Best/Worst Restorations on Brady Bunch Series DVD's

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Jack Platt, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Jack Platt

    Jack Platt Stunt Coordinator

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    Guys,

    As most of you know, the quality of the Brady Bunch DVD's varies from scene to scene because Paramout appeared to do their syndication cuts from the original negatives and had to resort to 16mm/35mm back up prints, so that the DVD's would be uncut. I don't have Season 5 yet, but I wanted us to make a list of the best/worst episode DVD transfers for each season.

    So far, despite 20 seconds missing from Hawaii's episode, "Pass The Tabu." the clarity of the Hawaii episodes from Season 4 is the best. While there is one scene from a 16mm back up when Bobby sits on the Ukillele, the exterior shots of Hawaii never looked better. An absolutely beautiful digital transfer!

    My vote for the worst restorations is obviously due to the source material either cut or lost and replaced with back up prints. Season 1's "Father of The Year" with the extended footage of Jan and Cindy looking for Marcia, looks like it was shot with a old Super-8 home movie camera. Almost as bad in the transfer is Season 4's, "The Show Must Go On", with Bobby and Peter selling Family Frolic Night Tickets door to door. It is believed that this scene has not been viewed by anyone since the original prime time run. A mixed bag also when Peter is talking to Marcia's friend in Season 3 about "The Invasion of the Potato People Movie." in The Personality Kid. Very evident that some scenes in there original formats had to be replaced with back up prints.

    The overall quality is still much better than TV Land or Syndicated prints. It is also very cool to have the grainy restorations to get the episodes uncut, as opposed to Paramount not including them at all!

    What other epsides come to mind?

    Jack
     
  2. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I don't have anything to offer about the quality of BB DVDs, but I'd like to make a comment here.

    It just seems assinine to me that a Studio would make cuts to the original negatives and lose them. Did they really think that the shorter syndicated versions would be the definitive version forever?

    It's like burning the original manuscript of a literary classic just because a Readers Digest condensed version is out there.
     
  3. Bryan Krantz

    Bryan Krantz Stunt Coordinator

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    The studio probably wasn't thinking of this show as a "literary classic". Sherwood Schwartz never got much credit from the studios despite having created 2 shows that have truly transcended time. Once the episodes were ready for syndication, all the studio was thinking about was a quick payout from a brief syndicated run.
     
  4. Mike*SC

    Mike*SC Second Unit

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    It happens all the time, and to many movies now considered classics, too. That said, are we sure the original negatives were what was cut here? It wouldn't surprise me that it's simply a matter of the syndicated prints having been stored better. But then, I'm just guessing (I don't own "The Brady Bunch" DVDs) so perhaps the liner notes say otherwise. In which case, I'm clearly a blowhard.
     
  5. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    You are lucky that many of these shows survived at all. There are many series that were videotaped and then erased so the tape could be reused, or broadcast live and never recorded in the first place. Back in the 1970s and earlier there was little thought of preserving TV shows for anything other than syndication, if they made it that far.
     
  6. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    At least they could track down the cut scenes.

    Of course, they could have tried to bring them up to the standards of the negatives using digital technology. Maybe in Blu-Ray...

    Paramount wasn't even in TV production until they purchased Desilu from Lucille Ball in 1968.
     
  7. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    Weren't there a few episodes shot on video? How have those episodes fared as far as restoration goes?
     
  8. Michael Rogers

    Michael Rogers Supporting Actor

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    The Brady Bunch Variety show was shot on video, not the original show.

    I took a cursory look at a few episodes from season 5 yesterday.

    I was kind of shocked to find that they apparently did a digital fix to Two Petes in a Pod.

    It's when Peter first bumps into his twin and the first split screen with both of them coming up in frame in front of the lockers occurs.

    As long as I can remember, you could see a brief flash of Chris Knights double's (a little of his nose and face)as he accidently breeches the split screen border in the middle when he stands up.

    Now, the scene has no glimpse of the double but there is a little bit of jiggle in the middle of the locker background where the mistake was probabaly cloned over from other frames in the computer.

    It was kind of startling to see that they would do this fix. It's not a big deal but I prefer they left it the way it was.
     
  9. Ron Lee Green

    Ron Lee Green Supporting Actor

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    Shame on them if its true. Not a wise move on their part. Reminds me of what happened to some of the Dark Shadows dvd transfers when someone decided to cut out the bloopers which is a part of what makes the show so enjoyable in the first place.
     
  10. Michael Rogers

    Michael Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Well, it also could be 2 versions of the split screen effect exist and that the one that went to syndication had the slip. The coverup of the face looks as primitive as one could expect it to look in 1973, If they did it back then.

    So, it could be that or some technition that spent a couple hours cloning over the face without any other finesing to get rid of the distortion in the background.
     
  11. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    I've watched about 7 or 8 eps of BB5 so far; it's been a mixed bag of quality, but so far, it's the best looking season I've seen. They even managed to get through the whole amusement park episode looking good. I saw this episode last summer on TV Land and it looked like crap there and was very, very beautiful on the dvd. Throughout the other episodes, there are the usual scenes that look reinserted, but I have to say that such scenes look far better than those on earlier seasons.

    One thing that bugged the heck out of me in the first few seasons seems to have resolved itself. In the first few seasons, they seemed to overdo the reinsertions. Say 1/2 of a scene was cut out for syndication--well it looked to me like the dvd engineers would reinsert the entire scene using the 16mm cheapie or from the work print. This is just a big guess on my part, but it looked like up to about 10 minutes of some episodes were reinsertions, far more footage than would have been excised for syndication. If things weren't bad enough, they'd sometimes use reinserts for all the surrounding footage, for intros, outros and resolve shots. The first season in particular looks very raw and pasted together.
     
  12. Jack Platt

    Jack Platt Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree Ethan,

    I don't have S5 yet. But some observers made some interesting comments about the disks in general. The comments were multifold

    1.) The disappointment of Paramount not preserving the original negatives so that all episodes could be remastered across the board. (i.e just look at all three Seasons of Gilligan's Island on DVD to see how beautiful Brady Bunch could have been had they not started cutting the episodes right on the first syndicated run or close to that.) And GI is over 6 years OLDER than BB.

    2.) The overdigitizing of some sequences, which you spoke of above. For example, check out how many of the silver appliances in the Brady kitchen have this "Neon-Glow" effect to them. With the sound and the digital effects of many TV's today, everything is clearer on newer sets. (I don't even mean necessarily HD) But with that clarity in both picture and sound, you can observe more imperfections on the source materials, which TV Land and Syndicate obviously could not pick up anymore because of the age of their prints.

    3.) The disks LOOK like a cleaned up prime time show from the 70's with the exceptions of the back up prints. I have the first 4 seasons of Green Acres, and they look OK for their age. (Better than TV Land) But to stay on topic with regards to two Sherwood Schwartz projects, it makes you wonder how Gilligan's Island can look so A+ across the board like it was made yesterday, and Brady Bunch's quality, flucuating from B/C- based on episode print quality.

    Or is this an issue where one can assume that when CBS sold the home video rights to Warner Brothers for Gilligan's Island, that they did a better job in the transition, than Paramount did for Brady Bunch?

    I guess the bottom line is, could Paramount have done better with The Brady Bunch in terms of video quality?

    Jack
     
  13. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Jack, did you ever write to Paramount about the deletions or oversights with Seasons 3 and 4? And if so, did you hear back?
     
  14. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I don't think CBS owned any part of Gilligan's Island. It was split between Phil Silvers' Gladasya Productions and United Artists Television. When Silvers died, his daughters inherited his share, and when Ted Turner sold MGM/UA back to Kirk Kerkorian, this was the only United Artists TV show he kept. That's why Warner owns it now.

    Is there any proof that Paramount would cut the Brady negatives to conform to the syndicated length, or are the DVD transfers predominantly from preprints that were cut?
     
  15. Jack Platt

    Jack Platt Stunt Coordinator

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    I did Scott, but never heard anything back. How about you?

    Jack
     
  16. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Has anyone ever posted the final word on what happened to the original prints of BB? Or the original masters or negatives for that matter? I do remember a big discussion on it last year but I can't find it. Seems like they sure neglected BB more than most shows of the era.
     
  17. Jack Platt

    Jack Platt Stunt Coordinator

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    Ethan,

    From what I heard on this other Brady Bunch board that I post on was as posted above: That is that Paramount did their syndicated cuts from the original negatives shortly after the original run had concluded.

    I do recall that my local station used to run previous seasons of Brady Bunch in the morning and the first run episodes at night of the current season that they were on at the time. In fact, I recall that my local station did not even pick up the prime time Friday night feed for all of the first season! They ran the episode the next day. (Saturday afternoon) My guess is because station management believed that the show was more geared toward children than family during it's first year run so they ran it as a Matinee presentation.

    Beginning in September of 1970 with the Season Premire, "The Dropout", they ran Brady Bunch during it's regular prime time and would run the previous seasons on Saturday mornings. (The network channel number was different back then in our area.) But I remember watching on Saturday mornings at about 10:30. I have no recollection of the prime-time run (at least not for the first couple seasons anyway) because we had only one TV at the time, and I was only like 4-5 years old and The Brady's weren't the type of show my parents would watch in prime time. I got the above information researching showtimes going back to newspapers stored on microfilm at my college library.

    But we do know that the show ran from September of 1969 to August of 1974, with the first-run ending after March 8, 1974 with "The Hair Brained Scheme." I would say that the series was shown intact for summer reruns and the previous seasons Saturday mornings that I mentioned above. (I distinctly recall watching the Saturday morning runs with, one of the kids that the show focussed on saying, "The Brady Bunch Will Return in a Moment." still intact.") But I think that beginning in the fall of 1974, that is when syndication across the board got ALL of the Brady Bunch episodes and started their edits.

    When most sitcomes are out of prime time, approximately one minute is removed from them to make way for more commercials. Fall of 1975 is probably when they did those big cuts found when Cindy and Jan are looking for Marica in "Father of the Year." Greg giving Alice her "simulated driving test" in the beginning of "The Wheeler Dealer", and the huge cut of Bobby and Peter selling Family Frolic Night tickets in "The Show Must Go On?" It appears that Paramount had no choice but to use back-up prints for the portions of these episodes and many others. Syndicate probably believed that these shows would not have developed into the cult following that they did today, and some companies dumped the cut scenes from the master tapes, while others did not. As a sidenote, look at Classic Game Shows. Over 75% of game shows that were produced prior to about 1975, are believed to be lost or no longer exist today. Back than, few realized the redeaming market value of re-running a show. That's why there are issues with the restorations of many shows today on DVD.

    Jack
     
  18. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    Thanks for all the info Jack--

    I watched BB first-run from day one (okay I was four, but I TOTALLY remember watching it!) Then I saw it again in early syndication on KTTV in Los Angeles; all through the mid-70s they ran it over and over. The show looked terrific, every episode. I have read on another thread that only Los Angeles and New York, maybe? had 35mm prints of BB for syndication; the rest of the world got the lousy 16mm's. When BB finished on KTTV it moved on to a myriad of other stations. I believe it was on KTLA for a few years; in that case the show suddenly looked cloudier and crappier. It also ran on KCOP, probably in the early 80s, and it looked even worse. BB pretty much ran on EVERY syndie station through the 70s and 80s---everybody wanted it! I just figured the tapes were disintegrating because they showed it over and over so much. Likely the dvd packagers had to work from all kinds of dicey source materials for this show; it was a syndicator's dream, having that show out there. It was shown at least as much as "Lucy" back in the day.

    I wonder, though, if Sherwood Schwartz had any better prints in his archives? (Or if he even kept any). The reason I ask is because clearly, VERY clearly, somebody took real good care of a set of Gilligan's Island prints, either that or Sherwood had something in the vault that he gave them to use for the dvds of that show.
     
  19. Michael Rogers

    Michael Rogers Supporting Actor

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    I'll bet that Ted Turner owning Gilligan's Island some time ago had something to do with it's preservation proceding better than BB.
     
  20. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Maybe CBS had prints of Gilligan in the vaults. They seemed to have taken good care of The Twilight Zone and I Love Lucy, not to mention The Dick Van Dyke Show.
     

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