Flops on DVD

Could someone explain to me why the studios rush out DVD box sets of massive flops like MY OWN WORST ENEMY…but they still haven't released many beloved series like IT TAKES A THIEF, MAVERICK, HARRY O, POLICE STORY, L.A LAW, THIRTYSOMETHING, MATT HOUSTON, and SPENSER FOR HIRE ? 

(And, on a purely personal note, where is season three of SEAQUEST and seasons four & up of DIAGNOSIS MURDER?) 

25 thoughts on “Flops on DVD”

  1. I’m with you. Harry O is my personal favorite of the PI series(well, maybe except for The Rockford Files).
    There’s a ready market for them I believe. I know in my case, when they finally released The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I bought the brief cased set without hesitation.

  2. Got to go with Randy on this. The entire UNCLE series was in my hot little hands within a week of its release. HARRY O would be good, IT TAKES A THIEF would be better.
    I wish “they” would release the entire series all at once, though. First two seasons of THE COMMISH, four sets of WISEGUY (no music arc with Tim Curry), etc. These partial releases are a pain.
    Personal wish list is the old Warner Bros. shows: 77 SUNSET STRIP, HAWAIIAN EYE, SURFISDE SIX, etc. Why someone hasn’t snapped those up and DVD’d them is beyond me….

  3. It makes more sense to rush out a recent flop while the few who did watch it might want a copy. Let’s face it, how much money did one of the networks spend promoting MOWE? Might as well try to get some payback from that.
    Great shows of the past will still be great in three months or three years, so there’s no urgency to releasing them.
    But if you’re taking requests for DVD releases of shows gone by, I’d like to watch LOU GRANT again, see if it holds up. And COP ROCK, never having experienced a whole ep.
    And a great BBC police drama from the last 90s, called THE COPS.

  4. I have no idea if this has anything to do with it, but I was told by a studio exec that one of the most difficult parts of releasing DVD sets of old TV series is securing the music rights.
    I can see why that would hold up something like MIAMI VICE, which used pop music, but I can’t imagine that would be an issue for a show like HARRY O.

  5. I caught myself catching the reruns of “Harry O” on some obscure cable channel that also does reruns of the original “Mission: Impossible,” and I was astonished at how well “Harry O” has aged. I mean, not the clothes or cars, obviously, but damn if the stories weren’t as solid as any good P.I. novel.
    I heard on a podcast with Joseph Dougherty that “thirtysomething” isn’t on DVD because of the cost of the music rights; much the same reason I doubt “Cold Case” will ever make it to DVD.

  6. Maybe legal issues over the rights or about who gets paid?
    I’ve heard two parties claim ownership of Batman with Adam West and as a result the viewers get nothing.
    I’m with you on Police Story. I really want that on disc.

  7. Yeah, really. Why? I’m wondering if it’s a marketing ploy to build up the buzz so that it turns a successful release into a smash. Remember the build-up for Windows ’95? Microsoft hung a banner from Toronto’s CN Tower that was, like, six stories tall! Then there is the Chevy VOLT. GM has been promising and promising but the car isn’t in showrooms! But it will be, etc, etc. Personally, I dislike it when somebody is purposely keeping me waiting like this, and maybe everybody does. But some marketing guru’s don’t seem to be able to distinguish between buzz that arises from genuine excitement and buzz that arises out of genuine fury!
    Anyway, no matter when the good DVD’s come out, I’ll waiting until they are deeply discounted during Boxing Day Week. They can make me wait, but they can’t make me dip into my pocket!

  8. Think about it. A series flops on TV, so they rush out the set so that fans will buy it before they even forget about it. They can take their time to release the old classics because they think fans will buy them as soon as they are released.
    Of course, the dismal sales of some of the classics proves that isn’t the case. I’ve said many times that when they first started releasing TV on DVD sets, there were five right off the bat I knew I would buy. I am still waiting for the final three seasons of one of them, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

  9. In the same way that a theatrical release (even a flop) acts as advertising for the DVD release, a network television run (even for a flop) acts as advertising for the boxed set. Or so I would assume the thinking goes.
    I would also suspect that, whereas various rights issues for older series tie up their DVD releases (a possibility that wasn’t even dreamed of when the contracts were first signed), the potential for such DVD releases was written into the contracts for these recent TV series before they air. Heck, it could even be that a DVD release is REQUIRED by contract.
    I would further suspect (I’m such a suspicious sort) that the execs who greenlit recent failed shows are desperate to push them into the profitable category as soon as possible for the good of their careers. No exec’s career is going to get a boost through the release of Spenser For Hire.

  10. If anyone is ever going to by a recently-cancelled crappy show, it’s while it still has a little bit of the awareness left from when it was on. You’ll get the fans of the show (it’s probably easier to hook these if there are unaired episodes), and others that just remember seeing the relentless promos.
    And recent shows probably have all the various clearances for all of the elements in place. Even if not every older show is WKRP, there are probably deals that have to be cut just to be able to release them.
    The series resurrection that most surprised me recently was DirecTV’s The 101 resurrection of Peter Berg’s WONDERLAND, playing it as an 8-episode miniseries on the heels of their broadcast of the third season of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. It sorts of feels like The 101 is becoming the resurrection of the Trio cable network.

  11. I believe Chad Williamson was referring to the American Life cable network, which also shows WKRP on Monday nights, Lou Grant on Wednesday nights and the Adam West version of Batman on Friday nights.
    I’m sorry to say it no longer shows Harry O.

  12. I think another thing that may be holding up releases of older series is the fact that they don’t want to spend the money cleaning up the negatives.
    That’s certainly what’s put a halt to Tales of the Gold Monkey.
    * Season 3 of seaQuest is by far the best season and the only one I want to buy. So with you on that one.

  13. I think the reason they push the flops so much is because of 24…
    Its first season, 24 ran thirteen episodes and did horrible numbers. Nobody watched it. Fox wanted to cancel it, but it was Dana Walden’s (pres of 20th) baby, so they reluctantly order another eleven episodes. Nobody tuned in. So while Fox was deciding what to do with this expensive show, the DVD was released, hoping to get back some of the seemingly lost money.
    It paid off, as DVD is where the audience discovered the show. People watched the whole season in one shot, and got it. Fox picked it up for one more year, and the second season ratings were not great, but a bit better. But still not a winner at all. So then the studio pumped a bunch of money into the next DVD release – there were jokes around 20th that it was going to come out of Dana’s pockets – but the DVD was a huge success.
    Season three 24 finally took off in the ratings and is now an iconic show. All because of the DVD set.
    So, studios having the narrow minds they do, are always wanting to catch lightning in a bottle again and again, regardless of whether it’s raining or not.

  14. David Bishop: You can see LOU GRANT, at least, on Hulu.
    I’m still waiting for Disney to cough up the third and final season of ONCE AND AGAIN. I’ll be waiting for quite a while, I gather.

  15. I’m wondering what happened to further seasons of Quincy M.E.? Who cares about some terrible flop from three months ago.

  16. Yes, please, I want IT TAKES A THIEF!
    And ditto for a clever conman series called SWITCH, starring Wagner, Eddie Albert, Sharon Gless, and Charlie Callas. I still use lines from that show the way other people quote Monty Pythonisms.
    Double ditto for THE NAME OF THE GAME.
    I miss those icons of hawtness, Gene Barry, Tony Franciosa, and the muy macho Robert Stack. Whole episodes are in my head like 2017 and the one with the unknown Shakespeare play. Because of that ep. I would up being the only kid in my school reading Shakespeare for fun. I never stopped, either.
    And please somebody…I totally miss THE SNOOP SISTERS!!
    *sobbing uncontrollably now*

  17. Thank you, P.N. I thought I was the last one alive who remembered SWITCH! 25 years ago, a local station ran horrendously truncated episodes on Sunday nights, and that’s the last I’ve seen of it. Had hopes it might show up on SLEUTH along with ITAT, but no such luck.
    NAME OF THE GAME? Complete series release, right out of the gate. According to his autobiography, Robert Wagner was almost a series regular on that after Tony Franciosa left. Wagner did two episodes, serious thought was given to his character “Dave Corey” coming on board full time, then the show was cancelled….

  18. There’s a web site, ioffer.com, where DVDs – bootleg – of Name of the Game and other vintage TV shows can be had cheaply. I bought a copy of LA 2017 from someone there. The quality was good enough for me to use frame grabs from it for my Filmfax article about the episode.

  19. I should have added THE PAPER CHASE and THE OUTSIDER (The Darren McGavin detective series) to the list of shows I’d like to see on DVD.
    I was an executive producer-for-hire on DM, I don’t have any ownership stake in the show and no influence whatsoever in its DVD release. The same is true of all the other shows that I’ve worked on that haven’t been released yet on DVD…including SHE-WOLF OF LONDON and MARTIAL LAW, which I get asked about all the time.

  20. I’ve read that “Ally McBeal” hasn’t been put on DVD because of the music – so like some have stated, that may be the reason why for some of these. I loved “thirtysomething” and would buy it on DVD.

  21. For some things, there may be rights questions beyond music rights, since deals for recorded media were likely not in everyone’s minds when, for example, The Paper Chase went from book to movie to TV series. (Yes, it’s one that I want.) I’m hoping that the Hulu-tion of old TV shows will find things like that.
    Things like MOWEnemy may have the advantage of unaired episodes that they’ll want to sell the people who were watching the show.
    But yeah, I want my Paper Chase. My Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. Some music-intact version of Wiseguy. An for no explicable reason, I want Salvage!

  22. I think it was the second season of Quantam Leap that was released with a different song than the original broadcast on a great episode where Dean Stockwell is dancing with his wife (holisticly). As broadcast it was Georgia Ray Charles and they probably had rights issues. I haven’t had the heart to see what was substituted.


Leave a Comment