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Strange behaviour of TV companies


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#1 of 38 Glenn Curtis

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Posted April 03 2009 - 12:23 AM

I guess I must be naiive but I am a bit perplexed with the behaviour of the TV rights holders of TV shows.

What has prompted this is the attrocious state of Rhoda with incomplete prints and poor quality video and sound.

I've raised a separate thread because the issue relates to any TV property; Rhoda is just one example.

If I owned TV shows such as Rhoda, Lou Grant, Hawaii Five-O, The Fugitive etc; I would have thought it would have been in my own best interest to have decent complete prints available for sale to TV stations around the world.

With more and more channels moving to High Definition, surely you would want to be able to sell something in high quality. What TV station would buy a series in attrocious unbroadcastable quality?

At least CBS/Paramount (for all their faults) are remastering everything they can in HD. In addition Star Trek was produced in HD in both full and syndicated versions.

I realise that something like Rhoda does not have the same fan base and popularity as Star Trek but surely no station would want to buy it in its current state; I am not talking about the DVD release here; just its sellability on the market.

#2 of 38 Bob Hug

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Posted April 03 2009 - 12:39 AM

I suspect it may be that the owner of the series, Fox, sees little or no further financial viability in further syndication of "Rhoda" and, consequently, didn't want to spend money to clean up the edited prints they sent over to Shout! Factory. If Fox thought there was some real viability for the future syndication of this series, I think it's reasonable that they would have released the series themselves rather than licensing it to Shout! This way, they pick up a licensing fee with very little effort on their part, insofar as complete print restoration/remastering is concerned.

#3 of 38 AndyMcKinney

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Posted April 03 2009 - 12:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hug
I suspect it may be that the owner of the series, Fox, sees little or no further financial viability in further syndication of "Rhoda" and, consequently, didn't want to spend money to clean up the edited prints they sent over to Shout! Factory. If Fox thought there was some real viability for the future syndication of this series, I think it's reasonable that they would have released the series themselves rather than licensing it to Shout! This way, they pick up a licensing fee with very little effort on their part, insofar as complete print restoration/remastering is concerned.

Looks like they might've made available the unedited versions to Shout!, or given them the choice of whether they wanted uncut (but perhaps even more inferior picture quality) prints or not.

Wonder if it's a Mama's Family type of situation, where the company owning the rights (somehow) doesn't even possess the uncut prints (in Mama's case, I think those are in the hands of producer Dick Clair, right?).

Luckily (for me), this isn't a series I'd have been buying anyway, but I can feel your pain.

#4 of 38 Jon Martin

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Posted April 03 2009 - 02:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Curtis
With more and more channels moving to High Definition, surely you would want to be able to sell something in high quality. What TV station would buy a series in attrocious unbroadcastable quality?

I think you answered your own question.

RHODA, and other sitcoms, don't really matter to most TV stations in this High-Def world.

If you flip around what is being shown in syndication, THE SIMPSONS, SEINFELD and FRIENDS are probably the oldest shows on the air. You now rarely see shows from the 50's, 60's, 70's or even the 80's in syndication.

Plus, local channels realize they can make a lot more from infomercials than THE BRADY BUNCH. Judge shows and talk shows are bigger than CHEERS.

Even TV Land has started running reality shows.

In RHODA's case, I think maybe MTM may be a bit at fault here. Maybe the episodes weren't complete when Fox took control of the library. I'm not sure, but it may just be a financial decision, Fox realized the costs involved in getting the best transfer isn't worth it.

#5 of 38 Statskeeper

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Posted April 03 2009 - 05:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Martin
Plus, local channels realize they can make a lot more from infomercials than THE BRADY BUNCH. Judge shows and talk shows are bigger than CHEERS.

There's a reason for this. Each of the networks has a syndication arm now. CBS distributes Judge Judy and Dr. Phil. Fox distributes Judge Alex and some others. Their O&Os (which could be up to 30 stations - back in the old days it was 7 max) usually get signed to carry these shows even if local management isn't crazy about it. Then the shows go out to bid, where usually large ownership groups will gobble up this programming for the vast majority of their stations. In short it's more cost effective to have both content (programs) and delivery (stations) under your control in today's deregulated market.

As for infomercials, it's cheaper than even just having a talking heads public affairs show. The station gets paid, and only has to pay out for someone to play back in master control (and even this can be automated to a point.)

#6 of 38 cineMANIAC

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Posted April 03 2009 - 05:35 AM

TV Land now into reality programming? I wonder when commercial-free stations like HBO will start to introduce ads into their lineups. AMC is totally useless these days with their worse-than-broadcast gimmicks (pop-ups, scrolls, logos, etc.). I avoid watching television at all costs and just wait for the eventual DVD release of anything current thats worth watching but when it comes to older sitcoms, yes, they look horrible. Granted, a sizable number of shows were shot on video but do they have to look so bad? Nobody set out to make low-quality productions on purpose so one has to wonder, what can be done to improve the video quality of something shot 15-20 years ago? An example: Miami Vice. Universal could've cleaned up, at the very least, those opening sequences (theme-song intros) and used them to introduce every episode. Instead, they look like VHS.
 

 


#7 of 38 Mark Talmadge

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Posted April 03 2009 - 05:39 AM

You guys have to realize that most of these shows are old and as time passes, there are a lot of shows that don't survive or become damaged. The original film prints of Star Wars prove this fact. Studios have to pay a lot of money to restore those prints and with TV Shows, there just isn't those kinds of funds available for projects such as that.

#8 of 38 Charles Ellis

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Posted April 03 2009 - 06:52 AM

Glenn, why don't you merely contact Shout! Factory and complain to them about it? Since they're the company that put out the DVDs, I'm sure they are more than willing to hear from a customer. Instead of bitching and moaning on this board, send an e-mail to the company or call them!
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#9 of 38 MatthewA

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Posted April 03 2009 - 07:19 AM

Except for M*A*S*H, Fox pretty much treats its pre-1990 TV library as an afterthought. Mr. Belvedere vanished from TV, but it's on tape, so it's never going to look "better".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy McKinney
Wonder if it's a Mama's Family type of situation, where the company owning the rights (somehow) doesn't even possess the uncut prints (in Mama's case, I think those are in the hands of producer Dick Clair, right?).

Dick Clair died in 1988. The original network length 1" tapes of Mama's Family now belong to John Hamilton, son of the late producer Joe Hamilton, who failed to reach a deal with Warner. He certainly played dumb when confronted on that DVD travesty.

Rhoda has no such ownership issues. Fox owns it lock, stock, and barrel, and any extant archival film material on the show is theirs and theirs alone. Fox just has an aversion to remastering anything not by Irwin Allen. The other MTM Productions shows already had passable masters available.

Local syndication is, for all intents and purposes, a closed shop for old sitcoms and dramas except for specialty stations like Me-TV in Chicago.

As for infomercials, who watches them? I know they get paid to show them otherwise they wouldn't air them. I think they need to be banned.

I think the problem is the culture. We live in an ephemeral culture where 1990 is year zero for most people's cultural knowledge, and Star Wars is an "old movie".

Enough is enough, Disney. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray.

 

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#10 of 38 Mark Talmadge

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Posted April 03 2009 - 09:16 AM

Um, get your facts straight. Mr Belvedere Season 1 was announced by TV Shows on DVD not too long ago.

#11 of 38 Ethan Riley

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Posted April 03 2009 - 09:30 AM

Mark, I think Matthew just meant that Mr. Belvedere was shot on videotape and not filmed.

Gosh guys--I had no idea Rhoda dvd was a crapper! I'm very sorry to hear it. I just got "California Dreams" from Shout! Factory; this was also a videotaped sitcom like Mr. Belvedere, and therefore is still going to pretty much look as did back in 1992. So far as I can tell, none of the episodes are edited (they were pretty short to begin with anyway). Also the California Dreams boxed set is attractive, the disc art is good, and I get to watch the show in stereo for the first time (I didn't have stereo tv in the early 90s). So my point is--the California Dreams boxed set is a winner but no such luck for Rhoda. So I wouldn't blame Shout! Factory--they probably only could work with the materials given to them by Fox. So back to Fox--if we must yell at someone, let's yell at them.
 

 


#12 of 38 vnisanian2001

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Posted April 03 2009 - 09:58 AM

But will Fox actually listen to complaints, and remaster uncut episodes of Rhoda for future Shout! Factory DVD releases, like Sony did with Father Knows Best after season one of that show was released?

That's the question.
 To all fans of Mr. Belvedere who haven't purchased season 4 yet, please watch this video.

#13 of 38 Glenn Curtis

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Posted April 03 2009 - 10:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Ellis
Glenn, why don't you merely contact Shout! Factory and complain to them about it? Since they're the company that put out the DVDs, I'm sure they are more than willing to hear from a customer. Instead of bitching and moaning on this board, send an e-mail to the company or call them!

I would if I was interested in Rhoda - I'm not; it is one of the MTM shows that doesn't appeal to me.

I raised the subject as a general principle that I would have thought it was in the rights owners best interest to have decent quality prints of what they own.

I was not bitching and moaning either; I was commenting on what didn't seem to be a sound business practice that is all.

#14 of 38 rcbrad

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Posted April 03 2009 - 11:21 AM

Wow- I thought that this was a friendly place to discuss TV on DVD? There are a couple posts above that sound at least somewhat rude and hostile!

#15 of 38 TravisR

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Posted April 03 2009 - 11:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcbrad
Wow- I thought that this was a friendly place to discuss TV on DVD? There are a couple posts above that sound at least somewhat rude and hostile!
Generally, people are nice here but it's the internet so you're going to get some jerks. It's best to just ignore them (either by skipping past those posts and people or by using the 'Ignore' function).

#16 of 38 Jon Martin

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Posted April 03 2009 - 12:20 PM

Just to clarify something above, MR BELVEDERE is already on DVD from Fox / Shout Factory and looks great. The episodes are uncut.

Fox treated that well, as it was a Fox production and didn't have much of a syndication life.

#17 of 38 MattPeriolat

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Posted April 03 2009 - 12:34 PM

Want strange behaviour by a TV company for DVD sales? Try Sony on for size. The Norman Lear collection basically repackaged a bunch of shows that already have their first seasons out and Sony doesn't seem to have much interest in even finishing the runs.

I'm lucky in that I don't have any of the shows advertised yet, so I may bite, mostly for the extras, but really, it's bad marketing IMHO to produce new season one sets of any show you haven't shown a whole lot of intent to do the entire run of.
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#18 of 38 Mark Talmadge

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Posted April 03 2009 - 12:55 PM

Videotape was the only thing available back in the eighties for filming. There was no digital technology for the movie industry. My fault for being snippy. Been a bad day ... heh ...

At any rate, it's always best to check TV Shows on DVD before posting here, because they report on all information regarding upcoming releases.

#19 of 38 MatthewA

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Posted April 04 2009 - 08:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Talmadge
Videotape was the only thing available back in the eighties for filming.

Film was available since the 1890s, used on most TV shows since I Love Lucy (but the only successful sitcoms to shoot on film in the 1980s were Cheers, post-season 1 Newhart, Designing Women, and Perfect Strangers), and is still used today.

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#20 of 38 vnisanian2001

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Posted April 04 2009 - 09:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatthewA
(but the only successful sitcoms to shoot on film in the 1980s were Cheers, post-season 1 Newhart, Designing Women, and Perfect Strangers), and is still used today.

And all of those shows (especially Newhart since the mid-1980s) were all edited onto videotape in post-production, like you've mentioned several times.

I've heard there's some sort of drawback when it comes to editing filmed shows onto videotape in post-production. Exactly what is it?
 To all fans of Mr. Belvedere who haven't purchased season 4 yet, please watch this video.


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