Thursday, June 18, 2009

Judy, Judy, Judy…

There’s splendid news on the DVD front for Judy Garland fans…and especially those who have either fond memories of or are collecting her critically-acclaimed TV variety series that was originally telecast on CBS from September 29, 1963 to March 29, 1964. (Confession time: this is actually directed to my good friend Maureen, but I’m guessing she’s not the only fan.) The twenty-six episodes—previously available through Pioneer Entertainment, but have since been discontinued—will be re-released through Infinity Entertainment/Falcon Picture Group beginning July 28th, according to this announcement on

Infinity plans to release these shows in thirteen separate volumes (containing two hour-long shows apiece) at a SRP of $19.95, which I personally think is a tad pricey—and truth be told, I’m not certain if tracking down the earlier out-of-print releases (even though they’re probably fetching arm-and-a-leg prices at Amazon, eBay, etc.) might not be a better bargain. Banditry aside, it’s nice to see an effort being made to keep these shows in the public eye—particularly since many people consider the content in these shows to be some of the highlights in the singer-actress’ up-and-down career. (The series, while receiving rave notices from critics, got clobbered every week by ratings champ Bonanza…but the fact that CBS President-professional prick James “The Smiling Cobra” Aubrey despised Garland didn’t help matters much either.)

Speaking of Bonanza, the official announcement for The Official 1st Season: Volume 1 and The Official 1st Season: Volume 2 is also up at—the release date for these sets has been moved up, however, to September 15th. (Plans are being made to make these sets available separately and together in one big pretty shrink-wrapped bundle in a pathetic attempt to keep Rick Brooks and I from constantly bitching about the practice of split seasons. Nice try, CBS-Paramount.)

In further CBS-Paramount news, the company is announcing that in addition to a new release of Alvin and the Chipmunks (the 1980’s version) hitting the streets September 8th, a separate release will contain three outings from the original series (The Alvin Show, which ran in prime time on CBS from October 4, 1961 to September 12,1962) and will include the debut episode. This was a series that I dropped in on frequently in my halcyon days of staring at the boob tube—it’s far superior to the 80s-90s incarnation, with a snappier theme song and features the supporting presence of wacky inventor Clyde Crashcup (voice veteran Shep Menken, doing a flawless imitation of Richard Haydn’s Professor Edwin Carp, a character who appeared frequently on Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy’s radio program).

The big news from CBS DVD-Paramount is the announcement of the first season release of the classic paranormal/supernatural series One Step Beyond, hosted-written-directed-produced by the legendary John Newland. There have been a myriad of public domain releases for this shoved-under-the-carpet program (I saw most of the reruns as a mere prat via WGN in Chicago), the most notable being that from the good people at Mill Creek. But CBS-Paramount has been making a concerted effort to complete some of the gaps in these classic television series (like The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction) by releasing them to DVD, and it’s nice to see someone sit up and take notice of Beyond, which was doing creepy-weird long before Rod Serling was telling us we were trapped in a world of both shadow and substance. The first release will consist of twenty-two episodes (from the first season, January 20, 1959 to June 16, 1959) and is scheduled to hit the streets the same day as the Bonanza releases, September 15th.

Speaking of Mill Creek (oh, these transitions are flowing beautifully), they have obtained the rights to the Steve McQueen TV oater, Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-61), when the previous rights owners, BCI Eclipse/Navarre called it a wrap last year. We mentioned here—thanks to Bob “Master of His {Public) Domain” Huggins—that the BCI sets were on sale for a limited time at, and now that they’re discontinued here’s your opportunity to get a second crack at them when Mill Creek releases Wanted: Dead or Alive – The Complete Series on August 25th. The entire series—all ninety-four episodes—tucked away on eleven discs for an SRP of $29.95! (And if you shop online, you can probably find it much cheaper…it is, after all, Mill Creek.)

Okay, and now our feature presentation…those of you who have worked themselves into a proper snit over the dearth of Mister Ed reruns available on disc (MGM-UA released two “Best of” sets in 2004 and 2005, for a total of forty-one episodes) can rejoice because the hardest working company in the TV-On-DVD bidness—Shout! Factory—will bring loyal fans of the loquacious equine the first season on October 6th (Mister Ed: The Complete First Season). has a listing up for it with a price tag of $33.99, so you can either pre-order a copy there and hope the price comes down (I have a sneaking suspicion it probably will) or you can sit back and wait to see what other bids will come from competing online stores. Because the mantra here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear boils down to “Reality television? Bah! Bring on unreality TV!” I guess I don’t have to tell you that further adventures of Wilbur Post and his smart-assed steed will be most welcome (I just need to “pony” up the scratch to get a copy).

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