DVD Tuesday: Orson Welles as King Lear for Omnibus, The Patty Duke Show

Every Tuesday I take a look at obscure and/or classic television programs, specials, miniseries or made-for-TV movies being released on DVD. For the record I consider anything broadcast prior to 1980 to be classic or else there wouldn’t be much to discuss. The releases referred to in these posts are encoded for Region 1 use in the United States and Canada.

The most noteworthy release out today comes from E1 Entertainment and the Archive of American Television. You can now purchase for your own enjoyment Orson Welle’s “historic” performance as King Lear, broadcast as an episode of Omnibus on October 18th, 1953. Here’s a preview:

Extras, straight from E1 Entertainment’s website, include the following: backstage preview of Omnibus: King Lear (10/11/53), Dr. Frank Baxter on the Globe Theatre (11/29/53), Alistair Cooke – live remote from the Yale Shakespeare Festival, including scenes form “The Merry Wives of Windwor” (2/21/54) and Walter Kerr on staging Shakespeare, including scenes from “Hamlet” (1/30/55). There is also a 16-page booklet. How does the episode look? Jamie S. Rich of DVD Talk has this to say about the transfer:

The DVD transfer of King Lear was made from a Kinetoscope of the original live broadcast; in other words, a film made from placing a camera in front of a monitor and shooting the live feed. The version here, preserved by the Archive of American Television, has been well taken care of. The fullscreen, black-and-white image is clear, there is very little by way of scratches or dirt, and hardly any glitches at all. I’ve seen a lot of live TV on DVD lately, and this is one of the best looking transfers I’ve come across.

Another review can be found at Monsters & Critics. E1 Entertainment and the Archive of American Television have also re-issued several episodes of Studio One, originally released as part of the Studio One Anthology in November of 2008. You can pick up Rod Serling – Studio One Dramas, which contains “The Arena” and “The Strike” (both written by Serling, of course) or Studio One – Twelve Angry Men, which contains the famous “Twelve Angry Men” and a bonus episode titled “An Almanac of Liberty.”

Also out today from Shout! Factory is The Patty Duke Show: Season Two, containing all 36 episodes from the 1964-1965 season. Sitcoms Online reviewed the set last month and it looks like all of the episodes are uncut. Will the third and final season come out before the end of the year? We shall see. Also out today, from Paramount Home Video, is Vega$: The First Season, Volume 2. The first volume, released in October of last year, contained the pilot telefilm and the first 10 episodes; this second volume contains the remaining 12 episodes of the 1978-1979 season. The series ran for three seasons, ending in June of 1981.


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