TV shows on DVD

MSCL may be gone from the tv screen, but there are lots of good (and bad) new productions airing each week. Talk with other MSCL fans about your favorite shows or the shows you hate. Of course you can also discuss TV show DVD releases here.
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Sascha (sab)
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TV shows on DVD

Post by Sascha (sab) » Nov 20th 2004, 3:53 pm

I think we had once a "meta" thread about tv shows on DVD in general - but I can't find it :-) (Yeah, I'm not perfect. Go figure... ;-))

Anyway, here is an interesting article from forbes about the big money the studios make with tv-dvd releases:
The Flashback Economy
Small Screen DVDs Generate Big Profits
Peter Kang, 11.18.04, 2:55 PM ET

NEW YORK - Consumers have flocked to DVDs.

They pack more content into less space than VHS tapes and with easy online ordering and quick shipment--think Amazon.com (nasdaq: AMZN - news - people ) and eBay (nasdaq: EBAY - news - people )--it's quite easy to go from casual fan to DVD collector. Apart from movies, television shows are finding a new life on the format.

According to industry newsletter DVD Release Report, more than 1,900 "TV DVD" titles have been released as of Nov. 12. Merrill Lynch values the TV DVD market at a robust $2.3 billion in 2004 with sales growing to a stunning $3.9 billion by 2008. Merrill said TV DVDs account for an estimated 14% of total DVD revenue in 2004, despite the fact that TV DVDs made up just 6.8% of the new releases this year, per DVD Release Report. Here's why: TV DVDs are generally sold in multi-disc sets and have higher retail prices; the average price of a TV DVD is $27 compared with the overall average price of $16. It's a high-margin business with little overhead as major studios simply dig into their archives, slap on some bonus material and ship it out, season by season.


Martin Blythe, vice president of publicity at Paramount Home Entertainment, a unit of Viacom (nyse: VIAb - news - people ), says the surge in TV DVD releases mirrors the "phenomenon" of classic movie reissues. "The key audience is those who remembered the show initially as well as those who caught it in later syndication and think of these shows as part of their personal heritage," he says. "There's got to be an ownership factor."

Ralph Tribbey, editor of the DVD Release Report, says the majority of current TV DVD releases target consumers who are proven DVD collectors. "It's heavily genre-specific. Sci-fi and action shows tend to beat up on the older catalog," he says.

The sub-sector of retro and reissued television shows on DVD, as opposed to releases of still-running shows, is growing exponentially. We estimate sales growing by more than 100% since last year with 2004 sales pegged at $290 million. Retro TV shows are a sleeping giant of revenue as more and more households adopt DVD technology. (The most recent estimate indicates approximately 64% of households own a DVD player).

Paramount's Blythe says, "The real interesting area is in comedy: situation comedy, dramatic comedy. We discovered that Frasier and Cheers did not come out of the gate strongly but they have an evergreen appeal that sells on a regular basis."

Indeed, classic programs such as Monty Python's Flying Circus have fiercely loyal fans willing to pay the $200 price tag for a "megaset" compilation of all 45 episodes. Distributor A&E Home Video, a unit of A&E Television Networks, is one of the pioneers of the TV DVD market. In August 2000, the company released the first six episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus on DVD. "That really helped us launch the whole category [of TV DVDs]," says Steve Ronson, senior vice president of enterprises at A&E Television, which is a joint venture of Hearst, The Walt Disney Co. (nyse: DIS - news - people ) unit ABC, and General Electric (nyse: GE - news - people ) unit NBC.

Ronson says, "I think it's a unique marketplace; the competitiveness is a little strange here because it doesn't matter what other [studios] release, if you're a fan of Kids in the Hall, you're going to buy that product." Ronson says A&E's compilation of the British comedy, Mr. Bean, has sold almost 400,000 copies since it launched in April 2003, which translates to roughly $14 million in retail sales.

One entertainment executive suggested that studios may be in a rush to release titles because of the threat of video on demand to the TV DVD industry. "If the studios make all of their titles available [through video on demand], you might find some things may not have the same collectibility value," says David Dorn, senior vice president of new media at Rhino Records, the catalog label for Warner Music Group.

DVD Release Report's Tribbey says the major studios are currently trying out different ways to target fans of retro TV. "The studios are experimenting with their treasure troves. There's a lot of experimentation, it's like throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks," says Tribbey.

One studio executive said fans of classic TV differ from science-fiction fans since they tend to be older and less interested in extra features. "Green Acres and Mister Ed fans are probably more price-sensitive and much more likely to want the programming itself," says Alex Carloss, senior vice president of marketing of the home-entertainment division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (nyse: MGM - news - people ). "They want to get straight to the episodes they remembered. The ability to skip to exactly what you want is absolutely key in the retro nostalgia world."

As baby boomers get older, the market for older titles may grow as time progresses, Ronson says. "People who grew up with classic television of the '70s and '80s are great fans, great collectors." As more fans of classic TV adopt DVD technology, Hollywood may have to scramble to keep up with demand. "If [the studios] are going to maintain the release pace, they have to get deeper in the catalog, I'm talking about the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s," says Tribbey. "There's a lot at stake here; 2005 should be a very interesting transitional year."

http://www.forbes.com/business/2004/11/ ... tvdvd.html

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Post by fnordboy » Nov 20th 2004, 4:27 pm

As baby boomers get older, the market for older titles may grow as time progresses, Ronson says. "People who grew up with classic television of the '70s and '80s are great fans, great collectors." As more fans of classic TV adopt DVD technology, Hollywood may have to scramble to keep up with demand. "If [the studios] are going to maintain the release pace, they have to get deeper in the catalog, I'm talking about the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s," says Tribbey. "There's a lot at stake here; 2005 should be a very interesting transitional year.
This gives me hope. I am someone who is a fan of some old black and white TV shows. I am still holding out that one day I will see a release of some shows that I am dying to collect like The Patty Duke Show and Dobie Gillis. There has already been an absolutely great release of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which I think has sold well so I think this will definitely be a possibility.

And yes I am one of those fans they talk about in the article that bought the Monty Python mega set.... :oops:

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Post by Nostradamus » Nov 22nd 2004, 8:11 am

Interesting stuff! I'm still waiting on China Beach...

<fingers crossed>
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Post by lance » Nov 23rd 2004, 9:04 pm

Lord knows I am doing my part to boost TV Series on DVD sales.

Recently picked up Stargate Season 7 and Gregg the Bunny.

Good to know the industry is doing so well, maybe this will mean more obscure but well loved shows might get onto DVD. Shows like say Space Above and Beyond for instance.

-LanceMan

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Post by fnordboy » Nov 24th 2004, 12:03 am

lance wrote:Lord knows I am doing my part to boost TV Series on DVD sales.
Ugh, tell me about it. Between R1 and R2 I have bought enough TV shows on DVD to make the industry what it is. Now so far I have been succesful on holding out on getting into K-dramas and J-dramas....but I don't know how long I can keep that up...

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Post by lance » Dec 2nd 2004, 11:08 pm

fnordboy wrote:
lance wrote:Lord knows I am doing my part to boost TV Series on DVD sales.
Ugh, tell me about it. Between R1 and R2 I have bought enough TV shows on DVD to make the industry what it is. Now so far I have been succesful on holding out on getting into K-dramas and J-dramas....but I don't know how long I can keep that up...
Resist Fnordboy! Hold out as long a you can, until you can secure another job or three to support your habit...I mean hobby.

:wink:

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Post by dTheater » Dec 3rd 2004, 12:02 am

Conversely, I wonder if TV on DVD is hurting TV. Whenever I miss out on a new show, I always find myself saying, "Eh, I'll just rent it when it comes out on DVD." But I usually never do. Also, I'm less inclined to watch a show on TV when I own it on DVD.

I guess as long as the shows are making money regardless of how they're making it.
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Post by SanDeE* » Dec 3rd 2004, 12:29 am

I have only a few shows on DVD: Sex and the City (all of the seasons), Simpsons (S1, 2, & 4), Mr. Show, Space Ghost, and of course MSCL. I don't have cable TV, so therefore I wouldn't get to watch all of those shows (except Simpsons) unless I got it on DVD. I only have the first DVDs that came out for Mr. Show and Space Ghost, and I don't think I'll get any subsequent DVDs for those shows. They are great, I just can't afford it. And I probably won't buy Simpsons DVDs after maybe season 7 or 8, tops.

I don't know, you are probably right - DVD sales of TV shows probably hurts TV. A lot of new shows are so crappy, though - I think it's hurting itself. I'm sick of the reality shows, and I can't believe those are coming out on DVD now! I really like the older stuff - like I said, I won't buy Simpsons DVDs past season 7 or 8 tops.
Last edited by SanDeE* on Dec 4th 2004, 2:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by dTheater » Dec 4th 2004, 12:36 pm

Kristin wrote:I won't buy Simpsons DVDs past season 7 or 8 tops.
I think it was Season 7 or 8 when they tried to pull off that "Who Shot Burns?" gimmick. That was the ultimate "jump the shark" moment. That would be my last Simpsons purchase as well.
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Post by SanDeE* » Dec 4th 2004, 2:19 pm

I forgot to say that I also have That 70s Show S1 on DVD as well. Great dvds - but lacking on special features, IMO. Same as Sex and the City. I don't think I'll buy any more seasons of T70sS either, just because I can't afford it. Okay... maybe S2. :wink:
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Post by Nostradamus » Dec 5th 2004, 11:42 am

I would think buying the dvds would support TV; it's just that much more profit for the industry, right?
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Dec 16th 2004, 4:02 am

Interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle that mirrors many of our members' need to own and own ALL of it!
It is the ultimate busman's holiday when I walk into a store and buy a DVD collection of TV shows. It's asinine, really. And yet, there I am. Fool.

Imagine yourself walking into Virgin Megastore and saying to the clerk, "You got any files back there that I can pore over? Any paperwork I can approve? I'll take this new Elvis Costello album and, hey, is there a place I can plug in my laptop to set up some charts and graphs?"

I'm having a hard enough time watching the TV shows I get paid to watch. But like a lot of people who have been poisoned by the holidays like dioxin in their soup, I'm out there shopping. Has there ever been a better -- how would the business types put this? -- ancillary revenue source than DVDs? Movies make sense. But TV? Completely mystifying. "Say, honey, why don't you buy me this 'Seinfeld' DVD boxed set of the first three seasons? You know, the ones we get for free every day in reruns?"

And yet ...

Last year, I found myself in just this predicament. I railed then that people were being lured into this Bright Shiny World of DVDs without really thinking it out in terms of hours taken off their life. If you buy a movie -- say, "Hero" or "The Bourne Supremacy" -- then you've got, what, 120 minutes waiting to be wiped away? But if you buy a wobbly wheelbarrow of "CSI" offerings, well, we're talking protracted there, pal. Very protracted.

But I realized, as I bought a bunch of TV series on DVD that I'd already seen, that it's not about the watching. It's about the owning. Rare is the person who says, "I'm going to buy the first season of 'The Simpsons' out of curiosity. But not the next four years. And not the 12 to come." Ours is not that culture. "I really loved the first two seasons of 'The Sopranos,' but I wouldn't dare buy the next three seasons. Oh my, no. Who has the time?"

As consumers, most of us say, "I'll take all four of these seasons and I'd like to be wait-listed for Season 5 and the yet-to-be-shot Season 6. Here's my Visa with Uncle Junior and Bacala on the front."

Americans are collectors. And worse, completists. Count me among you. Last Christmas, I got Dennis Potter's "The Singing Detective" and have yet to watch it. Well, I saw it on TV first, naturally. I just wanted the DVD. I also got the first collection of "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cartoons, which I adore, but have yet to watch sequentially. Late at night -- sure. Same goes for the "Looney Tunes" collection. Now I must have Volume 2 of each. Yes, must.

That's a long-winded way of saying I've climbed off the high-horse. No more crowing about how you don't have enough time in the world to watch these shows. I have caved. I am in front of you buying "Gigantor." Both offerings.

Given that, here's a list of TV series on DVD that would make swell gifts for all kinds of people, even people who already have TV sets.

This is not a complete list. Let's not kid ourselves. There's a Web site called TVShows-OnDVD.com that claims there are 4,338 shows on DVD. No couch is big enough to absorb that. But if I was wandering the aisles of my local bricks and mortar or clicking away in a red wine-fueled green-light binge, I'd go for these:

"Alias" (girl, gun, skirt -- say no more); "Arrested Development" (duh -- don't make me write anymore on that); "Angels in America" (a lot of people get their HBO fix on DVD, and there will be a lot of it on this list); "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" (because the world needs cartoons about a shake, a box of fries and a "meatwad"); "Band of Brothers" (a great miniseries); pretty much anything by Ken Burns, but "Baseball" and "Jazz" for sure; "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (already missed); "Chappelle's Show" (probably the funniest thing most people haven't seen); "The Corner" (another fine HBO miniseries that makes a terrific companion to "The Wire," which you just knew I'd tell you to buy).

"Cracker" (Robbie Coltrane Brit versions only); "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (perfect for when the holidays go sour); "Deadwood" (one season so far, hopefully a lot of good ones to come); "Eerie, Indiana" (another cool TV show killed before its time); "Family Guy" (the show that helped spawn the DVD sensation for the TV industry, plus just damn funny); "Gilmore Girls" (proof that family fare doesn't have to be dumb); "Harold and the Purple Crayon" (amazingly great, and sweet); "Home Movies" (if you didn't catch it in all its short TV show life, and afterlife, now's the time for some lo-fi animated coolness); "Kids in the Hall" (best sketch comedy ever, maybe?).

"King of the Hill" (underrated, even on this end); "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (late Friday night, big sandwich, feeling bored); "MI-5" (two seasons, no badly spliced commercials); "The Newsroom" (brilliant satire, plus you've probably never seen it); "Northern Exposure" (quirky, done exquisitely); "The Office" (new package includes both seasons and the special, which wrapped it up ever so brilliantly); "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" (separating the artist from the art, of course); "The PowerPuff Girls" (officially a classic), "Prime Suspect" (all six sets are precisely why DVDs were invented); "Seinfeld" (of course); "The Sopranos" (likewise).

"Sex and the City" (just because); "The Shield" (just because Michael Chiklis); "The Simpsons" (Oh, Christ, you almost have to at this point), "The Singing Detective" (some of the best television ever made); "South Park" (because you forget how funny it is when cartoons swear); "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" (because it essentially launched "Adult Swim" on Cartoon Network); "Speed Racer" (too cool for words); "The Tick" (it still makes me sad that Fox canceled it); "Thunderbirds" (they are always go!); "Wonderfalls" (see "Tick").

Not entirely thorough, mind you, but plenty of options. Now, if you can find a way to get these, pay for them, complete each set, find time to watch them and still lead a relatively normal life, do drop a line.
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Post by dTheater » Dec 21st 2004, 1:07 am

That was a great article, but I almost had a heart attack when he named 3 of my favorite shows that I was sure no else watched: Arrested Development, Home Movies, and the obscurest and best of all: The Newsroom!! That show was The Office long before there ever was an office.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 9th 2005, 4:28 pm

Another article about tv shows on DVD - and a MSCL mention!
Kill your TV - but keep your DVD player

"What'cha got there? Something good?"

My neighbor is peeking at a red Netflix envelope I've just yanked from the mailbox. He's only making small talk, but I feel violated: Aren't DVD selections, like PIN numbers and bra sizes, supposed to be kept private?

"Uh, I can't remember," I tell him, backing away. "See ya!"

The truth is, I know exactly what's in the envelope. I just figured a guy who reads Forbes and swaths himself in khaki wouldn't know how to respond if I'd exclaimed, "Angel - season five, disc three!"

More than half the DVDs I rent, and buy, are TV series. After Angel, I'll dig in to cult '60s show The Prisoner, the first two seasons of Alias, the second season of The Wire, the third season of Seinfeld, the fourth season of The Simpsons and the first season of All in the Family. The queue goes on.

It doesn't help my habit that series are coming to DVD faster than ever. Collections from at least 15 shows arrived in stores this week, including 21 Jump Street, Felicity and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. By the end of the month, first seasons of Hogan's Heroes, Doogie Howser and Kojak will be available on disc. (Photo gallery: See what other series are coming to DVD)

DVDs don't just make watching TV shows more convenient; they change the entire viewing experience. While I caught many episodes of Angel on the WB, for instance, watching them in long, commercial-free chunks sucks me into the action more intensely. I catch references I missed the first time around. Characters seem more complex, and dialogue sounds smarter than when it was crammed between Taco Bell and tampon ads.

You could say it's almost like watching a movie.

Later this month, 20th Century Fox will try to convert more TV fans into DVD buyers by selling series "starter sets." The concept: For $9.99, customers can buy the first two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or 24. If they like what they see, an enclosed coupon gives them $10 off the full season set.

I, too, want more people to understand my obsession with TV DVDs. So far my Wire-loving husband, Gilmore Girls-y mother and Poirot-ish father have seen the light.

Here are a few tips, if you're into ...

... gathering clues, you must check out Twin Peaks. (The first season came out in 2001; the second season is finally in the works.) No matter how many times I follow the giant, Bob and the backwards-talking dwarf, I always discover a hidden gem - and, at this point, I've watch the series at least 10 times. Clue-filled DVD sets from Lost and Desperate Housewives are due in the fall.

... reminiscing about the '80s, you might dig the second season of Punky Brewster. Seriously. It contains several classic episodes, including one about the pill-popping "Chicklets" and another about Cherie getting locked inside a refrigerator. Then there's always Miami Vice and the animated Jem, which has truly, truly, truly outrageous bonus features.

... shows that nobody saw, look into Joss Whedon's Firefly. Prematurely canceled by the Fox network, the unaired episodes are available on DVD and are a perfect preview to Whedon's Firefly movie, Serenity, due in September. Also, Wonderfalls, another show Fox axed too early, features nine unaired episodes in its recent set.

... laughing 'til you ache, you could try Chappelle's Show, but since it's the top-selling TV DVD of all time, you probably have already. I recommend the fourth season of David Cross (news) and Bob Odenkirk's Mr. Show.

... adult-oriented animation, you won't be disappointed by anything from the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup; namely, Aqua Teen Hunger Force (I prefer the first volume), SeaLab 2021 (season two) and Home Movies. Also, the BBC's Rex the Runt is good for a Sunday afternoon laugh, especially if you enjoy clay figurines who sing opera and talking Easter Island heads.

... getting the whole story, watch Arrested Development, Buffy and My So-Called Life, all series where you can't afford to miss an episode. Unlike the VHS version, the My So-Called Life DVDs offer all of the episodes in the series.

... experiencing extras, I can't tell you how much I adore the commentary and features in the gigantic Freaks and Geeks DVD set. The Office also offers cheeky bonus material, like the music video for Freelove Freeway. The fact that both are perfect shows goes without saying.

All my DVD desires won't be fulfilled until release dates for The State, Undeclared, Square Pegs and Maude are announced. As for my neighbor, I have a hunch he's counting the days (or years) until L.A. Law is finally put on DVD.

And who knows? By then I might be persuaded to indulge in a little khaki and Corbin Bernsen, too.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Mar 27th 2005, 3:39 am

Another interesting article about TV show DVDs:
Experts explain the thinking behind what TV shows come out on DVD

By Tom Jicha

The Cosby Show was the American Idol of its time. In the mid-'80s it crushed everything scheduled against it and catapulted NBC from a distant third -- as in last -- in the Nielsen rankings to a dominant first for most of the rest of the 20th century.

Don't look for it on DVD. There has been no release.

Roseanne tied The Cosby Show as most popular series of the 1989-90 season and was in Nielsen's Top 5 for the first six seasons of its nine-year run. It, too, remains a DVD non-starter.

JAG, now in its 10th season on CBS, is not on disc either. But you can get My Big Fat Greek Life, which came and went in fewer than two months on the same network.

Harsh Realm hung around for one season on Fox. It was a distant last in its time period. It is on DVD. So too is Wonderfalls, which managed to survive only a month last year before Fox pulled the plug.

DVD sales of TV series have become a multibillion-dollar business. According to industry publications, total sales were about $2 billion in 2004, up from $1.5 billion the previous year. Nevertheless, it would seem there is no rhyme or reason as to what does and doesn't hit the video store shelves. Actually, there are numerous reasons, according to industry experts.

"This began as a small, small business just three or four years ago," said Marc Rashba, vice president of catalog marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. "We got a lot of calls from producers and fans." That input influenced the first series Sony targeted for DVD. "A lot of the early [releases] were ones that were sort of seminal favorites or classic favorites for us. But it has evolved over time. Now we have a little bit more of a process in place. We regularly conduct polls on TV fan sites and such."

Sometimes such polls have to be eyed warily. "We do a little more homework because there was a show with Chuck Connors from [1987-88] called Werewolf," Rashba said. "We kept getting hundreds of e-mails about it. But when we did our homework, we found out it was three guys in North Carolina."

Quantum leap

Despite the high stakes, decisions on what to release on DVD remain an inexact science, he acknowledged. "We almost really don't know. We kind of get to guess."

The traditional gauge of program popularity, the Nielsens, isn't a reliable barometer of DVD demand. "We've learned ratings don't necessarily translate to success on DVD at all," Rashba said. "Some of the surprises are shows we never thought really would click at all."

The No. 1 selling single release would fit into that category. Sales for the first season of Chappelle's Show are approaching 2.5 million copies, more than the number of people who watched the Comedy Central series for free on a typical week. "When Paramount put it out," Rashba said, "they were totally caught short on that kind of phenomenon that just explodes on you. You can't even fill the orders."

Another of the biggest sellers is a bigger shocker. Two editions of Family Guy, the animated Fox series, have sold about 3.5 million units. Only The Simpsons, which has sold almost five million sets of its first four seasons, tops those figures. "We know Family Guy took Fox by surprise," Rashba said. "They knew it was going to be successful. They just didn't know it was going to be that successful."

Its afterlife has become such a sensation that Fox resuscitated it from cancellation, where it was jettisoned because the network couldn't find an audience for it despite using every promotional gimmick and high-powered lead-in, including the Super Bowl, at its disposal.

Freaks and geeks

When it comes to DVDs, it seems to be preferable to have a small but rabid core of followers, rather than broad appeal that may be a mile wide but an inch deep.

"That's why Fox is releasing something like Wonderfalls," said Gord Lacey, who has made a business of his self-created Web site tvshowsondvd.com, whose features include an alphabetical roster of shows on DVD. "Four episodes aired, but it's coming out on DVD [along with episodes that didn't air] because there are fans who will buy it."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer never approached the ratings of NYPD Blue. However, according to Lacey, "You're going to sell more sets of Buffy because it's got an active fan base."

Moderately rated shows whose primary appeal is to younger viewers tend to do better in their afterlife than Nielsen smashes, whose audience tends to be closer to Social Security than to puberty. This helps to explain why there has been no release of JAG. "That's one I get asked about all the time," Lacey said.

Even when there is a perceived market, other hassles can keep a show from the DVD marketplace. "Sometimes it's the willingness of the studio," Lacey said. "Older shows are a little bit more difficult [to get released]. Right now everyone is concentrating on the new shows, because that's what people want."

The size of a studio's library is another factor. "Warner Bros. has such a huge catalog, there might be a good show that they would do all right with, but there's 30 others shows that they would do better with," Lacey said. "They're probably going to release those 30 before the other one."

Let's make a deal

Petty bickering between studios can keep shows from being released, especially older ones in which the contracts had no language for 21st century technology. "A lot of original show agreements were silent on the issue," Sony's Rashba said. "You had a very different model, so you'd have a studio co-production sometimes with a network, or you'd have two studios co-producing. One took international rights for syndication and one took domestic. But when you get into other formats -- Internet, DVD -- they were silent. So there has to be a business discussion a lot of times with the original people." Sometimes this means their heirs are doing the negotiating.

Hammering out these deals can become a headache. "They may not all get along at this point," said Gary Scott Thompson, creator of the NBC series Las Vegas. "That's a problem." This is a pitfall his show will not endure. Thompson began preparing for a DVD release from day one. Midway through the series' second season on the air, season one is already on the market.

Seinfeld is a textbook example of the challenges of getting several constituencies on the same page. "`Monumental' would be a great description because it was aligning a lot of different parties," Rashba said. "First and foremost is the talent. Then it is a Castle Rock-produced show in partnership with Shapiro/West. So we needed those three parties together before [Sony] even got involved. You had a lot of people with a lot of opinions. So it took a long time to get the whole plan together."

A major concern, according to Thompson, was the fear that releasing Seinfeld on DVD would harm the syndication ratings. Why would people who had every episode at their disposal bother to watch reruns with commercials? "It turns out the exact opposite was true," Thompson said.

This is becoming the common experience, said Rashba, who cites Friends as well as Seinfeld. "The syndication [ratings] of both these shows actually increased a little bit with the marketing around the DVDs."

Thompson feels the DVD release of Las Vegas, which features some racy outtakes, has given his series an enormous boost. "It was a great marketing tool for the second season. We're up against Monday Night Football. There are a lot of guys who don't watch our show, but I knew they would go and buy the DVD and possibly get hooked."

Behind the music

Obtaining the rights to soundtrack music, a process that ranges from time-consuming to impossible, also can pose an impenetrable roadblock. This is what kept Miami Vice out of the marketplace until just last month. For fans, it was worth the wait, since all the original music was cleared.

Then there's another iconic '80s series, Moonlighting. "The original studio that owned it didn't want to put it out because of the rights issues for the music," said DVD Group president David Naylor, who is working on the show's DVD release. "So Lions Gate decided to take a roll of the dice and is going to put it out complete with all the original music."

The difficulty of obtaining music rights has kept most vintage variety shows off the DVD shelves, according to Paul Brownstein, who is known in the business as "The Raider of the Lost Archives" because he specializes in producing discs of classic series. "The cost of the musical compositions -- not the performers, just the songs they sing -- can add up to more than we'd ever see in a royalty from DVD sales. You would be at a loss position on every single DVD that comes out."

One solution, a problematic one, is to replace the original soundtrack. "I've done three seasons of Felicity and all the original music was pulled out and replaced with a new score," said Naylor, whose company also has produced season sets for Alias and The X-Files.

Such machinations eventually will go the way of the 8-track and the Edsel. "The good news is, for a lot of the newer shows going forward [such as Las Vegas], everyone is sort of thinking about the DVD format," Rashba said. "We're clearing shows for both the TV use as well as for DVDs."

Once and again

Talent doesn't have the leverage that music composers do. "Every deal is different. Older shows fall under a lot of older contracts," Rashba said. "Residuals are probably not as substantial as something that is a hot show currently on a network." Some veteran stars have tried to recoup what they feel should be theirs by making outrageous demands to participate in the "extras." This, too, can delay a release.

Ultimately, however, if there is a market, a way will be found to serve it even if it takes awhile, Thompson said. "Don't forget the audience really dictates what's going on here. They're the ones telling us what they want to see."

It has been that way from the start.
Natasha aka candygirl :: MSCL.com

Look, if this is weird for you, being tutored? I don't mind helping you a little longer.
You could have sex with me if you really want to help...I guess that's a "no"?

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