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Ten shows that desperately need DVDs - VIDEOS

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 16th 2008 10:04AM
dvd logoThere's something really great about being able to buy an entire season of a TV show, or the entire run, on DVD. It can be addictive, too. But isn't it interesting that even though there are scads of great -- and some not-so-great -- series committed to DVD and readily available online or at the local superstore, there are a ton more that aren't? And what about great TV specials? When I read this list, it got me thinking about which TV programs I would buy in a heartbeat. My list is very subjective -- maybe even eclectic -- but here's my ten TV shows that need to be on DVD.

The Bob Newhart Show
Recently, when the American Masters did a special about Bob Newhart, they showed footage from The Bob Newhart Show. No, not the one with Suzanne Pleshette as Emily. They had clips from the 1961-62 Bob Newhart Show on NBC. It was a variety hour, showcasing many of his now classic routines. It looked really funny, filled with his inspired sketches and bits. And it was critically acclaimed, too, winning Emmy and Peabody awards. Naturally, NBC canceled it after just one season. I'd love to think that there's enough footage from those shows to create a DVD.

Now and Again
In 1999, Glenn Gordon Caron wrote this show, a sort of sci-fi/romance/domestic drama with elements from The Six Million Dollar Man, only a lot better. There were just 22 episodes on CBS, but Now and Again was an amazing program. The sci-fi stuff was very Twilight Zone, including a great ongoing story about a terrorist -- the Egg Man -- threatening to release nerve gas into public places unless his ransom demands are met. Another episode envisioned a world in which all written words were disappearing from the printed page. But what I really loved about Now and Again were the performances; terrific actors in every role, Margaret Colin, Heather Matarazzo, Eric Close (much better than Without A Trace), Gerrit Graham and Chad Lowe as a scumbag insurance man with an ax to grind. Oh, yes, I can't forget Dennis Haysbert pre-24, pre-The Unit. He was....Dennis Haysbert! CBS was frustrated with Caron's inability to get the show produced fast enough and pulled the plug after one season. The show ended on a killer cliffhanger. A DVD release could give us all 22 episodes to enjoy again, and maybe some extras with the principals about what might have happened.

Peyton Place
I bet a lot of people probably don't remember when ABC ran a primetime soap opera based on the novel and movie Peyton Place. It was the hottest show on TV -- next to Batman -- from 1964-69. It made stars out of Ryan O'Neal and Mia Farrow, both of whom were unknowns then. The 30-minute episodes were shown twice a week in primetime, kind of like two American Idols now. ABC decided to air it three times a week in 1965. In all, there were 514 episodes and they have rarely shown in syndication. I want to see them again. Please, Fox, dig into the vault and give us a season or two; maybe the best of. Something.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
I couldn't believe it when I found out The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is not on DVD. This musical- comedy-variety show is legendary. Tommy and Dick Smothers were musical and funny and had a great eye for talent. They had great musical guests, including Donovan, The Who, Pete Seeger and even The Beatles (via film from London). The show's comedy was controversial, taking on the topics of the times, including opposition to the Vietnam War. When the CBS censors tried to quiet them, the Brothers fought back. The fighting led to the premature end of a hit show. The few clips on YouTube show how good this program was and why it needs to be on DVD. If not all 71 episodes, the Best of. I can't find a reason why it hasn't been released yet, although music rights are often the cause of delays in DVD deals.

Brooklyn Bridge
After the success of Family Ties, Gary David Goldberg created a more personal sitcom based on his own childhood growing up in New York. It was called Brooklyn Bridge, ran from 1991-93 (34 episodes), and it was brilliant. Warm, funny, smart and nostalgic, Goldberg also was unashamedly ethnic in his depiction of the Silver family, as well as unashamedly a Dodger fan in his depiction of the years before the team moved to Los Angeles. There are expensive, illegal bootlegs available, but that's not what I want. I want a legit DVD release with all the episodes, commentary by Goldberg and interviews with Louis Zorich, Marion Ross, Amy Aquino, Peter Friedman and the rest of the cast -- including the kids, Danny Gerard and Matthew Louis Siegel.

John Corbett has done a lot of good TV work, starting with Northern Exposure. Chris in the morning is still one of my all-time favorite characters. In 2003, he did a short-lived FX series about a professional poker player who lives in the heart of gambling, Las Vegas. The comedy-drama was called Lucky, and it was terrific; quirky, subtle. FX didn't give it too much time to develop a following; just 11 episodes aired. The fans tried to save the show with an online petition, but it didn't work. John Corbett is working on a news series now, United States of Tara, for Showtime, but Lucky needs to be released on DVD. Now.

Was there a more interesting and talked about show at the time then thirtysomething? From 1987-91, thirtysomething was the drama that people either loved or hated. The fans outweighed the critics, though. The writing was sharp and insightful, if occasionally self-indulgent, but never boring. The lives of thirtysomethings Michael and Hope Steadman and their close friends and their children and relatives made for wonderful drama. The cast was superb, including Ken Olin, Timothy Busfield, Patricia Wettig, Mel Harris, Peter Horton, Melanie Mayron and Polly Draper. The behind the scenes talent was just as good, especially Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz. Why isn't this show available on DVD? Again, there are bootlegs, but the real thing needs to be released.

Evening Primrose
Today, Stephen Sondheim is revered as the greatest composer of musical theater in America. In 1967, he had had some successes -- lyrics for Gypsy and West Side Story -- but also a big flop Anyone Can Whistle. When approached to do an original musical for ABC Studio 67, an anthology series, Sondheim composed a score for Evening Primrose, an original musical starring Anthony Perkins and Charmian Carr (Liesl in The Sound of Music). The material was macabre, based on a John Collier story about people living a secret life after hours in a closed department store. I've seen Evening Primrose at the Museum of Television and Radio. It's wonderful. Even a kinescope on DVD would be worth having.

The Garry Moore Show
Before she ever appeared on her own variety show, Carol Burnett started out on this Emmy winning musical comedy series. Garry Moore, Durwood Kirby and Carol Burnett starred in songs and sketches, and guests included great comics like Don Adams, Jonathan Winters, Don Knotts and a slew of others from that era, 1959-1964. Garry Moore also had wonderful musical guests. Here's a clip from 1962 with a very young Barbra Streisand that's shown up on YouTube. It makes me want to see more of Garry Moore. I want the Carol Burnett stuff, too. Give me a DVD!

Annie, the Women in the Life of a Man
After appearing as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, Tony and Oscar-winner Anne Bancroft -- also Mrs. Mel Brooks -- did a couple of terrific TV specials. This one was the best, the 1970 Emmy award-winner for musical variety special. Bancroft wasn't a great singer, but she could do comedy and drama, moved well, and was utterly charming and fun to watch. This sketch is a sample of the quality of the writing. It's brilliant -- do you think David Letterman got the Oprah-Uma idea from this? Annie's version trumps David's. Somebody has to have the rights to release this show. Mel, where's the DVD? You have connections. Get it released.

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Major music issues for CHINA BEACH.

April 21 2008 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

With all the flashforwards and flashbacks on Lost this season, it reminds me of the last season of China Beach. I'm dying to see that show on DVD.

April 19 2008 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd pay serious money for a copy of AMC's wonderful Remember WENN from the mid 1990s.


April 17 2008 at 8:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is one show I have been hoping for and has yet to see the light of day. I am still waiting patiently to see the series "Cupid" come out on DVD. I recall this was a very well written, well acted show about a man who might or might not actually be the real Cupid. It had Jeremy Piven as Cupid, Paula Marshal as his Psychiatrist and a theme song by The Pretenders...why isn't it on DVD?

April 17 2008 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David's comment

Maybe with the re-boot of CUPID in the works, you'll get your wish!

April 21 2008 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 16 2008 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was disappointed when Now and Again was cancelled; especially with the way it ended. I would love to own it on DVD.

April 16 2008 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would totally buy Early Edition starring Kyle Chandler if it came out on DVD. I know it's a little early, but I'd also love it if they released the all-too-brief single season of Journeyman on DVD. There's only something like 12 or 13 episodes, but it was a great show. I still can't believe NBC cancelled it. I guess people would rather watch what seems like dozens of versions of Law and Order every night. Oh well!

April 16 2008 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Heather's comment

Early Edition is being released this summer 06/24/08.

April 17 2008 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hill Street Blues, well season 3 to the end... they started releasing it but stopped due to low sales the bastards! I really miss that show.

April 16 2008 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with those who mentioned Max Headroom and I'm also interested in VR.5 and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. But my top three are (most days):

-- Legend, a sort of sci-fi/western thing starring Richard Dean Anderson and John De Lancie (Q from Star Trek: TNG) from the early days of UPN

-- Probe, a sci-fi/mystery show starring Parker Stevenson

--The Torkelsons (and its (sort of) continuation Almost Home), a nice family sitcom starring Connie Ray, Olivia Burnette and Lee Norris (Minkus from Boy Meets World). (The Torkelsons also had William Schallert in it, while Almost Home had Perry King, Jason Marsden and Brittany Murphy.)

All were fairly short-lived (one season or less for Legend and Probe, and two or less for The Torkelsons), so they wouldn't present major risks in that sense and I'm pretty sure there shouldn't be any music clearance issues with Legend (less sure about the other two, but I don't remember much music in either that would be likely to present a problem).

April 16 2008 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Saavik's comment

I loved THE TORKELSONS! Does anyone remember a show about a family of Italian brothers that co-starred a young Christopher Meloni???

April 21 2008 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i would also like to add "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd"...

April 16 2008 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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