Friday, February 22, 2013

In the interim

Thanks to a momentary lull here at Rancho Yesteryear, I was able to get a little blogging done for tomorrow—I’ll have a brand new installment of Serial Saturdays ready in the form of Chapter 6 of the not-quite-as-thrilling-as-I-remembered-it Don Winslow of the Navy (1942), which I’m seriously starting to regret choosing to tackle for TDOY’s semi-regular cliffhanger feature.  (This also does not bode well for doing the sequel, 1943’s Don Winslow of the Coast Guard, any time soon.)  I believe the reason for this might be that the characters in this one do silly things for the sole purpose of stretching this nothingburger out to twelve chapters, and it’s really starting to get on my wick.  (If you’re also wondering why there aren’t as many screen captures in the Winslow write-ups, it’s because the quality of this print isn’t as grand as I previously thought.  But this is the Filmcraft re-release: I shouldn’t blame on the people I bought it from—the late, lamented Heritage Hill Media. RIP.)

I also don’t want to make a promise I can’t keep…but if I can get the time this weekend there might also be a Mayberry Mondays up for Monday.  My nephew Davis is supposed to be around here this weekend to amuse the ‘rents and I with his child antics, but if I can steal away to my bedroom office MM might happen (and it’s a good one, too—“Howard, the Swinger”).  I regretfully have already broken a promise I made to the good people at Outspoken & Freckled, Once Upon a Screen and Paula’s Cinema Club to participate in their 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon—but in my defense the date I was supposed to submit something completely slipped my mind.  If things aren’t too hectic next week, I’ll try to whip something up in the lab…but the entries in that ‘thon have been so first-rate I’m not sure if there’s anything left to write about.

I thought that I’d take advantage of the time that I do have and run a few TV-on-DVD announcements by you, courtesy of  The good news this week is that CBS DVD-Paramount is finally going to complete the library of Have Gun – Will Travel collectors by releasing the show’s sixth and final season to disc this May 7th.  My good friend Martin Grams, Jr.—author of The Have Gun – Will Travel Companion—didn’t think future HGWT collections would progress beyond the third season, so I’m glad CBS DVD is going to make this available, one of TV’s all-time best westerns.  The bad news is that like seasons four and five, Season 6 is one of those repellent split-season releases because apparently putting all thirty-two episodes in one collection is completely undoable for the people at CBS-Paramount.  Both volumes will retail for $29.98 SRP each, but you might be able to find them cheaper online if you do a little sleuthing.

Also hitting the streets on that same May 7 date will be the eighth season of venerable TV oater Gunsmoke—and even though Season 8 will follow the split-season practice (which has marked the Gunsmoke releases since Season 2), CBS-Paramount will make Volumes 1 and 2 available on the same day, as they have done with other shows like Bonanza and The Untouchables, for instance.  Both volumes are priced at $49.98 SRP (boo…hiss)—I haven’t been as quick to dip into this pond only because I recorded most of the black-and-white hour-long Gunsmokes when I still had Encore Westerns; I still plan to purchase the sets but they’re kind of a low priority right now and I’ve had to be a little conservative when it comes to putting things in my shopping cart.  I was fortunate to find both volumes of Gunsmoke’s sixth season (the last year the show was a half-hour) at Amazon Marketplace for a very good price, not to mention the two volumes that make up The Untouchables’ fourth and final season…so I’ll have to taper off the TV-on-DVD purchases for a bit.

In other boob tube western news, Timeless Media Video/Shout! Factory will wrap up their releases of The Gene Autry Show with the fifth and final season release this May 21st.  The set, which will contain all thirteen color episodes from Gene’s final TV year, will be a 2-disc package priced at $14.97 SRP.

Let’s move on to the world of crime with the announcement that the second season of Harry O became available this past February 5 courtesy of the Warner Archive.  This underrated series, which starred The Fugitive’s David Janssen for a two season run, was long lobbied for by many crime and mystery buffs…and even though it is MOD it’s great to have it available.  The Archive is selling this set—a 6-disc package containing the second season’s 22 episodes—for $49.95 SRP.

Warner Archive also has news that the fourth season of TV chestnut The F.B.I. will be available next Tuesday (February 26) in a single set…which will come as a bit of a surprise since the first three seasons were done as split-season releases.  (Update: the initial report that this would be a single set was erroneous...more here.)  All twenty-six episodes of the show that made J. Edgar Hoover a happy cross-dresser at a SRP price of $49.95—it’s a Christmas miracle, boys and girls.

But the big news in the world of television cops and robbers is that TGG Direct—the company that brought you the entire run of Sea Hunt and two out of the three seasons of western fave Bat Masterson—will be releasing seasons 2-4 of Highway Patrol to DVD this April 2nd.  Yes, the show that made Oscar-winning actor Broderick Crawford (“10-4, 10-4…”) a household name will finally find a home on disc in three 5-DVD sets priced at $24.96 SRP each.  Completists seeking out the first season will have to make arrangements to purchase the Amazon CreateSpace MOD set, which you can find here.  Highway Patrol was one of several classic TV shows (including Hunt and Masterson) that made the rounds of ThisTV—but I was never able to see it when WUGA-TV was an affiliate (it’s now a PBS station).  Maybe when we get on a more solid financial footing around here (or I marry the rich widow down the street) I can invest in the program.

Our entry in this week’s “I-can’t-believe-this-is-coming-to-DVD” sweepstakes is the news that Timeless Factory Video will be bringing the short-lived 1971 series Bearcats! to disc in a 3-DVD package (priced at $19.93) this May 14th.  The TSOD blurb doesn’t mention whether or not the show’s pilot will be included (the series originally ran for thirteen episodes—the pilot makes fourteen) but it will feature stars Rod Taylor and Dennis Cole (aka Mr. Jaclyn Smith) in a offbeat series that played a lot like a Western except that its protagonists drove around in a Stutz Bearcat.  (Kind of like Route 66, only set in 1914.)  The show had a few fans, but the competition was fierce—it was up against The Flip Wilson Show on NBC and Alias Smith and Jones on ABC…and to add insult to injury, when CBS cancelled the show in December they replaced it with one of the boob tube’s legendary stinkeroos, Me and the Chimp.  (Let me just state for the record that if Chimp ever comes to DVD, I may have to get out of the blogging business—only because by that time I will have seen enough to know that I’ve seen enough.)

Two entries in the cold-cereal-and-footy-pajamas department this week: first, Warner Brothers has a June 11 release in store for Tom & Jerry: Golden Collection, Volume 2—a two-disc collection of 42 theatrical shorts (priced at $26.99 SRP for the DVD—it will be available also on Blu-ray, too) featuring the famous cat-and-mouse team.  There is, however, a bit of controversy that has cropped up in that two of Thomas and Gerald’s animated adventures will not be included on the set—Mouse Cleaning (1948) and Casanova Cat (1951)—because of some admittedly non-PC content.  You can read all about it here at TSOD; I will reserve comment only to say I don’t agree with Warner Home Video’s decision but since I didn’t plan on buying the set (I like Tom & Jerry, but it’s not something I have to have) I really don’t have a dog in the fight (sorry about the pun, by the way).

The other collection I am kind of stoked about—the news that Warner Archive released Yogi’s Gang (1973-75) to MOD DVD this week (February 19).  The Saturday morning TDOY fave first surfaced as “Yogi’s Ark Lark” (09/16/72) on ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie in 1972; an admittedly preachy ecological tale that features Yogi, Boo-Boo and the rest of the cartoon heroes of my youth tooling around in a flying ark looking for a place free of pollution.  Hanna-Barbera turned this pilot into a full-blown series in the fall of ’73, with much of the same sledgehammer learning-lessons content (even as a kid, I thought the hypocrisy of a bear who used to filch picnic baskets lecturing kids was a bit much)—be that as it may, I watched the show religiously because…well, look at the cast of characters: it’s like my childhood passing before my very eyes.  (Why do you think I always rooted for the Yogi Yahooeys on Laff-a-Lympics?)  All fifteen episodes and the “Ark Lark” pilot are available in a two-disc set that sells for $29.95 SRP.

A few other TV-on-DVD releases that might be of interest to the TDOY faithful:

TSOD now has a definite date on MPI’s upcoming Petticoat Junction cash-in, Return to Hooterville: 50th Anniversary Collectionit will be released on March 12 (price is $14.98 SRP).  That’s the same day the company is going to bring the 1981 TV-movie reunion The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies to DVD (priced at $14.99 SRP)—which I never bothered to watch because…well, without Irene Ryan there really wasn’t much point, was there?  (I must confess that I did see the 1993 Beverly Hillbillies movie—though I watched it in a moment of “there’s-nothing-on” cable weakness—and ask only that you not judge me.)

Finally, TSOD has the poop on the Time-Life release of China Beach: The Complete Series—a 21-disc collection (priced at $199.95) containing all 62 episodes of the cult 1988-92 series.  A little out of our jurisdiction here at TDOY, but I admire the work that went into putting it together since negotiating the music rights were a real bear.

1 comment:

Stacia said...


I'm not sure I've ever seen "Casanova Cat" unedited. "Mouse Cleaning" definitely, I saw it quite a few times before they attempted to re-dub it in the 1990s, but the blackface scene in "CC" is not something I've ever seen.

It seems easy enough to put those cartoons in a special features section or put a little notice box on the set about the content. That said, the 'toon enthusiasts who try to sway people by claiming the 'toons weren't that bad don't do themselves any favors.