Monday, August 03, 2009

We Want Our DVDS

As web monkey for The Thrilling Detective Web Site, I get loads of mail asking, over and over, when the shows listed below are coming out on DVD. Or Blu-Ray.

Sorry, Folks. I don't know anything more than what's on the site.

But anyway, here's the top ten P.I. shows (subject to update) that people want to see. If you hear anything about the (legal) availability of any of these, let me know...

Harry O (1974-76, ABC)
By far the most requested show, and the most critically acclaimed P.I. show NOT to be available on DVD. David Janssen winced and grimaced and carried a world of hurt on his shoulders, and spoke some of the best writing -- in any medium -- the genre ever produced. Howard Rodman, this one's for you.

Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988, ABC)
Really? There must be an awful lot of Robert Urich fans out there.

Staccato (1959-60, NBC/ABC)
A noirish cult fave, starring and occasionally directed by John Cassavetes. Very cool to look at; occasionally (and unintentionally) hilarious to watch -- but that's what happens when you're an "auteur" aiming high.

Vega$ (1978-81, ABC)
Really? See #2.

Peter Gunn (1958-61, NBC/ABC)
Yeah, some of the episodes have surfaced, but the complete run is what the boys in the back room will have. Starring Craig Stevens as the coolest TV eye ever, stylish but never self-conscious. Extra points for having Edie, the greatest P.I. girlfriend ever.

Longstreet (1971-1972, ABC)
James Franciscus as a blind insurance investigator. I loved this show as a kid, but I'm pretty sure most of the demand now is due to the detective's martial arts trainer, played by some young Asian guy named Bruce Lee.

City of Angels (1976, CBS)
An ambitious period piece from the Cannell factory, set in WWII L.A, but fondly remebered by those 17 viewers who caught it. Supposedly the star, Wayne Rogers, thought it was crap. He also thought he'd have a big career after bailing out of TV's M*A*S*H.

Eyes (2005, ABC)
A high-tech agency specializing in corporate crime, but run by Tim Daly with plenty of soul. The most recent show on the list; arguably conclusive proof the networks have lost their testicles.

Vengeance Unlimited (1998, ABC)
Ahead of the curve, this edgy blast of dark humour and pulp fiction cool starring Michael Madsen, would be a shoe-in now on HBO or Showtime. Imagine The Equalizer without a stick up his butt.

Tenspeed and Brownshoe (1980, ABC)
A personal fave of mine, but I'm not the only one. A witty, savvy love letter to the P.I. genre, starring Jeff Goldblum as a doofus accountant with Chandler dreams and Ben Vereen as a slick, jive-talking grifter all too willing to lend him a hand, by uber-fan Stephen J. Cannell.


The detective wore tennis shoes. Rockford-lite, but definitely watchable..

The Outsider (1968-69, NBC)
A one-season dry-run for Rockford. I've never seen it, but supposedly it's as much Harry O as Jimbo, and Darren McGavin shines.

Archer (1975, NBC)
Brian Keith as Ross Macdonald's classic, angst-ridden gumshoe. Supposedly quite good, but lost in the seventies P.I. orgy. Leigh Brackett even wrote an episode.

The folks at TV Shows on are trying to change this sorry state of affairs.

Or at least allowing you to blow off a little steam... Head on over and vote on which shows you'd like to see brought to DVD. Beats me if it does any good, but it can't hurt, can it?

And it sure beats shilling out big bucks for a dubious copy on eBay.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Jake Murdock said...

Last year, I refused to wait any longer for "Harry O" to be released on DVD. I purchased a 3rd party complete series DVD set (2 seasons with both pilots) from an seller.

It always was my #1 P.I. show, and I'm loving every episode again.

5:31 PM, August 03, 2009  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Maybe if enough people boast publicly about their illegal bootleg copies, they'll finally release a legit version.

11:18 PM, August 03, 2009  
Blogger J. Kingston Pierce said...

You can add my name, too, to those of people who refused to wait for "official" DVD releases. From your list, I already have "3rd party complete series" of City of Angels and Harry O. Both hold up excellently.

By the way, Kevin, City of Angels was originally broadcast on NBC, not CBS.


1:53 PM, August 04, 2009  
Blogger Laurent said...

I have very fond memories of _City of Angels_. I'd love to have it on DVD, but I'm not holding my breath.

12:57 PM, August 09, 2009  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Yeah, that City of Angels three-parter about the LA elite and their ties to the Nazis was simply amazing television; so brave and audacious for its time. It's the sort of button-pushing story line that even now few networks would touch. and an honest-to-God corrupt, racist, abusive cop as a regular? Priceless.

I have that three-parter scattered over a couple of rapidly disintegrating VHS tapes -- I hope one day they release it -- if not on DVD maybe digitally. I'd certainly download that sucker.

And there's a precedent -- a lot of out-of-print albums are skipping the CD stage and going right to iTunes, eMusic and the like.

12:42 PM, August 10, 2009  
Anonymous Sandy Hutchens said...

David Janssen! That takes me back. You just can't top these guys. Everything is forensics on TV now.

Thanks for your blog. Good work.

7:44 AM, October 06, 2009  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Yep, definitely too much forensics. And too much dumbed down science and preposterous writing. Lab rats kicking down doors and grilling suspects?

So that's what they went to medical school for!

Yeah, right.

But an early version of CSI was actually one of my favourite shows. UNSUB featured David Soul (hard to believe) leading a special team of FBI forensics experts all over the U.S., investigating crimes that involved an "unknown subject" (an UNSUB). It was dark and creepy at times -- they were usually after serial killers -- but there was also a real sense of team work and procedure about it, and not a lot of pointless music video whiz bang overkill. Good stuff, although it only ran for a handful of episodes in 1989 or so.

11:45 AM, October 06, 2009  
Anonymous Max Allan Collins said...

Cannell is releasing a bunch of his more obscure series on DVD. So maybe there's hope for CITY OF ANGELS yet.

On the other hand, a year ago or so, I went to his website and CITY OF ANGELS was not listed among his credits. I wrote and commented, and the web person thanked me for "reminding" Cannell about it. (I think TENSPEED may have been absent as well...but for sure CITY OF ANGELS.)

By the way, I called and got on Larry King, many years ago, when Rogers was a guest. I complimented him on the Jake Axminster character and asked him about his take on the guy, and he responded very warmly, apparently having fond memories of the show. Remember he went on to essentially reprise Axeminter in a TV movie about the Harry Oakes case (which I wrote up as the Nate Heller novel, CARNAL HOURS -- tecnhically he played real life PI Raymond Schindler) and later in a recurring role on MURDER SHE WROTE. A great TV PI, our Mr. Rogers, whatever he might have thought about the CITY OF ANGELS neighborhood....

2:25 PM, October 31, 2009  
Blogger your fiend, mr. jones said...

No love for Jim Hutton? His take on The D.A. and Levinson and Link's TV "Ellery Queen" was really great. I've had the chance to see both lately (since originally I saw them when I was 9) and they hold up really well.

8:58 AM, November 04, 2009  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Max, in case I've never mentioned it before, for a long time I thought I was the only one who even remembered that damn show. Coming across your book, THE BEST OF CRIME AND DETECTIVE SHOWS (and your tribute to CITY OF ANGELS in it) was one of the pieces snapping into place that eventually led to the Thrilling Detective Web Site.

I thought, "Gee, who is this guy, and look what great taste he has. Hmmmm, maybe I'm not alone...

9:16 AM, November 04, 2009  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

My dear fiend Mr. Jones:

I was talking P.I. shows. as in "private eye." Ellery Queen was generally considered an amateur sleuth. As for loving Jim Hutton, well, I never quite got Robert Urich's appeal either. A nice enough guy, possibly, but so what?

But speaking of affably bland leading men, I see that VEGA$ is now available on DVD.

9:22 AM, November 04, 2009  
Anonymous Mike L. said...

Great blog. I got here by way of Debbie Mack's Mid-List blog.
I was a big Harry O. fan. Wasn't there another detective series with David Janssen too? I'll Google to find out.
I invite you to check out my blog, Noir Journal
Fairly new blog, but I've had over 1,000 hits and some great input.

3:30 PM, November 20, 2009  
Blogger William Patrick Maynard said...

The first two seasons of PETER GUNN are available in the UK legally for those Stateside with Region Free players from Liberation Entertainment. The company has the rights to the third season as well as the spin-off series, MR. LUCKY. No word if those are coming to DVD yet. I would add two other Blake Edwards-created series to the want list, RICHARD DIAMOND - PRIVATE DETECTIVE and DANTE which are pretty much PETER GUNN and MR. LUCKY under different names.

7:02 PM, January 18, 2010  
Blogger Winifred said...

You're so right about Harry O. I've contacted Warner Brothers about it but so far no joy. Can't understand why they are not releasing it when they are releasing so much cartoon rubbish and poorer quality stuff. I suppose it's a case of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I also set up a petition to get Harry O released on DVD so if anyone you know wants to sign it it's here

I live in hopes!

9:02 AM, August 07, 2010  

Post a Comment

<< Home