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Category:    Home > Essays > TV > Action > Spy > Thriller > Detective > Comedy > Drama > TV on DVD: Will 2006 Deliver More Of The Classics? ''Updated Late Summer-2017!''

TV on DVD: Will 2006 Deliver More Of The Classics?

''Updated Late Summer-2017!''

With Blu-ray in full swing and so much TV on DVD issued, we decided to check back on this essay from the beginning of 2006 to see what did and did not materialize on DVD. Out of our hoped-for selections, not as many as expected. We have included italicized notes and links in the few cases it is applicable...

When DVD first arrived, it was enough the studios had not unanimously supported it. As they eventually did, they seemed to think only motion pictures and some niche titles would be the only kinds of titles to sell. After Music on DVD (concerts, Music Videos, et al) shocked them all and became a boom market, it was not long before TV followed, though that was a more recent development and the big growth sector in 2005. 2006 continued that trend, but the switch to HD has mixed up what is being released three years later. Any analog low-definition, videotaped show really needs to be issued now.

Now any recent TV show is likely to pop up on DVD, especially if it was a hit or has cult appeal. Though some older shows have arrived on DVD, there are so many that have not, that we get constant questions about when some big favorite will arrive. Last year, greats like Moonlighting, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Sapphire & Steel, Hart To Hart and even The White Shadow finally turned up. When General Electric bought Universal (long before selling to Comcast), they ended the moratorium on their TV shows and many of their favorites finally saw first-season release.

However, there are many great shows still not announced and some of them are simply being held hostage for maximum sales until a TV or feature film remake is produced in the current frenzy to recycle just about any show around. Rarely do the new versions turn out to be even watchable, but that has not stopped the trend. Unless the show is from the early 1980s to date, its release is less likely unless the companies see the potential sales. As we enter the New Year, we thought we would suggest and consider some great shows not yet announced or nearly so that come up the most in our circles:

Alice - Based on Martin Scorsese's hit film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (now out in a great DVD from Warner Bros.), Linda Lavin took over the role of single mother Alice Hyatt who, with her son Tommy, breaks down on her way to the West Coast to start a singing career. She lands up working at Mel's Diner and a hit series was born. Paired by CBS with The Jeffersons in record rating immortality, the show holds up very well and Warner Bros. should put it out.

Warner Bros. started with a nice single-DVD compilation we hoped would be followed by the original seasons you can read about it at this link:


Then they decided to the shock of some people to do each season exclusively from their Warner Archive series, which are DVD-Rs. We covered the first four seasons at the following links, then the Fifth was issued:



Two + Three


Four w/Flo: The Complete Series


Animated Laurel & Hardy + Abbott & Costello 1966 Series - Two very popular cartoon comedy series of the time were made by Hanna Barbera based on two of still the greatest comedy teams of all time. Larry Harmon (Bozo The Clown) voiced Laurel and Bud Abbott voiced himself in these really funny series. Additional voices were provided by Mel Blanc, Don Messnick, Janet Waldo and Paul Frees (sometimes on both shows) so why are these shows not out on Blu-ray or DVD? Why not do them as two shows in one set? Still no sign despite the animated Three Stooges hitting DVD. The Laurel & Hardy Show will actually see a new animated update.

Ark II/Jason Of Star Command/Space Academy - Along with Shazam! and Isis, Animation house Filmation tried a series of live action science fiction shows that ran for a while on Saturday mornings in the late 1970s on CBS. While the superhero shows are with Warner Bros., someone could issue all three shows as one fun set with extras. Jason reused sets left over from Academy when the show ended.

BCI Eclipse gained the rights to all Filmation titles that had not reverted back to original licensees and though we did not get Ark II until it was part of a box set, we covered it in another way, followed by actual reviews of the latter shows. Note that all these sets are out of print as BCI folded, but plenty of low cost copies are out there:


Jason Of Star Command


Space Academy


Batman (1965 - 67) - Fox has the shows, but Warner bros. owns the rights and they do not seem to want the shows issued on DVD at this time with a new era of the character launched. The episodes need some restoration work, but only an insane demand that both studios could ignore is going to get this one released. It also makes one wonder what will happen with the Van Johnson/Bruce Lee Green Hornet series.

Blu-ray box and DVDs issued since...


Beatles Cartoon Series (1966) - With everything else Beatles getting reissued, why not this series? The band was never happy with it, we've heard. It has been out of circulation too long and hardly ever issued anywhere, which also applied to The Jackson 5 animated series from the same producers until it finally came out on Blu-ray and DVD! Wonder if The same producer's Osmonds animated show will beat The Beatles to the market?

Captain Kangaroo with Bob Keeshan (1955 – 1982) - A belated entry on our llost, the show was a huge hit in its time moved to color videotape by 1967 (taping started in 1959) this show remains one of the biggest children's television hits ever, yet it has been out of circulation for decades. It's return could not happen soon enough. Hopefully, even the early episodes have survived. Still no DVDs.

Fantastic Journey - This show only ran 10 episodes in 1977, but had a great lead cast and interesting guest stars every show. Jared Martin, the now major independent director Carl Franklin and Roddy McDowell lead a series about an expedition that goes into another dimension when passing The Bermuda Triangle. It's a great time to put it out on DVD... still!

Hardy Boys (1969) - While the Shawn Cassidy/Parker Stevenson live action hit show has made it to DVD, this animated version has not and featured the brothers as part of a larger rock band solving mysteries. With another revival on the horizon, why not issue it now? Still no sign!

The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein (1971) - This show ran for a long single season and was made in Canada, but 131 hour-long shows were taped, Vincent Price was the host and Billy Van played most of the horror movie-inspired characters, but other actors showed up and other characters were spoofed in this wacky flipside of sorts to Laugh-In, also all videotaped. Empire Pictures issued a DVD with 4 half-hour shows years ago as a Volume One with no follow-up. Someone, possibly distributor First Run Features, needs to issue a Complete Series collection like the one apparently issued in other markets. It is a fun show that is a lost gem and it belongs on a shelf with two other comedy horror gem on DVD we have reviewed elsewhere on this site: the 1970s Monster Squad TV series and animated Groovie Goolies. Maybe VCI could try since they issued Squad already.

Honey West - The great Anne Francis in a Spy/Detective series shot in glorious black and white could be issued in complete series set and was a major forerunner of (with Hart To Hart) Moonlighting. Honey inherits a detective agency from her father and finds herself each week in a great action puzzle of a case. Francis is one of the great forgotten stars, but this DVD issued by VCI in later 2008 should change that:


Hot L Baltimore - Short-lived sitcom based on groundbreaking stage play has not been seen in years, but would be interesting to revisit in complete series DVD set. Set at a hotel with a strange set of live-in residences, the show dealt with taboos a few years before the groundbreaking Soap arrived. Still no sign, despite Norman Lear saying this was his favorite of all the series he made!

Hot Wheels (1969) - The infamous animated series was considered nothing but a half-hour commercial by the U.S. Government and eventually pulled. How times change! Would be nice to see it now and how it holds up. With extras on the toys of the time, it would make a nice Complete Series set, especially since the new animted shows keep turning up on DVD.

The Immortal - Not to be confused with a recent, silly series with the same title, this Christopher George series should have been huge, but did not catch on. Launched with a pilot TV movie, he plays a racecar driver who is being kidnapped because his blood can cure all diseases and make a person ageless. Especially interesting in an AIDS era, this action series is like a more sophisticated Fugitive, with great scripts and acting. Still no sign!!!

Joe Bash - Peter Boyle is the title character, a semi-corrupt police officer in Barney Miller producer Danny Arnold's bold attempt to do a situation comedy with a dark edge and no laugh track. That was bold for its time and the show did not last, but I bet it holds up very well now. Still no sign!!!

Logan's Run - The TV series version of the hit 1976 film has a surprisingly strong music score (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and some other surprises. Not all the shows are strong, but they can be amusing and the remake should encourage Warner Bros. to finally issue the complete series, especially since the last few shows never aired.

Warner not only issued the series on DVD, they made it a general release instead of a Warner Archive exclusive. Here is our coverage of the set:


The Lucy Show - Between the mega-success of I Love Lucy and later success of Here's Lucy, Lucille Ball proved she could carry a show without the great Desi Arnaz with The Lucy Show and has some of the greatest comedy moments in TV history. Plenty of bad copies of the show are out there, but Paramount needs to restore and issue high quality official DVDs of this show. It began as a black and white show with co-star Vivian Vance as new characters; widows who live together with their children in a big house to save expenses. Then the show went to full color and has some of the best color in TV history. Even after Vance left, Gale Gordon's Mr. Mooney remained as a slow burn hoot who was constantly driven crazy by Lucy Carmichael. Between the scripts, their wit, the delivery and the now unreal ability of Lucy to get huge stares to appear on her show over just about any others, Lucy was pushing her talents into new directions, to the limits and it shows.

MPI has now issued the entire Here's Lucy seasons (see the first two seasons elsewhere on this site) while CBS DVD finally started issuing the series, beginning with Season One. Since we first posted, CBS started issuing the show in exceptional special editions with new prints, including Lucy Show - Season Two:








The Man From U.N.C.L.E./Girl From U.N.C.L.E. - The famous spy series from the 1960s that has been in turnaround at Warner Bros. for a few years as a feature film is long overdue for a comeback and a fun TV movie with the original leads (Robert Vaughn and David McCallum) almost relaunched a new show. If Bond can start all over, this would be a great time to start issuing each season. Paramount is finally issuing the original Wild, Wild West with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. Can Warner be far behind with these shows?

After a dispute with Anchor Bay over rights, Warner issued the entire Man From U.N.C.L.E. series in a massive, highly comprehensive 42-DVD set in a briefcase via Time-Life which we reviewed as follows:


Individual sets followed as the feature film remake arrived. Without any extras, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. was issued bt Warner Archive, swhich you can read more about at this link:


Maude - The only major Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin sitcom with an edge Sony has not out on DVD yet, Bea Arthur is easily available in several seasons of Golden Girls, but her greatest TV work remains as Maude Finley, the nemesis of Archie Bunker and all time great liberal character. The show remains one of the great spin-offs of all time and the supporting cast (including a young Adrienne Barbeau) has great chemistry.

Season One arrived on DVD finally, as this review will confirm:


Shout! Factory issued the rest of the serires.

Mannix - The original Mike Connors action detective hit ran an amazing eight seasons and holds up well for its time. Action packed in its time, good-looking copies finally arrived on DVD in 2008 starting with the first season:


The whole series is now available on DVD and we have covered most of those season sets.

Mike Hammer (1956) - When will someone issue the original TV version of the Mickey Spillane detective show with Darren McGavin? It ran three seasons, produced 78 black & white half-hour shows now surfacing on cable TV. That could be done in two to three DVD boxes, but the entire show could be put on five double-sided discs.

Since this posting five years ago, Universal finally licensed the whole series to A&E, which we reviewed here:


Mission: Impossible - With the third Tom Cruise film promising more action and big budget thrills where the money is actually on the screen (imagine that) for all to enjoy, Paramount is long overdue to start issuing the original series. A whole new generation or two has not seen this series in its brilliant, uncut form and the revelation would be an entertaining shock.

Season One and Two arrived on DVD finally, as these review will confirm, with the rest now available, including in a dynamite-stick shaped Complete Series set that included the two late 1980s series:





Nero Wolfe (1981) - In 1979, a TV movie with Thayer David was produced that was designed to launch a TV series, but Mr. David passed away before that could happen. William Conrad from Cannon (finally on DVD) was signed to replace him and a very ambitious, short-lived series of 14 expensively produced episodes resulted. Though not a hit, it is as compelling as the recent A&E version, itself a hit on DVD. Paramount/CBS DVD ought to issue the TV movie and series in one set.

VEI eventually issued the whole series.

The New 3 Stooges (1965 - 66) - Forget the live-action film that bombed, can someone find, restore and revive this underrated, funny animated series created by the Moe and other family members? Colorful and an underrated piece of Stooges history, this would make for a good Blu-ray and DVD set.

Image Madacy finally became the company to issue the show in its entirety, includng the filmed live-action segments, in a fine folding case. You can read about it at this link:


Police Squad - The few episodes produced were the basis for the three Naked Gun films and are more watchable for some since O.J. Simpson is not in them. Paramount could do this as a 2 DVD set.

This one finally arrived:


Quinn Martin Productions - The most untapped catalog of great classic hit TV dramas [had] yet to see the light of day, including The Streets Of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Cannon, Banyon and even A Man Called Sloan. After Paramount/CBS freed them from the Republic holdings and kept them before licensing the rest of the titles back to Lionsgate, they finally started arriving on DVD. To date, The Streets Of San Francisco and The Fugitive are the only series to make it, with its First Season split into two volumes:





Fugitive Season One, Volume One


Barnaby Jones - The First Season


Cannon - Season One, V.1


Season One, V.2


Season Two, V.1


Season Two, V.2


Return Of The Saint - Already issued in an elaborate complete series DVD box set loaded with extras in Australia and England, A&E was about halfway through issuing the black and white Roger Moore episodes from the original Saint series, but never got to this one. Acorn already did the Simon Dutton shows made later first on DVD in the U.S.!

We could not wait on anyone in the U.S. to do it, so we covered the original Australian box from Umbrella Entertainment:


Wonder who is holding this up in the U.S.?

Room 222 - The half-hour show ran five seasons and was a favorite of many, including in later reruns, but has not been seen in years. Even when badly edited (is there extra footage to be restored and make the show more coherent or is that rumor?) it had solid ratings and remains one of the best TV shows about high school ever made. Since we posted, Shout! Factory issued Season One a few years later and we covered it here:


plus, here is Season Two:


Shaft: The Series - He's one bad mother, but the TV series version with original lead Richard Roundtree has exceptional scripts and should have been a bigger hit in its time. They had to be to make up for the violence they could not show and money they did not have to spend. The result is yet another gem Warner Bros. needs to release and they have as a TV movies set through their Warner Archive series...

We caught up to it here...


The Six Million-Dollar Man/Bionic Woman - Already issued in first season sets in England, when are we getting these? How loyal are fans? How well regarded and remembered are the shows? When word got around that someone on crack wanted Jim Carrey to play Steve Austin, one of the biggest reactions of outrage and fury to date associated with any remake was let loose and the idea was squashed. Carrey is talented, but the idea is to hire a serious actor who is likable and heroic, which is not what Carrey is known for. The Weinstein Company temporarily lost the rights and now, both series are finally out on DVD in the U.S., including the entire Six Million-Dollar Man series in a Complete Collection from Time Life:


+ Bionic Woman - Season One


Season Two and Three DVD sets followed, though there was a defect on DVD # 4 for the Season Two set. For fans, we note that you can get the bad disc replaced by writing ConsumerRelations@bydeluxe.com or by phone at 888-882-5779 for information on returning that Disc 4 which featured the episode, "Deadly Ringer," in exchange for a replacement disc with corrected audio. We hope Blu-ray is next for both series, as the prints look good enough.

Mark Wahlberg landed up doing the feature film revival.

Star Maidens - A cult show people loved who saw it, with women in the future hunting humans, especially men. Even the soundtrack has been issued, but not the series. How can you pass up a cool show with a song that has 'sex world' in its lyrics? A new company just reiisued the older transfers from a foreign NTSC DVD set, but no extras.

T.H.E. Cat - 1966 thriller series lasted only one series of 26 half-hour shows, but is regarded as one of the better Spy-era series. Created by the great writer Harry Julian Fink (Dirty Harry, Ice Station Zebra), it is overdue for DVD release. Still no sign!!!

Underdog (1966) on Blu-ray - Released in scattered single DVDs, is it not time to remaster the show for Blu-ray and do a complete series on Blu-ray and DVD? Did Disney's horrid live-action feature film bomb do that much damage? No, as it turns out, the Shout! Factory issued this fine DVD box of the whole show along with another great, separate box set featuring Tennessee Tuxedo & His Friends:


Some prints were not in the best shape, preventing a full Blu-ray version, but some of the prints look great and they should surface on Blu-ray somewhere, sometime and now by new owners DreamWorks Animation, itself now bought by Universal Pictures.

Valley Of The Dinosaurs - One of the most mature and intelligent animated series Hanna Barbera ever made, a family is in the wild and gets so lost, they land up in another world of the past and make friends with a kind family of the past. Out the same season as the live-action Land Of the Lost, this series was one of the first on TV (especially children's television) to use electronic instruments in its theme song and the scripts are exceptional. Warner Bros. has been issuing classics out of that catalog and this gem needs to be dusted off, yet even the horrid Land Of the Lost feature film on Blu-ray and DVD was not enough to get this out on DVD. Why?

The complete series was issued by Warner Archive online only and with no extras, which we covered at this link:


Welcome Back Kotter - With the advance sales of a single DVD compilation much higher than expectations, Warner Bros. should release the show season by season with tons of extras, including behind-the-scenes rehearsals that we know are in the vaults. Shout! Factory has issued a Complete Series DVD set, but with no more extras!

The first season finally arrived first, with the individual follow ups due belatedly after the Complete Series set:


WKRP In Cincinnati - The original show ran for four seasons and has been kept off the DVD shelves by the issue of royalties and permission to use the many hits songs that surfaced in each show. One plan was to painstakingly take out the music, but you would think the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the owners of the show and music could make some kind of one-time special deal on the show, even if that meant royalties going into some kind of special back-up trust for artists. Otherwise, the show should not be issued in versions no one is going to like and Shout! Factory got most of the music for their Complete Series DVD set.

Sadly, a Season One was issued first with much of the music removed, but is still funny. The creators even explain where some of the missing music was placed in the extras:


With most of the music licensed, the whole series finally made it to DVD.

Needless to say this is far from a complete list, but it is a major sampling of some of the very best and most interesting shows you have not heard much of or of in a long time and in many cases, are long overdue for DVD and even Blu-ray. Sometimes, it is sadly a matter of good prints not being readily available or the studio or owners not knowing what they have. In other cases, it is not obvious and the shows are maybe available on out-of-print VHS if that. We'll see how many of these shows come out by the time we update again.


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