DVD Tuesday: Zane Grey Theatre, Norman Lear TV Collection

Every Tuesday I take a look at the new DVDs being released in the United States with an eye to classic and obscure television. As a general rule obscure shows don’t get DVD releases because by their very nature they aren’t well-known and thus not enough people would buy them. But occasionally some intriguing and rare programs do make their way to DVD.

It’s a big week for classic television fans. Out today are three season sets, a season volume and a huge collection. You can pick up Season Three of Father Knows Best, Season Three of Get Smart, Season One of Zane Grey Theatre, plus Season Four, Volume One of Perry Mason.

And, if you’re in the market for Norman Lear sitcoms, you can purchase the Norman Lear TV Collection, which contains the first seasons of seven of the prolific producer’s famous sitcoms:

  • All in the Family
  • Good Times
  • The Jeffersons
  • Maude
  • Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (first 25 episodes)
  • One Day at a Time
  • Sanford & Son

These season sets have already been released separately on DVD (the first season of All in the Family, for example, came out in 2002). But they’re bundled together for the first time in this gigantic collection that includes six hours of new bonus features, including both the original pilots to All in the Family. You can read a press release with the full list of bonus features at TVShowsOnDVD.com.

Unfortunately for fans who already have many of these season sets, it looks like the only way to get the new bonus material is to “double dip” and buy the sets all over again. Releasing bonus material as part of a complete series collection is a frustrating practice that has happened many times before. Fans eagerly await each new season set, purchase them one after the other, and then see a complete series collection come out with bonus material. If they want to get the bonus material, they have to buy the complete series collection,

With M*A*S*H, for example, the eleven seasons were released on DVD in season sets between 2002 and 2006. The complete “Martinis & Medicine Collection” came out in November 2006 alongside the final season. It included two discs filled with bonus material unavailable anywhere else. In May of 2007, however, these bonus discs were released alongside the final episode allowing fans to buy the bonus material to their collection without having to buy the complete series collection.

At the moment, only the first six seasons of All in the Family have been released on DVD. It is possible that the bonus material included in the Norman Lear TV Collection could conceivably be included in the remaining three season sets, should they ever be released. Still, it’s a slap in the face to long-time fans to include all these bonus features — especially the original pilots to All in the Family — in a pricey collection like this. I will, of course, willingly eat my words if the bonus material is made available to fans who have already purchased many of these season sets.

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