Where's Lassie/Dennis the Menace?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by MattPeriolat, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    I'm curious on these two shoes as my fiance and I were quite fond of the repeats on Nickelodeon when we were growing up and she asks about Dennis every time I bring up classic television.

    So, what's the deal? Are there rights issues I may not be aware of? I also know Lassie ran for quite a while and it might be a bit intimidating to try and do season sets, especially in this economy.

    I'm just thinking both shows could still entertain kids today the way they entertained kids in their heyday. If not season sets, maybe new best-of collections to see if there's any interest.
     
  2. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    Two of my childhood favorites, too. As for "Dennis the Menace," that's Sony, and they have no interest in classic TV anymore, so unless they license it out, it looks like it won't happen .... until the age when everything's available via download, if that age ever comes.

    These shows followed one another on network TV, too. "Lassie" was on at 7 EST on CBS, and "Dennis" at 7:30, 1959-63. Those would be the middle four of the six "Timmy" seasons with June Lockhart as the mother. (For Timmy's first season, Cloris Leachman was the mother.)
     
  3. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    From my watching Lassie, I only recall the Lockhart/Reiley/Provost family unit, so I'm interested to see the other groupings and how good those shows were.

    Should have suspected Sony's hand behind the delay of another show. Hate to sound like a broken record, but maybe someone should ask Shout! if they might be willing to take a crack at this. Like I said last night, I really think both would sell well, especially marketed toward families.
     
  4. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    For those of us who remember these shows, they don't seem old.

    But they're half a century old now. In 1959, when I was a kid, if anyone mentioned 1909, it sounded incredibly ancient to me. And that's how 1959 sounds to kids now. So it's more than likely that most kids now won't have anything to do with these shows, especially since they're in black and white.

    These will have to be marketed to us aging baby boomers.
     
  5. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    I'm one of those baby boomers who would gladly pick up one, if not both, of these shows. I haven't seen either in almost forty years.
     
  6. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Agreed, a split between boomers and kids so you get both markets.

    To their credit, Classic Media, who does have the rights to Lassie, has got close to 50 episodes out on DVD. I'd like to see more, maybe even a season set or two, but get the feeling sales haven't been too strong.

    As for Dennis, like I said earlier, someone needs to get a company like Shout! on this one. No reason this should be just molding in a vault somewhere since it IS a lot of fun after all.
     
  7. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Matt,

    I was the same way with Lassie back then. The only ones I remember were the same years with "Timmy"/Lockart years. I recently bought that LASSIE 50th ANNIVERSARY SET at Gary's recommendation. It's a great set with several episodes from each "Lassie" era. I watched the earlier "Jeff" years with Tommy Rettig & Jan Clayton and those episodes held up well for me and are very enjoyable. The set also includes the "Ranger" years and there's a crossover episode with the Lone Ranger included in the "Timmy" episode section. The DVD transfers are ok - nothing remastered in "stellar" quality but easily watchable for me.

    If you're a fan of the "Timmy" years for this show, you can't miss with the DVD set.
     
  8. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Depends on what happens with my birthday coming up in June. Lone Ranger is on my wishlist and if I end up scoring that, Lassie (yes, all that I can still get from Classic Media, since it is fairly cheap now) will be gifted to my fiance for her birthday in August.

    Other that, I'm sold on Lassie. I think I also need to poke around Mill Creek's releases to see if any other episodes are floating around out there.
     
  9. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    "Dennis the Menace" kind of "jumped the shark" during the series' run when some parents complained he was a bad role model for kids.

    After all, in the first episode, he goes to the movies by himself at night, and he's like 6 years old. Can you imagine that happening now? He'd never be seen again.

    Anyway, they changed the character into a good kid, trying to do good things, who was only a "menace" because often his plans didn't go right -- or he overdid things in his enthusiam. There was something a little sickening about that version of Dennis.

    I also much prefer the Jeff years on "Lassie" to the Timmy years, because --- well, there was something a little sickening about Timmy, too. Maybe it was those dimples.
     
  10. Statskeeper

    Statskeeper Second Unit

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    I'm not sure what shape the Dennis the Menace episodes are in, but a lot of the color Lassie episodes need major work. The last time they were on Discovery Kids (2-3 years ago) they were chopped up, sped up and had badly faded out color. It would be a major undertaking, not just because the total # of episodes, but also because the Lassie library has changed hands several times over the years. It's quite possible that the master elements don't exist, or are in the possession of someone who doesn't control DVD rights.

    As for me, I'm more a fan of the Timmy years. That's what I grew up watching in reruns. I never could get used to the various rangers or Jeff.
     
  11. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    I used to feel the same way, but now I think the Jeff episodes are the best ones.

    A lot of "Lassie" was directed by William Beaudine, who had the nickname William "One Shot" Beaudine, because he didn't like to do retakes.

    There's a scene where June Lockhart is driving Timmy in the car, and they're talking, and Jon Provost sneezes! You don't often see that in movies or filmed TV shows.

    I guess they knew old "One Shot" wouldn't call for a retake, so June said "Bless you!" and Jon said "Thank you" and they went right on with the scene.
     
  12. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Really surprises me that Classic Media hasn't at least tried a season set for Lassie, given people look back on it fondly, at least the "Timmy" years anyway. Still, 50 eps ain't bad and I'll be saving up for it among other things.

    Now, who wants to start throwing rocks at the windows at Sony with "We want Dennis!" written on them?

    Speaking in hyperbole of course.
     
  13. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Glad to have helped with that one, Jeff.

    I enjoyed all the eras of Lassie, but for straight sentimentality I have to say the Timmy years are the ones that can make me cry like a baby. I also love the emphasis on faith in God and prayer during the Timmy years. Just watch a couple of the Christmas-themed episodes during that era and you'll see this on display again and again. Great stuff when compared to today's utterly secular fare offered during the Holiday season. Sorry for the semi-rant, but this show really sticks out for me when it comes to that subject. There were few shows that featured faith like this one did, especially during the Timmy years.

    I'd love to see the DENNIS series released as well, but with Sony in charge I can't see it happening unless Shout or someone else comes along and rents it out. Sony certainly has no interest themselves.

    Gary "two great series that deserve season set releases" O.
     
  14. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    I had the chance to meet Jon “Timmy” Provost at a nostalgia show in Maryland last September and, of course, asked him about the series DVDs. He mentioned that he had responded to an online seller who had a large collection of “Lassie” episodes from the years that he was on the show. Well, it turned out that the episodes were dreadful looking and Mr. Provost had a difficult time getting his money back. He emphatically told me that after that experience, the Classic Media set was the only way to go for “Lassie” on DVD, despite the limited number of episodes.

    The Official Jon Provost Website
     
  15. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    I'm surprised about the pro-Timmy, anti-Jeff sentiment here. I think the Jeff episodes are superior in all ways.

    It also made zero sense that Jeff would give his very beloved and wonderful dog to another little boy. I never got over that. I always felt as if Timmy "stole" Lassie from poor Jeff.
     
  16. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Is the set still available ? I forget was the show just called Lassie and Then Timmy and Lassie for syndication...
     
  17. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Joe, I don't think anyone has expressed an "anti-Jeff sentiment" at all. I enjoy those years as much as the next guy. Just because someone says they liked the Timmy years better doesn't mean they are anti-Jeff.

    Gary "the big thing is that the Timmy years have been the most rerun and therefore most people are more familiar with that era - it's not a slam on the earlier Jeff years at all" O.
     
  18. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    I grew up watching Timmy. The Jeff episodes were syndicated then, using the name "Jeff's Collie."

    I developed a prejudice against them, for some reason.

    When I saw them later, all grown up and presumably more discriminating, I saw that the Jeff episodes were better written, directed and acted. There are some really classic episodes in those three+ years. (Jeff and Timmy were both in the show during the first part of the fourth season, and then Jeff said goodbye and Timmy took over.)
     
  19. skeffington

    skeffington Auditioning

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    I absolutely love Lassie. TV Land Canada airs two episodes every weekday and I have to say that the first ten seasons are just wonderful. Once Corey Stuart has custody of Lassie the show's charm and quality of writing decline drastically but the show rebounds for me when Bob and Scott become her guardians. I even like the 17th season (the last one on CBS) with Lassie on her own Littlest Hobo-style though that premise lacks credibility. The final two syndication years with Lassie residing at the home for boys is so-so.

    When the Jeff episodes air, those are my favorite and likewise the Timmy years though I will admit that Timmy's somewhat annoying in his first season (the show's fourth) due to his baby-ish voice.

    I think all four actors who played the Martin parents are wonderful and I can't praise George Cleveland and Jan Clayton (Gramps and Ellen Miller) highly enough. The "Transition" episode is very sad because not only is Cleveland's death incorporated in to the show but we lose Jeff and Ellen as well.

    I think the show's first ten seasons are a near perfect blend of sentiment, adventure, a high regard for nature (especially during the Timmy years) and camp. It really is something special.
     

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