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TV (Not) on DVD

My living room bookcases haven't known what's hit them lately, with all of the many television-on-DVD, well, DVDs, that I've been loaded them with. Yet, despite the sheer quantities that I've managed to gather, everything from Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Vicar of Dibley and Monarch of the Glen (with more than a few Justice League animated DVDs in between), there are still a few series that for whatever reason haven't quite made the jump to the digital.

So which series I am most desperate to own on DVD? Below are my top five (okay, six) picks for the most criminally unavailable television series on DVD.

Andy Richter Controls the Universe

Whenever I ask people which television series they would most like to see on DVD, this is invariably the answer I receive and I couldn't agree more. A critically acclaimed yet short-lived Fox series (is there any other kind?), Andy Richter Controls the Universe was a zany single-camera comedy WAY ahead of its time. The series starred Andy Richter as, well, Andy Richter, a mild-mannered technical writer (and aspiring short story writer) working for a large nefarious corporation that was haunted by the ghost of its bigoted founder (like I said, zany). Andy's universe was pretty much his office and his days consisted mainly of daydreaming and interacting with his fellow prisoners--I mean co-workers: snappish supervisor Jessica (Paget Brewster), nerdy Bryon (Jonathan Slavin), suave ladies' man Keith (James Patrick Stewart), and gorgeous receptionist Wendy (Irene Molloy). What other show could brag about having its lead wear a puppy coat (yes, a coat whose many, many pockets were filled with adorable puppies) or daydream about crushing an old lady's skull into a diamond to impress the object of his affections? Just Andy Richter Controls the Universe. So, Paramount, what do you say about bringing this cult comedy fave to DVD already?

Twin Peaks

A girl wrapped in plastic. A coffee-swilling FBI agent obsessed with cherry pie. A town of kooks so odd that any of them could have been guilty of murder. I'm talking about David Lynch's groundbreaking series Twin Peaks, a show so creepy that it gave my thirteen-year-old mind nightmares for years.

Before I get any angry emails pointing out that Twin Peaks' first season is available on DVD, let me clarify. Yes, now defunct studio Artisan did release the series' first season on DVD a few years ago, but they neglected to include David Lynch's brilliant and intoxicating two-hour pilot on the box set (it was a rights issue, apparently) and the studio was purchased by Lionsgate before season two was ever released. Gord Lacey's site TVonDVD.com continues to keep me updated about the series' future on DVD and about Paramount taking over releasing Twin Peaks on disc. Hopefully we'll see the surreal mystery-drama's second season hit stores this fall. But if it were up to me (which, sadly, it's not), I'd have them release the entire series (including that pilot, available on DVD only via Chinese bootleg) in one big deluxe box set, with a few retrospective bonus features. (No need to include feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, though; I'd rather pretend it didn't exist.)

Grosse Point

Poor Irene Molloy. Neither of her series (see Andy Richter, above) have made it to DVD. But for those of you who can remember, Grosse Point was a fun, rather tongue-in-cheek WB satire about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a Beverly Hills 90210-esque teen drama. Created by Darren Star (Sex and the City), it starred Irene Molloy as the vicious star of the fictional high school drama "Grosse Point," along with Bonnie Somerville, Lindsay Sloane, Al Santos, Kohl Sudduth, and Kyle Howard.

Clever and at times scathingly on target, Grosse Point barely lasted a season (17 episodes were produced) but I'm constantly reminded about this series. Sony controls the rights (it was produced by Michael Ovitz's now defunct Artists Television Group) and there's been a bit of a back-and-forth about a release date, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the show finally makes it onto DVD.

Melrose Place

Is there another show that best represents television in the 1990s? Okay, maybe there is, but does it also feature advertising agency backstabbing, bedroom hopping, and a psychotic bomb-loving redhead who's clearly seen too many episodes of Twin Peaks? Not to mention an extremely affordable, centrally located apartment complex with a shared pool and the most gorgeous people you've ever seen...

While reruns of the seminal nighttime soap appear to air nearly every day of the week on one cable network or another, I'd love to revisit Melrose Place from the very beginning. Remember when Billy (Andrew Shue) was an aspiring dancer? Or original cast members Amy Locaine and Vanessa L. Williams? (Hint: they were replaced early by Heather Locklear's Amanda.) Or when Michael (Thomas Calabro) was actually nice? So wouldn't it be nice to start humming that familiar instrumental scene, check out those cheesy nighttime shots of Los Angeles' Melrose Avenue, and catch up with Billy and Alison, Jake and Amanda, Sydney and Michael, and the rest of the Melrose Place gang?

Brittas Empire and Jonathan Creek

Two British television shows sadly overlooked thus far by the BBC for Region 1 DVD treatment. Brittas Empire was an indescribably bizarre comedy about Gordon Brittas (Red Dwarf's Christopher Barrie), the overbearing, insensitive, and generally oblivious manager of a suburban leisure center whose behavior was so intolerable that he drove his poor wife to adultery, alcohol, and copious amounts of prescription medication. Throw in a support staff of equally bizarre individuals--a homeless, single-mother receptionist who keeps her children in her desk drawers, a (barely) closeted gay couple, and a deputy manager with oozing facial pustules--and you have the recipe for a hilarious comedy about the murder, mayhem, and frequent disasters of the Whitbury New Town Leisure Center.

In an entirely different direction, Jonathan Creek was a brilliant mystery drama series about Jonathan Creek (played with humor by Alan Davies), an illusionist who designs large-scale magical acts for famous magician Adam Klaus (Stewart Milligan, though Buffy's Anthony Stewart Head played him in the pilot). Jonathan's skills lend themselves to breaking down and solving seemingly impossible crimes, which are baffling in their very complexity. Along for the ride is Jonathan's friend/love interest, Madeline "Maddy" Magellan (Caroline Quentin), an intrepid reporter with a nose for trouble. Imagine Mulder and Scully with a little less sex appeal and a plethora of neuroses and you're nearly there. (Fortunately, when co-star Caroline Quentin departed after the third season, Jonathan Creek's producers cleverly brought in Absolutely Fabulous' Julia Sawalha to replace her.) Agatha Christie would have loved the series' fascination with a that crime novel staple: the locked room mystery. Just as Jonathan and Maddy ingenuously solve each episode's puzzles, it's astonishing to think about how Jonathan Creek creator David Renwick dreamed them up in the first place. Jonathan Creek is smart, funny, and genuinely charming mystery drama, so why the bloody hell isn't it on DVD yet?

Did I miss anything? What other television shows are you desperate for on DVD?

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Shark: Mind of a Demon with Fabien Cousteau (CBS); America's Got Talent (NBC); Blue Collar TV/Blue Collar TV (WB); George Lopez/Freddie (ABC); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX; 8-10 pm); One on One/All of Us (UPN)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); America's Got Talent (NBC); One Tree Hill (WB); Lost (ABC); Eve/Cuts (UPN)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); Lost (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

10 pm: Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America (9 pm ET).

If Monday night's Hell's Kitchen wasn't enough Gordon Ramsay for you, here's your chance to catch him again. On tonight's episode of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares ("Sandgate"), Gordon attempts to save The Sandgate, a hotel and restaurant, from financial ruin as a burnt out chef nearly suffers a nervous breakdown from being forced to cook for four restaurants at once and the owners are completely clueless about how to run a successful eating establishment. Can Gordon save The Sandgate from itself?

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great list. I would buy Andy Richter, a Twin Peaks full series set and Grosse Point in a heartbeat. The only one I would add is Beverly Hills 90210. I NEED to be able to watch Donna's stint as a Parisian model, David's budding career as a rapper, and Dylan and Kelly's cheating whenever I so desire. We need 90210 on DVD!
Anonymous said…
I could swear I have the two hour Twin Peaks on DVD. But I have been known to hallucinate. I know I have season 1, but I something else, too. Hmmmm....

Grosse Point was definitely before its time. I never thought it was perfect, but I could see a lot of potential. Lindsay Sloane was great.

Andy Richter. Brilliant. That's all.

But my pick, and the show I can't believe isn't on DVD, and one which has a huge following and which had characters in crazy fantasy sequences and great movie parodies long before Ally McBeal and others and which introduced me to George Clooney (I never saw him on Facts of Life), and which dared to employ Juliane Phillips and made me fall in love w/Sela Ward and was so much funnier and wittier than people probably thought and WHY THE HELL ISN'T IT ON DVD?!?! Yeah. Sisters. I'm bitter.
Jace Lacob said…
Ally,

I have the "Twin Peaks" pilot on DVD, but it's a Chinese bootleg I picked up in NYC when I lived there and not included on any official series release.

As for "Sisters," I was definitely a closet watcher of that series. Sela Ward was so fantastic. And Swoozie Kurtz? Hello! The series also brought us Ashley Judd, who was the second actress to play Swoozie's daughter on the show. As for why it's not on DVD, I haven't the foggiest. I would think that would be a lock.
ticknart said…
Hooray for Andy Richter and Grosse Pointe! Two of my favorite comedies, ever.

Although I don't think it'll ever happen, I really want MTV to release all the episodes ofDaria.
Anonymous said…
Right now, the top of my TV-to-DVD wish list is "High Society" CBS' short-lived AbFab wannabe starring Mary McDonnell and Jean Smart. Every time I watch Battlestar Galactica nowadays, I get a craving to see McDonnell play a rich, happy-go-lucky lush.

Also on my wish list, the pilot of the hilarious Lookwell, which stared Adam West as a washed up actor who took the honorary badge he recieved while playing a TV detective a little too seriously.
Anonymous said…
I would love to see Welcome Back Kotter - definitely before my time but I used to love watching it on USA when I was a kid, when I still thought John Travolta was kind of cute.
ticknart said…
I thought of a couple more shows that I'd really like to own.

The first is The Lot, which I think was an AMC original series. This show took place in the late 30s at a fictional Hollywood studio and mix factual and fictious stories from that era.

The other is Long Ago, and Far Away, from PBS. This show was hosted by James Earl Jones and had these incredible animated stories ranging from a socitey in someone's dream trying to keep the dreamer from waking, to The Emperor's New Clothes. I think all the animation was based on stories and I'd really like to see them again.
Anonymous said…
My vote for missing TV on DVD is "The State", the brilliant and hilarious (but short-lived) sketch comedy series on MTV. I've heard that the problem is the music licensing, and it's now very expensive to get the rights to all the popular tunes they used on the show. Oh well, a girl can dream.
Anonymous said…
It looks like Grosse Pointe is in the pipeline, since it has pricing and covert art on Amazon, but no release date: http://tinyurl.com/hylld

I'm totally with you on Andy Richter. Lesser shows have appeared on DVD from FOX, but not this one. I have to wonder if it's some kind of music rights or something along those lines.

Which brings me to NBC's American Dreams. They put out the first season, so where are seasons 2 and 3?

I'd like to see Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven's Cupid on DVD.

It'd be great to see Ed, especially after CBS gave the boot to Love Monkey (another show that'll probably never be on DVD because of music rights).

Someone mentioned The Lot. How about Remember WENN? AMC's first original series, I believe, which took place in a 1930s Pittsburgh radio station.

Clearly we could do this all day, but that's just a smattering of shows I think should be on DVD.
Anonymous said…
THIRTYSOMETHNG. thirtysomething! Michael and Elliott's Company! Melissa and Gary! Gary and Susannah! Gary and Emma!

I would camp out at Best Buy and sleep naked in the window if that would bring me TS on DVD.
Vance said…
grosse pointe and Andy Richter. Two of the funniest shows that deserved a better deal... though I cant believe that I never connected Irene Molloy to both... poor her! She deserves better. Plus yes, Twin peaks pilot with the first season.
Chris said…
Big Freddy Krueger fan, would really like to see a release of Freddy's Nightmares:A Nightmare on Elm Street, the Series.

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