DVD Tuesday: Checkmate

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 only release of interest this week comes from Timeless Media Group. Checkmate – The Complete Series is a massive, 14-DVD set containing all 70 episodes of the detective series that originally ran on CBS from 1960 to 1962. Doug McClure, Sebastian Cabot and Anthony George starred. Timeless previously released a “best of” set featuring episodes from Season One in October of 2007 and one featuring episodes of Season Two in March of 2008. It’s a relatively expensive set, with a suggested retail price of $79.98, but that works out to just over a dollar an episode.

Also, Small Wonder – The Complete 2nd Season and Swamp Thing: The Series – Volume 3 are now available through Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select program, meaning you can online purchase it online directly through Shout! Factory. Although Small Wonder aired in first-run syndication from 1985 to 1989 and Swamp Thing: The Series on USA Network during the early 1990s, I mention them because the Shout! Select program deserves attention. So far, Shout! has released a dozen sets through Shout! Select, including Ironside – Season 3 and The Bill Cosby Show – Season 2, which came out roughly two years and four years after the previous season sets, respectively. For programs that have been seemingly abandoned, Shout! Select could be the only way to get the remaining seasons to DVD.

And if other studios follow Shout!’s lead and create similar online exclusive programs, it could mean more and more programs that retail stories don’t want to carry could come to DVD.


  • ejp says:

    Deep Discount has the complete Checkmate set available for just $55.

  • P says:

    ‘Small Wonder’…eh, I didn’t care much for that show. How it lasted all those seasons is beyond me.

    However, I must ask – where is ‘The New Gidget’ in all of this? When are we going to see that series on DVD? I (as well as other guys of my ’80s generations) want me some Caryn Richman!!

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    “CHECKMATE” was a very intriguing crime drama concerning three investigators (two “pretty boys” and Sebastian Cabot), co-produced by Jack Benny’s “JaMco Productions” outfit [and, of course, he made his required guest star turn in the middle of season two]. Two seasons it was on for CBS… and MCA used it as a “bargaining chip” to insure they (and Jack) would earn more money and a guaranteed renewal for the 1961-’62 season. “If you want another season of ‘CHECKMATE'”, they told CBS president James “The Smiling Cobra” Aubrey, “you’ll have to renew Benny for another season as well…and cough up some more dough, too”- and he didn’t care for agents and program packagers who controlled those kind of negotiations [he wanted to hammer out prime-time schedules on his own approval]. I believe he deliberately scheduled the second season {after a successful Saturday evening run inbetween “PERRY MASON” and “HAVE GUN- WILL TRAVEL”} on Wednesday nights, opposite the higher-rated “THE PRICE IS RIGHT” and “PERRY COMO’S KRAFT MUSIC HALL” on NBC. That was Aubrey’s way of getting rid of the show by claiming not enough viewers tuned in to warrant a third season. Too bad.

    And once again, NBC/Universal, who just doesn’t care about “classic” MCA black and white series produced before 1960 to release them on their own these days, again licnesed Timeless Media to do so, with “CHECKMATE”. This is why they’ll soon be in the majority hands of Comcast, who knows better about TV production and distribution than General Electric…

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