcoming DVD release of the 1964 TV western Destry hasn’t been announced either on its website or in the announcements at TSoD, but TSoD does have it listed in its release information section.  The short-lived series (it was a mid-season replacement for the then-canceled 77 Sunset Strip) was based on the Max Brand creation played by Tom Mix (1932’s Destry Rides Again), James Stewart (1939’s Destry Rides Again) and Audie Murphy (1954’s Destry) in the movies.  All three of these actors played Tom Destry, Jr. (son of a famous lawman) but in the TV version the character was Harrison Destry (John Gavin), a lawman who was just getting out of the joint after being framed for a crime he didn’t commit.  The show was sort of a hybrid of Maverick and The Fugitive, with a seriocomic tone and guest stars like Broderick Crawford, Claude Akins, Lee Van Cleef, Una Merkel (who was in the 1939 film), Elisha Cook, Jr. and Barbara Stuart, to name just a few.  Heartthrob Gavin, best known as Janet Leigh’s boyfriend in Psycho, attempted to jumpstart a TV career with this series but it only lasted thirteen episodes; he got a second shot in the fall of 1965 with the WW2 drama Convoy but that also (pardon the pun) tanked after thirteen installments.  (Cinephiles might be interested to know that the pilots for both series were directed by Don Siegel.)  It’s nice to see Timeless dragging this rarity out of NBC/Universal’s vaults, and it will make a nice introduction to Gavin for younger folk who probably know him better as the Ambassador to Mexico when his pal Ronald Reagan was president.  Destry will be released to stores on September 6 with a SRP of $34.98.

In the “the other shoe has dropped” department, the Warner Archive has made (as of August 2) the second half of the inaugural season of TV’s The F.B.I. available in their online store, with the remaining fifteen episodes spread out on four discs for a pricey $39.95.  I never cease to be amused that the only people privileged to pay this tariff for half-a-season’s worth of TV are those residing in the U.S…because they still won’t ship to Canada (sorry, Brent).

Finally, if you happen to be sitting around the house thinking to yourself “Three hours a day of Little House on the Prairie on the Hallmark Channel just isn’t meeting my Little House needs” your savior will come in the form of Lionsgate Entertainment, who’ll release a big honkin’ 55-DVD set of the beloved family series on October 18th.  According to Lionsgate, this behemoth will contain all nine seasons of the show (203 episodes) including the original TV pilot and before you go running to the comments section to tell me they’ve done this before this set contains fewer discs than the previous release but apparently features new extras.  (Now you’re starting to understand how these people roll.)  This might make a nice gift for sister Kat (I think she started collecting Little House on DVD but lost interest after the first two seasons…or I should probably say I did, since this isn’t the sort of thing she buys for herself) come Christmas time.

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BrittReid said...

If you're looking to get a good discount on tv box sets, you might want to consider a warehouse club membership.
Costco's now carrying A&E dvds along with the majors (Warner, Universal, Columbia, 20th, etc) with lots of season sets at $19.99 each.
They also have the various TCM compilations (Gangster, Sci-Fi, etc.) at the lowest prices I've seen.
OTOH, Sam's Club has Timeless dvds.

New releases at both are comparable to Best Buy or Target first-week prices.

Stop by the Secret Sanctum of Captain Video for movie/tv tie-in comics books and say "Hi"! ;-)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Thanks for passing along this info, Cap'n. We had to let the Sam's membership lapse in our current economy drive (just couldn't justify keeping it since we don't go there too often) and while the nearest Costco isn't too far (there's one at the Mall of Georgia) the matter of how often would we use it rears its ugly head again. But I'm sure the TDOY faithful will appreciate the information.