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Little House on the Prairie: building the best possible collection

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Brent Reid, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. 1 Aug 1, 2013
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
    Brent Reid

    Brent Reid Supporting Actor

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    Can any knowledgeable fan out there give me some factual advice on the DVD releases? I'd like to buy the entire run of episodes, as well as the five TV specials, on official DVD. Although I live in the UK, I'm happy to buy DVDs from any region, anywhere in the world, as long as the episodes are as complete as possible. I know that many of the US NTSC DVDs contain cut episodes and that the PAL countries' DVDs are apparently mostly uncut and have generally better A/V quality, though I can't find a definitive answer on this.
    DVDs have been issued in these countries; does anyone know their exact spec or extras?
    • US: Complete Series box set (55 discs)
    • Holland: Complete Series box set (54 discs)
    • Germany: Complete Series box set (58 discs)
    • Australia: Complete Series box set (55 discs)
    • UK: no box set, but the seasons 1–9 sets total 54 discs (the last three films are unissued in the UK)
    If I pick up all the UK season sets, what's the best way to get the specials and are any of those cut on DVD?
    Lastly, what's the score with extra features; are all the ones on the US DVDs available on the other region's releases?

    I'm really just looking for straightforward, practical advice on the above questions. Please don't weigh in with a general moan about how it's a travesty this brilliant series has been released in such poor quality, that the syndicated episodes are an aberration, I should seek out VHS-derived fan dubs/edits on the internet and it's high time all the original masters were rescanned and released in HD, etc... I know all that and it's been said elsewhere a thousand times before. This is my all-time fave series, yet I've resisted watching it in over 20 years, waiting for a decent release. Now I just want to see it again before I get even older!

    EDIT:
    Less than eight months after I wrote the above, better than my wildest dreams came true and we got reissues of the entire series, restored from 35mm vault materials and released on US DVD* and Blu-ray! English, French and Spanish audio and English subtitles were included, alongside the following extras:
    • The four full-length films, on seasons 1, 6 and 7.
    • "The Little House Phenomenon": a new documentary in six parts (14/16/19/17/15/16 min), on seasons 1–6.
    • Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert original screen test (2min), on season 1.
    Not to look a gift horse in the mouth at all, but the remastered sets do have some minor flaws, including missing footage, as well as a copious amount of absent previously-released extras. I'll attempt to list them all here and keep updating as any new info comes in.

    Missing footage, etc
    • S1 "Family Quarrel": mistakenly repeats subtitles from "Christmas at Plum Creek". A replacement disc can be obtained by emailing [email protected]. Presumably this has been included on subsequent pressings.
    • S1 "Country Girls": missing a 20sec scene of the Kennedy boy reading his summer poem.
    • S1 "Child of Pain": possibly missing around 1min (scenes unknown).
    • S1 "To See the World": possibly missing around 1min of unknown scenes.
    • S2 "Remember Me (Part 1)": ends abruptly with a newly overlaid "To Be Continued" notice. Euro DVDs have the original ending.
    • S3 "Little Women": messy edit at 9.54; Euro DVDs have the missing couple of secs.
    • S3 "The Music Box": messy edit at ?; missing a couple of secs?
    • S3 "The Election": messy edit at ?; missing a couple of secs?
    • S3 "Gold Country": possible missing footage. Has a runtime of 92min, as opposed to all other double length/two-part episodes, which clock in at 96–97min.
    • S6 "Whatever Happened to the Class of '56": possibly missing around 15sec of unknown scenes?
    • S6 "Darkness is My Friend": possibly missing around 30sec of unknown scenes?
    • S7 "Divorce, Walnut Grove Style": missing around 3min, including the 'different glass' scene, among others.
    • S7 all episodes: not quite up to the same high visual quality of the previous seasons, especially the "Laura Ingalls Wilder (Part 1)" episode.
    • S7 all English subtitles: slightly unsynchronised.
    • S7 and S8 all audio tracks: mastered too high and thus slightly distorted.
    • S7 all French and Spanish audio tracks: slightly unsynchronised.
    • S9 "Home Again": originally aired as a 2 hour special but split in two parts for syndication. The remaster misses around 4min off the end of Part 1 and finishes with Albert stealing sugar to substitute for morphine. On the original DVDs he then delivers a box of medical supplies to Doc Baker, who examines the contents and tells a nervous Albert where to find a key he can use anytime he wants to come in and read Doc's medical books. Albert then runs off and has a lengthy interaction with Charles & Mr. Edwards.
    • Film "The Last Farewell": in the final scene of the townspeople singing a triumphant hymn, the English audio is faulty and they can barely be heard. As the hymn is undubbed on the Spanish and French audio tracks and there is no further dialogue, it's possible to simply switch tracks when the singing starts.
    • Film "Bless All the Dear Children": the original DVD ran 40sec longer, though it could be for technical reasons as opposed to missing footage.

    Missing extras
    • "The Little House Years" (1979): originally aired as a 3 hour Thanksgiving special; the 2 hour Internet Archive upload presumably has the actual runtime, minus ads.
    Original (2005–2013) US, UK, Dutch, German and Australian DVD extras

    Interviews:
    • Dabbs Greer (10min)
    • Alison Arngrim (10min)
    • Dean Butler (10min)
    • Merlin Olsen (19min)
    • Patrick Labyorteaux (20min)
    • Matthew Labyorteaux (20min)
    • Richard Bull (21min)
    • Katherine MacGregor (20min)
    • Karen Grassle (21min)
    • Melissa Sue Anderson (51min)
    • "A Little House Conversation" with Melissa Gilbert (50min)
    Alison Arngrim audio commentaries:
    • "Bunny"
    • "Here Comes the Bride"
    • "The Cheaters"
    • "Oleson Versus Oleson"
    • "The Return of Nellie"
    Featurettes:
    • "Casting Little House" (?min)
    • "Ed Friendly: Creating Little House" (11min)
    • "Remembering the Last Farewell" (26min)
    • "The Genius of Michael Landon" (30min)

    Now, where's that complete series Blu-ray set of The Waltons? ;)

    *Remastered Complete Series DVD box sets followed in Germany and Australia.
     
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  2. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Brent,

    I won't be much help here but I'll give you my take on the set that I own.

    I have the complete R1 series set, the "binder" version here .

    This set didn't include the end of the series TV-movies which I believe is referred to as season 10.

    This is my first time viewing the series. I'm in S2 at present. These eps are cut but as a 1st-time viewer, it's not that intrusive to me but for those that know the series, I fully understand that this set wouldn't be acceptable for the collection.

    The transfer quality is fairly good in my opinion. I'd rate it a B+ or A- on my scale.
     
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  3. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Jeff,

    I love Little House On the Prairie. And like you, for some reason I had not (up until about a year or so ago) seen very much of the series. I was in High School when it aired, and it (like many other shows I missed) wasn't on my list of things to watch at that time.

    Four of my daughters love the show, and as they're currently reading through the Little House In the Big Woods series (repeatedly, I might add!), seeing the series on television is thrilling them no end. We've finished the first six seasons, and as we've been working our way through the seasons, we actually went back to the beginning and began watching the entire series again. So at this point, we're watching season five and season seven concurrently.

    Brent,

    I wish I could give you some help with your question. We own the standard issue of the series, in which the episode transfers are not very good. You can tell that it is a basic video-to-DVD transfer, without much effort having been put into the procedure. There are some special features (such as those with Dabbs Greer, who plays the Reverend Alden) which are quite charming. But with the set I own, every now and then you can see the tracking lines (as if one were watching VHS tapes) on the actual DVD transfers which are distracting. It sounds like Jeff has a better set than I do. I would probably spring for this set again if it were done correctly, without cuts and with a much cleaner transfer.

    Edit: Jeff, the set of Little House On the Prairie that you own looks far more appealing than the standard issue of the series that I own. I may have to look into this set -- perhaps as a Christmas gift for my girls. :)
     
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  4. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    it is a favorite of mine, as well. i think they will put out a blu-ray set of this with all the editing problems, etc. fixed.
     
  5. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    Do you think or hope? Any reason to believe that will happen?
     
  6. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    if you are asking if i know something specific about an actual release - no, i dont.

    but it is an extremely popular series. and it seems to be a regular pattern that they fix things on re-releases.

    to be honest, i think i am more interested in getting blu-ray releases for getting things fixed, than i am to see a higher resolution.

    i would have bought lhotp a long time ago, if it had not had so many negative reviews about edited episodes.

    i have seen this several times on various shows.

    i really think they do this on purpose. do it as cheaply as possible the first time, knowing they will get a lot of people who will pay twice.

    the first release of the twilight zone was in some haphazard non-chronological order. i could hardly believe someone could have been that dumb. i am currently watching the blu-ray release of it, all in order.
     
  7. The Obsolete Man

    The Obsolete Man Cinematographer

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    Although I think it highly unlikely Little House would ever get a blu ray release, does anyone know if it was filmed or videotaped?

    If videotaped, there's definitely no way it would get released on blu, while if filmed, there could always be a slim chance.
     
  8. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Like most hour dramas on TV during that period, it was shot on 35mm film. If they were to go back to the original film elements the show could look spectacular, however Lionsgate, which currently holds distribution rights, is unlikely to invest in any sort of restoration due to the lack of interest in classic TV on Disc.
     
  9. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    with regards to video, i simply allow them to come to me.

    i am very confident that this show will at some point be done correctly.

    it may be blu-ray, green-ray or red-ray.

    i will wait. when they want to put out a good, complete product, they get my dollars - not before that.

    there is so much available to watch, that i dont worry about what isnt out yet. i am pretty sure that i will never run out of stuff to watch.
     
  10. moviepas

    moviepas Supporting Actor

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    I don't known of this series will ever be done correctly but I do have the 60-disc set, currently unopened in my "vaults"!!!!!

    This series was under Worldvision(they were no charity) which eventually merged into CBS. My understanding was the elements were in a mess and that Worldvison cut the negatives for syndication. A problem with many older series color or b&w due to shorter lengths required for the amount of ads allowable since those series were released. We often suffered this kind of thing in Australia where 30mins BBC episodes were shown on second run on a commercial network. The primary run rights were with the national government-owned TV network who had no ads. Often, though, the commercial station would run over up to ten mins but it made havoc with the schedules for the rest of the night. With Little House I have no experience with the Australian or British sets. However, the US sets do use one or two episodes that were sourced from PAL UK TV copies for reasons I am not ofay with. By a reverse from Australia to UK the BBC got one or two episodes of their It Ain't Half Hot Mum from here because their copies had disappeared. Unfortunately there were from a viewers VHS copies and had ads to be removed and might have only been in b&w or very poor color. I forget now.
     
  11. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Producer

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    Not one of my shows. I don't think I've ever seen an episode. But my sources tell me that after much digging, uncut master elements have been located and a proper release is being put into the pipeline.
     
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  12. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    thanks neil,

    keep us updated with anything that you find out.
     
  13. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Absolutely. The dvd's out now are passable, but I don't believe they have even been remastered. If it were remastered on Blu it would be a complete night to day comparison. Hoping that happens.
     
  14. Bob_S.

    Bob_S. Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the info Neil! If this happens, I'll gladly double dip!
     
  15. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    The current sets (at least s1-s5 which are all I own at this time) are night & day most definitely. Some of the episodes look excellent (like what we're all wanting for the complete show) while others are cardboard sleeve/dollar store movie dvd quality.

    I'm glad I stumbled upon this discussion. I was all set to get the rest of the series after my second run through of what I have. I shall wait...! very exciting.

    In the mean time, I still need a couple of seasons of The Waltons and the movie collection. I ordered everything, but a few showed up destroyed and went back.
     
  16. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    Wow! I hope to see it happen.
     
  17. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    That may happen sometimes, but I don't think it happened with the Twilight Zone. That show, like Star Trek and I Love Lucy were shows with very strong fan bases. All three shows had large numbers of episodes released in the vhs era with 2 shows per tape. However, during the VHS era, there was no such thing as a complete series set sold as such. Early in the DVD era, as a result of all three shows' popularity, the 2 episodes per release pattern was continued on DVD. It took a little while for the tv dvd market to center around season sets. In the case of I Love Lucy, the first attempt at season one simply put the old 2 episode dvd transfers onto the Complete First Season set. Beginning with the second season, all of the episodes were restored. In the case of the Twilight Zone, they released three volumes of bunches of episodes of the show. I think a lot of how these series were issued depended upon the larger development of tv on dvd market. However, I do think that the fact that fans were willing to repurchae these show over and over again is what allows you to have the blu ray with great extras you do now.
     
  18. jimmyjet

    jimmyjet Producer

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    thanks joe,

    so that is the reason why tz was released in haphazard order ?

    they started out that way with just a few shows, and then kept going ?

    i have only recently been buying any video, so i know nothing about the evolvement of vhs, etc.
     
  19. TVonDVDJunkie05

    TVonDVDJunkie05 Second Unit

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    Excellent News!!

    One of my favourite shows, I have held back buying any of the existing releases due to the edited episodes. I am willing to put up with music edits (depending on the series, WKRP & Wonder Years are my two exceptions where music edits would be unacceptable) but I cannot stand releases that contain edited episodes. There is no excuse IMO for not releasing the original uncut versions unless the masters are in poor shape or no longer exist.

    Can you tell us if this release will be coming from Lionsgate or have the rights finally reverted back to the actual rightsholder- I believe Universal owns this series, do they not?! Also, you say 'release', does that mean it will be a complete series set, I hope if they will re-release the seasons set as well for those who prefer to buy them this way to spread the cost out.
     
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  20. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Producer

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    Not sure what exactly is being planned but I do know that it took a while for the original elements to be located and that they finally were and the plans are proceeding for a new, uncut release.
     

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