Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Despite my earlier reservations that a goodly percentage of the programming on the nostalgic MeTV (Memorable Entertainment Television) is also conveniently available on DVD…I gotta tell you, cartooners—I am really digging this channel.  It’s nice to be able to sit at my computer and work on various projects with MeTV in the background, enjoying past favorites like The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction (CBS Television Distribution has even put back the black-and-white Petticoats in the syndication package), My Three Sons, etc.; I think my favorite part of the day is afternoons when I can get a glimpse of classic oaters like Gunsmoke and Rawhide—particularly since the episodes shown have not yet made it to disc.

According to TVShowsOnDVD.com, we’re inching a little bit closer to accessing the entire twenty-year run of the dean of TV westerns—Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 1 is scheduled for an October 11th release.  Loathsome split seasons aside, it’s good news to hear that Matt, Kitty, Doc and Chester’s adventures will continue—the collection will contain the first twenty episodes of Season Numero Cinco and TSoD promises to fill in the information on pricing when it becomes available.  Also being released on that same day is Bonanza: The Official Second Season, Volume 2—and since Volume 1 features the first 18 episodes from the series’ sophomore year it would naturally follow that the second volume completes Numero Dos with the remaining sixteen.  (The price on this set is also not available, though an educated guess would probably be “prohibitively expensive.”)  Sometime back I ran across a Bonanza bulletin board that linked to the Pernell Roberts obituary I wrote here at TDOY and the consensus was that while I did a pretty good job eulogizing the actor my overall opinion of Bonanza was “all wet.”  (To Bonanza fans—sorry about that, chief.  I preferred the Bonanza-like The High Chaparral, which at least had the feminine presence of Linda Cristal on it.)

A week earlier (October 4), CBS Home Entertainment is thankfully continuing the run of Erle Stanley Gardner’s famous literary creation with Perry Mason: The Sixth Season, Volume 1.  Season Six was comprised of twenty-eight episodes, so my guess is that the first fourteen will be featured in this collection (the running time for the set is 710 minutes, which seems about right); I’m a bit behind in collecting the Masons—I still haven’t purchased Season 5, Volume 2 because I’m waiting for a) it to go on sale, and b) to acquire some money when it does so.  TSoD says the cover art on the left isn’t the final product; they say the same about the artwork used in the Gunsmoke and Bonanza announcements, too.

I mentioned last week that the Warner Archive had released the first season of the classic doctor drama Medical Center to DVD, and I hope this is a positive sign that Warner Home Entertainment will be opening up its vaults for additional goodies (*cough* Maverick *cough*) even if they are MOD.  I say this because the Archive first released Medical Center’s “pilot” back in January 2010 (Operation: Heartbeat) and now comes the news that their next big TV-on-DVD release is the 1977-78 Patrick Duffy sci-fi snickerfest The Man from Atlantis, which will be available next week (July 26).  The complete series of thirteen episodes sells for $34.95, and it’s also accompanied by a separate set of the four telefilms that preceded the show (including the series’ original pilot, which was released earlier by Warner Archive but later discontinued, probably so they could bundle it with the other three TV-movies), which sells for $24.95.  The Archive is offering a pre-order deal in which you can grab both of these collections for the staggeringly low price of $49.95 (yes, this is sarcasm)—so fans of the show should probably snap this bad boy up before next Tuesday.

With today’s release of Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor, a Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera kidvid fave from my youth, there have been a number of announcements regarding cartoon classics coming to DVD.  The latest comes from Classic Media on October 11th: Casper the Friendly Ghost: Collector’s Edition, a 3-disc collection that will contain fifty-five theatrical cartoons and twenty-six episodes that were produced specifically for the Saturday morning series The New Casper Cartoon Show in 1963.  I hope the most popular character to come out of the Famous Studios/Harvey Comics stable gets a better showcase this time around than a previous set; the Harveytoons: The Complete Collection from 2006 was a bit of a misnomer in that it did not contain all the Famous shorts but were instead edited versions originally shown on the 1998 TV series The Harveytoons Show.

I was a big fan of Casper as a kid but as I got older I started to realize that Leonard Maltin was right—with the exception of Mighty Mouse, the Friendly Ghost was the most monotonous character to ever reside in Cartoonland and most of the Casper cartoons have a cookie-cutter feel to them.  (Of course, that was pretty much par for the course with all the Harvey stars: Baby Huey, Little Audrey, Buzzy the Crow, etc.  The comic books are really your best introduction to these classic characters.)  I’m sure there are fans out there, however, who will have to have the set…and they might want to consider bundling it with Herman and Katnip: The Complete Seriesa single disc collection due out September 6th.  The Herman and Katnip cartoons have often been subjected to chainsaw-like editing over the years, sometimes due to racial stereotypes (the biggest offender at Famous was Buzzy the Crow) but more often than not due to some gratuitous ultraviolence; people who find Tom & Jerry shorts a bit hard to take will shrivel up and die after tucking a few H&K cartoons under the belt—they make Hanna-Barbera’s immortal cat-and-mouse team look positively genteel.

Finally, no classic 60s cartoon aficionado is going to be able to pass up another release due out from Classic Media on October 4th—it’s going to be a skimpy little thing (only a single disc; the original show produced 128 five-minute episodes) but will contain some segments from the 1963-66 series The Mighty Hercules, a joint shoestring effort from the folks who brought you Felix the Cat (Adventure Cartoon Productions) and Speed Racer (Trans-Lux Television).  Hercules, based on the famous hero of Greek mythology, wasn’t much of a cartoon series (the animation was cheap, cheap, cheap…and Hercules' sidekick, a centaur named Newton, was so creepy it was even noticeable to kids) but it had one of the most memorable theme songs (sung by Johnny Nash) in all of cartoondom:

Hercules, hero of song and story
Hercules, winner of ancient glory
Fighting for the right
Fighting with his might
With the strength of ten, ordinary men

Hercules, people are safe when near him
Hercules, only the evil fear him
Softness in his eyes
Iron in his thighs
Virtue in his heart
Fire in every part
Of the Mighty Hercules

Join us at his side
Standing there with pride
Victory is here
Raise a mighty cheer
At the sight of Hercules

“Softness in his eyes/Iron in his thighs...”  Sounds like Herc had some news for himself.

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Brent McKee said...

The biggest problem with the Warner Archives collection is that they aren't shipped to anyone outside of the United States. I'm not even going to heave a huge sigh; it is what I've come to expect.

Chris Riesbeck said...

The westerns and cop shows (M Squad) are great but my current MeTV love is Dobie Gillis. Unlike Car 54, one of my childhood favorites that sadly leaves me cold now, Dobie makes me laugh as much now as it did *boy those OHare planes are loud* years ago.

Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

Ivan, I remember that Hercules cartoon song oh so well (ditto for the "Mighty Sons of Hercules" song used for cheap Italian muscleman pics). As for TV shows on DVD, the one that really frustrates me is PEYTON PLACE. They released the first season and stopped. I think it should be a law that a company must release a minimum of three seasons of a series or the entire run...whichever is longer!

BrittReid said...

Me-TV has done a helluva job running uncut versions of their shows, particularly the pre-70s ones that ran 26 or 52 minutes!
When the horrible Green Hornet movie came out, ME ran a marathon of the 60s show with the most complete versions I'd seen since the 1960s!

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Chris Riesbeck opined:

The westerns and cop shows (M Squad) are great but my current MeTV love is Dobie Gillis.

I can still remember watching Dobie on the old CBN...it really is a wonderful show--and the rhythm of the dialogue is what I enjoy most about it...it's almost like comedy jazz.

And the editor of the Daily Sentinel pointed out:

When the horrible Green Hornet movie came out, ME ran a marathon of the 60s show with the most complete versions I'd seen since the 1960s!

Man, I wish I had MeTV when they ran those -- I saw some of them on the SciFi channel where I'm sure they were cut to ribbons...and they look terrible in ribbons.

hobbyfan said...

SyFy also ran a Hornet marathon to mark the movie's release. Of course, they used the prints with the current 20th Century Fox logo instead of the old one as it was originally produced, which Me-TV might have, I'm not sure, since I don't have Me-TV on my system.

Of course, there have been those who've tried to claim that the Johnny Nash that sang the Mighty Hercules theme was NOT the same one who'd hit the top 40 in the 70's, but I don't have any evidence that would help their case.

wayne moises said...

I watch all the cartoon when I was six years old at the time in the Philippines my favorites like Popeye Casper Gumby Sinbad Jr. Beany and Cecil
Mightor Wacky Races Gigantor and other kiddie faves become a cultural icon in the Philippines for a long time.Thanks! From:Wayne