Monday, December 21, 2009

I’d buy THAT for a dollar 3.0

In August 2004 (back in those old halcyon Salon Blogs days) I jotted down a list of ten television shows that I would most assuredly purchase on disc if someone had the foresight to release them to DVD. Since then (with the exception of 2005), I’ve come back to that tally periodically to examine the progress of the shows listed and initially, the choices I made quickly made their debuts on DVD to the point where I had to retire two of the lists, combining the leftover shows on both to make a new one.

Things have sort of slowed down to a crawl since then. Whether you believe it’s the bad economy or whether you’re convinced that the death knell on vintage TV shows sounded long ago, there appear to be fewer and fewer classic television offerings announced with each passing month. Heck, my purchases have dried up to the point where I even forgot about updating the lists in August. But I was stuck for something to write about today, so I figured with 2009 on its way out, there was no time like the present. So allow me to catch up:

List 1

01) My World and Welcome to It

02) The Patty Duke Show

03) Car 54, Where are You?

04) The John Larroquette Show

05) The Defenders

06) The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

07) Our Miss Brooks

08) The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

09) Bonanza

10) Dragnet (1952-59)

Of the entries on this list, Shout! Factory has released Patty Duke’s first season and is working on Season 2 for February 2010. Bonanza was finally welcomed into the DVD fold (though several seasons have been available abroad) when CBS DVD-Paramount found it in their greedy little split-season hearts to release the first season in September of this year. (And that’s only because they had hoped to put a roadblock on the sales of all those PD releases.) The others are MIA.

List 2

01) Maverick

02) He & She

03) December Bride

04) Dennis the Menace

05) My Three Sons

06) Mayberry R.F.D.

07) Twelve O'Clock High

08) Run for Your Life

09) Room 222

10) M Squad

My Three Sons will see its second season arrive on DVD in February 2010. Room 222 will also celebrate its sophomore year in January (the price on this one is $34.98, available only for purchase on Shout! Factory’s website). M Squad had its entire run released by Timeless Media Group in November 2008 in one of the most audacious DVD box sets released ever (a number of people complained about the visual quality on the collection—and they have a legitimate gripe—but considering the show’s rarity and one-in-a-million chances of ever seeing a DVD release I was content to have it in my fat little hands). Again, no word on the remaining seven shows.

List 3

01) The Detectives starring Robert Taylor

02) East Side/West Side

03) The Farmer's Daughter

04) Felony Squad

05) The Millionaire

06) The Mothers-in-Law

07) Mr. Novak

08) N.Y.P.D.

09) Thriller

10) Wagon Train

Of these, only Wagon Train has had a physical release (Timeless released the first season last week)—Thriller has been announced for release next year (around Halloween), and so has The Mothers-in-Law…the date on this last one is still sketchy. No news on the rest of the bunch—though I have managed to obtain a “alternative” set of No. 2 that I hope to get a gander at and have a post on sometime before the year is out.

And without further ado, here’s 2009 Wish List:

01) The Jack Benny Show – I don’t think I need to explain why there should be season-to-season DVD releases…I just want to know why not. (And yes, I’m aware that there are Benny releases out there—most of them sub-standard copies of shows that have long been in the public domain.)

02) Coronet Blue – I put this one on the list as a tribute to the late Sam Johnson, who mentioned it in the comments section of last year’s post. I’ve seen a few episodes of this (when it ran on TV Land—I know, what a memory I have!) and I think its cult appeal would make it a real winner. (If not, I can track down an “alternative” set of this one as well.)

03) Ben Casey/Dr. Kildare – I went ahead and grouped these two shows together to shore up some space on the list—but I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I think the two programs were the same. If I have a preference, it’s for the grittier Casey though there are just as many Kildare fans out there as well.

04) Hennesey/The Peoples’Choice – Both of these sitcoms—long resigned to the dustbin of TV history—feature Our Ganger Jackie Cooper, and I listed Hennesey first only because I’ve only seen one episode (a pilot that was thrown into a collection of Ann Sothern Show episodes I purchased some time back) and like to see more…I also thought the show was a bit better than Choice, which I talked about back in the Salon days (frequent TDOY reader and future WTDY programmer John was kind enough to send me a few installments that he had recorded from The Nostalgia Network eons ago).

05) My Mother the Car/The Ann Sothern Show/Private Secretary – Of these three candidates—all of which featured Ann “Maisie” Sothern—Mother would seem to be the likeliest candidate for DVDdom; after all, the entire run can be viewed online here. I like The Ann Sothern Show the best of the three, and while Private Secretary has a few episodes floating around in the public domain I put it with the others because I once e-mailed an individual at Jack Chertok Productions to see about the likelihood of it being released on disc and he told me that if they did do it, it would be a long way down the road. (This is the same guy who promised to send me a free CD, too, so naturally I trust that essobee as far as I can throw him.)

06) Judd for the DefenseClassic Images book reviewer Laura Wagner and I had a—well, let’s use the word “discussion” since no chairs were thrown—discussion about a Facebook group dedicated to actor Carl Betz, Donna Reed’s TV hubby and star of this legal series whose run was short (1967-69) but the content was critically-acclaimed. I asked Laura how the group—which went by the title “Carl Betz is the Sexiest Man on Television”—could make that claim when as far as I knew neither of his series are currently shown on television (to the best of my knowledge). She countered that he was well represented on DVD; I pointed out that Judd was not available on disc; she said the complete series was available at; I looked and saw two collections containing ten episodes apiece. The only way she can save face is if 20th Century-Fox releases Judd to DVD tuit suite.

07) 77 Sunset Strip – Since this is a series under copyright to Warner Bros., the odds of seeing a DVD release are mighty slim (unless they do it as a Warner Archive thing). But seriously, this should have been on DVD a long time ago…baby, it’s the ginchiest!

08) Daktari – I know I’m not the only one who remembers this popular adventure drama starring Marshall Thompson as a veterinarian who hung his shingle at an animal study center in Africa. This is family-friendly TV, and you could plug the heck out of it on something like Animal Planet.

09) Lancer – I remember watching this offbeat Western that had a short run on CBS from 1968 to 1970, and what I liked best about it was that the family (two half-brothers, from separate marriages) in the series didn’t necessarily get along with one another, Bonanza be damned. (I know this one is a long shot, but not nearly as much as the final entry.)

10) Johnny Midnight – An obscure syndicated series (1960-61) cranked out by Revue (Universal’s television arm) that starred Edmond “Ye gods, I can’t stop sweating!” O’Brien as a former Broadway star turned private dick. I’ve never seen this show; I just stuck it on here because I thought it might be likely that a company like Timeless Media Group could acquire it (as they have past NBC-Universal properties) and release a “Best of” collection. I used to have a 1960 issue of TV Guide that had a story on O’Brien and how he slimmed down for the role by going on a vegetarian kick…and swearing off the booze. (For years, I’ve had a mental picture of O’Brien sitting in a bar with Dana Andrews and Wendell Corey, with Eddie munching on carrots a la Bugs Bunny.)

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1 comment:

Craig Zablo said...

What? No "T.H.E. Cat"?