Friday, August 19, 2011

Tales of TV-on-DVD and the reason why it’s been kind of quiet around these parts

Apologies for the recent fallow fields here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear—I’d like to be able to explain it away in that it’s because I’m doing some constructive with my free time, like coaching summer league soccer or building homes for Habitat for Humanity…but the real excuse is I’m currently working on the Guinness World Record for Laziest Human Alive.  The ‘rents left on Sunday to pay sister Debbie and the family a visit out in I-O-Way, and I’ve been whiling away productive hours watching a lot of Me-TV, TCM and Fox Movie Channel.  I haven’t been a total lump on a log—I’ve got something in the hopper over at Edward Copeland on Film…and More for tomorrow and am also working on a post or two for here—but it shames me to admit that when I approach a project with the express purpose of wrestling it to the ground and finishing it I’ll push it off to the side if and when I hear the opening theme to Rawhide.

I received an e-mail the other day from Melinda Prince (a representative from the cable channel The Inspiration Network) that contained a press release about INSP’s newest additions to its schedule in the fall.  They’ll be adding such classic TV favorites as Bonanza, The Big Valley and The Brady Bunch to their lineup…and the reason I found this interesting is because these three programs are also part of the schedule at Me-TV—so I’m wondering if these shows will be allowed to co-exist on both channels or it’s one of those deals where INSP will claim exclusivity.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t miss them much (though I do like the clever marketing ploy at Me-TV that touts the 11am-1pm scheduling of Brady reruns as “The Brady Brunch”) but it’s sort of made me curious in light of the fact that Cultureshark’s own Rick Brooks had a blurb up at his blog announcing that TV Land’s contracts with the Ponderosa and Gunsmoke would be up soon (leading Mr. Brooks to wonder in his one-of-a-kind wiseass fashion what the channel will do with that extra 114 hours of programming each week).

According to Doug Butts, the senior veep for programming at INSP, the additions to the schedule reflect the channel’s belief that “a significant segment of the American population yearns for optimistic, life-affirming programs.”  He further goes on to say:  “They desire content that positively portrays faith, family, devotion to friends and just being a good neighbor. We are committed to give them what they’re looking for.”  I’m not quite certain how Bonanza fits into that equation—Ben Cartwright was, as Scott of World O’Crap has pointed out in the past, “the West’s most notorious Bluebeard” and an unapologetically rapacious cattle and land baron (the Barkleys on The Big Valley were not much better, either)—but in INSP’s defense I’m probably not part of that target audience they desire.  (I just like old TV reruns.)

So what better way to talk about TV repeats than with a little news with what’s headed our way via DVD, thanks to the good people at TVShowsOnDVD.com?  Well, it’s nice to know, for example, that CBS Home Entertainment’s commitment to keeping the split season (groan) Rawhide sets going means that Volume 2 of the veteran oater’s fourth season will be made available on November 1st.  The four-disc set will contain the remaining fourteen episodes from Season 4 and, according to the press release, “a bonus episode from Season 5.”  The Rawhide reruns in the Me-TV lineup are currently my favorite indulgence here at Rancho Yesteryear, and though I’m still a little worried that CBS DVD-Paramount might abandon these sets at any time due to lack of interest I learned by doing a little research on the Internets that all the show’s seasons have been made available on Region 4 discs, so that’s sort of my Plan B.  (The Region 4 sets prominently feature both the name and countenance of co-star Clint Eastwood as if he were the show’s headliner from Day One—something that seems to be imitated in the art for the Season 4, Volume 2 art to your left (heck, they passed over Eric Fleming to put Sheb Wooley’s mug on the box).

In the last post devoted to TV-on-DVD releases I mentioned that Shout! Factory has plans to release an 11-disc DVD set entitled The Mr. Magoo TV Collection…but details on just what that collection would entail were a bit sketchy.  Further information has been brought to light that all three of the near-sighted cartoon character’s boob tube ventures will be included in this set, the 1960-61 series The Mr. Magoo Show (which has been released to disc before), the primetime The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (1964-65), and the short-lived return to Saturday morning in 1977, What’s New, Mister Magoo?  (The 1970 primetime TV-movie Uncle Sam Magoo will also be available on this set.)  I had read somewhere that the first time The Mr. Magoo Show was released to DVD they used the versions of the series that had played on the USA Network and that some of the voices were re-dubbed (Magoo had a Chinese servant named Charlie in those less-than-politically-correct times) so whether or not these are the same ones that were previously released via Classic Media isn’t mentioned but I suspect they probably are.  The set is still being released on November 8 and retails for $79.97…and is subtitled “Oh, Magoo…You’ve Done It Again!”  (Full disclosure: “Magoo” was what my grandfather called me for a period after I was born because he thought I looked liked him in my infant state.)

In keeping with their long-standing policy to re-release collections with a few added extras and bonuses in order to see if fans will obey without questions and purchase sets a second time, CBS Home Entertainment has really outdone themselves with the announcement that November 1st will be the street date for The Fugitive – The Complete Series: The Most Wanted Edition.  Included in this 33-disc set will be all 120 episodes of the classic 1963-67 suspense drama (with a disc containing, according to the press release “exclusive content”) and a bonus audio CD with seventy minutes of music.  (Messrs. Lacey and Lambert say with not the slightest trace of irony: “We PRESUME that CBS/Paramount is including the most correct soundtrack available”; I am willing to bet any amount of money that this collection will contain all of the correct music to allow the company to screw fans over one final time.)

Better re-release news is coming via Eagle Rock/Eagle Vision, who is bringing back Seasons One and Two of the classic 1966-68 musical sitcom The Monkees to DVD this September 27th.  Both seasons of The Monkees were originally released by Rhino Home Video back in 2003 (in nifty record-player-style packaging) but those sets quickly went out of print and as such fetched a priceless penny in used DVD venues (and I can vouch for this, because I sold mine on eBay and put a friend’s kid through college*).  So it’s nice to see them coming back around—Eagle Rock has both sets listed at a $69.98 SRP price tag per set (ouch!) and I’m going to assume that all fifty-eight episodes will be on the two collections (the box art for Season 2 touts “25 episodes” and that clearly isn’t right).  As to whether or not the Pre-Fab Four’s special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee will be on these sets (like the Rhino release) that info was not forthcoming at press time.

And though this is a little beyond confines of TDOY’s bailiwick, there’s also an announcement at TSOD that the 1986-88 cult TV series Crime Story is also going to made available in a complete series/25th anniversary edition November 15th.  Both seasons of this Michael Mann-produced show were previously released between 2000 and 2005 (as well as the TV-movie pilot) by Anchor Bay but, again, enjoy OOP status so this re-release will be a nice treat for fans of the show…particularly since Image Entertainment is presenting it in a budget-priced package: the whole enchilada for $29.98 SRP.  (Nice!)

Rounding out the TV-on-DVD releases, the Warner Archive has announced that the spin-off series to the popular 60s spy romp The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., starring Stefanie Powers, Noel Harrison and Leo G. “Tarantula” Carroll—is going to be made available next Tuesday (August 23) in a MOD collection…or I should say, collections since they’re splitting this one up, too.  There were twenty-nine episodes produced in Girl’s solitary 1966-67 season but of course expecting the Archive to group them together in a Crime Story 25th Anniversary manner would be completely beyond the pale (the sets will also not be available for Canadian shipping so if you’re…well, I hesitate to use real names here—let’s just call this fictional person “Kent McGee”…you’re further SOL).  WA also hasn’t got pricing up for this (at this goes to press) but a conservative guesstimate would be slightly less than one percent of the U.S.’ GDP.

Finally, I meant to mention this release sometime back but something sidetracked me and so I didn’t get to it—I got a helpful reminder in the form of a press release e-mailed to me yesterday and I’ll repeat the news for those of you who may not have heard.  Vivendi and RHI Entertainment have announced Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection, a 10-disc set due out October 25th that will include fifty-eight of their shorts (Helpmates, Hog Wild, Another Fine Mess, The Music Box) and feature films (Sons of the Desert, Way Out West) not to mention extensive bonus extras and a collectible booklet.  The TDOY faithful know that I have long lamented the fact that the greatest movie comedy team of all time have received better treatment on DVD in every country but the U.S., so this release of high-definition transferals of some of their classic works between 1929 and 1940 will be as appreciated as a glass of ice water to a thirsty man.  The price tag is a little on the stiff side ($99.98 SRP) but hopefully it can be tracked down online at a better discount…and this is definitely a set that I will have to be putting some bugs in ears about for Christmas (unless the good people at Vivendi/RHI want to send me a freebie…not that I’m heavily hinting or anything).

*This is, of course, a slight exaggeration.

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1 comment:

Scott said...

The thing I always preferred about the Barkleys over the Cartwrights (other than the fact that their mother wasn't a serial killer) was their wildly dysfunctional family dynamic. Jarrod was a smug bastard, Nick was a dick, and Heath was not only a self-pitying, volatile punk, he was also a literal bastard who looked like he was going to come on to his half-sister at any second. Speaking of which, there were no wimmenfolk on the Ponderosa -- and if any of the Younger Cartwrights did get seriously involved with a girl, she died under mysterious circumstances before she could become a series regular, as Pa had taught his boys it should be -- whereas Stockton had the very nubile Linda Evans.

Discovering these two shows at roughly the same formative, hormonal period in my life, there was simply no contest.