Orphan TV DVDs Include Anything But Love
December 28, 2009

I very much sympathized with this NPR blog piece on how only half of the run of the sitcom Anything But Love is available on DVD. That early-90s show starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis as co-workers and best friends who attempted to navigate their cross-gender relationship. It was often quite funny, and the stars do an excellent job. The DVD set, which came out almost 3 years ago, ends on a cliffhanger, and it’s unlikely at this point that the rest will ever be put on disc, since the gold rush, when just about anything would sell, is over.

Anything But Love cover
Anything But Love
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I own that set, although since I only paid about $10 for it used, I feel I got my money’s worth — and not buying it new meant that I probably contributed to the problem. The blogger’s rule is “don’t buy TV on DVD unless the whole show is available”. Which makes sense, except then if studios are looking at sales figures when deciding whether to continue the product, it becomes a vicious cycle where customers don’t buy it because it all isn’t available and studios don’t publish it because customers aren’t buying it. Perhaps the Ally McBeal model is the way to go, where the studio starts with the whole shebang, and then puts out separate season sets.

Another TV show I would buy on DVD that we’ll probably never see would be Nikki, which starred Nikki Cox as a dancer in Vegas who married a wannabe pro wrestler. We liked it because it co-starred the talented Susan Egan as a fellow dancer, and the fake musical spectacles were hilarious. 41 episodes, which would make a nifty little package, only no one cares.

Then again, if I saw it all again, maybe I’d feel like this NY Times writer, who bemoans how having his childhood TV shows, like F Troop available, have destroyed his nostalgic memories, specifically as it comes to special effects. (We own that DVD too, although I’m afraid to watch it. It was one of KC’s favorites as a kid, which seems to have been the best time to watch it.)

On the other hand, I’ve found bootlegs of other old favorites, like Probe and Automan, and I loved them, possibly because I kept my expectations low and was pleasantly surprised. I’d definitely buy those on real releases. I’d also like to see Head of the Class, because I’m still a Howard Hesseman fan.

What TV would you like to see on DVD that’s unlikely to show up?

29 Responses  
mark writes:  

I’d love to see ‘In the Heat of the Night’ on DVD, but I am not holding my breath.

Kelson writes:  

I’m still hoping for a set of VR.5, a weird little sci-fi/conspiracy show that Fox tried to pair with X-Files for half a season in the mid-1990s. Like many shows in the 90s, it ended the season on a cliffhanger — and since there was only the one season, it just *ended* there.

I’m still kind of annoyed that it was canceled so abruptly, but on the other hand it did free up Anthony Stewart Head to play Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so in the long run, it’s probably just as well that it was.

Still…no DVDs.

Anthony writes:  

My choices (mostly cartoons, yes)
– The early 90s Back to the Future animated series (2 seasons totalling 26 episodes)
– The final volume of Animaniacs
– The Bill and Ted cartoon (both seasons) and the short-lived live action series
– The rest of the Flintstones spinoffs

Might come up with more later…

Cole Moore Odell writes:  

Only one season of St. Elsewhere has made it to DVD so far. There were rumors that all six seasons might be released in a giant complete series set sometime this year, but 2009 has just about come and gone with no sign of it.

Johnny Bacardi writes:  

Two come immediately to mind:

Strange Luck, another 90s Fox show that starred D.B. Sweeney and Frances Fisher, and 1971’s Bearcats!, about a couple of soldiers of fortune that tooled around in the Old West in a Stutz Bearcat. It didn’t even last a full season, but I enjoyed it immensely at age 11…

Johanna writes:  

What a neat range of fan-remembered shows. I hadn’t realized that they didn’t complete Animaniacs. And Cole, KC’s a big fan of St. Elsewhere too. I think, like Hill Street Blues, it was incredibly significant in its day but doesn’t necessarily hold up to rewatching now.

David Oakes writes:  

Looking at IMDb, I am struck by just how many Saturday Morning cartoons have already been put out – amny as complete sets – and yet I was totally unaware.

But after votes for Probe and Automan as well, my heart belongs to Gemini Man. (Which according to IMDB, only showed half it’s eps. Along with “WKRP with the real music” and “A complete Superfriends”, I think of the things I want most are just to see the rest of what is out there, like “Anything”. Or things like “Max Headroom” in a format that they are still making players for…)

“Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place”? “Doctor Doctor”? It’s like picking at a scab that hasn’t healed in 30 years…

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

Wow. I can’t believe someone beat me to VR.5 already. (Penn Gilette had a cameo in the pilot, remember. And Will Patton was a regular.) It was my entry into online fandom. I learned a lot from it. And the soundtrack to that show was my first CD purchase. They did release the series to VHS, but used crappy music. Damned music clearance issues!

So, how about that Richard Dean Anderson series from the earliest days of UPN. “Legend,” was it? Or, even better: Time Traxx! They advertised on the back
covers of DC Comics for a time.

Johanna writes:  

Oooh, yeah! Real WKRP and Max Headroom would be must-buys for me.

Kelson writes:  

I can’t believe I forgot to mention that final Animaniacs volume!

David Oakes writes:  

The thread is making me look back in wonder. “Lazarus Man”, “Nowhere Man”, “Square Pegs” – all out on DVD, all completely under my radar.

But still no “Timecop”. (The series, you philistines!) And Courtney Cox-Arquette continues to supress “Misfits of Science”. Will no one rid me of this troublesome Friend?

Jay Faerber writes:  

I’m still holding out hope for SPENSER: FOR HIRE, especially when I see so many vastly inferior (in my opinion, at least) detective shows (like VEGA$ and MATT HOUSTON) getting the DVD treatment. Plus, the Spenser character is still alive in the popular novels of Robert B. Parker, so you’d think there’s a built-in audience for it. Go figure.

Anthony writes:  

Yeah, for some reason, they didn’t bother releasing the final volume of Animaniacs, instead opting to release two sets so far of “Tiny Toon Adventures”. Hope Tiny Toons gets finished as well…

Guessing the Bill and Ted live-action TV show would just require two discs, tops…

Haven’t seen Time Traxx in years!

James Schee writes:  

Ooh Strange Luck with DB Sweeney would be awesome. Especially since I never got to see the final episode! (dang the days before Tivo/DVR)

My holy grail though has always been Herman’s Head. Incredible characters, stories and just series. Was probably a bit ahead of its time for some of its (then) considered racy storylines at times.

Chad writes:  

It is a crime that The Larry Sanders Show isn’t available in its complete form. Given that Garry Shandling released that Best Of compilation DVD a few years back, I have little hope of seeing this anytime soon. Which, again, is a crime.

And I’ll second the calls for WKRP in its original form.

Johnny B writes:  

Totally agree about Larry Sanders. HBO is usually pretty good about getting its series out on DVD, must be rights or licensing issues.

Jim Kosmicki writes:  

Now and Again – my first experience with Dennis Haysbert where John Goodman dies and has his brain put in the body of Eric Close – it had a serialized storyline about a crazy Japanese scientist trying to release a toxin using eggs as the “bombs.” It was very very good.

I’d love to have the final three seasons of Green Acres released – this show holds up to childhood nostalgia – in fact I probably enjoy it more now than then, as I get more of the surreal and inferential humor.

i still can’t believe someone hasn’t put out Q.E.D with Sam Waterson’s popularity in Law & Order.

Johanna writes:  

Oh, gracious! QED! I barely remember that — I’d like to see it again.

Johanna writes:  

David, I got a chance to watch some Two Guys and a Girl recently, and there was one Halloween episode in particular that should be on disc just for fans. Nathan Fillion’s girlfriend gets her brain swapped with Ryan Reynolds’ character, so there’s this one scene where the two guys almost kiss. Squee!

Guy Smiley writes:  

Fourth season of Mad About You. I was a huge fan of that show, and Sony has released the first three seasons and a “best of” set a good while ago, but no fourth.

That fourth season did this relatively groundbreaking thing for a sitcom where it told one long story about the breakdown of a marriage, culminating in a multi-part finale that was more drama than comedy, and it did it all so well. Plus there was the ep that set up that storyline, a dream sequence guest starring half the cast of Laugh-In, doing the party scene bit. Why can’t I have this, gods of DVD?

~chris writes:  

Ditto on VR.5 (and Anthony Stewart Head), Max Headroom, and Spenser: For Hire (Avery Brooks was Hawk! And it could be promoted to viewers of the Jesse Stone movies.)

Another woefully incomplete offering is Knots Landing, my favorite show of the 1980s. Only the first two seasons are on DVD… it’s the vicious cycle you mention.

Dwight Williams writes:  

Power Play, Once a Thief(the series, not just the pilot movie!), North of 60…a tonne of CanCon TV gems I want to see getting into the stores.

You’d think that if we can get Bizarre

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

Ok, two more obscure ones I just thought of:

“Orleans” – After VR.5, one of the show’s creators did this series with Larry Hagmann. As I recall, it may have even aired letterboxed, which wasn’t yet common like it is today.

“Spy Game” – Had to look this one up on Wikipedia. Didn’t realize Sam Raimi was behind it. Only lasted 13 episodes. 90s spy comedy/drama.

I think I have episodes of both shows sitting on VHS tapes somewhere.

Evan Meadow writes:  

To David Oakes:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the only Superfriends left to be released is the 2nd half of the god awful Wendy/Marvin/Wonder Dog season since the first half came out earlier this week and I picked it up.

Unless there’s more of those 10 minute episodes floating around out there I think WB has actually gotten to all of the SF cartoons.

David Oakes writes:  

I have no doubt that you are correct. The only thing that got me through this little exercize in schadenfrude was the fact that a lot of stuff I wished had been released had been released, I just didn’t know about it.

But half a season? Who releases half a season?

(Still better than it used to be, when “kids” shows would be put out four – or even two! – episodes per disk…)

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

David – That’s Walmart/Best Buy’s fault. They see that DVD sets only sell in big numbers at a certain price point. If you go past $40 or so for a boxed set, sales fall through the floor. So, to get a smaller price point, they release a half season under that magical number (I think it’s about $40, but I might be off) so that they can sell them a second thing a few months later. In the end, it costs the same if not more, but those stupid consumers think they’re getting a deal.

Kelson writes:  

On the plus side, half-season releases for new shows means that the DVDs come out faster, especially if the season is actually being shown in two solid chunks with a big gap in the middle, the way SciFi tends to. Assuming, of course, that the studio and network have the sense to release the first half of the season on DVD before the second half starts, giving potential new viewers a chance to catch up.

But yeah, for old shows? It makes no sense at all from the audience’s perspective.

Steely Dan writes:  

I’m waiting for the rest of “Newhart” to come out.


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