I noticed that whatever company distributes “Roswell” DVDs recently repackaged them with Katherine Heigl prominently featured on the cover art. Artistically, it’s ridiculous, because Heigl’s Isabel was the fourth-most-important female character on the show, behind Liz, Maria and Tess. But as a marketing move, it’s smart. If it gets “Grey’s Anatomy” fans to discover a great show like “Roswell,” I’m all for it.
It also gives me hope that marketing teams will someday put the following shows on DVD, or at least on Hulu or somewhere on the Internet (not much hope, though; if I were to place a bet, I’d guess these shows will be locked in a vault till the end of time).
These are the 16 best shows that can’t be seen anywhere (Not on DVD. Not on the Internet. And not in syndication; “Judging Amy” is a rare show that hasn’t been released on DVD, yet it has a decent syndication life, so that’s why I’m leaving it off this list.). I’ve also included DVD marketing suggestions for the owners of the copyrights.
1. “Once and Again” Season 3 (2001-02, ABC). The first two seasons are on DVD, but not the third and best season. Marketing angle: “It’s from the creators of ‘My So-Called Life’ and ‘thirtysomething.’ ”
2. “Relativity” (1996-97, ABC). Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick’s first show about 20-somethings, predating 2007-08’s “quarterlife” (which can be seen on the internet at quarterlife.com, but isn’t on DVD). Marketing angle: Again, “It’s from the creators of ‘My So-Called Life’ and ‘thirtysomething.’ ”
3 and 4: “Ewoks” (1985-87, ABC) and “Droids” (1985-86, ABC). The first “Star Wars” animated series. Like many “Star Wars” fans, I’d love to have these series in a nice DVD package, preferably with a few bonus features. (Granted, a couple random episodes from each series have been released on DVD, but that’s not nearly enough.) Marketing angle: “The animated ‘Star Wars’ shows that paved the way for ‘The Clone Wars.’ ”
5. “Privileged” (2008-09, The CW). I now wish I would’ve taped it when it was on, but who knew it would be both canceled AND passed over by DVD? “Jack and Bobby” (2004-05, The WB) and “Now and Again” (1999-2000, CBS) are the only other shows I can think of where it seemed like a popular show for its one season, but then was canceled and never heard from again. Marketing angle: “It’s from the network that brought you ‘90210’ and a lot of other crap, only this show doesn’t suck.” (OK, I’m kinda bitter about this one.)
6. “Miss Match” (2003, NBC). Alicia Silverstone starred as a matchmaker in this very cute show. Marketing angle: Hopefully, Silverstone will be in a hit show or movie again (I really don’t understand why she is only a middle-of-the-road star), and this DVD could ride the coattails. Otherwise, I’m out of ideas, especially since there’s never been a successful matchmaker drama.
7. “The Inside” (2005, Fox). A great, moody crime show; kind of like “The X-Files” without the supernatural. Marketing angle: “If you like ‘Fringe’ and ‘The X-Files,’ you’ll like ‘The Inside.’ ” Also, some episodes were unaired, so it’s always a good idea to play up that angle.
8. “Higher Ground” (2000, Fox Family). It launched a lot of careers (notably Hayden Christensen of “Star Wars”) and was a pretty great show itself. Marketing angle: It’s probably too late now, but when Christensen was on the big screen as Anakin Skywalker, they should’ve released this series with a “Before he was Darth …” sticker on the packaging.
9. “American Dreams” Seasons 2 and 3 (2003-05, NBC). A great late-’60s soap opera that touched on the Vietnam War, civil rights and the folk music boom. Marketing angle: “If you like going back to the ’60s with ‘Mad Men,’ you’ll enjoy going back to the ’60s with ‘American Dreams.’ ” Or: “Before there was ‘American Idol,’ there was ‘American Bandstand.’ ” Or: “The ‘Glee’ clubbers weren’t the first kids to get into music. Meet Meg and Roxanne.”
10. “The Bedford Diaries” (2006, The WB). These kids kept diaries, but weren’t great at keeping the contents a secret. Marketing angle: “If you like ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Secret Life of an American Teenager,’ you’ll love ‘The Bedford Diaries.’ ”
11. “Hidden Palms” (2007, The CW). A breezy summer mystery show that never completed its run. (Oddly, this show has hit DVD outside the U.S., but with the quirks of DVD formatting, that doesn’t do us any good.) Marketing angle: “Between ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ Kevin Williamson thrilled a cult audience with ‘Hidden Palms!’ ” Also, throw in a “How it would’ve ended” featurette.
12. “Pasadena” (2001, Fox). Another mystery show that never completed its run. Marketing angle: “Before Alison Lohman went to hell (in ‘Drag Me to Hell’), she spent time in ‘Pasadena.’ ”
13. “Summerland” (2004-05, The WB). A breezy summer soap that was easy to like. Marketing angle: “Starring ‘High School Musical’s’ Zac Efron, ‘True Blood’s’ Ryan Kwanten and ‘90210’s’ Lori Loughlin.”
14. “Side Order of Life” (2007, Lifetime). Marisa Coughlan played a photographer who (for an unexplained apocryphal reason) developed film in a darkroom for her magazine job, saw people’s inner struggles in the photographs, and then helped them. Marketing angle: “Trust us, it was a really good show. Please buy me.”
15. “FreakyLinks” (2000-01, Fox). A fun little show that was like “X-Files” Lite. Marketing angle: “Paranormal activity being caught on video is nothing new. Nine years before ‘Paranormal Activity,’ there was ‘FreakyLinks!’ ”
16. “Love Monkey” (2006, CBS). Tom Cavanagh basically played “Ed” again, only this time he had a cooler job, as a music executive. Marketing angle: “If you like ‘Glee,’ ‘American Idol’ or ‘High School Musical,’ check out this other random show with music in it.”
What are your all-time favorite shows that have never been released on DVD or Hulu, and are never aired in syndication?