Musings on Obscurity: Imagine You Can Finally Watch Your Holy Grail

I suspect most visitors to Television Obscurities have at least one “holy grail” TV show they desperately want the opportunity to watch. At the top of my holy grail list is The New People (ABC, 1969-1970). If I ever get the chance to spend a few days doing research at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, you can bet one of the first things I’ll do is sit down and watch as many episodes of The New People as I can.

Imagine your holy grail suddenly becomes available. If you’re a fan of physical media, you can buy it on DVD or Blu-ray. If you prefer streaming, you can watch it on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or whatever streaming service you prefer. As long as we’re pretending, assume the episodes have been remastered and are uncut with all the original music intact.

Given the opportunity to watch your holy grail TV show, after waiting and hoping for so long, you now have to decide how quickly to watch it. If the show lasted a full season, you have somewhere between 22 and 39 episodes to get through. That’s between nine and 16 hours for a 25-minute sitcom or between 18 and 32 hours for a 50-minute drama. (The math may vary considerably depending on how old the show is and how many episodes there are). For short-lived TV shows, you may be looking at just a handful of episodes.

Would you plan a marathon and watch most or all of the episodes in one sitting (also known as binge watching)? Or would you horde the episodes, watching one each night or even one each week so they last longer? Remember, this is the TV show you’ve potentially spent decades waiting to watch, or watch again. To be honest, you probably lost hope and decided you would never have the opportunity to watch it. If you burn through the episodes as fast as possible, that’s it.

I think I would want to watch the episodes as slowly as possible. So, one episode a week. That’s assuming I have the willpower to pace myself.

Of course, there’s always the chance you won’t enjoy your holy grail as much as you thought you would. If that’s the case, it’s possible you’ll have to force yourself to sit through every episode rather than struggle not to watch the episodes too fast.

If you’re one of the lucky ones and your holy grail is already available, how did you handle watching it?

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15 Replies to “Musings on Obscurity: Imagine You Can Finally Watch Your Holy Grail”

  1. Either weekly (or maybe twice weekly) or daily depending on which of my holy grails is available. I have a small handful of ones and their frequency varied (The Ernie Kovacs Show or lost Doctor Who eps vs. Carson’s first Tonight year in color or first 4 years of All My Children) so how I watched would depend on how often it aired.

    1. My soap grail is Santa Barbara and at one point I found the first 3 years. Sadly, most of those episodes were deleted due to copyright restrictions. At one point, I got to see the lost game show You’re In The Picture, but the Jackie Gleason estate erased them from YouTube! You never know what will turn up so try to visit YouTube as often as possible!

  2. My Holy Grail has been available for some time, but due to financial restraints I only have parts of it. But I’ll ‘fess up and admit I haven’t yet watched the final episode.

    For decades I thought the 1960s western “The Guns of Will Sonnett” sounded intriguing. A grandfather (Will) and grandson (Jeff) are searching for gunfighter James Sonnett — who is Will’s son and Jeff’s father. A few years ago I was able to obtain cheap used copies of the beginning half of season one, and the last half of season two. Since it is a half hour show I watch it two episodes at a time, and space my watching over long intervals of at least a week apart.

    I like the beginning where Will (played by Walter Brennan) narrates why he and his grandson (played by Dack Rambo) are searching for his son, and I like the endings where Will narrates a rhyming prayer as he and his grandson ride away from their latest adventure. I love Walter Brennan’s rasping voice (the result of a mustard gas attack when he was a soldier during World War I.) And I like the overall atmosphere of the series.

    I know that in the last episode the pair finally meet up with James Sonnett, and I want to see it — but once I watch “Three Stand Together” my Holy Grail quest will be over. Due to health difficulties I only work part-time, and it’s likely I’ll spent the rest of my life on a tight budget. (If my one-room efficiency wasn’t in a building with free WiFi my Internet access would be limited to public library visits.) Buying myself a luxury, such as a used DVD, is a rare occurrence, so if I finish watching all of “The Guns of Will Sonnett” what will there be to look forward to? I know I’m being foolish, and should just watch the final episode, but I’m waiting for the right time to reward myself, and keep putting it off.

    1. I forgot to say I also like Will Sonnett’s famous phrase “No brag, just fact.” Wish I could envision a time when I’d put a troublemaker in his place by confidentiality stating that line …

      1. This show ran on MeTV several years ago, so it definitely exists! Maybe it will resurface somewhere, perhaps on Heroes & Icons!

      2. Charles Perry, I can get the entire series on eBay so I know it exists. I just need to get my act together, watch the final episode that’s on the DVD I already own, and then be glad I’ve seen the ending. After that I can look forward to re-watching the episodes I own.

      3. I have now watched the final episode of The Guns of Will Sonnett, one my classic television’s Holy Grails. I just viewed Three Stand Alone, and it was a bit of a let down, though when you have less than 30 minutes to show the ending of a two year search I suppose you need to keep those “tough guys getting emotional” scenes quick and not too involved.

        It seems odd that the the next-to-the-last episode originally aired on March 21, 1969, but the last episode wasn’t shown until September 16, 1969, which would have been when the new season was starting. I wonder if they’d planned on a third season, but when the show was cancelled they were allowed to film a final episode that united the three Sonnetts. Perhaps my new Holy Grail project can be trying to find out why Three Stand Together wasn’t shown until September.

  3. I’ve been looking . watching obscure tv for several years now. Chasing down shows has been sporadic fun over the years; looking for tv obscurities before the Internet started was quite a challenge. For a while there all I could do was order fairly bad copies of VHS tapes on a limited basis, as well as the odd DVDs. The Internet helped, though. When I found a good run of an old favorite, I usually ran it off in a binge-watching session. In that way, I watched all of the episodes of “T.H.E. Cat with Robert Loggia”, a favorite type of hard comic book series. Other shows I found piecemeal was “Search”, a good sci-fi espionage series from Leslie Stevens; I was happy when 5-10 years ago Warner Archives realized pristine copies of all of the shows from that series. I had difficulty finding all of the “Coronet Blue” episodes, esp, the unaired ones, but Youtube turned out to have those, finally.

    Online archives have been a good help in my search. One, the Unknown Archive, has a lot of good pilots, including the fairly charming American UK Avengers pilot, “Escapade”. Another highlight is the “Doctor Paradise” pilot with Frank Langella, probably the best unsold tv pilot I’ve even seen (hilarious).

    To get back to the theme of this discussion, I usually watch all of what I can find of an obscure show in one gulp, then I let them lie fallow for a couple of years. Some shows that I have in complete sets in bad prints I can upgrade to better prints when I can.

    Some places to find pilots / obscure shows are online, at Youtube and Daily Motion; and at places Robert’s Hard To Find Videos and iOffer on the web. You can also dig out show dubs at sci-fi and comic book conventions. If a show is really obscure, the Paley Center may be the only place top see it…

    1. Most of these are inaccessible by most of us. I only have 2 suggestions to make: [1]Put the title of your grail show into the YouTube search and see what comes up. You might not get a whole series, but you might find a few episodes. [2] Try searching the various streaming sites and see what comes up. Amazon Prime seems to have an abundance of lost shows from the ’50’s and the ’60’s, some with original sponsor credits!

  4. I’ve found that a lot of the “Holy Grail” DVDs that I’ve bought in the recent past are due to having been forbidden to watch them in my youth (R&M LAUGH-IN full series) and getting in trouble for wanting to watch them instead of being someplace else where I had to be in pre-VCR days (“Backstairs at the White House”). I’ve bought them so I have the OPTION of viewing them when I want, whether or not I actually get around to watching them. For years I wanted to watch the NBC Saturday morning series BIG JOHN, LITTLE JOHN, as I’d enjoyed it when I was 11 years old. I bought the series on DVD when it was finally available some 5 years ago and found that what I thought was hysterically funny as a preteen was not as funny to me in my late 40s.

    I usually have my tv set to Me-TV at home, and I’ve liked having the opportunity of watching shows I’d rarely or never seen before, like MY THREE SONS (seasons 1-5, 11-12, only seasons 6-10 were in the usual syndicated package) and Carol Burnett’s earlier seasons (again only seasons 6-10 of her series had been syndicated). I’ve found the unseen (to me) episodes of varying quality, but it’s still nice to be able to see something I’d never seen before.

    1. Yes, it is strange that many long running series have episodes not available for viewing! Bonanza & Gunsmoke are the most famous series to fall in this rabbit hole! Laugh-In was only shown in half-hour segments, and even when Trio got the full hours they only ran half of them! Thankfully, we are now getting full restorations of classics such as these!

      1. Me-TV has also been good about rerunning GUNSMOKE & BONANZA episodes that had not been seen for years, like all the B&W GUNSMOKE episodes (1/2 & full hour shows) and the so-called “Lost” BONANZA episodes. I’ve watched a lot of these, and I really like the alternate theme by David Rose that BONANZA used for its Seasons 12 & 13.

  5. I guess my Holy Grail would have to be the 150 episodes of the Bob Cummings Show/Love that Bob that aren’t the 20 floating around the public domain world. Considering how many episodes there are, I’d take my time and probably take about a year or so to watch them, older shows, especially comedies don’t make for good binging I’ve found.

    Second choice would be a show that’s available, Ozzie and Harriet, but in some organized way instead of every episode (sans music) scattershot on 100’s of YouTube channels.

    1. Ozzie & Harriet’s grandson, Sam, has been working on restoring lots of O&H episodes, and he’s raised some money for the cause. (I’ve donated some, not because I’m a huge O&H fan but because I respect its position as a classic tv series and like being able to help restore it.) However I haven’t heard any updates from him or anyone else on where that project currently stands. I’ve also bought the DVD set, again not so much to watch it but to have it available if/when I do want to see it. I recall seeing a (terribly washed-out) color O&H episode once when staying in a motel near Waco, TX, so it was probably a PD print.

      1. Ozzie & Harriet is complicated by 2 things: Since the show lasted 14 seasons, there are about 400 episodes to deal with. Also, there were conflicts between ABC and the Ozzie Nelson estate over the copyrights. Harriet cleared up some of this in the ’80’s and later David did his own work. It now looks like it’s up to the third generation to fix this!

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