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What's On YOUR Wish List of TV Shows That Ought to Be Out on DVD?
June 30, 2009  | By David Bianculli  | 3 comments
wonder-years.jpg[Bianculli here: I'm leaving this up for another day, because the responses have been so wonderful. Even if you've posted your own wish list, check back to read everyone else's comments. He & She! Frank's Place! The Trials of O'Brien! Holy good taste, Batman! Oh, yeah -- and Batman, too!...]

Diane Werts' recent column -- a great-news post about the just-announced forthcoming full-series release of Fox's Ally McBeal on DVD -- ended with her prodding for the releases of other not-yet-available series, like ABC's brilliant 1988-93 The Wonder Years. I'm taking her ball and advancing it a little, by giving my own list of TV shows I'd love to see released on DVD -- then asking for yours...

Yes, I'd love to see a full-set Wonder Years, too, so start there. But here are six other series that absolutely, positively deserve full-set releases, and are significant enough in terms of TV history to warrant the honor.


ST. ELSEWHERE, 1982-88, NBC. 20th Century Fox released Season One of this brilliant, groundbreaking medical drama three years ago, then stopped there. Huge mistake, because the show got better, bolder and more audacious in every successive season. Terence Knox as a doctor turned rapist? David Morse as a doctor turned rape victim while taken hostage as a visiting physician in prison? (For series writer-producer Tom Fontana, it was a short step to his subsequent Oz. Denzel Washington? Howie Mandel? That infamous ending? C'mon... I adored this show. And every edgy cable series of the past 10 years owes a major debt to this program, period.



THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, 1992-1998, HBO. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released a no-frills Season One collection in 2002, very early in the TV-shows-on-DVD game, and an outstanding Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show set, with lots of frills, in 2007. But still no complete-series run -- and this show, almost as much as Seinfeld, holds up so well to repeated viewings, and is so distinct in its comic tone, it should be available as a complete-series set. Garry Shandling, Rip Torn, Jeffrey Tambor -- if HBO had video rights to this, instead of Sony, it would have given Larry Sanders the royal treatment long, long ago.


THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD, 1987-88, NBC, 1989-91, Lifetime. If you're tracing the history of working single women in TV history, Blair Brown's Molly Dodd is one of the most significant, and charming, figures. (The lineage goes something like this: Our Miss Brooks in the 50s, That Girl in the 60s, Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s, Molly Dodd in the 80s, Ally McBeal in the 90s and 30 Rock today.) Jay Tarses wrote this fabulous comedy -- no laugh track, major New York sensibility -- with a great supporting cast that included a then-unknown David Strathairn. No episodes have ever been released on DVD -- a major TV crime.


THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM MACHINE, 1971-72, PBS. This anything-goes, liberally biased anthology arts and documentary series was a variety show in the truest sense. Andy Rooney, before moving to 60 Minutes, did reports for this one-season PBS showcase. So did Marshall Efron, whose lecture on the topic "Is There Sex After Death?" was, in its entirety, one word ("No"). Chevy Chase was one of the mime "singers" who contorted their faces to the sound of music, and short films were provided by, among others, Albert Brooks. It's never, ever been on home video, not even a single episode. So where is it?


THE BOLD ONES: THE SENATOR, 1970-71, NBC. Two years after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, Hal Holbrook starred as Sen. Hays Stowe in this one-season rotating drama in the umbrella series The Bold Ones. Only eight movie-length episodes were made, so it would be a perfectly manageable DVD boxed set. I remember this series as having more heart and guts than any series on the air at the time -- but my memories are fading, because this series hasn't been seen since, or repeated anywhere, much less released on home video. Yet Holbrook was magnificent as an idealistic young senator, so now's the time. Yes we can.


THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS, 1963, 1964-65, NBC. This was the short-lived, amazingly daring U.S. offshoot of the British satirical hit -- and David Frost, who hosted it in England, eventually held court on the American version as well. Henry Fonda presided over the 1963 special, which led to a brief but brilliant run: Nancy Ames singing about the week's current events, Tom Lehrer providing topical songs like "Pollution," Buck Henry and Alan Alda providing pointed comedy, puppeteer Burt Tillstrom using nothing but his two hands to enact a touching drama about the history of the Berlin Wall. And how about this: At a time when cigarette ads were still pervasive on TV, TW3 showed X-ray images of diseased lungs while singing, from "Smoke gets in Your Eyes," the lyric "Something here inside cannot be denied." This NEEDS to be on DVD.

Those are some of my missing favorites, my TV Holy Grails. What are some of yours?




Phil Jones said:

3rd season of "Once and Again"

Bakersfield PD

Almost Grown (created by David Chase)

A Year In A Life (1987)

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 9:09 AM

Hoppy said:

The Defenders
Still Standing
Doctor, Doctor

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 10:00 AM

Cathy said:

A hearty "I'll second that for TWTWTW! Also, Life Goes On. I believe Season One is available, but I'd like to see the rest.

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 10:19 AM

Mike said:

"Nothing Sacred" and "Max Headroom: 20 Mintues into the Future"

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 10:58 AM

Phillip R. Crabb said:

Hello David...this was a tough one. Tough since almost EVERYthing is already available on DVD.

But one thing that doesn't seem to be, are compilitations of old game shows from the sixties.

I'm thinking the original b/w 'Concentration' shows (the last NBC show to be colorized in 1966, making NBC the first 'all-color' network).

Back in the 60's as a kid, game shows had alot of moving mechanical parts...not just the plasma graphics we get today. And sometimes, the moving parts didn't work, like when a Concentration 'cube' got stuck turning around or something. The laundry list of prized would slide in behind the contestants and I could only dream of winning so many neat things at the same time.

Another idea, perhaps not so popular.....the old 'Modern Farmer' series. It was the first thing to come on after the Saturday morning test pattern, and kept me company as a 5 or 6-year old until Crusader Rabbit came on at 7 am while the rest of the household was still fast asleep..

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 11:19 AM

Noelle said:

Cagney and Lacey
Murphy Brown
China Beach

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 11:43 AM

Mike Carlin said:

BATMAN please.

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 12:01 PM

Linda said:

I'm with those who said A Year in a Life, Still Standing and Doctor, Doctor. To that list I'd like to add Brooklyn Bridge and Jack & Bobby...and many more, I'm sure...

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 12:24 PM

jesus zimmerman said:

later w/bob costas

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 12:57 PM

Bruce said:

Another vote for China Beach!

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 1:29 PM

Eileen said:

Linda is so right with Brooklyn Bridge -- a great show in the venue of The Wonder Years.

I don't know if these are on DVD, but if not they certainly should be -- I'll Fly Away and Sisters.

More and more people, in utter disgust/distaste for the reality junk, are turning to DVD boxed sets. In my home we have Seinfeld, Will & Grace, 30 Rock and the Sopranos.

Unfortunately, the networks just don't get it. Over the weekend I watched a PBS American Masters entitled "Make 'em Laugh" a history of the sitcom. Boy, have we devolved.

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 2:01 PM

Grant Goodyear said:

Middle Ages with Peter Riegert.

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 2:20 PM

Chris Collins said:

It's Like You Know... simply because I only ever really saw a couple of episodes of it.

The original Cupid, because when I was watching the new version, I found that some of the ideas embodied by Cupid were kinda formative to my thinking about life. At least, I think they were because I haven't seen the old episodes since then.

Eyes that PI show that is coming back to DirectTV. That was a great show.


Comment posted on June 30, 2009 3:22 PM

Dave said:

Cupid, the original with Paula Marshall & Jeremy Piven.

EZ Streets, the whole (sadly short-lived) series please, not just the couple of episodes that are available now.

Misfits of Science: the 15-year-old Dave thought this was a very funny series; I'd like the chance to see if it really was as fun as I remember.

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 4:13 PM

Tom said:

The Name Of The Game was a series with three revolving shows starring Tony Franciosa, Gene Barry and Robert Stack.

The Trials of O'Brien (starring Peter Falk)

Rich Man Poor Man (Books 1 and 2)

Maverick starring James Garner

Bat Masterson starring Gene Barry

(Good news: There is, at least, a best-of Maverick from Warner Bros. -- 1 DVD, 3 episodes -- and Bat Masterson is represented in Timeless Media Group's "Classic TV Western Collection." -- David B.)

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 5:03 PM

John said:

"Frank's Place," anyone?

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 7:25 PM

Toby O'B said:

Some that jumped to mind is "Bakersfield, PD", "He & She", "Nichols".... I'll probably think of more later. And I support many of those already suggested.

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 9:26 PM

Mark said:

Second on the original Cupid.

I also liked Committed, a short lived NBC sitcom from a few years ago.

BBC documentary series - Dancing in the Street

Comment posted on June 30, 2009 9:59 PM

Steve Gursky said:

77 Sunset Strip plus just about any Warner Brothers Private Eye or Western Series from the late 50's - early 60's.

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 12:03 AM

alan0825 said:

Now and Again

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 2:44 AM

Stewart Wallace said:

Molly Dodd
Frank's Place
Doctor, Doctor
Bakersfield PD
Cupid (original)
Night Music/Sunday Night

There should be a Later with Bob Costas channel somewhere on cable. Why hasn't someone talked him into doing another interview series?

I was too young for TWTWTW and Great American Dream Machine, but I would love to see them on DVD. I would also love to see the original Emmy and Peabody award winning Bob Newhart show shown on NBC in the early 60s.

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 8:40 AM

Lee said:

I vote for the original Cupid as well. My BF votes for Angry Beavers, a demented animated Nickelodeon show.

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 9:01 AM

Hoppy said:

Many of the shows mentioned are available at http://www.tvaddicts.tv/index. Probably not the best quality but if you're really desperate...

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 11:38 AM

Gregg B said:

Get a Life (Chris Elliot's demented show) - only a compilation available
Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers
The Davud Suskind Show (Especially "How to be a Jewish Son" with Mel Brooks, David Steinberg, George Segal and Dan Greenberg)
United States - Great Larry Gelbart series

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 12:28 PM

Neil said:

I'd like to see two one-shot CBS specials from the late 60's:

- There was a Leonard Bernstein program that discussed popular music, and introduced Janis Ian to the nation,

- The Simon & Garfunkel special from 1969, only aired once - IIRC, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon in January. (Once upon a time, I had the audio track from this show on a reel-to-reel tape - it had some neat alternate takes of a few classic S&G songs.)

And, and, and, I'd like the box set of the *original* WKRP in Cincinnati, with the *original* music track, not the version that was released a few years ago and butchered the soundtrack with replacement music. ("As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.")

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 12:47 PM

Sam Tomaino said:

THE NAME OF THE GAME (more the Gene Barry and Robert Stack ones)
THE OUTSIDER (starring Darren McGavin)

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 2:08 PM

Mac said:

Only a few weeks with the new owners,American Life Network(ALN) is already monkeying with their "L.A.Law/St.Elsewhere/Hill Street Blues" block,so those shows do need a complete DVD treatment. Alas,I suspect poor sales(Target recently had HSB Seasons 1 +2 wrapped together and cheaper than buying season 1)will keep these from the marketplace.
And how about "Lou Grant"? Even typewriters,word processors and Billie's bad hair can't hide the important issues on that show,many of which(e.g.-big business owning big media)still have no right answers. And Mason Adams to boot;,with a voice like his,he has to be good.

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 5:14 PM

jan said:

Doctor, Doctor
Get a Life
Molly Dodd (I'd watch anything David Strathairn is in)
Viva Blackpool! (British series)

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 6:50 PM

Lisa said:

Bridget Loves Bernie (another of those CBS-massacred series).

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 8:04 PM

Andrew Zurbrugg said:

The Maxx

The Maxx is the most deeply layered story I've encountered in any medium. It's completely engrossing on every level, and emotionally resonant in many timeless ways. And Daria's dry witty comments just never get old.

Comment posted on July 1, 2009 9:00 PM

Deb B said:

Great suggestions. How about the AMC series Remember WENN (unless it has been recently offered).

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 12:41 AM

Stewart Wallace said:

What about Shirley MacLaine's specials from the late 70s-early 80s?

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 7:22 AM

Stephen said:

Frank's Place please!

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 9:22 AM

jan said:

Thought of another one--kind of a guilty pleasure: What about the unedited British version of the Graham Norton Show? It always makes me laugh, even as I'm kicking myself mentally from wasting time watching it. Only a compilation--geared to American audiences--is available right now.

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 11:49 AM

Alex F said:

Anyone remember the short-lived FX series "Lucky" with John Corbett? Fantastic half-hour drama about a compulsive gambler, lasted only about a dozen episodes... I don't expect to ever see it on DVD, but it would make me very happy.

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 12:22 PM

Angela said:

My mother told me so many good things about the series I'll Fly Away. I've looked for it on and off over the years with no luck. But I sure would love to see it if available. Do you know if it was a PBS series?

(Everyone seems to love Eileen around here, and with good reason -- and I'm still editing the final manuscript, so I'm distracted -- but geez, asking Eileen a direct TV question, just because she had the great taste to mention "I'll Fly Away"?

(Well, Angela, "I'll Fly Away" WAS on PBS, but it WASN'T a PBS series. It was an NBC period drama, set in the 50s in the South and starring Sam Waterston and Regina Taylor (both were terrific). It ran from 1991-93 on NBC, and when it was cancelled, PBS ponied up enough money to pay for a wrap-up-the-story telemovie.

(As for DVD? No releases yet. But there should be. -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 7:38 PM

Laura L said:

Me too on The Days And Nights Of Molly Dodd. What a wonderful show that was. That theme with the violin is going through my head right now.

Comment posted on July 2, 2009 8:12 PM

Steve Valentine said:

Doctor, Doctor
Blake's 7
WKRP - with the original music please
Max Headroom
Laugh-In - beyond the two "best of" collections issued to date

Wanted On Blu-Ray:
The Big Bang Theory
The West Wing

DVD producers also need to know that some of us will wait for the entire series box set and don't want to buy them one season at a time. If they quit after producing one or two seasons, they'll lose me as a customer.

(Great point! -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 3, 2009 5:33 PM

Jill said:

I'd like to second the request for The Maxx and Daria, and enter a request for Touching Evil, a short lived, but great detective show on USA.

Comment posted on July 3, 2009 5:59 PM

Russ said:

With the two mentions of WKRP, I feel like that opens a whole new line for discussion here. I haven't bought WKRP on DVD. And I won't unless the show's release is restored to original broadcast form. The same is true for one of my all-time favorite shows: Northern Exposure. I haven't bought Northern Exposure, and would really like to, but it won't happen unless the right music is on it.

I was pretty disappointed by the DVD release of season 1 of NBC's Life. As an example, I defy anyone who saw the amazing episode "Farthingale" as broadcast to call the DVD version anything but a pale imitation (due to music substitutions). That'll keep me from buying season 2, unless the music is the same as was originally broadcast.

Side note: I wonder how butchered the upcoming Ally McBeal DVD release is going to be?

Anyway, most of the things I'd like to see newly released on DVD are out already, but in WRECKED-BY-MUSICAL-LICENSING-ISSUES form. And they won't get my money until they are made right.

(FABULOUS point, Russ. That's why I ordered my Ally McBeal season sets from England. International music rights are different, so the original music is intact. I never thought about checking for UK releases of Northern Exposure and Life, but now I will. Quality multiregion DVD players are now well under $200, so for a true TV purist, it's worth the investment. -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 3, 2009 11:38 PM

paul said:

I'd love to see a CBS-TV, musical/comedy Special from 1966, , called THE STROLLIN' 20's, on DVD.It starred Sindey Poitier, Harry Belafonte and a stellar cast. It was a fabulous period piece, set in Harlem.

Comment posted on October 21, 2009 8:06 PM

Michael Gamel-McCormick said:

Topper--the DVDs that are available are of horrible quality and there are only a few of the episodes released. I need to ditto the response on TW3--both the US and BBC versions.

Comment posted on November 1, 2009 11:43 AM

Bill Courson said:

The Great American Dream Machine reels were turned over to the Library of Congress in 1994. They are available for viewing by only selected researchers. The Library will not make them available for publication. Since they were paid produced with public dollars, the show should be released as public domain.

Comment posted on March 24, 2010 9:51 PM

GMJ said:

Re: The Bold Ones: The Senator

For the past few years, Retro Television Network (RTV) based in Chattanooga, TN, has been airing numerous programs from the Universal TV library, including "The Bold Ones" series. The two-part episode "A Continual Roar of Musketry" from "The Senator" segment, which was inspired by the Kent State shootings and originally aired on NBC six months after the incident, aired on RTV this past weekend in my television market.

Despite its age, the show still has some depth that numerous shows from that era does not.

I agree with you on a DVD release for that program. Considering some of the current shows that do have DVD releases, I wished that Universal TV and several other companies would open their vaults and consider releasing some of these short-lived gems. Thanks for mentioning the show.

[And thanks for mentioning THIS. Just knowing that "The Senator" is out there somewhere gives me hope. -- David B.]

Comment posted on May 6, 2010 6:02 PM
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You can find almost anything that's been on tv on a dvd....except "Remember Wenn". The award winning series on AMC. With all of the garbage that is on dvd looks like somebody could get the rights to put this whole series in a box set!!!
Apr 22, 2014   |  Reply
I've been looking for regular DVD (Not Blu-ray) version of PBS's "The Rock Follies" in an American-compatible format for years. All I've found was a sound-track CD, which i did purchase, but that is not acceptable ..
Dec 8, 2013   |  Reply
Richard Cohen
Re: GMJ's 2010 mention of RTV:
Another of the sub-channel rerun networks -- Cozi-TV -- showed six "Senator" episodes in the last couple of weeks (July 2013) .

They were out of order, cut of course (one episode ran about 44 minutes), and included only Part Two of the Kent-state-inspired two-parter "A Continual Roar of Musketry" (the show's most remarkable production, the only one I remember seeing from its original run when I was 11, the one I most wanted to see again -- wouldn't you know it) but it was still good to be able to get something.

As this seems to be the only game in town, viewers receiving Cozi -- or one of the other rerun networks -- might want to be on the lookout.

Naturally I'm for any future dvd release and, as long as we're wishing, I'd hope for one with a classy booklet with essay and interviews of those who worked on the show, those remaining, that is -- David Rintels, David Levinson, John Badham; are there any others left?
Jul 15, 2013   |  Reply
According to TVShowsonDVD.com, Timeless Media Group/Shout! Factory is releasing "The Bold Ones: The Senator" on a 3-Disc set June 16, 2015. Information on the release is also available on Amazon.com.
Mar 10, 2015
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