Classic TV shows you won’t find on DVD

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd March 2011.

Have you ever wandered around the entertainment section of your local department store and seen how many TV shows are now available to buy on DVD? Surely there can’t be a demand for all of them? For every classic series such as Twin Peaks there’s a Golden Girls Season 5. Why buy the excellent Firefly box set when you can buy the craptastic JAG or The Anna Nicole Show? There must be someone buying this stuff.

With that in mind, there are still many notable shows that have yet to find a release on DVD.

“Holy chicken sticks Batman, we’re not on DVD yet!” That’s right, the campy Batman series from the sixties is still yet to be released. Starring the super serious Adam West as the titular superhero and millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, alongside Bert Ward as his youthful sidekick Robin a.k.a. Dick Grayson, there are apparently very complicated rights issues between US networks Fox and ABC, Greenway Productions and DC Comics preventing the Caped Crusader from making his way to DVD.  Why can’t there be disputes keeping Acropolis Now off the shelves?

The eighties series about the sixties, The Wonder Years, is also stuck in DVD purgatory. Starring cuddly Fred Savage as tweener Kevin Arnold and Danica McKellar as his love interest Winnie Cooper, the six seasons of this popular dramedy utilised many popular songs from the late sixties and early seventies. This is where the problem lies. With the licences for the songs limited to television broadcast only, each tune requires a new licence and royalty to be negotiated for DVD release.

Secret Valley was an Australian TV series broadcast on the ABC in 1984. Starring siblings Beth, Miles and Simone Buchanan, the show revolved around a holiday camp for kids. Strangely devoid of adult supervision, the camp was regularly terrorised by bully Spider McGlurk and his gang. It was a G-rated Lord of the Flies without a pig’s head. From memory, each episode ended with a flour bomb fight (take notes kids, bullies are best dispatched with flour, not body slams). The show was shot at the now defunct Smokey Dawson’s ranch in Terry Hills, NSW and the even more defunct El Caballo Blanco Spanish horse theme park in Catherine Field, NSW.

A spin off from Secret Valley, Professor Poopsnagle’s Steam Zeppelin was produced in 1986 and starred Justine Clark. Broadcast on Channel Ten, the story followed a group of kids from Secret Valley who build a flying red bus (as you do) to search for the missing six golden salamanders which when combined will produce a solution to air pollution. Apparently this show is still very popular in the UK, but then again, so is Benny Hill.

Both of these classic Australian children’s shows are not available on DVD. To be fair, equally daggy but awesome kids’ shows Pugwall and Pugwall’s Summer can be found on DVD.

D.A.A.S. Kapital was a sitcom of sorts written and starring the Doug Anthony All Stars. Running for two seasons on the ABC, the show featured Tim Ferguson, Richard Fidler and Paul McDermott as custodians of the world’s most treasured artworks stored aboard a submerged submarine that is owned by the Shitsu Tonka Corporation, a company that now owns the world. Despite a recent DVD release of Doug Anthony All Stars material compiled from the also MIA comedy series The Big Gig, this cult series is nowhere to be found.

If there is supposedly a demand for all twelve seasons of Murder, She Wrote (if Jessica Fletcher arrives in your town, leave because someone’s going to die), five seasons of Ally McBeal and one (but feels like twenty) season of Cops L.A.C., then there must be a market for my picks. And while you’re at it, why not also release China Beach, L.A. Law, Jim Henson’s Dinosaurs (not the mama) and Hangin’ with Mr Cooper? Write to your local member today.

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I missed this the first time i read it, but you’re mean! I loved JAG!!!

  2. Hello all
    i found this website searching for secret valley dvds but cant sorce i think i might try to contact the abc as i realy wanted to show my kids this series i watched a you tube video and had tears in my eyes thinking back to my child hood i loved this series aired at 4.00 in the arvo loved it you wont get series like theses any more also i was looking for a series we used to watch at school it was called read all about it if anyone has any deatails where i can get copys of series please let me know
    kind regards

    • I have salvaged some episodes of Secret Valley approx 16 out of the 26 including 1st episode and the last episode. and have them on dvd took me years of trying and much money to salvage the episodes.

      • where do I obtain the 16 copies from ?

      • Hello peter any chance I can get copies ???

  3. I also found this site looking for secret valley dvd’s. That show brings back the best memories and having just bred, I want my kid to see the awesomeness. I’ve also struggled to find Wonder Years and now understand why. A real shame as I’m sure it would be a much loved addition to many households if they could sort out rights issues.

  4. Alot of shows which originally aired on ABC and SBS are copyrighted therefore you will never find them on DVD. I found this out when looking for various TV shows which ran between the 60’s & 80’s and also ‘Backberner’.

  5. I too would love Secret Valley dvds for my kids ( and me)!

    • I have almost 20 virtually complete episodes of Secret Valley which I’ve recovered over the last 20 years.. Gerry Robinson 19.10.2014, 02:47, “Peter Young Writes For You” <comment-reply@wordpress.com>: Ingrid commented: “I too would love Secret Valley dvds for my kids ( and me)!”

      • Yeah, are we every going to find these 20 episodes or is this just a tease ?

      • i dont post them online out of respect for the series creators and the fact i had to work damn hard to recreate the series eps in full from tiny scraps on old vhs tapes over 20 years of hard frustrating work, will happily exchange for other old series or a payment via paypal

        contact me on grrobinson54@yandex.com

        Gerry

      • Gerry, I read your comment here (and on another site), but I seem to have no way to contact you. We may be able to help each other. Could you send me an email at professorpoopsnagle@gmail.com please?


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