PUT THEM ON DVD ALREADY! - TV Shows That Deserve Their Spots On Our Shelves
There are a lot of great shows out there. And one of the best things about DVDs is that now, even if you aren't able to see them all, eventually, if you want, you can.
Of course, not all of them are great, but essentially every show has some sort of following, and as a result, each one should at least be made available for the people who do decide to watch.
Due to several factors (music licensing, studio change-of-hands, poor sales predictions), a lot of shows have yet to see the light of DVD day. I've compiled a list of some of the ones I hope to eventually see in stores or online some day, because even if they aren't good, that doesn't mean people (myself included) won't spend money on them.
ACCORDING TO JIM (2001-2009)
The first season is available in some stores, but what about the other seven? This may not have been a ratings cash cow, but don't be fooled: there's some funny stuff here. I never watched the show regularly, but once, while waiting for an episode of Lost, I caught the episode where Jim takes pain pills and becomes uncharacteristically nicer. I've been a fan ever since.
AMERICAN DREAMS (2002-2005)
Sometimes, quality shows just never find viewers. That was the case with this very well-done drama, which only lasted three seasons. Due to music licensing and royalties issues, only the first season is available on DVD right now. I just recently did a project on American Bandstand for a class. Seeing the show from start to finish would be particularly interesting to watch after going through all that research.
THE ANDY DICK SHOW (2001-2003)
He may be crazy in real life, but Andy Dick created a short-lived show on MTV that turned out to be pretty hilarious. Unlike the painfully unfunny Ben Stiller Show, which co-starred Dick and is available on DVD, Dick's show had several memorable bits that are as funny today as they were then. Highlights include Andy buying (and ultimately shooting) a man he called 'Cinammon,' and the incredibly lame yet undeniably catchy song, "Oh Manson."
Just as shocked as I was to find out that this goofy classic only lasted three years, I'm even more shocked that no season (not even a best-of DVD collection) has been made in this show's honor. Every other Batman show or film is available to own, so why not give this slightly overweight, David Caruso-esque dramatic Batman a shot? Fox manufacturers could even capitalize on Adam West's newfound cultural status as the mayor Family Guy. Hopefully, we'll be seeing this on store shelves soon. This was (and still is) one of my absolute favorite things to watch.
You would think that with the relatively new release of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice on DVD, which included some episodes from the animated series, that a complete season for this show would be inevitable. Right? Well, I guess not. This was fun and a little bit schizophrenic, meaning it was perfect viewing for Saturday mornings. I bet it still holds up well. Truth be told, this wasn't one of my favorite animated shows, but I'd still like to go back and see what it was like. Or at least, have it on in the background while I make up my bed.
THE BERNIE MAC SHOW (2001-2006)
One season down, four more to go. I'm surprised that after Mac's death, Fox didn't think it appropriate to release the remaining seasons from the show's complete run. They should. It only got funnier as it went along. Now with FX showing reruns regularly, the show's likely to attract more viewers, and they'll want to see the show in its entirety.
BOSTON PUBLIC (2000-2004)
Regrettably, I never watched this when it aired on Fox. I was probably too young at the time to seek out good dramas. But now that I try to watch television series that deal with realism head on, I would definitely try to seek this out. Not to mention, this show has two actors I've grown to like recently: Chi McBride (who was the best part of Pushing Daisies), and Jessalyn Gilsig (who's great in Glee, and had an excellent guest spot in Friday Night Lights).
BOY MEETS WORLD (1993-2000)
Anybody who grew up watching shows in the '90s knows about the golden ABC lineup that was TGIF. It was a nice way to relax and watch some enjoyably cheesy kid-friendly shows after pumping iron all day at elementary school. This was by far my favorite series in the lineup. It was indeed cheesy, with a life lesson being learned practically all the time, and as the characters grew up, it became even more of a public service announcement. But it'd be nice to relive those memories and just not think for half an hour or so.
THE BRADY KIDS (1972-1974)
I never actually saw this (seeing as how I wasn't born in the '70s), but there was a time when I used to inhale anything and everything Bradys. From the fluffy television series to the color-coordinated variety shows to the intentionally slapstick movies, I was a fan. It'd be interesting to see where the animated series fits into all of that. The actual Brady kids lent their voices to the characters, though some stuck around the whole time while others bailed out earlier.
CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS (1990-1996)
There's no way you lived a normal childhood if you never heard of this environmentally-themed cartoon. Making sure there wasn't an enthnicity it didn't miss, the show drove home the point that the future of the planet rested in the hands of the youth, who, once they worked together, created the perfect green-haired American superhero. Factoring in the show's immense popularity, I'm surprised it's not on DVD.
COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG (1999-2002)
Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because something shows up on Cartoon Network, you have to be a certain age to enjoy it. Adult Swim is one example of that, but there were (and still are) other shows in the network's lineup that, while not as vulgar as the late night programs, are aimed at older audience members. This was one of the shows. It doesn't come on as much anymore, but when it did, it was easy to get like.
COW & CHICKEN (1997-2001)
Just like Courage was aimed at older viewers, this was too, only to a greater degree. Some episodes were so risque they never showed up on Cartoon Network again (i.e. Cow asking Chicken if he wanted to suck her teets). Generally, though, it was more crazy than it was provocative, putting on display the voiceover genius that is Charlie Adler, who did practically every character. He was typically at his best, though, when he was playing the red guy who never wore pants.
DEXTER'S LABORATORY (1996-2003)
It seems like it's been forever since this, Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Bravo were the must-see shows on Cartoon Network. Utilizing some talented voice actors, offbeat humor and frequently open-ended closing scenes, this was one of the most popular animated shows in its heyday. The Speed Racer parody episode alone is reason enough to create a series of DVD seasons.
EVEN STEVENS (2000-2003)
I'll never think of Aubrey 'Drake' Graham as a rapper. I'll always think of him as wheelchair-stricken Jimmy from Degrassi. Same thing with Shia LaBeouf. He could make a hundred Transformers movies (and actually, please don't!), but the first thing I think of when I hear the name is Louis Stevens from Disney Channel's surprisingly funny original series. Anyone who saw him in this knew he had a future. And anyone who watched this was also introduced to a very strange-looking being known only in the show as Beans.
FAMILY MATTERS (1989-1998)
Yet another TGIF classic. It used to play at night on ABC Family, then Nick at Nite. Now it only plays on the latter station at extremely early times, meaning no one will see it. The show was extremely popular back in the day, so I'm surprised it's never had an official DVD release. Hopefully incorporating it into a network's lineup (no matter how early) will remind people of how much they missed it, and that might lead to some interest in putting the show on a few discs.
UPDATE: "Family Matters: The Complete First Season" will be available on DVD June 6th.
FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDS (1972-1985)
There was a time when the show was available on DVD. That isn't the case anymore. I'd vote for putting this back out there on the market and pulling the live-action remake. It's not a completely bleak outlook for fans, however. The show can be watched on IMDb or Hulu, assuming your computer has the capabilities necessary. For everyone else, though, a revamped DVD series would be very beneficial.
THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY & MANDY (2001-2007)
Also known as Grim & Evil, this was one of the best shows Cartoon Network ever produced. It was consistently funny, and it was enhanced by the eye-popping animation. The first season was just recently pulled from any online stores, so if you want it now, you'll have to buy it from someone who's got it. Translation = you have to overpay. It might be worth it (especially if you can get it for under $10), but it'd be nicer if the show was made available to everyone who wanted it at a fair price.
HANGIN' WITH MR. COOPER (1992-1997)
Another TGIF classic. I never actually finished the series now that I think about it. Once the show changed network hands, it was a little bit harder to keep up. Mark Curry, Holly Robinson-Peete and Nell Carter were all fine, but it was the kids who always stole the show. Marquise Wilson (who played Tyler) and Raven-Symone (who played Nicole) were consistently the two best things about the show.
THE JOY OF PAINTING WITH BOB ROSS (1983-1995)
Say what you will about me including this (and I see that somebody already has), but this is the most relaxing show I have ever seen. It's interesting how, despite the show's longetivity, every episode, the same things always tickled Bob Ross like they were brand new. I've never seen someone so happy to knock a brush against a table. But just like cooking shows today, he may make it look really easy to paint, but when you try it at home, you come face to face with the truth: you suck.
THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW (1992-1998)
As of now, you've got 2 options. You can buy the complete first season on DVD, or you can get the "Not Just the Best of" collection, which, of course, is a best-of collection, with 23 episodes that were hand-picked by Larry as being the best. Something's better than nothing, but why not release each season? Surely one of the best-written, funniest comedy series of all time deserves a better package treatment than it's gotten so far.
LOU GRANT (1977-1982)
Just so you know, even though it's a spinoff of the fantastic Mary Tyler Moore Show, this isn't a comedy. It's a serious, pensive drama that took one of the funniest characters from Mary's show and put him in an environment where he's the old guy, out of his element. It might sound risky on paper, but this may be the best thing about journalism ever captured on camera. It's no surprise that when it aired, college professors had their students watch it. They could just as easily do that now.
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (2000-2006)
From the very first episode, I loved this series. I really don't understand how you could watch a few minutes of this and not get hooked, or at least find it funny. Even so, audiences never really flocked to this like they should have. The first season is good, and you can buy that now. But the show was much funnier after that, particularly when it came to the material Bryan Cranston got as Hal. And while the series finale wasn't exactly hilarious, it ended the show on the right note.
MEGA MAN (1994-1995)
This wasn't what you would call a great show. In fact, it was pretty incoherent. I even remember thinking this to myself while I watched it. But I was a huge fan of the Super Nintendo games, and I used to watch this if, for no other reason, to hear the music playing for the intro. It was a typical Saturday morning cartoon: brightly lit, not too intelligent or involving, easy to follow even if you started watching twenty minutes in.
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS (1993-1996)
I don't care how much your parents said they loved you, if you didn't watch this when you were a kid, you were deeply deprived of a proper childhood. How do you top robotic dinosaurs and sweet-looking superhero outfits? Plus, there's no denying the ingenious plot: teenagers with "attitude" (mostly straight-A kids, except for that idiot Tommy) get instructions from a talking face in a glass jar on how to protect a town that gets destroyed (and miraculously rebuilt) every day of the week. Fantastic.
THE PRACTICE (1997-2004)
It seems that there's never a short supply of shows about lawyers. Currently, you could watch one of the billion Law & Orders, or if you want an interesting spin on the legal drama, Damages. There are plenty to choose from on DVD, too. But if you want the absolute best show about what attorneys do, I'd say forget all those and check this show out. Only a Volume One DVD (the first season and some of the second) is available, but I can almost guarantee you that once you watch one episode, you'll crave seeing the rest. It's smart, occasionally funny and touches on major issues without reverting to lectures. It's one of the best shows television shows ever. Period.
REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL (1995- )
Some shows on this list, I can understand why they're not on DVD. They work in the here and now. Part of the hook to their show is that they act like newspapers: the stories are best when they're fresh, and once you've gotten your fill, no point in keeping it around. But what about people like me, who didn't watch the show from the beginning, and who'd like to see how it's progressed over time? Old stories may not be relevant, but a good show will hold up well regardless. I think this one could.
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER (2003 - )
I keep toying with the idea of subscribing to HBO. It'd be nice to see the amazing miniseries when they air, or see the latest season of Entourage without having to wait until Christmas to get the overpriced DVD. But the main draw for me is this show, which is two things: always funny, and always informative. I don't always agree with Bill, but I've never seen an episode where I wasn't entertained. Like Real Sports, it probably won't come to DVD anytime soon due because it's effective in the present. But play the clip to the right, which isn't new, and tell me it isn't funny.
SMART GUY (1997-1999)
Tahj's sisters Tia and Tamara have their show (Sister, Sister) on DVD, so why not him, too? Even though I don't remember watching this on TGIF (I think it played on The WB), this would have fit right in with the ABC lineup. It was aimed at kids, didn't hold back on the big life lessons moments, and, at the time, it was pretty entertaining.
There was a time when Fox had it going on in the animation department. Not all the cartoon series were great (The Tick), but the ones that were (Batman: The Animted Series, X-Men) were really, really great. Of all the versions I've seen, Fox's Spider-Man is still the best. It was fairly easy to get into, not just because there was a hipness to it and the stories were interesting, but because of the instant likability Christopher Daniel Barnes was able to generate by providing the principal voiceover work.
STEP BY STEP (1991-1998)
The final piece to the TGIF puzzle of yesteryear. Of the four main shows, this was definitely the weakest. A clear modern knockoff of The Brady Bunch, this was a show that encouraged an excess of overacting (see Cody) and valuable lessons. And yet, I watched it. And yet, I would still watch it if it were on DVD, if for no other reason, to honor the lineup. I wouldn't pay more than $20 for it, mind you, but I'd buy it nonetheless. It can be good to watch something you can relate to, or to see a show that's in touch with reality. It can be even better to spend thirty minutes looking at something that's the total opposite.
SWAMP THING: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1991)
How much time would it take to release this, with all 5 whopping episodes? I'm not sure why this wasn't popular critically (there have been way worse animated shows) or commercially, but I know I loved it as a kid. Turns out, this actually was released on DVD about five years ago, but it's since gone out of print. I doubt its chances of coming back are good, but between the overdone voiceovers and the unintentionally hilarious scenarios, I'd definitely get in line for this.
THE TRIALS OF LIFE (1990 -)
Before Planet Earth, there was this, and as a nature enthusiast as a kid, I ate this up. I'm not sure if it was David Attenborough's easy-sounding voice, or the peacefulness to the show, or that cool intro at the beginning, but somehow, this stood apart from every other nature show before it by leaps and bounds. The United Kingdom has the show available on DVD (naturally), but, unfortuantely, the United States does not. It may not have the latest cameras and visual technology of the times, but this is a show that won't ever get old.
THE WONDER YEARS (1988-1993)
Last, but definitely not least, comes the show most in need of an official DVD release. Fans have been clamoring for a set of seasons for years now, but so far, the only way to bring the show home is to pay too much to online sellers who don't specialize in superior picture quality or sound. It's been a while since the show concluded. Does it really take that long to sort out all the music royalties issues? I guess it does. But here's to hoping something gets worked in the not-too-distant future. . .
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