I don’t actually own all of these DVD sets (or even most of them) so I’m focusing more on the simple fact that some of these programs were actually released rather than the quality of the sets themselves. According to the release schedule at TVShowsOnDVD.com a total of 1,087 DVD sets were released this year. That’s just an overwhelming amount of DVDs. What was the single best release? If I had to chose I would say The Golden Age of Television from The Criterion Collection, which came out on November 24th, which features eight live critically acclaimed dramas from the “golden age” of television, including “Marty,” “The Comedian,” “Patterns,” “Bang the Drum Slowly” and “Requiem for a Heavyweight.” Originally broadcast between 1953 and 1959, they were later repeated on PBS between August of 1981 and March of 1982 as a special series also titled The Golden Age of Television, packaged with new interviews from cast and crew. These can be found on the Criterion release.
Another live drama, “What Makes Sammy Run?,” originally broadcast over the course of two weeks as part of Sunday Showcase, was released on February 10th by E1 Entertainment and The Archive of American Television Presents, having been “restored and re-mastered” with an audio commentary with Dina Merrill and Barbara Rush and an interview with Budd Schulberg. The Archive of American Television Presents and E1 Entertainment also released The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Vol. 1 on October 27th, with fifteen episodes from the one-season wonder that ran from 1960 to 1961, the unaired pilot episode and Stanwyck’s Emmy acceptance speech. All three of these sets could be considered among the best of the year’s releases, in my opinion.
Other contenders might include Kukla, Fran and Ollie – 60th Anniversary Premiere Collector’s Edition (released on August 11th), the first two seasons of The Paper Chase (released on April 7th and December 15th, respectively), The Guns of Will Sonnett – The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 (released on July 14th), Mister Ed – The Complete 1st Season (released on October 6th) and The Jerry Lewis Show Collection (released on December 8th). And who could forget Man from Atlantis – The Pilot Telefilm (released on October 6th)? Maybe even Bonanza: The Official First Season, Vol 1 & 2 (released on September 15th), The Patty Duke Show – Season 1 (released September 29th), Here’s Lucy – Season 1 (released August 25th) or The Lola Falana Show (released on October 6th).
Feel free to suggest additional titles in the comments.