Tuesday, January 10, 2017

We're going backwards in the TV on DVD thing

Thanks to TV Shows on DVD for the news info I will regurgitate here, and props to those folks for their ability to accentuate the positive.

At this point in the DVD era, I expect reissues to be cheaper--much cheaper--than the original releases. Years of price drops, sales, and, hey, just the stuff being out already for so long, makes me think that when it comes out again, it should be, well, cheap. Isn't that the way this is supposed to work?

Not so, according to at least two companies. Universal is reissuing the first season of Kojak in February for 30 bucks (MSRP). OK, so now they are single-sided discs instead of flippers. Big deal! When Mill Creek is taking material like that and giving (admittedly cheapo) complete series sets for the same price, why should we settle for one measly season?

Are we spoiled to some extent? Perhaps, but look at it this way: It isn't a new product. Season 1 first debuted on disc in 2005. 12 years ago, 30 bucks would have been a fair price. 12 years later, not only does the price seem a little high, but it's a product that has been out 12 years. It's been on DVD, it's been on several digital subchannels, it's been on Hulu. Now it's back for the non-bargain price of 30 bucks (To be fair, you can save a fiver by pre-ordering from Amazon).

Many collectors and fans are thankful when Warner Archive takes a property abandoned by Warner Home Video and resurrects it. It usually does top-notch work and presents the product in good condition and in its original form, or as close to it as possible. On the other hand, it usually presents it in burned rather than pressed discs, and it charges a hell of a lot more for the equivalent product.

Here's another example: WHV's complete series release of Top Cat has been out of print. This 2004 box set is an excellent package, offering the whole run plus extras like featurettes and audio commentaries (Remember those?). It's great that it's available again, but because it's coming from Warner Archive, this reissue is a whopping 48 bucks! T.C. is one of my favorites, and it's an awesome box set, but this should be no more than half that price.

Warner Home Video has its own shenanigans, though. It's fond of taking classic animation properties and divvying them out in small but overpriced collections rather than complete sets. Look at how it has handled the Super Friends franchise. Actually, just look at how it is repackaging Justice League episodes.

Last week, WHV announced 4 single-disc releases, each based on a different superhero, each containing 3 or 4 episodes of Justice League.  I personally think the $5 dollar bin at Wal-Mart or the discount rack at Target might be an appropriate destination for these releases, though even at that price point, I would probably put them back after finding out how few episodes they contained.

Yet WHV set an MSRP of $14.97 on these. This means that even with Amazon's 33% discount, they are still 10 bucks apiece, which by my reckoning is twice as much as a "fair" price for this half-assed collection.

Say what you will about Mill Creek, but at least it recognizes that the DVD market has changed dramatically and that people aren't in the mood to overpay for reissues anymore. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if this is the what the big studios are going to give us, I might have to root for more of these sublicensors to acquire this material and make it affordable.

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