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Why short-run recent shows but not older shows?

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#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark To

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Posted May 02 2004 - 06:10 PM

I'm kind of amazed that recent failed shows are making it to DVD but none of the "failed" shows from the 60s or 70s. Obviously I'm partial to that era and IMO average shows from then are better than so-called good shows now. But the thing that gets overlooked is that back then in the 3-network universe, there were more viewers watching shows that got cancelled than there are that watch "hits" now. A show in the 60s could pull 25 million viewers a week and still be cancelled for low ratings. I don't even think Top 10 shows now pull that many viewers. So if shows like Firefly and the like which couldn't even make a full season's run are getting released why not cancelled 60s shows which probably had 4 times as many viewers?

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Casey Trowbridg

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Posted May 02 2004 - 06:37 PM

Here are my guesses. 1. Shows that are more current have more public awareness. The reason is, that for a show that experienced its first TV run in the 60's, didn't make it in to sindication or on to nick at nite, many people, like all those born after the show's run will be unfamiliar with it. Even a few of the people that watched the show when it first aired would have it wiped from their memories due to the passage of time. But, a show like firefly for instance are fresher in the minds of more people. 2. Due to pricing, IMO it is more likely a person will blind buy an older movie than an older TV show. I'm more likely to buy a movie from the 60's that I know little or nothing about than a TV show from that same time period I know little or nothing about, because in all likelyhood the movie is going to be cheaper. 3. The studios don't have to spend time reacquainting a number of people to a more recent show because it is fresher in their minds. I don't think that the studios much care about educating the public on TV shows from the 60's when that show only ran for a year or 2, especially when they can announce a show like Sports Night that debuted in 1998 and ended in 2000 and have a lot of people go, Hey I remember that it was a good show. You can argue that if the studios made the public aware of these shows by releasing them for short runs on Nick or TVLand or something that more people would then buy the sets, and that is something with which I would probably agree. I think right now its just more likely that shorter run shows from this time that are more well remembered will sell better. TV ratings have very little to do with DVD sales IMO, witness Family Guy. Poor ratings on Fox and the top selling TV on DVD product last year. So the fact that some of these short series outdrew the numbers of the more current series has little to do with projecting sales IMO. Face it the older shows that will do the best are the ones that get heavy play in sindication like M*A*S*H, end up on nick at nite like Sanford and Son, or on other TV channels. Even that is no guarantee, just look at Mary Tyler Moore Show, audiences young and old knew of this show when it hit DVD because it was still on the air on Nick at Nite for a time, and due to a variety of factors it had poor sales on DVD. I don't know that my guesses are accurate or can even be proven or disproven but that's pretty much my theory.

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming



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Posted May 02 2004 - 07:33 PM

I'd also guess that it's easier and maybe cheaper to transfer to DVD. Newer shows will still be well catalogued, the masters are available and presumably in good condition, whereas old shows, they might not even know where the stuff is, and even if they find it, it might be in pretty awful shape. Given the demands of today's consumer, they'd either have to spend money to clean it up with no guarantee of making back their investment, or release it as-is and risk the ire of consumers. Also, modern TV contracts no doubt anticipate DVD releases, so music and other pesky clearances are probably taken care of, whereas an older show would require renegotiation -- even 80s stuff like Miami Vice is stuck in music clearance hell.

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Bert Greene

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Posted May 03 2004 - 08:21 AM

Obscurity notwithstanding, it does seem as though some short-lived old series would be ideal for done-in-one dvd-set treatment. A fine example would be "The Westerner" series, starring Brian Keith. I think it only had about 13 or 14 episodes, but it's quite memorable. There are also a few sitcoms that were critics' darlings, but never made it beyond a single season, like "He and She" and "My World and Welcome to it." And, a show like "Honey West" always seemed to have a mild cult following. "Men into Space" might appeal to sci-fi/old-time space fans. At least the half-hour shows might be cheap enough for potential blind buys, considering the prices on some recent sets. Anyway, nice to contemplate, even if the chances of such things remain fairly remote.

#5 of 16 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney



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Posted May 04 2004 - 01:47 AM

Like others have said, the reason most "short-run" releases are recent is due to them still being fresh in people's minds and, importantly, being fresh in the minds of the "key" (i.e. young) demographic. The older short-run shows that do get released are generally movie tie-ins (like Planet of the Apes) or are because they have a well-known star (The Richard Pryor Show). In addition, these examples were also considered to have attained "cult" status. That said, I'd really love to see more older short run series given a chance. I think the ones with a "cult" following have potential to sell decently. I'm all for Quark, Logan's Run and Automan, myself.

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Marty M

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Posted May 04 2004 - 02:09 AM

There is also the possibility a DVD release was negotiated when the series started. The older series may have too many "hoops to jump over" to be able get their series released to DVD
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#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Gary OS

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Posted May 04 2004 - 03:23 AM

Of all that has been said on this subject, I think it's painfully obvious that the "newer" shows (whether short running or long running) are being released at a greater pace because the core/target audience for dvds are teens and 20 somethings! And these folks generally like the shows they are currently watching, not older classics that had either short runs, like The Westerner, or longer runs, like Father Knows Best.

Now, I don't want to come off as complaining, even though I much prefer the older classics (you can have all the 90's and up shows you desire). This year as been very good, all things considered, to us "Classics" fans. We've already seen some great releases of older tv shows, and many more have been announced that, frankly, I didn't think we had a chance of seeing last year at this time. So I'm not bemoaning the still obvious slant toward newer shows being released because at least we are getting a few bones thrown our way.

Having said that, I'd be lying if I didn't mention the frustration this causes me from time to time. While many great classics have been released or are at least in the planning stages, there are many, many more to go. And the ratio of new shows to older shows is still way out of proportion! But, I imagine this is the way it's going to stay, because the fact is that most of your dvd buyers are younger people, and most of these younger people want the new shows - End of Discussion (unfortunately).

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#8 of 16 OFFLINE   David_Blackwell



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Posted May 04 2004 - 05:26 AM

I would love to see more of the short-lived shows of the 1990s see released on DVD. the thing that does amaze me about shows afrom the 1990s is how many 2 or 3 season shows remain unreleased on DVD. Older shows from the 1970s do have a big hurdle to get released due to all of the above comments made by other forum members. It is a sad reality, but I would liek to see the short-lived SHAFT TV series be released to DVD (a good choice since you have the movie series tie-in factor).
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#9 of 16 OFFLINE   ChrisRose


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Posted May 06 2004 - 12:53 PM

I think the studios underestimate kids/teens/20-somethings. Many of us *are* interested in older shows (and movies). I grew up on the classics. And there are many old shows I've only heard about and would love to see. (I know these aren't short-lived shows, but Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore Show ...blind buys for me. I'm hoping for the Donna Reed Show on DVD someday)

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Stephen Heath

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Posted May 06 2004 - 01:31 PM

On the positive side, sooner or later they will run out of newer shows and then will have nothing left to release but older shows Posted Image

Personally, I seem to want the "between" shows, a bunch from the late 70's early 80's, and everything else either seems to be older or newer, so I've got a long wait Posted Image

#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Wayne Bundrick

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Posted May 06 2004 - 04:19 PM

Furthermore, for these recently short-lived shows, this is the last chance for the show producers to make some money. They were hoping to last at least three seasons and then live forever in syndication, but if that doesn't happen, then they can make a DVD while the few fans they had are still grumbling that the show was cancelled, before they have to close the books on that show.
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#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Jeff_HR



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Posted May 07 2004 - 07:49 AM

Speak for yourself!! I remember older TV programs quite well.

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#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Mark To

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Posted May 07 2004 - 08:09 AM

Wouldn't the fact that something HASN'T been around make it more desirable? I'm not that big on modern TV but what I liked I've either recorded myself or my friend has on a satellite master. However, older shows I did not have the opportunity to record complete off-air. So bring on Honey West, T.H.E. Cat, He and She, Good Morning World, etc. Equalizer, Wiseguy, Moonlighting, I have just perfectly, thanks.

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   LizH


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Posted May 07 2004 - 08:30 AM

How does one account for shows such as "Harsh Realm" (which aired back in `99) getting a DVD release?

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Dan Rudolph

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Posted May 07 2004 - 09:14 AM

1999 was only 5 years ago. Anything made in the internet era probably has something of a fanbase that will drive sales. This doesn't work for older shows.
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#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Deb Walsh

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Posted May 07 2004 - 09:33 AM

Wasn't Harsh Realm Chris Carter's series? With X-Files finishing up and Millenium about to debut on DVD, maybe Harsh Realm is part of a package deal and that's how it got on the radar. It wouldn't surprise me to see that sort of thing happen - a production company's catalogue being addressed as a whole if one program proves successful. If get the feeling from Stephen J. Cannell's web site that something along those lines is likely to happen with his properties (which gives me hope that Greatest American Hero may someday see official release). It'll be interesting to see how players are defined in the coming years where TV on DVD is concerned. I think having a high-profile producer, creator, or star will be a factor, and some of these older shows who have no champion will be more likely to be left by the wayside.
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