DVD Tuesday: TV Western Classics, The Virginian

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.

Out today from Timeless Media Group is TV Western Classics, a 6-DVD set containing an unknown number of episodes from the following shows: The Deputy, The Tall Man, Cimarron City, The Restless Gun, Frontier Doctor and Shotgun Slade. Most, if not all, of these shows have already had some sort of DVD release, be it a “best of” collection, complete series or individual season set. I don’t know if any of these episodes are new to DVD. Timeless is also releasing The Virginian – Complete First Season Limited Edition Embossed Collector’s Tin!, which includes all 30 episodes from the 1962-1963 season. All of these episodes are already available on DVD in two half-season sets from Timeless, released this past March. This limited edition embossed collector’s tin, however, contains a bonus disc featuring interviews with series star James Drury as well as cast members Gary Clark and Roberta Shore, plus Robert Fuller and Peter Brown.

In related DVD news, Mill Creek Entertainment will be releasing Prime Time Crime: The Stephen J. Cannell Collection in July 27th, with 54 episodes from 13 different programs produced by Cannell. I mention this because the set will include the complete runs of four short-lived Cannell shows: UNSUB (8 Episodes, 1989), Broken Badges (7 Episodes, 1990-1991), Palace Guard (9 Episodes, 1991) and Missing Persons (18 Episodes, 1993-1994). Admittedly, none of these programs were on the air before 1980. But they are short-lived. And who thought they’d ever make their way to DVD?

11 Comments

  • DuMont says:

    Applause for the Mill Creek Entertainment release of “Prime Time Crime: The Stephen J. Cannell Collection”, which I intend to purchase and which leaves me hopeful that other distribs might look at packaging the short-run series of other well-regarded creators/producers into specialty sets.

    If this package from Mr. Cannell succeeds, it might help along box-set collections of the more obscure series by other well-known producers (Mr. Norman Lear, Mr. Aaron Spelling, etc.).

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Again, NBC/Universal practically handed those series to Timeless Media and said in effect, “Here, you can sell these any way you want- we’re not interested in marketing them”. Too bad: if NBC/Universal hasn’t enough faith in “obscure classic television” to bother to market and release those shows, themselves, on DVD- what does that tell you about their future?

  • Jeff Wildman says:

    But can you think of a more apathetic organization than Universal? At one time one of television’s most prolific program suppliers, they have shown total lack of interest in feeding the DVD market.

    They have a poor track record with “one and done” releases (Kojak, Baretta, Dragnet 1967, etc.); left others hanging in mid-air (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Quincy, Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Black Sheep Squadron, Adam-12 etc.).

    They seem totally content now to just sit back and license their material and let somebody else do the work and take the risk. They couldn’t even bother releasing the remainder of their most successful classic sitcom ever: “Leave It To Beaver”. Classic, big-budget mini-series such as Rich Man, Poor Man; Captains And The Kings were picked up for release by others. Koch, Timeless, Virgil Films, Shout Factory etc. have all picked up the ball for Universal’s stalled, abandoned, and unreleased properties.

    Universal’s original deal with Timeless Media was classic: Universal names their price, collects their check, and sits back. Timeless has to run around and find the elements from collectors and the estates of deceased stars, producers etc. Then get them transfered to a useable condition for authoring. Years ago, Universal ordered their 16mm film library to be trashed. The trucks carrying the first loads of films to the landfill were “intercepted” and a large volume of Universal’s black and white television library from the 50’s and early 60’s got out there amongst collectors. Universal was livid and stepped up security on subsequent shipments. Many years later, Universal got it’s pound of flesh with the Timeless deal. They got a fat license fee from Timeless and those stolen film prints were the source of the elements used for a number of the Timeless releases.

  • ejp says:

    Universal at least, I give credit for licensing as many titles as they have to give them a chance for DVD they wouldn’t have otherwise had. For now, Warner wins the award hands down for worst studio in terms of TV on DVD.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    DAMN YOU, MCA/UNIVERSAL!!!!! And that goes for you too, NBC/Universal!!!!!!! Arrrrgghhhhh!!!!!!!

    There, now it’s out of my system….

    ;)

  • P says:

    And speaking of W-B, 20th-Century-Fox and other studios, when are we going to see the 1966 ‘Batman’ series out on DVD? We can buy the ’66 theatrical movie but not the series!

    Perhaps it’s because of the legal issues.

  • Jeff Wildman says:

    The 1966 “Batman” series has been mired in legal issues since day one, with a number of corporate entities (20th Century Fox, Greenway Productions, D.C. Comics, ABC Television) all claiming their right to a piece of the action. Not to mention the heirs of various related estates, who are making the battle over Jock Ewing’s will on “Dallas” look like a family picnic.

    Attempts to bring this series to DVD began 10 years ago and appear to have produced nothing but finger pointing with each party blaming the other for the deadlock. Many believe this series will never get past the roadblocks that plague this release.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Oh, yeah, THAT legal tangle. Perhaps one day…

  • ejp says:

    TV Land Canada for now offers the best “unofficial” set since they aired it uncut, no crunched credits etc.

  • Jeff Wildman says:

    Yes, TVLand Canada has been “THE source” for this series. They even retained the “Batman…In Color” bumper for some of the episodes.

  • Garrett Goulet says:

    And I want 20th Century-Fox Television to put out “The Felony Squad” on D.V.D., but that show’s probably going to lapse in the Public Domain (criminy!).

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