3 Stars

Guys, there’s been some discussion on the downturning of classic and regular tv on DVD. And we call all see the market dwindling, but does that mean we will lose all hope? Or maybe it does?

For the most part, I don’t enjoy current television. It’s too dark, depressing, and I don’t know what to think about the writers and actors. They don’t seem to hold a candle to the television industry of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. As some of them has passed, I’ve read about how much work they actually had to do, and so many television actors always had some project to do, either as stars, or guest stars. No role was too small for them.

Don’t know about that kind of work ethic in today’s crop of talent.

Anyway, it tv releases slow down and stop, won’t youtube or iTunes be putting stuff out? Won’t there still be some sources to turn to?

Is it so much a question of streaming? or a lack of the next generation appreciating what has gone before?

Or maybe today’s kids have found out there’s more to life that DVD’s? Now that’s a terrible thought.

James

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Carabimero

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I have a bigger TV-on-DVD library than I could watch twice more in my lifetime. It is beyond my wildest dreams to have so many great sets of my favorite shows like THE FUGITIVE, STAR TREK, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, and many more. Yes, there are some series that never got their day in the sun, and sadly some series that look like they may be left hanging, but I have nothing but gratitude for access to such a library that sometimes I still can't comprehend it fully.

As far as the younger generation, I truly believe the greatest classic shows will endure, whether it be on streaming or on some format not yet invented. And even if some don't, I will always be grateful that they were part of my life, that they gave me such pleasure and sparked my immigration in the way they did.

I couldn't be happier with the superior quality of my disc library, especially in the face of all this cheaper picture quality stemming from convenience, from the need for instant gratification.

I might sell my other collections (CDs, Marvel Masterworks, etc.) but you can pry my DVD/BDs from my cold dead hands.
 
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jcroy

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It will eventually become public domain. Though probably long after many of us are already dead.
 

The Drifter

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I watch both modern TV shows & classic TV shows; I consider classic the '80's & earlier eras. However, I may include some '90's-era TV shows in this category - considering some of them (notably Seinfeld) began close to 30 years ago at this point.

And, I'm relatively indifferent as to whether more modern shows from the 200X's & 20XX's ever hit DVD/Blu, since all/almost all new shows are available via decent streams.

However, classic, older shows are in many cases not available via streaming (or if they are, the streams have incredibly sub-par/poor PQ) so watching them on DVD is a much better option - if they're available that way.

A good example is the underrated John Ritter dramedy Hooperman (1987-1989). I still haven't made a point to re-watch this, but awhile back was looking for any streams of the show. And, it wasn't available anywhere for streaming (at least not where I was looking). So, if the show hadn't been released to DVD several years ago, I suspect there would be no easy way to watch this.
 
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Worth

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Everyone is certainly entitled to their preferences, but the notion that today's television is somehow inferior to what came before, or that today's writers and actors are lazier than their predecessors, is absurd. A show like The Handmaid's Tale can hold its own against anything made in any era. It may not be to your taste, and yes it's dark, but we live in dark times.

And sure, kids these days aren't terribly interested in older show and films, but when have they ever been? I was a teenager in the 80s and I don't remember a lot of my peers being terribly interested in movies from the 50s. And I doubt kids in the 50s were rushing out to watch silent movies. On top of that, there's simply more material than there ever was before - too much for anyone to keep on top of, even professional television reviewers. It's unrealistic to expect that today's audiences are going to look backward when there's so much new - and so much good - content being made right now.
 

bmasters9

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And sure, kids these days aren't terribly interested in older show and films, but when have they ever been?
Not all children these days are entirely uninterested in what was on before-- my nephew Eli has seen all of the 50s I Love Lucy, and enjoyed every minute, and now he's on Lucy's color classic of 1968-74, Here's Lucy; he's loving what he's seen so far (2 seasons' worth, which, IIRC, I got him for his birthday last year).
 
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ScottRE

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I agree that there is a tremendous amount of amazing new programming out there. People like to say "it's all crappy reality TV" but that's an inaccurate generalization. While I don't watch a lot of current TV, it's mostly because I'm tired of being hooked on a show only to see it cancelled on a cliffhanger in the first season.

However, having said that, I agree with Alan. I have such a nice library of classic, favorite shows, if they stopped producing new TV series right now, I'd still have old favorites to watch. And I am a fan of action and SF movies, so there is a century of films for me to watch.

I'd be sad if classic TV show releases ended before I got all the shows I still want, but as I have the great majority of them already, I can't really complain.

I man, an official Green Hornet and 12 O'Clock High, would be amazing before I die...
 

bmasters9

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People like to say "it's all crappy reality TV" but that's an inaccurate generalization.
In a way, I agree-- Jackson Galaxy has had a remarkably well-done Animal Planet show called My Cat From Hell, where he not only heals the rifts between felines and their guardians (such as they are), but also provides much useful information about how cats behave in the world; in fact, I have his book Total Cat Mojo, which expands upon a lot of what he's said on his show.
 

Josh Steinberg

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And sure, kids these days aren't terribly interested in older show and films, but when have they ever been? I was a teenager in the 80s and I don't remember a lot of my peers being terribly interested in movies from the 50s. And I doubt kids in the 50s were rushing out to watch silent movies. On top of that, there's simply more material than there ever was before - too much for anyone to keep on top of, even professional television reviewers. It's unrealistic to expect that today's audiences are going to look backward when there's so much new - and so much good - content being made right now.
This!

It was a lot easier to start watching and fall in love with content that wasn't brand new when we had more limited viewing options. I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, and for most of my childhood, I didn't have cable. If I watched broadcast TV during primetime, I'd be exposed to (then) current shows. Any other time of the day, and it was probably syndicated reruns from programs going back as far as the 1950s. I'd like to think that I would have wound up a fan of shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek and The Honeymooners no matter what, but the truth is, having these shows broadcast regularly on one of a limited number of available channels, when there were few other options for television entertainment, certainly was a big factor in me adopting them as favorites.

My wife grew up in the same time period I did, but she had cable in her house growing up, which meant that she always had access to a wide variety of contemporary content that was specifically being made and marketed for her and her peers. That alone makes her experience different from mine. Because she never had a shortage of things to watch (particularly things that were active topics of discussion among her peers), the need to fill time and the opportunity to be exposed to older content weren't there for her. Flash forward to 2019, and she's sampled those shows because I love them, and she'll totally watch them with me, but there's almost no chance that she'd watch one of them on her own.

I know my viewing habits aren't typical for people my age; my presence on an enthusiast forum like HTF is already proof of that. I recently finished up viewing the entirety of M*A*S*H, and immediately came to this forum looking for suggestions for a black & white classic western show to try. My wife, whose habits are more typical, upon finishing one show will move on to something current, either something that caught her eye on Netflix/Hulu/HBO Now, or something that her friends have recommended or something her work colleagues are currently talking about. There's already more new, high quality content being produced today than she can keep up with; there's simply no reason for her to have to look back at shows that were produced before she was born to find something to watch. I'm sure she's missing out on some good classic content; but I'm equally sure that I'm missing out on some good contemporary content. There are only so many hours in the day, and most people are going to look to fill them with stuff that relates to their current day-to-day lives, either by virtue of the stories being told, or by being part of the cultural zeitgeist around them.

None of that lessens my love for having my favorite TV shows available on a physical format. To go back to my childhood examples, if I watched to see Star Trek or Twilight Zone or the Honeymooners, I'd be dependent on one of the local stations showing it. There were periods when they would drop Star Trek for a year or two, and then bring it back. Same with Twilight Zone. Honeymooners would shuffle around to different timeslots. It didn't really matter which order you saw those shows in, but they would be played out of order, and you could never really predict or plan for when your favorite episodes would be on. You might see the same handful of episodes over and over, and then have tons of episodes that you'd never see. Star Trek was available on VHS, but with each individual episode costing about $20, the entire run of 79 episodes would never have been affordable to me growing up. Thanks to TV shows being released on DVD, for the price of what just a couple individual episodes would have cost in the 1980s, I was able to purchase entire seasons of shows I liked, see episodes I missed out on, and watch whatever I wanted, when I wanted. But I just don't think that most people are looking for that kind of commitment when it comes to their television watching. If something they like is readily available and on, they'll watch it; if it's not, they'll pick out something else.
 

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You know, there's the point and it's so obvious it escaped me: I also grew up in a time when you had three networks and maybe the same number of indie stations. So, during the day were 50's and 60's reruns and at night were the 70''s shows and 80's as I got older. So sure, I love classic TV because I grew up watching it and there was very little else on. Getting ready for school, I watched Courageous Cat, Magilla Gorilla and The Flintstones. If I was home sick from school, I watched Gidget, The Flying Nun and The Ghost and Mrs Muir. After school was Gilligan, Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Jeannie and Bewitched. Around dinner time, Star Trek or Mission Impossible. Really, there wasn't a plethora of other or new programming. We didn't have a cartoon network, or a hundred different channels with original content.

Honestly, there's a big part of me that feels a little badly for the generation who didn't have what we did. Maybe living for TV wasn't ideal - and I did have an active outside life - but I would never want to have missed Saturday Morning cartoons, the Sunday morning movie, and the classic reruns of my youth. Such joy those shows still give me.

I guess every generation has their own "youthful joy" so they probably aren't missing anything and feel that maybe we are...
 

LouA

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I personally haven't given up on new releases . I still think we will see the occasional show . Don't forget that many popular shows are already out on DVD. So it's mostly the less popular stuff we are waiting for - shows like Trackdown , Adventures In Paradise , December Bride , Rin Tin Tin, People's Choice , 1950s Dragnet, East Side West Side , Ben Casey, Colt 45, He And She. I keep hoping we'll see some of them . Maybe a company like Classic Flix will step up and release some of them,
 

Josh Steinberg

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I think there is something to be said for too many choices being imprisoning rather than freeing. I miss - even going back just 10-15 years - that shows routinely entered the cultural zeitgeist. I miss water cooler conversations. It’s a little hard to do that when the current most popular shows have all their episodes released at once - how do you have a casual conversation about last night’s episode when there was no “last night’s episode”.

I also think there’s something to be said for having fewer choices, and how that can cause you to step outside your comfort zone and see things you might not normally pick out of a lineup. You can watch infinite varieties on the same thing without being exposed to different methods of storytelling and different kinds of stories.

But I imagine most people my age and younger can make the same argument about older content on disc, that there’s just so much, where to begin, is it relevant to their lives today, etc.
 

Purple Wig

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With old shows, I don't think it was necessarily a consequence of limited options. I was a fairly avid watcher in the 1970's, as a pre-teen. I liked plenty of the current offerings but it was the shows from before my time that grabbed me. For instance, catching a rerun of "The Mutation" episode of "The Invaders" by accident, it seemed like the coolest thing I'd ever seen (and of course the station stopped showing it soon after). Or, after hearing about the "Twilight Zone" (not rerun in my area as far as I know), finally seeing it in the late 70's, and it was so much better than anything current. Became a teen in the early 80's and though I lost interest in most prime time TV, continued to watch any 50's/60's stuff I could. Although the limited options did come into play when I was home sick from school, at a certain hour it was either Marcus Welby reruns, which always depressed me, or soap operas. Usually opted for MW nonetheless.

I agree though that the limited offerings probably did cause one to check something out they wouldn't otherwise be inclined to.

And then, you can always play the game where you look at an old TV guide and think, if it was this day and hour this year, there would be 4 things I wouldn't mind seeing right now.
 

Jeff Flugel

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A lot of good points above, fellas!

Like Scott and others here, I grew up in a time when there were fewer channels, and in the dawning of the cable TV era. I had a few friends who had HBO or Showtime at their house, but for me during those formative years, the Big Three networks, PBS and a few local syndicated channels were it. Those few channels provided my TV entertainment content exclusively. I consider this a good thing, however, as I watched shows and movies from all eras, in color or black-and-white, current or old - it didn't matter to me, as long as I enjoyed them. I treasure that exposure to pre-70s content.

I know the nostalgia factor is a big part of why some here love classic television. I completely understand that aspect, yet it was - and is - not really that for me. It was simply: was it a show I liked? Was the concept interesting? Were the characters compelling? Was the acting and writing effective? Did the show fire my imagination? etc. I probably couldn't have articulated it as well back when I was a youngster, but those essential components still apply (with certain refinements brought on by adulthood and life experience, one hopes) to my TV watching tastes today.

While there is something to be said for the sense of being overwhelmed by too much content to watch these days, I look at it as a good thing. I also am a fan of both modern TV and classic TV. I find it a great thing to be able to cherry pick the cream of the crop from all eras. Due to my background and inclinations, I'm probably more likely to enjoy programming made during the late '50s through the early '80s for a variety of reasons, but there are still a TON of modern TV shows that I love dearly and wouldn't want to be without.

The main difference is in collecting. I see no reason to collect most modern shows on DVD or Blu, as most of them are easily found on various streaming platforms or for rental, if I really need to see them again. Vintage shows, other than the super famous ones like Star Trek or The Twilight Zone, etc., are far harder to find on said streaming sites, especially here in Japan. The best route to see these classic shows is on disc, and so I limit my TV-on-DVD collecting to pre-'90s shows.

As others have stated, fans of classic television have been very well served over the past 20-plus years, with a huge amount of series released on DVD/BD. I mean, a truly amazing cornucopia of shows have made it out onto shiny disc, for fans to enjoy at our leisure. Yes, there are some key omissions, some "holy grails" that sadly have not come to fruition...but overall, I can't help but feel extremely happy - and lucky - with what has seen the light of day. To have the sort of collection I have now, at my fingertips to watch whenever I feel like it, is a wonderful thing, a youthful dream fulfilled.
 
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Paintbeanie

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Interesting comments so far. I did grow up with cable but did manage to see some classic shows (I was a nick at nite fan and watched it even when younger) and saw a few other shows on regular stations throughout the day in the summer, so while I haven’t seen all old shows, I have seen (or at least heard of) many of the major and influential ones from the classic era. For me, I think if they stopped tv DVDs tomorrow it would have little effect on me for a while. With my tv and movie DVDs and blu rays that I need to catch up on, I barely have time for any television. I actually am considering getting rid of cable. I don’t watch it much and I really don’t care much for all the channels or their content anyway. I actually have tried the free stations with an antenna and found that while the amount of channels is small, it has most of what I want/need so I may go to that soon. Especially since for the most part I am busy catching up on DVDs anyway.
 

Ethan Riley

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As a child of the 70s, I was constantly exposed to classic entertainment--all day, in fact. That's the difference between mine and the current generation. You didn't have to go out of your way for the reruns--they were on every single channel during the day. If you flipped on the tv--as all 70s kids did--you were going to get old shows. And you were either to go like them or not. Most of us liked at least a few of them. I was more interested in I Love Lucy and Betwitched than any contemporary shows, that's for sure. (Primetime 70s content was not exactly kid-friendly for the most part).