Can’t-see TV: 16 sweet shows that aren’t on DVD or Hulu (Commentary)

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, 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?


Matt's GravatarI think a big one missing from DVD is The Wonder Years. This was in syndication many years ago but I havent seen it on in a long time. Only season one of
WKRP in Cincinnati has been released on DVD and the same for American Dreams. I think the issue with these three is because of the music. The same
thing happened with Freaks and Geeks. They spent the money to get them for the show but couldnt afford to pay for them again for the DVD release. I
have the first season of WKRP and its bascially missing all the good music. A show about a radio station in the 70’s with no music is lame
# Posted By Matt | 11/22/09 12:38 PM
John Hansen's GravatarI’ve also heard that the music is a hold-up to some DVD releases. I think the “Roswell” DVDs were released with new music in place of the original music in several spots. I don’t understand why this is. DVDs are basically free money for everyone. The product is already made; you just have to press the discs and distribute them. It is sad that the musicians can’t just take a cut of the profits and be thrilled their music is preserved on the show as it was intended. Or: Why didn’t the show-makers buy all the rights, rather than just originally airing rights (it makes sense for shows that were around before DVD existed, but not for “Roswell” or “Freaks and Geeks,” which are obvious DVD shows) This is one of the many utterly bizarre things about life that I don’t understand.
# Posted By John Hansen | 11/24/09 7:02 PM

Another Matt's GravatarHoly lack of DVDs for Batman! The 1960s version of Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, is also not available on DVD or easily on the Internet, but this one has more to do with comics than music. 20th Century Fox owns the footage from the original series, but after filming was completed Time Warner purchased DC Comics (and therefore owns the characters as intellectual property.)

This is so sad because the show was legitimately funny without being too stupid, and all of the characters and villains — especially Cesar Romero and his visible-mustache-through-white-facepaint Joker — were fantastic.

# Posted By Another Matt | 11/25/09 11:38 AM

Another Matt's GravatarI guess I am full of incorrect information, because a quick Internet search would have showed me they finally released DVDs for the 60s Batman.

My mistake, but at least I know what I am asking for for X-mas now.

# Posted By Another Matt | 11/25/09 11:43 AM

John Hansen's GravatarIt is getting to the point now where everyone realizes there is free money to be made off of old stuff, so in most cases, deals are being struck so everyone can make money. I imagine “Batman” is an example of that.

The problem with most of the shows on my list is that the people in charge aren’t sure if there are enough fans that they’d make money.

The weirdest exception is, of course, “Ewoks” and “Droids.” It’s so bizarre that Lucas has released something like 47 different versions of the original Star Wars trilogy, but he hasn’t released these cartoons. It would be one thing if they were working hard on bonus features and commentaries to give the fans an awesome collection, but they aren’t doing that.

Lucasfilm is just letting these great shows from our childhood collect dust. Luckily, I have most of them on tape because I was a huge geek even when I was 8 (and Cartoon Network aired them about 10 years ago), but still, I have moved into the phase where I’d just as soon buy the DVDs rather than sorting through old tapes. Three reasons: 1, DVDs are pretty affordable now (“X-Files” seasons, which used to be $90, are now $14 at Wal-Mart; I will probably pick those up eventually, although I’ve heard horror stories about the poor quality of low-priced DVDs at Wal-Mart, so I’m a little worried); 2, tapes take up a lot more space than DVDs; and 3, DVDs are a better medium because of bonus features and not having to fast-forward to a specific episode.

Another weird one is “Privileged.” It was just barely canceled. You would think they’d at least squeeze a few easy bucks out of it with a DVD release since they were so close to putting more money into it anyway. If they had OK’d a second season, we would almost certainly have the first season on DVD, just as all of The CW’s ongoing shows are on DVD. But oddly, the first season is much more valuable to me now that it is the ONLY season.

“The Inside” is a very frustrating one. If it had a sci-fi element, it would be rerun on the SyFy Channel regularly and it’d be on DVD with all the unaired episodes. But because it isn’t — strictly speaking — a sci-fi show (it’s just about getting into criminals’ heads through psychological analysis, which barely falls on the side of science nonfiction), it’ll probably never be seen again. Being a huge geek, I have the seven aired episodes on tape (I just found them in my parents’ basement), but I want to see the unaired episodes.

# Posted By John Hansen | 11/25/09 12:57 PM