CBS All Access offers some intriguing original series, but it has a long way to go to convince me it's worth paying for, and beefing up that back catalog is a great start. I am not talking about all the series that inexplicably are incomplete on here, like The Odd Couple and Taxi, but rather shows that have never been available here in any form.
1) The Honeymooners: Putting aside the fact that it's my favorite show of all time--wait, no, let's not put that aside. I was lucky enough to get the Classic 39 on Blu-Ray a while back at a fantastic price. The fact that we can get it so cheap proves CBS has milked all it can out of the 'Mooners on home video. Why has this never circulated on a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, unlike other company stalwarts like Star Trek, I Love Lucy, and The Andy Griffith Show? I don't know, but the neglect means that CBS now has something special to add for fans of classics. The Honyemooners' streaming debut is something worth touting.
2) The Fugitive: You want to talk "binge-watching"? How about when I had chicken pox and got hooked on the show in reruns on A&E? I'm not even going to get into the many times CBS/Paramount screwed this up on DVD, but suffice to say the disastrous moves (and, to its credit, the willingness to make good) ensure that this will never be profitable in that medium.
So why not make this landmark drama available on All Access? It's too good a series not to be available, and we know it's not totally toxic because Me-TV has rerun it. Oh, and this should go without saying, but we want it streaming uncut and not timesped and with the original music, please.
|This pic is, uh, not from the official DVDs. Hopefully All Access would have much better quality.|
3) Mannix: Bear with me while I make some massive, reductive generalizations here: Old people love old things. Old people love detective shows. Mannix is an old detective show. Old people love CBS. CBS loves old people. Old detectives love shows. Love CBS's Mike Connors--wait, I got lost there.
The point is Mannix, all 8 seasons and 194 episodes of it, is fine old-school comfort food that has not been rerun to death. TV Land in its infancy, Me-TV, Heroes & Icons...Other than that, it hasn't been a fixture in syndication. The first season, with its radically different format (Intertect, anyone?) hasn't been syndicated, and I can understand why. It doesn't match the rest of the series. In streaming, though, when you can pick any episode or watch stuff at random, it doesn't matter. Put it all up there! I think this would be a surprise success for CBS All Access.
4) The Streets of San Francisco: Similar to #3 but police detective-y instead of private investigator-y, less episodes, and even less syndication exposure. OK, maybe it's not that similar.
I can't believe a successful Quinn Martin cop show with location shooting, Karl Malden, and Michael freaking Douglas can't get more play in rerun-land/ At least the whole thing is out on DVD. It ain't going anywhere otherwise, so, hey, CBS, stream it for the masses. Call it The STREAMS of San Francisco! Eh? Eh?
OK, maybe not, but Quinn Martin's name alone means this should be more widely available. So we get this, The Fugitive, Barnaby Jones (speaking of old people), and The Invaders for starters. All complete on DVD, all not tied up as far as I know in big licensing deals, all great fits for All Access.
5) Gunsmoke: Bear with me here. Yes, it seems this one, unlike Mannix, HAS been rerun to death. At any given moment, TV Land, Me-TV or Starz Westerns (or whatever it calls itself these days) is probably running an episode.
Maybe it's showing a few episodes in a row. Well, that's OK. There are over 630 of them.
Gunsmoke is such a massive thing that CBS splits it into several syndication packages, and it's not always as easy as the half-hour episodes and the hour episodes. It has to split those packages into different packages. So there's plenty of Gunsmoke to go around. CBS could upload a few seasons' worth and still offer its All Access subscribers a nice dose of classic Western.
Incidentally, Westerns are still way underrepresented in streaming. Hulu has some stuff, and it's not hard to find public-domain episodes (it's easy to find a lot of Bonanza), but apart from Starz, a lot of the old TV oaters are MIA. Starz is just replicating what it is showing on its cable networks, too. CBS All Access may turn its nose up at the likes of Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel as it pushes The Good Fight, but where's the harm in saving some episodes for streaming? It's not like Gunsmoke is gonna just disappear from the likes of TV Land.
If it does, hey, I bet a lot of cable TV watchers will be overjoyed.