The Golden Age is Over!

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Mark To, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. Mark To

    Mark To Supporting Actor

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    Some examples which really burn me up:

    DVD releases: It is now becomming clear that the "Golden Era" is over and we are starting to see more and more shows issued in cut, syndication form because that is what is available on the most convenient format and won't incure additional transfer costs. Cases in point: Alf, Branded and the most recent one, Make Room for Daddy, with episodes timing out at under 22 minutes for a 50s show. Yet no company, big or small, would even think of releasing a movie that had been cut for television. So now you have the conundrum of if a show is already on tape but cut, will the expense of remastering be justified by the additional sales. Yet, if its put out cut, who will want it?

    Television: We have had for many years now (although still not on my horrid cable system) Turner Classic Movies, showing 24 hours a day movies from all eras. Many of these are obscure, unknown and very old. But all are shown complete, uncut and uninterupted. Yet we have no such outlet for television. Older, more obscure shows, many of them worthwhile, are left to languish in the studios vaults forever. TV Land is the viewing equivalent of Oldies radio - take the most popular 1% and play it to death, over and over again and ignore the other 99%. Yet even when an older show does get resurrected, such as Johnny Staccato on the soon to be demolished Trio network, it will be severely edited or as Trio does, have a crawl on the bottom of the screen throughout the entire program. Again, things that no network would ever consider doing to a movie. Or the Hallmark channel, which does so much cutting for commercials, that over 25% of a program's content is chopped out. One hour shows from the 50s and 60s, which originally ran about 51+ minutes are sliced to under 40 minutes. I'm not saying that these networks don't have a right to make money but what I am lamenting is the fact that there are no outlets to see these shows uncut. Why isn't there a Turner Classic Television? They certainly have the library for it. Fox Movie Channel but yet no Fox Television Channel. I realize there are many crappy old TV shows but there are also many crappy old movies too. Warner, Fox, Sony, Universal and especially Paramount certainly have massive amounts of product that could be used for a TV only network. I know that original ideas are scarce in this business but what if there was a 24 hour, commercial free, TV-only network? I would gladly pay for that. Forget TV Land, that would be TV Paradise.
     
  2. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Kind of long post but I think it hits every question Mark asked.

    I think this is an interesting topic to discuss and I have a few points to make.

    First, when looking at the treatment of film vs. television when it comes to DVD releases, the first thing that goes a long way to explaining why what happens, happens is this.

    Movies on DVD sell better than TV on DVD.
    Simpsons season 1 has sold 2.35 million copies since September 2001.
    Finding Nemo sold 6.4 million units on DVD, its first day of release.

    I think that it is not a stretch to also say that a large number of catalog films sell better than TV Box Sets of any era.

    Now that we know that movies sell better than television shows, we should look for reasons why this is the case.

    Pricing is definitely a part of it. A newly released movie to DVD whether it be fresh from the theaters, or from a studio’s massive back catalog is probably going to cost less than your television box set…whether the show be as current as Friends, or as old as Make Room for Daddy.

    Specialness. There is something special about finally being able to watch a favorite film in the privacy of your own home whenever you want, that does not exist with television. This has to do with the fact that unlike a lot of TV shows, films are not sindicated and available…every day.

    I’m sure that there are other reasons for why they sell better than TV releases, but those are a couple of the big ones for me. If you don’t like my example of Simpsons Vs. Nemo, fine just look at the weekly sales charts and count the number of movies that make that list, and the units sold. Then consider how many TV box sets have been able to crack the million unit mark.

    Now the second point is treatment of these properties. I’d say that all things considered television shows on DVD are treated with a lot of respect.

    Using edited episodes of these properties.
    Look at the sticky thread at the top of this forum, and count the number of shows that have edits of some kind. Consider that not all of these were released in the past year, and then try and estimate how many box sets are available for TV on DVD. The edited ones still make up a fraction of the overall number.

    So, ok sometimes sindication prints are used. Why doesn’t this happen with movies? I think a large part of it can be explained by awareness. When people watch a show as it first airs on the networks, and then watch that same episode in sindication they are probably not even aware that more has been removed from the episode. Not everyone is interested in keeping track of the run time of each episode, and in a lot of cases since it may have been a considerable amount of time between first viewing and first sindicated viewing they aren’t likely to remember something that was cut.
    The same can not be said when a movie is shown with commercial interruption. People are more aware of the fact that films are edited for television either for length or content or what have you. I think that this awareness would make it harder for a studio to slip an edited for television version of a film on to the market.
    Another part of this scenario is that for most films that hit theaters in this day and age, their home video release comes months and months if not a year or more before they even see the light of day on broadcast television.

    Another point on the treatment of films vs. television on DVD.

    TV shows may be edited, but movie releases have problems of their own that TV shows do not.

    First off, is that movies more than television are subjected to releases that are modified aspect ratio releases. When something meant to be seen in widescreen is released in foolscreen, a lot of picture is sacrificed. So even if the run time is the same, people would still argue that the movie has been compromised by the loss of picture that was intended to be viewed. Take a straw poll at HTF and find out how many people have ever been excited to find that a favorite film was finally hitting DVD, and saw it turn to disappointment when they found out the release was MAR.
    This doesn’t happen very often with TV on DVD.

    You will also find that there are segments of film that are treated like old TV shows in terms of releases. Many lament that more silent films are not available on DVD, because the studios fear that silent films might not sell very well.

    Something else that plagues film releases that you don’t see a lot of in TV releases is double or triple dipping. You have a film released barebones…then a few months later you’ve got the superbit version without any extras but with better picture quality…then you have the 2 disc edition…then the superbit deluxe edition…and then a few years down the road an anniversary edition. You have director’s cuts, unrated versions, and so on and so forth.

    Finally on the treatment issue, not every film receives top notch restoration. For every complaint you have about an edited TV box set, there are just as many complaints if not moreso for films that have poor transfers or audio problems.

    So in a lot of ways, TV shows get treated pretty well, and not every movie receives outstanding treatment.

    The last point on DVD releases is that the bad ones always get the attention. We’ve seen a lot of threads about edited episodes for whatever reason, and yet there are still a lot of quality sets being produced. The edits get more attention than the great sets do, thus helping to spread a falsehood that more is being done wrong than right.
    The people that are not happy, always make more noise than the people that are satisfied. The Dick Van Dyke releases are great releases, but less time is spent talking about how great they are than is spent talking about edits to 5 episodes of Ren and Stimpy. Its really not fair, but that’s how it works because again the happy people make less noise than the unhappy.

    The discussion of the TV Network that Mark talked about in his post is a good topic also but is better for the TV and HDTV programming section.
     
  3. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    TV shows IMO are doing pretty good for the most part on DVD, IMO, especially now that Universal is moving forward at last with the recent Night Gallery and Columbo releases and if it leads to the full run for both then I will have more reason to feel good about the trends (of course since several of my all time favorite shows of all time are already out on DVD in their full runs like Van Dyke and Battlestar Galactica, I admittedly have less reason to be annoyed than others with the current state of releases).

    To me, what is more unfortunate is how so many great made for television movies of the 60s to 80s may never see the light of day in a quality DVD release because that IMO is the kind of property that gets even less respect than TV shows. Consider how fine TV-movies of the 80s like "Rehearsal For Murder" and "The Last Days Of Patton" only make it on cheap $4 drug store quality releases. Or in other instances, good TV-movies that had edited overseas theatrical releases only make it to DVD in those edited versions (1979's "SOS Titanic") With that kind of track record, I can probably forget about seeing good restored versions of the 1966 Rod Serling scripted "The Doomsday Flight" or James Earl Jones as the President in 1972's "The Man" become available.

    Never mind a TV channel, what I'd like to see is more attention paid to great TV movies of the past where the quality was as good as many a theatrical movie of the day.
     
  4. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I agree that some people just don't realize that the shows get cut down in reruns, and thus take this fact for granted. I didn't know this until The Simpsons entered syndication, and it now sickens me. I cannot watch any show that has been edited in such a fashion, and that's why I didn't buy ALF on DVD.

    Plus, for older shows, the people who knew what was cut and if it still exists, and if so where, may be dead.

    And Eric, TV movies get a pretty poor reputation these days; they all get lumped into Diseases-of-the-Week, Battered spouse sagas, Preachy and simplistic social dramas that date quickly, historical or celebrity bios that leave out numerous facts (the 96-minute rule) etc. If any of them are any good in spite of their TV movie trappings, they are still branded as mere TV movies and, therefore, unworthy of recognition except to fill time on Lifetime Movie Network.
     
  5. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    Standards for TV movies were different in the old days, though. That's why I put the cut-off point of 60s to 80s. Today, they are indeed quite worthless, but that was not the case back then. The TV-movies I mentioned and other worthy titles like "Raid On Entebbe" would be a lot more appropriate for DVD then many theatrical titles.
     
  6. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

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    You all took the words out of my mouth... It is a shame when certain shows are cut and not fixed when put on DVD... Hopefully execs will understand that we are paying for what we assume is from the master copy, and not something altered.

    Ryan
     
  7. LanieParker

    LanieParker Supporting Actor

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    I really hope that when it comes time to finally release the good ones, like, Roseanne and The Wonder Years, they will refrain from cutting those to pieces.

    Does anyone here know if those were cut for sindication? Or is that pretty standard for sindicated shows?
     
  8. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Supporting Actor

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    Unless you really are a diehard fan of a show and you have originals on tape, most likely you aren't going to know what has been cut and with older shows (pre-1970s), who knows what condition the original masters are in if they even exist.

    Make Room For Daddy was only $16 so I really didn't expect them to go back and remaster everything for that price.

    Paul
     
  9. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Its standard and is done because of, and in order to insert more commercials. The older the show, the more that is cut for sindication now days because the older shows ran for like 25/26 minutes per half hour and newer shows are down in the 22/23 minute range...and that is just for their original airings...sindication can bring it down to 21 minutes or so...so for an older show that could mean as much as 5 minutes worth of missing material.

    Fortunately, and I say this again the use of these episodes is to me still the acception and not the rule. However, if we are not diligent about noticing such things and letting the studios know in the right way why, then we leave ourselves open to see this become an even more common practice.

    Also Lanie, I wouldn't hold my breath for Wonder Years, its a music clearance nightmare. So even if that did make it to DVD, it might not necessarily have all of its music in tact. Its ashame really because I'd love both that and WKRP in Cincinnati and will probably strike out on both.

    But, I mention music rights as an issue because this it seems is something that is less of a problem for movies than it is for TV shows, even older movies. I don't know when films started using contemporary songs in adition to original scores, or even if that has anything to do with it. I don't know maybe the lawyers were a bit more forward thinking for movies than TV shows, and built in home video consideration in to the original contract that secured them the rights to the music. You rarely ever hear of a film being held up from seeing a release because of music rights problems.
     
  10. Mark To

    Mark To Supporting Actor

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    The early promise of TV on DVD seems to have been short-lived. The idea of complete, digitally remastered shows from the original 35mm fine grain negatives. It has quickly degenerated into the get out fast in whatever is easiest to release mode. Whereas just a couple of years ago the screwed up releases were the exception, now they seem to be the rule. It's not even just relegated to older shows anymore. Even recent shows like Alf are being put out in cut, syndication versions. Why, because its easier and cheaper. And its only getting worse. Branded, 22 minute episodes that look like VHS quality. Make Room for Daddy, 21:30 episodes without opening credits. The episodes I have taped off mid-80s syndication are more complete. How sad. Combat, which should run over 50 minutes, timesped to 46:30 or less. It seems that the only work they want to put into these shows is not to make sure they are complete and look good but to cut the music out so they don't have to pay fees. Rather than follow the model set by the Dick Van Dyke show, the entire run, remastered, complete with great extras, the attitude now seems to be, "get it out cheap in whatever form is convenient." I understand the feeling that people think they should take what they can get but if you accept shit you will always get shit. The only way to send a message is to boycott inferior releases. No way would they pull this crap with movies.
     
  11. Roman-K

    Roman-K Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark,
    Look at house construction nowadays, it's crap. 100 years ago houses were built to last, but the lur of quick profits ended the. The bottom line is consumers accepting inferior products as the norm. Sadly there are few people willing to make a stand to make a difference. Till this changes we will keep being ripped off.
     
  12. Amy Mormino

    Amy Mormino Supporting Actor

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    I don't think that all hope is gone for quality TV releases. In the film DVD front, older movies are being treated with more respect by a number of studios than ever before and it is somewhat widely acknowledged that the widescreen/OAR format has won the day over fullscreen/pan and scan. If consumers become more informed about things like sydnicated cuts over original cuts, hopefully these practices will stop.
     
  13. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I agree with Amy, and would add that while we have seen a few mishandled releases in recent time, it is still more of an acception than it is a rule.
     
  14. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    As long as they don't fuck up pending releases of The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Murder, She Wrote they can do what they want to the rest. haha...just kidding. I really hope studios will understand the value of preserving the episodes in their entirety. Restoration isn't a big deal to me, as is extras, but I must admit, they sure do sweetin' the deal. As long as they are as good or better looking than what we see on TV, and complete, that's fine with me. Although, it would be nice if every release is as nice as TMTMS: Season One, but we all know what happened there.

    Andy
     
  15. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Screenwriter

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    Don't give up hope. I am disappointed that Lost In Space was released without restoration, with video scan lines, and occassional bleeding colors, a far cry from the original Star Trek DVD set. However, a few years ago they also released the original Twilight Zone episodes in sets that used pretty average to bad unrestored prints as the source, and now finally they are releasing the entire series totally restored with high-definition masters. So if there's enough feedback by potential customers, some companies may listen.
     
  16. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    Sadly, people bitch much more loudly about prices than they do about quality. The upcoming Twilight Zone sets are a great example of this disturbing phenomenon. I was (and still am) ecstatic at the news, but many others said they'd skip it because of the cost. C'mon folks! If you want restoration and remastering, be willing to pay for it! If you want the lowest possible price, be prepared to accept syndication edits and subpar image quality.
     
  17. Mark To

    Mark To Supporting Actor

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    I'm not worried about Twilight Zone, Star Trek, I Love Lucy and all of the well-known, super popular shows. Its the other 99% of shows, like Lost in Space, that aren't 100,000+ sellers where they are cheaping out.
     
  18. Joseph Miller

    Joseph Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with Mark.

    I wanted that "Make Room for Daddy" set as much as anyone on Earth, but I don't want it at all now.

    If they lose sales from the people who want it the most, what's left?

    They probably didn't want the expense of restoration -- but you can only LOSE sales by releasing cut prints, not gain sales. Is there anyone in the world who would say, "These are UNCUT? Ew, I don't want them!" Of course not.

    The Borders near me didn't get the "Make Room for Daddy" set. All of a sudden, one appeared on the shelf. I'm assuming someone had ordered it, then read (maybe here!) that it's cut syndication prints, then didn't bother to pick it up -- so it's sitting on the shelf, where it's likely to remain.
     
  19. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Yes, but the studio is betting that the number of lost sales won't equal or exceed the savings of non-restoration.

    If they can save $5M now on restoration costs, they're more than willing to accept $4M in lost sales. That leaves $1M still in their pocket.
     
  20. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Supporting Actor

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    Make Room for Daddy was priced at $16 for six DVDs at Deep Discount. Maybe they didn't think that there would be a much interest in a show that hasn't been in syndication for close to fifteen years now and they priced what they had at a low cost and hoped that what they had sold.

    How can they afford to do an Dick Van Dyke Show like release when Dick Van Dyke has a lot more exposure from NICK at Night in recent years? If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at people who owned this show which didn't get it in syndication like they should have.

    Paul
     

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