Monday, February 11, 2008

Hey kids…what time is it?

Three articles over at that caught my attention yesterday morning:

1) A follow-up to the My Favorite Martian: Season 3 controversy that I mentioned in this post a while back. To bring those unfamiliar with what’s going on, Chertok Television (the original producer of MFM) grew weary of waiting for Rhino to release the final season of Martian to DVD and farmed out the work to an Australian concern called Umbrella Entertainment. This meant that if you wanted to complete your Martian collection, you had to fork over sixty-eight simolians for the six-disc set.

Several online retailers began to announce that the same set was going to be made available at a much lower price on February 5th, but it would now appear that someone was blowing sunshine up potential customers’ skirts, because the 5th has come and gone and not only has anyone who’s ordered the set failed to receive a copy, but several of the retailers who advertised the product have made those listings vanish via the black hole of the Internets. While I certainly feel a little better about having made the purchase (and I issue a major mea culpa to Peter Greenwood and Chertok TV for getting a little pissy at the time), I sympathize with some of the fine individuals over at the Home Theater Forum who ordered the set thinking they would get a bargain and ended up boned in the process. (I’ll just send my condolences from the safety of the blog, because there’s still a huge dust-up over the Route 66: Season 1, Volume 2 release…and I’m not going in there without someone having my back.) Meanwhile, Umbrella Entertainment has a listing on their site for a re-release of Martian’s first season box set (fancied up with a few extras), tentatively due out March 2008.

2) Shout! Factory is releasing a box set entitled Hiya, Kids!!! A ‘50s Saturday Morning, a collection of twenty-one programs from yesteryear tailored to the exquisite tastes of the cold-cereal-and-footy-pajamas crowd. Among the classic favorites in this set: episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie, Howdy Doody, Lassie, Ding Dong School, Time for Beany, The Paul Winchell Show, Winky Dink and You, Andy’s Gang and many, many more. I’m making a concerted effort to cut back on the DVD purchases around here, but if anyone else is interested the collection is due to be released May 6th.

3) The long-running Britcom (in fact, the longest running situation comedy period) Last of the Summer Wine is slowly being released series-by-series on Region 2 DVDs released by Universal/Playback (in fact, series 7 and 8 are due out in March) but unfortunately, Region 1 releases have been rather spotty. BFI Video released a 4-disc collection in March 2003 that contains a handful of episodes from the first and second series, plus the 1983 “Christmas cracker” Getting Sam Home; and Warner Home Video followed this a year later with Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1995 that contains all ten episodes from series 17 (plus a wonderful documentary on the series that’s worth the price of admission.)

So hopefully WHV is making up for lost time with the announcement that Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1976 is headed to stores March 11th. This time, all seven episodes from Series 3 will be available, as well as an interview with actors Brian Wilde, Peter Sallis and Frank Thornton. It took me the longest time to warm up to Summer Wine, because it’s definitely an acquired taste but once I did I found myself completely captivated by the show. (Thanks to Joe Mackey for telling me not to give up on it.)

As I went to press, here’s a couple of other tidbits from The Jackie Gleason Show: The Color Honeymooners: Collection 3 has been announced for release on May 27th (how sweet it is!) and VCI will finally unleash Burke’s Law: Season 1, Volume 1 April 29th. The extras for Law make the set a real temptation (though I’m going to pass, since I’ve already got Season 1 on a Region 2 DVD set), including some penetrating biographic notes written by none-other-than-that-super-suave-Balcony-usher himself, Laughing Gravy.


Bobh said...

Ivan, we may soon hear something from Infinity Entertainment about the "Route 66" controversy which, for those who are unaware, centers around the season 1, volume 2 set being release in faux widescreen, lopping off the top and bottom of the image, so as to better "fit" widescreen televisions. One of the posters at the Home Theater Forum received a response indicating that Infinity would issue some sort of press release about the set in the very near future. The sad irony is that the picture quality for volume 2 was a marked improvement over volume 1 . . . . . there's just less of it.


Linda said...

Um...isn't the "50s Saturday Morning" title a bit of a misnomer? Lassie was never on Saturday mornings that I know of, except for one season in the 1960s.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Um...isn't the "50s Saturday Morning" title a bit of a misnomer?

Yes, it is. I spotted the Lassie inconsistency right off the bat. They also have episodes of Sky King and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle in this collection--both of which may have ended up on Saturday mornings (I know King did) but were originally seen in either syndication or prime time.

But seeing as how a lot of these companies ignore TV's past, I'm willing to give them a pass.