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50s sitcoms - Buried Forever?

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#1 of 86 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted January 25 2008 - 07:22 PM

I was just thinking about how most of the popular sitcoms from this decade don't appear to have a prayer of getting released. I'm not talking about obscure, short-run series either but long running and successful shows that had a lot of syndication. If we can't get the rest of LITB, what chance do the rest of these shows have? Burns and Allen, People's Choice, Our Miss Brooks, Dobie Gillis, Life of Riley, Love The Bob, Private Secretary, The Ann Sothern Show, The Jack Benny Program, The Donna Reed Show, December Bride, Bilko, My Little Margie, The Gale Storm Show, Dennis the Menace, Bachelor Father. All shows that ran for years in syndication and now are completely cast aside. I'd say there might be a slim chance for something like Our Miss Brooks or December Bride, only because they are owned by Paramount. Forget Fox, Universal or Sony. Maybe a Universal show if someone has a hundred 16mm prints in their garage they can lend a company for elements but that's about it.

#2 of 86 OFFLINE   Bob Hug

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Posted January 26 2008 - 01:34 AM

Hank, I know many people don't like them but some of the public domain labels like Critics Choice and Alpha, among others, have at least offered some episodes from a number of these series. And, I don't know if they were PD episodes or not (I'm guessing they are), but VCI Entertainment has offered two 12-episode collections each of "My Little Margie," and "I Married Joan." But, yeah, I would agree that we're probably not going to see full season runs for most of these series at this point in time which is, for vintage sitcom fans, a real shame.

#3 of 86 OFFLINE   Gary OS

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Posted January 26 2008 - 02:58 AM

Unfortunately, I have to agree with both of you. And it really is startling because most of these shows were on in syndication through the 80's, if not into the 90's in some instances. Unbelievable how they literally have disappeared off the landscape. Unbelievable and sad. Gary "Hank's correct when he points out that if we can't finish LITB then these others have almost no prayer" O. P.S. Although not 50's sitcoms, I'd also add "My Three Sons" and "The Patty Duke Show" to this list.
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#4 of 86 OFFLINE   Joe Lugoff

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Posted January 26 2008 - 03:08 AM

My only hope ... and they better hurry, because I'm not getting any younger ... is that some day everything will be made available online. Actually, a lot of this stuff IS available online, if you know where to look and have time and patience to make your own DVDs. I found the complete first season of "My Three Sons" the other day, but I don't have a DVD burner.

#5 of 86 OFFLINE   Jeff*H


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Posted January 26 2008 - 04:04 AM

Some of the shows you mentioned are available to view online for free via streaming video (they are public domain). There may at least be a few you haven't seen before hopefully.

TV4u - Your source for online classic television
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#6 of 86 OFFLINE   Zardon



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Posted January 26 2008 - 04:06 AM

I have the 50th anniversary set of The Phil Silvers Show (even though it was 51 years when it came out in 2006), and the 18 episodes on that "Best Of" collection were very well-done. Audio commentaries by series regulars Mickey Freeman and Allan Melvin, Army technical advisor / actor George Kennedy, and guests Dick Van Dyke and Larry Storch made it worth buying. Posted ImagePosted Image

#7 of 86 OFFLINE   Mark Talmadge

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Posted January 26 2008 - 04:18 AM

I doubt we'll ever see those shows on home video. As time grows longer, the shows on magnetic tape will cause these shows to be lost forever. Just look at what Lucas had to go through with the first Star Wars movie, Episode 4, they had to go back and restore the original film when they did the first transfer to THX back in the nineties otherwise Lucas would have lost the original masters of the film forever. The same can be said for those older television shows and not all shows will be placed on home video because the studios deliberately take too long in releasing television shows to DVD. I think they should contract that work out to other companies and then allow other companies to release them such as Image, BCI or even Anchor Bay.

#8 of 86 OFFLINE   MatthewA


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Posted January 26 2008 - 03:18 PM

There were no sitcoms done on tape prior to "All in the Family." All the 1950s sitcoms are on film either by being shot that way or via kinescopes. Film has proven to be far more resilient than tape.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.

#9 of 86 OFFLINE   Elena S

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Posted January 26 2008 - 03:46 PM

A very sickening thought, indeed. There is no respect for the shows and artists that were pioneers of television. At least no respect in the heads of studios.

#10 of 86 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted January 26 2008 - 05:47 PM

I know about the VCI sets but something like MLM is such a good show that I'm really not content with 24 episodes of a run of 125. Don't get me wrong, I have VHS tapes of a large amount of all of those shows but they are from the days of stations running old beat up 16mm prints and some of the stuff they aired just looks horrible. I would really love a full run of Dobie Gillis and Bilko, which to me were 2 of the greatest sitcoms of all time. I know Dobie has no chance, being owned by Fox but I was surprised that Paramount didn't come through with season sets on Bilko. But unlike the other majors, which are useless, there is still hope Paramount might do something more. Other than them, the other majors might as well be out of the DVD business, as far as I'm concerned.

#11 of 86 OFFLINE   ChrisCook



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Posted January 27 2008 - 04:25 AM

Hank, you are partially right about "Dobie". However, Fox was looking at releasing this sitcom, but it is the Max Schulman estate that is standing in the way. It's a licensing issue, and the estate is asking a ridiculously amount of money. The fact is, "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" is already to go. The series has been remastered and all Fox has to do is digitally transfer them to DVD and get Dwayne Hickman (who said last year that he feels hopeful we'll see a release at some point though it might take awhile), etc. involved for bonus materials. I haven't heard if anything has changed since last year. The best we could hope for is continuing to voice to Fox that we want the entire series on DVD (and to not give it up on it either), and hopefully both the studio and the estate will continue to work this situation out, but pressure from fans might help. There's already a demand for this. And as you said, it's one of the greatest sitcoms every made.

#12 of 86 OFFLINE   Zardon



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Posted January 27 2008 - 05:51 AM

Some first season Dobie Gillis episodes were circulating on the torrent websites recently, but whoever was uploading them stopped after the tenth episode.

#13 of 86 OFFLINE   ChrisCook



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Posted January 27 2008 - 07:20 AM

It probably won't be long before Fox asks to remove these from YouTube, but I found these very cool clips from "Dobie":

YouTube - Dobie Gillis opening
YouTube - Dobie Gillis closing
YouTube - Dobie Gillis closing 2

#14 of 86 OFFLINE   ChrisCook



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Posted January 27 2008 - 07:24 AM

Also, Movies Unlimited is selling compilations of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" last time I checked.

#15 of 86 OFFLINE   Bob Hug

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Posted January 28 2008 - 12:44 AM

Jeff*H, thank you for that link! I was especially happy to see a section devoted to a few of the shows from the long defunct DuMont Network. Much of that network's programming has been lost forever, so when some episodes from DuMont surface, it's good news. For those interested in the DuMont Network, Clark Ingram has a terrific site:

The DuMont Television Network

The section on programming, "Channel 5," will make anyone interested in the preservation of television programming sick to their stomach.

#16 of 86 OFFLINE   michael_ks



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Posted January 28 2008 - 01:44 AM

What a fantastic source for classic tv. Thanks from me too, Jeff. I'm having a lot of fun right now with "Dangerous Assignment".

#17 of 86 OFFLINE   Jefferson


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Posted January 28 2008 - 10:27 AM

Great thread, here. I have had the same worries. Although I'm only (hee, ONLY) 42 years old this year, my greatest memories are of reruns of these great black and white series...especially the lineup on the old CBN cable network; BURNS AND ALLEN, I MARRIED JOAN, JACK BENNY, DOBIE GILLIS, etc. I loved the Nick at Nite programming of the 90's, and feared that...with my grandparents and parents generation dying out, these would all disappear.

#18 of 86 OFFLINE   Jack Platt

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Posted January 29 2008 - 09:08 PM

How many of these lesser 50's shows are even still known to exist? Tragically, as many of you know, hundreds of Game Shows, TV Series, late-night talk shows, westerns, comedies and even some movies were destroyed or erased over because most networks did not realize at that time, the marquee value in preserving many of these classic shows. In most cases, they were shown once, and that was it. Even one rerun was an extreme rarity. Jack

#19 of 86 OFFLINE   Zardon



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Posted January 30 2008 - 01:43 AM

I want to know why ABC didn't save the 1970s version of Password? Game Show Network has the tapes of the 1960s original NBC Password (which they don't even air anymore) and the 1979-1982 Password Plus (from NBC), but the in-between series is impossible to find.

#20 of 86 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted January 30 2008 - 04:41 AM

Because it's ABC and they were a cheapskate network. They also erased the great game show Split Second which aired back-to-back with Password. That was the whole idea of using videotape, that it could be used over and over. BTW, isn't it just the nighttime version of Password from the 60s that exists? Do they have the daytimes as well? I didn't think they did. But let's not heap too much praise on NBC because there are many classic game shows from that era that were wiped as well, like Match Game, Say When, Concentration and Jeopardy. All of those only exist in a very few saved kinescopes or tapes.

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