TV on DVD: A long-awaited TV-on-DVD drama is finally being released … is it your favorite?
Is your favorite TV show of all time available on DVD? Most likely, the answer is yes, as even the most obscure one-season shows (hello, "Street Hawk: The Complete Series") have been given the box set treatment.
But there are shows that, years after they left network airwaves, have yet to get a DVD release. This week, we're running down a list of some of the most wanted TV-on-DVD releases, as well as, in one case, some very good news for fans.
First, a note on what often leads to the delay in shows being released on DVD: Usually it's a licensing issue, and most often that involves music. One show that fans have been clamoring for is the Emmy-, Peabody-, and Golden Globe-winning Fred Savage dramedy "The Wonder Years." A Fox Home Entertainment representative tells Yahoo! TV of the 1988-93 series -- which made its debut in the coveted post-Super Bowl spot in 1988 -- there are "no confirmed plans to release 'The Wonder Years' on DVD."
Two single-disc DVDs of the show with a small number of episodes were released more than a decade ago, but securing the rights to all the tunes featured in the show has held up complete season releases.
Watch the opening sequence of "The Wonder Years":
Fortunately, at least one long-delayed DVD box set has dealt with the music issue: "China Beach: The Complete Series" will be released later this year by Time Life.
The set will feature all 64 episodes of the 1988-91 show, as well as hours of bonus material, including a cast reunion and interviews with stars Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger and producer John Wells.
And then there's the music. The show, which unfolded the story of the Vietnam War from the perspective of female military personnel and civilians, featured lots of '60s tunes (including Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Reflections" as the series theme) throughout its four-season run. Time Life spent more than a year getting clearances for nearly 500 songs for the DVD release.
Time Life hasn't announced a release date, but the "China Beach" will be available for pre-order in the first quarter of 2013.
Status updates for additional TV shows:
- "Ed": The 2000-04 dramedy, produced by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants, earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and sparked a fan campaign to get NBC to keep it on the air. The show also had a stellar cast, including star Tom Cavanagh, Michael Ian Black, "Modern Family" Emmy winner Julie Bowen, Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin, and "Mad Men" star John Slattery. But all that hasn't been enough to get the show on DVD, and despite murmurings every few years that a release is imminent, the wait continues, with music clearance one of the main reasons.
- "Cupid": No, not the underwhelming 2009 revival with Bobby Cannavale; the 1998 original dramedy, starring Jeremy Piven as Trevor, who was either the god of love or a mental patient. The show lasted less than a season -- 15 episodes aired, one didn't -- but it's a collection worth watching again. So far, the show has been unavailable on DVD, Netflix, Amazon Prime or any other official release, and there are no plans for a DVD set. (The show's fantastic soundtrack is a culprit in the holdup.) For those who want to see Piven in a performance that was as Emmy-worthy as his performance as Ari Gold on "Entourage," several "Cupid" episodes are available on YouTube in fan uploaded, multiple-file versions.
- "Batman": It's a classic, but merchandising has always been an issue for the series, thanks to a complicated tussle over rights to use the likenesses of various celebs in the series. A Variety story last summer suggested the path had been cleared for a Warner Bros. DVD release of the show's three seasons of live-action campiness, but TVShowsonDVD.com reports WB will be releasing some new show-related merchandise, but has no plans for a DVD release.
- "Newhart": Another classic, the 1982-90 Bob Newhart comedy had a first season DVD release in 2008. But, despite being a multiple Emmy winner and having one of the best series finales in primetime history, no more season box sets are in the works, according to a Fox Home Entertainment publicist.
- "Malcolm in the Middle": "Malcolm" is a great show in and of itself, but it also shows how Emmy-winning "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston is as gifted a comedic actor as he is a dramatic one. Yet, after a successful 2002 release of the 2000-06 show's first season, Fox cancelled a scheduled 2003 release of Season 2 over the high cost of obtaining music clearances. A Fox representative says there are no plans for further releases.
- "Lou Grant": The 1977-82 drama spinoff of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" won Emmys as best drama series and lead actor for Ed Asner, as well as a Peabody, Humanitas, Golden Globes, and Director's Guild awards. Yet the show has never been available on DVD, and Fox confirms there are no plans for a "Lou Grant" release.
- "Sisters": The groundbreaking 1991-96 drama (it was one of the first primetime series to focus on a group of female characters) earned Emmys, had a devoted fan base, and featured George Clooney in the role that helped land him his career-making gig on "ER" -- yet it's never been released on DVD, and a Warner Bros. representative tells Yahoo! TV there are no plans to do so.
- "Fridays": ABC's answer to "Saturday Night Live," the 1980-82 sketch comedy series "Fridays" was the first collaboration of future "Seinfeld" cohorts Larry David (who was a writer for "Fridays" and "SNL") and Michael Richards, who was a "Fridays" star. "Seinfeld," "Entourage," "Mad About You," and "The Tick" writer Larry Charles was also a writer on "Fridays," and those who missed out on all that comedy talent when "Fridays" originally aired will soon get the chance to see it, as TheWrap.com reported this week that Shout! Factory has secured the rights to release the series on DVD.
- "Saturday Night Live": Speaking of "SNL," Universal released five complete season box sets of the venerable variety series on DVD, ending with the 1979-80 fifth season. The high cost of music clearances and the plethora of videos available on the "SNL" website mean there are no immediate plans to release additional seasons on DVD.