Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coming soon to a DVD player near you

Over at the Radio Spirits blog this morning, my bosses have passed the hat for funds to get cake and ice cream for today’s birthday celebrant—radio actress Georgia Ellis, who celebrates what would have been her ninety-sixth birthday today.  Georgia only made a handful of movie and TV appearances, but her radio work was phenomenal—and of course, every OTR fan worth his or her salt knows that she was the original Miss Kitty on the audio version of the classic western Gunsmoke.

Also celebrating OTR birthdays today are Fibber McGee & Molly-Suspense announcer Harlow “Waxy” Wilcox (born on this date in 1900) and the last of the Johnny Dollars, Mandel Kramer (b. 1916).  If I can find a way to slip them in, I always like to give OTR favorites a shout-out when I’m posting birthday tributes on Facebook/Twitter for the other paying gig, ClassicFlix…but the movie and TV appearances of these three were so scanty they just didn’t make the cut.  (For those who did, follow @ClassicFlix on that there Twitter machine and you’ll find out.)

It’s been a while since we made some classic TV-on-DVD announcements on the blog, so I figured I’d take a quick time out from my duties to run through a few numbers.  Back in July 2012, TVShowsOnDVD.com got a heads-up from an eagle-eyed follower that Shout! Factory was planning on releasing a DVD collection entitled The Jack Benny Program: The Lost Episodes—I even made a big to-do about it here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.  Then the word came down that the listing for this set was a bit premature and that it was still undergoing work at the Factory (don’t think I can’t hear you groaning out there).  Well, good news came in my e-mailbox the other day (seriously—the subject header was “Could you use some good news?”) from Laura Leff, president of the International Jack Benny Fan Club…who says the collection is a go, and will be released on July 23rd.  From Laura’s e-mail:

I can assure you with complete confidence that it will be an absolute MUST HAVE for every single member of the IJBFC, and almost certainly has at least one episode that inspired you to think, “Wow, I wish I could see THAT show!”

Laura also confers that if this set sells well, future collections will follow—and I don’t have to tell the TDOY faithful how the DVD bidness works…money talks and you know the rest.  They will definitely be selling a copy of the collection to the occupants here at Rancho Yesteryear, and if you’re an OTR fan or just a devotee of one of the funniest men to ever walk the planet you’ll start throwing your spare change into the glass receptacle of your choice and save up.  (And check the IJBFC site for updates and stuff.)

Shout! Factory’s subsidiary, Timeless Media Group, is announcing that the eighth and final season of the classic TV oater Wagon Train will be pulling out from St. Joseph, MO on June 11th in an eight-disc collector’s tin (SRP $59.97) containing the final twenty-six episodes of the series.  One of these days when I’m betrothed to Dora Standpipe (how I love her…father’s money) I’ll start picking up these Wagon Train sets—I do have the seventh season (the color one) and I’ve recorded a lot of the shows from Encore Westerns but I wouldn’t object to spending the extra scratch for good copies of the program.

Also in the hopper from Timeless Factory Video is a stand-alone second season release of Peter Gunnwhich will be made available on June 25 in a 4-DVD collection (SRP $29.93).  This confirms my hypothesis (science!) that a stand-alone third season set will not be far behind, which is the only season I have left to collect…owing to my purchase of the first two seasons in their Region 2 incarnation.  (Of course, if Shout!/Timeless decides to pull the rug out from under me, it will be Katy Bar the Door.)

TSOD has the press release up for the March 12 release of the second season of The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp, which will be released by Inception Media in a 5-disc set containing all 39 episodes from the show’s sophomore season.  I had originally planned to let this one go for a bit but I got a great deal on the collection over at ImportCDs.com…so into the shopping cart it went.

In other TV western news, CBS DVD-Paramount has announced the upcoming release of the sixth season of Rawhide—two split-season sets (priced at $42.99 each SRP) that will be released on the same date, June 4.  The Rawhide sets also had to be put into limbo (I’m up to the third season) like the Perry Mason collections because…well, I promised myself I wouldn’t rant about this.  But I didn’t promise that I would avoid the topic in this brief dramatic skit:

FIRST EXEC: Whaddya readin’?
SECOND EXEC: The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear blog…Shreve’s on a tear about our split-season sets again…
FIRST EXEC: I don’t even know why you read that junk…he’s always pissing and moaning…it’s not our fault that we’re a rapacious pack of jackals who’d sell our mothers for change…
SECOND EXEC: I don’t either…though I do get a kick out of the R.F.D. write-ups…

From here on out—it’s all about the Warner Archive, baby.  Though I do have a small bone to pick with the Archive in that they conveniently decided to celebrate their 4th anniversary (this all ties into the birthday theme) by having a 4-for-$44 sale…and the next thing I knew I had copies of Three Strangers (1946), The Breaking Point (1950), Stars in My Crown (1950) and The Underworld Story (1950) in my cart.  (They were aided and abetted by ninja blogger Brandie of True Classics fame, who mentioned the sale as I was walking into the Twitter Saloon last Friday night.  Coincidence?  And do Brandie and Laura receive commissions on these sales?  Ultimately you must decide.)

Anyway, the great news is that WA is rolling out Daktari: The Complete Second Season on March 19th—a collection of twenty-nine episodes from the 1966-69 family adventure series that I was very fond of as a kidlet.  There isn’t any information on how many discs are in this MOD set at the Warner site (only that you can pre-order it for $49.95)—and there’s no photo of the collection at the listing either (the picture on your left came from a pre-order lookup) but it looks as if they’re just charging the one price for a set that comes in two volumes (like they did with the recent fourth season release of The F.B.I.).  (Not that it matters in the long run—I’ll have to get it another time when Mrs. Hemoglobin accepts my proposal of marriage.)

The Archive also released the fifth season of classic TV oater Cheyenne to MOD last Tuesday (March 5), a series that I’ve only purchased the first season so far (Season 1 wasn’t a MOD release and I found it on sale somewhere) because I managed to grab every episode (save one, “A Man Called Regan”—which was shown at the end of Cheyenne’s sixth season as a pilot for The Dakotas; I guess it’s not in the Cheyenne syndication package) from Encore Westerns.  But the set does contain “Duel at Judas Basin” (01/30/61), the classic episode in which all three stars from Cheyenne, Sugarfoot (Will Hutchins) and Bronco (Ty Hardin) appear in the same outing.  (Sugarfoot and Bronco rotated with Cheyenne for a time back in those days.)

Warner Archive has also announced that it will finally bring the TV version of Dr. Kildare (with Richard Chamberlain and Lew Ayres) to DVD sometime this year (the details haven’t been finalized yet)—also in two volumes for one price (with the first 33 episodes from Season 1).  And for shows that are a bit out of TDOY’s bailiwick—but I thought I’d toss them in anyway—the third season of hardy sitcom perennial Alice is headed for MOD DVD on March 19th in a 3-DVD set (SRP $29.95) containing all twenty-four episodes.  (TSOD also has a blurb that the third season of Falcon Crest is going to be made available on MOD soon but the details are still being hammered out at this time.)

The Warner Archive has got it going on all over the cold-cereal-and-footy-pajamas front.  Plans for Help! It’s the Hair Bear Bunch and The Roman Holidays have been announced at TSOD—if I had a bit more disposable income I’d invest in the Hair Bear Bunch because it had such a kickin’ theme song and vocal contributions from Daws Butler, Paul Winchell, John Stephenson and Joe E. “Ooh! Ooh!” Ross.  I have only a vague memory of Roman Holidays (all I really remember is that Butler played a lion named Brutus who said “Chuckle…chuckle” a lot) but the talent on that show was nothing to sneeze at—OTR veterans Dave “Tugwell” Willock and Shirley Mitchell, and familiar TV faces Stanley “Chip” Livingston, Pamelyn Ferdin, Hal “Otis” Smith and Judy Strangis.  There are also plans in the pipeline for the Archive to release some of the made-for-TV Popeye cartoons cranked out from 1960-63 as part of 1960s Classics: Volume 1.  (I’ll stick to my black-and-white Popeye cartoon sets, thank ye kindly.)

This week’s prize for “I-can’t-believe-this-is-coming-to-DVD” goes to a release that I actually got wind of not at TSOD but in an e-mail from DeepDiscount.com: Candid Camera: Lost Archives of Candid Camera.  The listing at DD touts that this DVD contains 15 shows from Camera’s first season—which is a little misleading, since Candid Camera actually premiered on TV in 1948 (it was originally a radio program entitled Candid Microphone) and the odds that those fifteen shows were saved on kinescope seem mighty remote to me.  No, if you read on they mention guest performers like Garry Moore, Marion Lorne and Carol Burnett (along with Kurwood Derby—er, Durwood Kirby) and my guess is that these segments were culled from when Camera was a segment of Moore’s variety series in 1959 and 1960 (the fact that it’s a Legendary Entertainment release, which brought some Garry Moore Show material to DVD back in January, only confirms my suspicions).  Be that as it may, it sounds like an interesting 2-disc set to grab hold of if you’re a fan of Allen Funt’s classic series.

Finally, I’ve been a little light with the Britcom-on-DVD announcements of late (most of the time TSOD announces a new Last of the Summer Wine disc and that’s it) so I was intrigued to see that the site has two upcoming Acorn DVD releases for a pair of shows.  First, Simon Callow (of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame) and Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies) headline Chance in a Million: The Complete Collection, all eighteen episodes of the 1984-86 comedy series about a luckless shmoe (Callow) and his girlfriend (Blethyn).  The blurb at TSOD says this one was shown on public television—though how it managed to penetrate the Are You Being Served? blockade goes unanswered.

The other Acorn Britcom release is No Job For a Lady: The Complete Series, all eighteen episodes of the 1990-92 outing starring Penelope Keith as a newly-elected Labour MP constantly at odds with her chauvinistic male peers.  This one was also on public television—I saw one or two episodes during my years in exile in Morgantown, WV—but I never really cottoned to the show: it wasn’t anywhere as good as Yes, Minister (which starred Keith’s former Good Life hub, Paul Eddington)…and I really haven’t enjoyed Keith in anything after Good Life (well, Next of Kin had its moments).  Both of these shows were originally released in Region 2 sets by Network, and will be released in 3-disc sets on March 19th (SRP of $59.99 each).


hobbyfan said...

Re.: Roman Holidays---Daws Butler, I think, was trying out a variation on his Snagglepuss/Funky Phantom voice without all the acruments (i.e., ending select sentences with "even"). NBC had it for one season in 1972, same year as Sealab 2020, mind you, and thank God that [adult swim] hasn't seen fit to desecrate the Holidays like they did with Sealab.

rockfish said...

Hey, is Georgia surrounded by two of Mayberry's most upstanding support players -- 'mayor' Parley Baer, and the tins nipper himself, Howard 'Floyd' Mcneary? That is one amazing coyI-inka-dink!