Monday, June 9, 2014

Sci Fi Lists: 15 Sci Fi/Fantasy TV Shows Still Waiting for Their Official DVD Release

Over the past ten years, a vast number of science fiction and fantasy TV shows have enjoyed partial or complete releases on DVD (and many are now making their way to Blu-ray as well).  And since the early-00 releases of Kindred: The Embraced and Firefly proved that even short-lived shows could have success on DVD, all genre entries are now fair game for the home video market.  Just last week, the long-awaited release of short-lived cult series Space Rangers finally hit the DVD market, yet there are still quite a few that haven’t received the official treatment, and some are rather prominent genre entries.  Below is a list of fifteen sci fi/fantasy shows that haven’t made it to DVD as of this writing (nor streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.).  If you search the internet, you might find bootleg or “collectible” releases of these series, and they all show up on YouTube from time to time before getting pulled down for copyright reasons.  But none of them have received the full DVD/Blu-ray treatment that they deserve.  These are the ones I would like to see, and feel free to chime in with your own suggestions in the comments section.

Men Into Space (1959) – This often overlooked series gave us a realistic look at the colonization and exploration of our solar system based on the scientific knowledge of the time.  It definitely has not dated well and it can be rather tedious at times, but it’s a fun little throwback to a simpler era and worth checking out (you can read more about it at this link).  You actually can buy the full series on DVD over at the Vintage TV and More site, but what they are selling is a transfer to DVD of television broadcasts during its 90’s syndication run and the quality can be hit or miss (though it’s better than nothing).  But this show deserves an official release with maybe a good making of special feature.

Batman (1966) – This is one of the most iconic genre shows of all time, yet it still hasn’t made it to DVD.  What’s up?  There’s apparently all sorts of legal entanglements (more on that at this link), but somehow how they managed to get Legends of the Superheroes on DVD which had Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles along with Frank Gorshin returning as the Riddler (along with several other DC heroes and villains).  Apparently things are more complicated on the original series, though.  I just wish they would figure a way to work this one out, because this one has been a long time coming to DVD.  (Update: apparently the DVD and Blu-ray set for this one is finally in the works.)

The Green Hornet (1966) – This series made it to TV because of the popularity of Batman, but like that show hasn’t found its way to DVD yet.  It shared the same producer as well and maybe that’s part of the holdup.  There was a DVD release that cobbled together four episodes, but they apparently did a pretty poor job of that based on the reviews over at Amazon, so this one is still awaiting a decent DVD edition. (And currently there is a bootleg release of the entire series available from one of the Amazon sellers, but I'm guessing it won't be there long.)

The New People (1969) – This was not really a sci fi show, but genre fans will definitely be interested.  Created by Rod Serling (in an odd pairing with schlock TV mogul Aaron Spelling), it gives a run-up to Lost of sorts as a group of college students are stranded on an abandoned island that was set up for nuclear tests (complete with housing and provisions) but never used.  Believing they would never be found, they start up their own, new society.  This show was particularly odd in that its episodes were only 45 minutes (with commercials).  It lasted less than one season, and apparently its seventeen episodes have not seen the light of day since its initial run.

Star Maidens (1976) – This short lived British series about a female-led alien species that encounters modern day earth had a similar look to Space: 1999 (it shared much of the same production crew) and offered a nice little diversion during that gap between Season 1 and 2 of that Gerry Anderson show.  It wasn’t a particularly great show with its sci fi take on the battle of the sexes, but it was fun and I’d love to see how it stands up after all these years.

Fantastic Journey (1977) – This series about a group of people travelling through the many different zones of the Bermuda Triangle (!) was another one that wasn’t great, but it delivered some good cheesy fun (and had Roddy McDowell hamming it up with this show’s take on the Dr. Smith character).  The Logan’s Run TV series—which came out after this one and shared several of the same writers and producers—has made it to DVD, so it seems only fair that this one should get a release as well.

Blake’s 7 (1979) – This dystopic space opera series is considered a classic of British science fiction television, yet it has never received the DVD treatment in the United States.  I caught part of it when it had its run on PBS in the early 80’s, but it has since disappeared from view on this side of the Atlantic.  Maybe the current talks of an American reboot will generate interest in producing a DVD set.  And it is available on PAL DVD if you have a compatible player.

Star Cops (1987) – This British space procedural was interesting in that it actually worked hard at trying to inject serious science fiction into its stories.  It was a rather cheesy affair (as expected from British TV at that time), but if you can get past its subpar special effects, it’s quite a decent show.

Science Fiction Theatre (1955) - This anthology series came from the same production company as Men into Space and its two seasons produced a hefty total of 78 episodes.  It had its similarities to The Twilight Zone, but each episode was supposedly based on actual scientific facts or theories (as they stood at that time), though it also ventured into the paranormal at times.  The episodes could be a bit stiff and they lacked the twist endings of Zone, but the show had its moments and it could be considered good retro-sci fi fun.  Like Men into Space you can buy the full series as an unofficial DVD release over at the Vintage TV and More site, though it has the same drawbacks.  This one definitely deserves an official treatment, though, with a good, clean transfer of all the episodes. 

Strange Luck (1995) – This odd series about a man who has the “strange luck” to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time mixed some of the dark quirkiness of Twin Peaks with the brooding ambiance of The X-Files but never quite managed to find an audience.  I recall liking it though, and would love to see how it stands up.

Brimstone (1998) – This was a rather dark series about a former cop who goes to Hell after killing his wife’s murderer but who is given a second chance if he helps the devil recapture 113 damned spirits that have escaped from the nether regions (he sends them back by shooting them in the eyes!).  Paired with Millennium on Friday nights during that show’s third season, it made for one of the grimmest two-hour blocks ever on television.  But the show wasn’t half bad and John Glover had wicked fun with the role of the devil.  It only lasted thirteen episodes, but they are worth searching out.   

Strange World (1999) – Coming at the end of the wave of X-Files clones that hit the tube in the mid to late 90’s, this was actually the best of the lot.  It borrowed mostly just the government conspiracy themes from the Chris Carter show and it delivered an interesting series about a man investigating criminal abuses of science (a theme which surfaced again later in The Eleventh Hour).  Co-created by Tim Kring (Heroes), the production crew realized early on that ABC was not going to support the show so they wrapped up the storyline with the show’s thirteenth and final episode.  ABC only aired three episodes, but the show later aired its full run on the Sci Fi Channel.  Unfortunately, no DVD release has followed.

Captain Scarlet (2005) – All of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation TV shows have found their way to DVD including 1967’s Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.  But this 2005 CGI (or “Hypermarionation” as Anderson called it) updating of that cheesy but fun series has yet to find its way to DVD in the States nor has it aired anywhere on this side of the Atlantic to my knowledge.  It is available on PAL DVD but it would be nice if they would do a DVD release we could watch over here.

Salvage I (1979) - This odd little late 70's series that starred Andy Griffith as a junk moon who goes to the moon (no, really) was a pretty whacked out entry, but it had a quirky and whimsical air about it and could be fun at times.  It has received some DVD attention with the release of the two two-part episodes Golden Orbit and Hard Water, but the pilot episode is sadly missing and there's no indication that the complete series will ever get released.  

Ark II (1976) - This post-apocalyptic Saturday morning series (which has held up better than you would expect) actually had a DVD release but has since gone out of print.  And copies of that set are currently going at a premium, so why not just release a new one because the interest is there?

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