Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wanted to sub-let has several announcements up concerning…well, I’m not sure I’d call it an innovation though it is rather unusual…the sub-licensing of several TV-on-DVD releases by Shout! Factory to the more budget-conscious Mill Creek Entertainment label. For instance, Mill Creek will release the first eight episodes of the sitcom McHale’s Navy on a single disc on July 14th, with a MSRP of $14.98. This release is scheduled to appear in many supermarkets and “cost-conscious retailers” (a.k.a.Wal-Mart—who are probably pissed off because these discs aren’t stamped out in China somewhere}who might not normally carry the full-season sets (all four seasons of Navy, by the way, have been released to DVD).

There are some that argue that many individuals aren’t interested in collecting an entire series on DVD, and are perfectly satisfied with a few “representative” episodes—and as far as I’m concerned, that’s peachy keen with me. It’s just that in the case of McHale, to get the entire first season (thirty-six episodes) you’d really only need to spend a few simolians extra. This is what I like to refer to as Sullivan’s Theorem—named after my dear departed grandfather, John J. Sullivan (or “Papa Jack” as we called him)—which states that “It only costs a few extra bucks to go first class.” (One of his favorite pronouncements, along with “Never buy retail.”) But Mill Creek and Shout! are stressing that these releases are for those counting their pennies…and it could be argued that if you’ve seen one episode of Navy you’ve pretty much seen them all. (As my good chum Jason Togyer once remarked: “Apparently they [have] some sort of a scheme they [have] to get past Ol' Leadbottom ... hijinks [are] involved.”)

The other programs which have “volunteered” for this promotion include Punky Brewster (and at the risk of offending what I am certain are a multitude of Punky fans out in the blogosphere—is anyone honestly buying these?), Swamp Thing, Men Behaving Badly (the American version, not the classic Britcom) and Ironside. I have to admit that the Ironside news troubles me a bit because I can’t seem to shake this feeling Shout! Factory is closing down the curtain on this one after only two season releases (season two was released in October of 2007 and there’s been no news of a third season follow-up). Fortunately for fans, I sold both of my sets on eBay some time back, so despite the delay I think Ironside 3 is just around the corner. Like Navy, these four other sets will be released on the same date and at the same price—Ironside, because of its hour-long format, will feature the show’s pilot and five additional episodes.


Bobh said...


This is not the first instance of sub-licensing. Rhino Home Entertainment did a sub-license to the Timeless Media Group for selected episodes of "My Favorite Martian," "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," and some of the final season color episodes of "The Lone Ranger."

The sub-license of shows to Mill Creek sort of makes sense for several reasons as Mill Creek does have fairly good distribution for its products, both at brick & mortar stores and online, perhaps even better than Shout! Factory. In the case of "McHale's Navy" and "Ironside," both of those shows are from Universal and Mill Creek already has a direct licensing deal with NBC Universal for "Howdy Doody" so they're a known quantity. I'm unclear as to ownership of the other shows, however.

Incidentally, you can still pick up the complete season 2 of McHale's Navy for $10 at Daedalus Books' online store, and Daedalus continues to offer the two-disc, abbreviated volumes of both seasons 1 & 2 of "Ironside" for $8 each. It sounds like Mill Creek's "Ironside" release will be identical to Shout's season 1, volume 1 release of "Ironside." also has the season 1, volume 1 release for the same price (but cheaper shipping).

Finally, don't look for season 3 of "Ironside" anytime soon, at least from Shout! Factory. There are multiple threads over at the "Shout! Factory Community" complaining about Shout's abandonment of the series and Brian Ward, one of Shout's producers, has explained (in multiple posts) that sales of the two full season volumes did not merit continuation of the series (at least given current economic conditions). Seasons 3 & 4 have been released in Australia, however. So, if you're a fan with a multi-region player, you can get additional seasons of "Ironside."


Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Somewhere in the back of my mind--as I was writing this post--I kept thinking that this had been done thanks for jogging my memory re: the Timeless releases, Bob.

Oh, and thanks for the Ironside update as well.

Adam Gott said...

Isn't Mill Creek owned by NBC? I thought I heard this somewhere once.

Who is going to pay this much for eight episodes of a series when you can get an entire season for $20 - or less?

And who is going to pay Mill Creek this much for anything this little? I don't mind buying their 50 movie packs for $13 because I still feel like I am getting a good deal for that many hard to find horror movies even if the quality is going to be bad.

Sounds, to me, like an experiment that won't work.

Bobh said...

Reading the description of the upcoming Mill Creek "Ironside" release, it makes mention that the pilot plus 5 episodes will be on a single disc! That rates the Shout! Factory set the preferred version to get as it spreads the episodes over two discs. I'm not as worried about Mill Creek's "McHale's Navy" release as a single disc should be able to hold 8 half-hour eps. with reasonably good a/v quality, which is the number of episodes listed for the new release in the news article.

Rick Brooks said...

I agree that these "value" discs offer little actual value, much like the split-season pricing that makes other shows nearly twice as expensive. Some of the only value DVD sets these days that DO offer value are the ones from...Mill Creek.

I can't get too worked up about this news other than the issue of opportunity cost. If this excursion prevents/delays Mill Creek from releasing more of its cheapo TV megapacks, I'm against it.

Also, I hope the release of "Room 222" and "Peyton Place" is more indicative of Shout's attitude toward older shows than this apparent dumping of some of its older titles.