I’m going to be away from the blog for the next day or so—got a few family-themed events on the calendar, including a promise to help the patriarch of the Shreve family on Saturday with a thing that’s going on at his storage building. The people who rent space there will be selling stuff in a kind of junior flea market deal and I told Ivan, Sr. that if he wanted me to assist him with this I would. (This is not entirely without an ulterior motive, by the way—I have some stuff belonging to the dusty TDOY archives in that shed, and I’m a little nervous about turning him loose with it, particularly with people and money around. By the way, I need to issue a disclaimer that the building in the picture on the left is not an accurate depiction of my father’s space for the simple reason that the individual in that photo is able to move around freely with the aid of a small forklift-type truck.) I’ve already got the birthday tributes programmed through Sunday (Friday I’ll be helping Mumsy supervise her grandson because he doesn’t have his little Montessori school activity to do that day) and to keep you entertained I’ve also scheduled a couple of guest movie reviews from frequent TDOY commenter Philip Schweier. (I mentioned to him in an e-mail that since he is currently between jobs if he wanted to contribute some pieces I’d be only too happy to post them without any kind of recompense whatsoever. Think of me as another Arianna Huffington, only without the Gabor sister accent.)
There’ve been several classic television-on-DVD announcements pasted up at TVShowsOnDVD.com, and I’m going to warn you off the bat that this one has got me a little steamed. According to TSOD, Classic Media is going to be releasing the fifth and final season of Rocky and Bullwinkle—the 1961-62 entity telecast in prime time and known as The Bullwinkle Show—on January 11th of next year.
Wait for it…
It will be released as part of a honkin’ big box set entitled 100% Complete Bull—and if there’s a more apropos title for what Classic Media is doing to the people who’ve already collected the first four seasons individually without resorting to the kind of language I try to avoid on a family blog, I’m hard pressed to come up with one. Because Classic Media has yet to make known as to whether Season Five will be made available as a stand-alone set so that the people who’ve already invested the time and money to purchase the previous seasons don’t have to start digging under the couch cushions to buy this pricey new collection. The SRP for this 18-disc set is $99.98, or as The Great One himself might say provided he didn’t choke on his words afterwards, “a mere bag of shells.”
Now…let me just state for the record that if Classic Media is planning to release Season 5 in an affordable individual package I’ll take back every nasty thing I’m about to say after this sentence. In the first mention of this set on TSOD, David “Complete fealty to my corporate masters” Lambert remarked: “Fans who have been picking up this show season-by-season are still waiting for the fifth and final season of the program, and we DO expect it to be coming out individually.” I wish I could believe that, but because no further mention was made of this in the follow-up announcement I have a strong suspicion—call it a premonition, call it my Spidey Sense—that the company is going to demand its customers drop their socks and grab their you-know-what’s. To me, that’s the frustrating thing about this DVD industry—they whine about how people won’t support these releases, but the disconnect is that they don’t seem too concerned about screwing people over in order to make more money. Yes, yes, I can hear someone out there saying “Well, that’s the way capitalism works and if you don’t like it why don’t you go back to Commieland where you came from.” (I’d just like to state, once again for the record, that I dislike you intensely, Person Who Is Saying That.)
Here’s another example of what I’m talking about—Shokus Video has acquired the rights to release the short-lived CBS-TV sitcom Angel (1960-61), which they obtained from the estate of Jess Oppenheimer from Jess’ son Gregg. If you’re not familiar with the show (or are confusing it with that Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off that ran on The WB from 1999-2004), it was a half-hour series starring an actress named Annie Fargé in the titular role as a French immigrant newly wed to an American architect played by Marshall “Daktari” Thompson. Angel, being a “furriner,” must struggle to adapt to American ways and culture…and as is our mantra here at TDOY, the wacky complications ensue.
If you’re thinking to yourself: “Hey…that sounds a lot like I Love Lucy only the husband isn’t Cuban, he’s American”—then you won’t be too surprised to learn that viewers also figured out this little shell game and turned the show off faster than you can say “Babalu.” Fred Allen is credited with observing “Imitation is the sincerest form of television,” and while normally someone ballsy enough to create a show like this might risk a lawsuit from the people who thought up the original and more successful program, in this case Oppenheimer had a hand in creating both Lucy and Angel, so he was relatively safe there. Anyway, Shokus released a DVD of four Angel episodes this summer—with guest stars James Garner, Gale Gordon, Shirley Mitchell, and Mel Blanc—and plans to follow this with another four-episode release on November 9th (these shows will spotlight the guest star talents of Dave Ketchum, Maudie Prickett, Frank Wilcox, and Ross Elliott). (Plans for a third volume are also being tossed about, for a possible release in 2011.)
Now, I wouldn’t have a problem buying the complete run (thirty-three episodes) of Angel because…well, I’m strange like that. But each of these volumes is priced to move at $14.95 apiece, which means if they make plans for all of them to be issued on disc we’re talking eight sets at about $120 total. That’s one hell of a tariff to pay for a show that, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, ripped off the premise of I Love Lucy. If someone with a little more farsightedness had said: “Hey…if we bundled all these shows together and slapped a label on it that reads ‘From the people who brought you I Love Lucy,’ we might move a few of these bad boys…” I’d probably have been one of the first people in line to buy this television curio. Oh well.