Marcus Welby, M.D. Coming to DVD

Marcus Welby, M.D., the popular medical drama that was the very first ABC program to reach #1 in the Nielsen ratings, is finally coming to DVD. The series, which starred Robert Young, James Brolin and Elena Verdugo, ran for six seasons from 1969 to 1976. Shout! Factory will release the first season on May 4th. Included will be the made-for-TV pilot movie that launched the series. The company made the announcement in its January 2010 Newsletter.

Here’s the Shout! Factory blurb:

Marcus Welby Knows Best
We’ve been fortunate enough to release Seasons 1-4 of Father Knows Best, starring a 1950s-era Robert Young, and are now delving into his 1970s follow-up hit, Marcus Welby, M.D. The popular series–the #1 ranker was ABC’s first hit–centers on the Santa Monica-based doctor who actually makes house calls. The rock star of a GP shares his practice with the younger and more by-the-book Dr. Kilby, portrayed by James Brolin. Both actors earned Emmys® for their roles and went on to play these characters for seven seasons. Look for the first season in a 7-DVD set, which will include the original two-hour pilot movie “A Matter Of Humanities,” on May 4.

More details are TVShowsOnDVD.com.

9 Replies to “Marcus Welby, M.D. Coming to DVD”

  1. See, NBC/Universal won’t release “MARCUS WELBY, M.D.” on DVD themselves because, even though THEY own it, they feel there just aren’t enough “fans” to justify the cost of marketing box sets (as there are in, say, “THE OFFICE” and assorted crap they’re releasing on DVD these days). So they hand the rights over to Shout! Factory and say, “Here, release these as you see fit- just make sure we get OUR cut, okay?”. Corporate greed makes people do unreasonable things…and occasionally, some good ones as well.

  2. Hopefully they’re not syndication prints because they weren’t that great when CBS used to air the show weekday afternoons in New York during the late 70’s early 80’s.

    1. Actually, the show was run by local stations, not the network. It may have been on a CBS station in New York, but in Philadelphia it was on a NBC station. I will agree with you that syndication prints in the ’70’s were lousy, basically because local stations chopped them up to run extra commercials.

  3. So how do we get these “corporations” to release Marcus Welby MD box sets? Customer Service should be considered somewhere?

  4. I have seen many old TV series come out in syndacation &/or DVD box sets, but I have never seem the series, Marcus Welby in any of these formats. Will the DVD’s ever be come available for that TV series?

  5. I don’t believe that the reason that a Marcus Welby, M.D. box set hasn’t been released because they “feel there just aren’t enough “fans” to justify the cost .” How expensive is it really to burn a series to DVD these days? Pennies on the dollar! As an Emmy award winning series that ran 7 SEASONS, MWMD certainly deserves to have a full season box set if other shows from that same era, some less popular, have managed to get released. And NBC/Universal certainly had plenty of time to do it in the last ten years. If other networks can release obscure one-hit wonder series that only ran one season like “Tabitha” (which I highly doubt are flying off the shelf!), they can release this ground-breaking medical drama. I’ve only wanted this drama all my life, and it’s beyond maddening that the network is too damn lazy and selfish to do it. I should have bought the damn thing pirated when I had the chance. And I’m way less sympathetic to anyone who does if the networks and studios fail to step up and make these shows and movies available. They only have themselves to blame.

  6. I know fans of this show – and many others – would love to see more programs released on DVD, but it’s not as simple as just putting them on dvd. Yes, dvd discs and packaging are cheap, but the real cost is what goes on “behind the scenes”.

    If you’re going to release an old series on dvd and you “own” the series, you have to first get staff to pull all the old paper records about the show. While you’re probably in the clear about syndication and rebroadcast, you have to look for any legal issues when releasing the material on disc.

    You might have to go back and negotiate with key talent involved in the show, depending on the original contracts. You need to look at all the music cues – if the series used commercial music libraries, then you have to go back to the company and negotiate a fee for them. (That was a problem with “The Fugitive”, for example.). You also might not own the show outright – it might have been a co-production with another company – that’s more negotiation that has to take place.

    Then you have to look at individual episodes. Were some withdrawn due to legal issues, like someone charging that you plagiarized their script or story or that someone was defamed by the episode?

    If you clear all those hurdles, you have to see what materials you have to work with. If the series is in syndication, you might have recent masters on video that can be transferred to dvd. The version you have in releasable form might be syndication cut-downs – do you want to use those, thinking that most fans won’t care?

    If you don’t have video or digital masters to work with, then you have to pull the original film and sound negatives or prints and create new digital transfers. It’s not as easy as showing a film – films are scanned, frame by frame, and will need to be color-timed (the color balance or black and white contrast and balance of each shot conformed to look appropriate – the work that a lab would have done when prints of the show were originally struck).

    And scanning the original prints or negatives might be a really big expense. The elements might have had water damage or vinegar syndrome, causing warping or the color might be faded, meaning the transfers will take more time and require clean-up or image stabilization, just to be watchable. And the soundtrack might have other problems that require special handling or using a print, rather than a master, for the sound.

    You might even be missing master elements for an episode as the series changed hands over the years and have to use a sub-standard print or even check with archives or collectors for another copy.

    TV shows that survive on videotape are another headache – if your materials are on 2″ or 1″ reel tapes, used into the 1980s, there’s only a few places left that can transfer the material. Even then, it takes special handling and restoration work because tapes can have drop-outs or degrade in different ways.

    That’s why many minor and obscure series are released on dvd from syndication prints – going back to the original elements, even if they survive, would be remarkably expensive. Only the biggest shows with a large fanbase can really get that kind of treatment or shows that are being remastered for current syndication in hi-def – the funds from syndication can help offset the costs if a dvd release is eventually done.

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