Tuesday, December 20, 2005

TV-DVD Discoveries

There are SO many shows that come on television these days, especially since the advent of Cable TV, and it's impossible to try them all when they first broadcast. I'm reminded of that today as this is the street date for the big-screen film Serenity, the theatrical follow-up to a show I only discovered after its release on DVD: Joss Whedon's Firefly. Great show, good stuff, and one of those "how could this get cancelled before I discovered it?" things. Of course, the answer to the last question is that there were too many David Lambert-types who didn't discover it in time, so the ratings weren't there and the network cancelled it. Of course, in Firefly's case, there were problems with the way Fox ran it which helped to not preserve the ratings they DID have...but that's a blog topic for a more broadcast-TV-oriented website. I'm just glad to have had the opportunity to enjoy Firefly on DVD, and I can't wait to find Serenity in my stocking (do you hear that, Santa?).

All of this reminds me of so many other excellent shows that I didn't discover until I took a chance on them with a blind DVD purchase, based on the oohs and ahs of TVShowsOnDVD readers and posts of the members of the Home Theater Forum. Smallville, Roswell, Once & Again, Dead Like Me, Coupling, Alias, LateLine and The Osbournes are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head that I can't believe I lived without until discovering them on DVD and becoming addicted to them. Only a couple of these have the benefit of still having new episodes made at present time. Most do not, but I enjoy being able to watch what WAS produced as often as I feel like.

Right now I am in the middle of Sports Night a show from the mid-90s that was a comedy (mostly) about the craziness surrounding the production of a cable sports channel show similar to ESPN's SportsCenter. There were two male leads as the on-air anchors of the show, there was the producer played by Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives, there was the assistant producer played by Sabrina Lloyd ("Wade" of Sliders), and sometimes you saw another Desperate Housewives character, Brenda Strong (who's DH character commited suicide in the pilot and narrates the show from her other-worldly viewpoint) as the rival of Huffman's character. The show was created by and written by Alan Sorkin and some of his team that went on to do The West Wing.

Sports Night is a genius of a show, and I can't believe I have just now discovered it, so damn long after its DVD release. My wife and I are enjoying every moment of it; the show rocks and I can't wait to see how certain plotlines fall out. We're addicted. It's great to be able to find great shows on DVD that you somehow missed seeing when they aired.

I can't wait until Paramount/Viacom releases Jake 2.0 on DVD, so many of you can discover what you missed.

In the meantime, I'm sure you each have shows that you discovered on DVD in a similar way. Why don't you share them with us? Oh, we know you'll all be tempted to name shows that you bought on DVD already having discovered during broadcast and you want us to discover them, too...don't name those, that's cheating! But take a minute and name a show or two that you discovered only by getting it's TV-DVD release, and in a few words tell us what is so great about the show. We'd like to hear what you come up with!


At December 20, 2005 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the show is fabulous. It's actually Sports Night, though. Not Sports Center.

I don't think I'd ever buy a dvd set of a show I had not seen before. I'll be interested to see how others respond.

At December 20, 2005 1:59 PM, Anonymous Martin said...

Someone beat me to correcting you. :)

Sports Night is one of the best shows of all time. You will be delighted by the fact that it's creators are working on a new show for NBC. It's tentatively called Studio 7 and is guaranteed a slot on the networks fall schedule.

Sports Night was a blind buy for me too. I couldn't have been happier with it. I bought it as a fan of The West Wing, knowing that I wouldn't be dissapointed.

I had similar experiences with Freaks & Geeks and The Office.

At December 20, 2005 2:26 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

I think the only show I've bought for myself without seeing it first was Smallville, which I am now addicted to. There are some shows I've heard great things about, but haven't bought the dvds because I just can't bring myself to spend money on a show I don't know I'll like. Shows like Lost, Veronica Mars and some of the showtime shows.

At December 20, 2005 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to TV on DVD, I don't do blind-buys... it's too much to invest in something sight unseen. I do find, that for shows that I'm aware of but have never seen, it's a boon.

Case in point - DANGER MAN. I knew of SECRET AGENT in its hour long version, but was not aware of it in it's half-hour incarnation, until a friend turned me on to them.

Another benefit of subscribing to Netflix is being able to rent shows - I'd gladly plunk down the cash for sets like Rhino's MONKEES Season 1 and 2, but it's nice to be able to get a taste without spending $70+.

I suppose that if I were to make a blind buy, it'd be for the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation shows, CAPTAIN SCARLET, STINGRAY, JOE 90 that A&E has been putting out.

Robert H.

At December 20, 2005 2:51 PM, Blogger Pete B said...

I agree Sports Night was a great show! I am so waiting for Jake 2.0 to be announced! Though I am seriously losing hope on that one!

I have bought MANY TV Shows blind... I love doing it... even if it is a gamble... so much fun watching a show for the first time on DVD! For the most part I had great successes on blind buying...maybe 1 or 2 I wasn't thrilled with... but literally dozens I loved!... some of my successes are...
- 24
- Alias
- Firefly
- Lost
- Desperate Housewives
- Macgyver
- Miracles

At December 20, 2005 3:14 PM, Anonymous Boco_T said...

Sports Night is one of my favorite shows ever, and I'm finally going to get the DVDs for Christmas after seeing the show in its entirety last summer. Aaron (not Alan) Sorkin is one of the best writers in the business, and I can't wait for Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip.

I just wish they would release some kind of superior edition of Sports Night on DVD where they remove that godawful laugh track from the first season. I guess it's a lot to hope for considering how long the DVDs of the show have been out, but it would be nice to have a master copy of the show without that laugh track and maybe with some actual extras.

At December 20, 2005 3:23 PM, Blogger Dave Lambert said...

re: "It's actually Sports Night, though. Not Sports Center."

re: " Someone beat me to correcting you. :)"

Ummm...unless Gord went behind me and corrected my post (which I don't think he did, as he usually tells me straight out, "you're a bonehead and I fixed your stuff"), I think you guys missed where I was comparing the fictional "Sports Night" from the show Sports Night to the real-life SportsCenter that actually airs on ESPN.

I *did* goof on saying Alan instead of Aaron, but I plead that I was short on time as I threw that together on my lunch break at my full-time job, and wasn't able to proofread it as carefully as I ought to have. Sorry.

At December 20, 2005 3:41 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

I wanted to add to my earlier comment. The only reason I bought Smallville without seeing it first, was because it was on sale for less than $20 at target.

If it's cheap, I'll take a chance.

At December 20, 2005 3:56 PM, Anonymous katayla said...

I think Gilmore Girls, Freaks & Geeks, and the BBC version of The Office are the only ones I've actually bought blind.

Felicity and one or two others I can't remember right now I discovered through Netflix.

At December 20, 2005 3:58 PM, Anonymous Boco_T said...


Yeah I'm considering picking up the first few seasons of ER this week for $20 a season but I don't know if I'll really like it. Hell, season 4 is only $30 on top of that, but I'm hesitant to drop $90 on 4 seasons of a show that I'm not sure I'll like.

I consider getting them all at once mostly because that season 4 thing with both versions at Target will only be out this week and then it's gone forever.

Any opinions?

Also, Dave, no big deal I'm just a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to the extreme catalog of facts swimming around in my head preventing me from learning things that I could actually use.

At December 20, 2005 3:58 PM, Blogger Gord Lacey said...

Sorry Dave, I fixed it for ya and forgot to drop you an email (I started napping, until you woke me up with the phone call!)

At December 20, 2005 4:02 PM, Anonymous Ae. said...

For me, some of my discoveries post-broadcast have included Farscape (I think that I saw maybe 1 episode when it was on the air, and was never really caught by it), Sports Night (total blind buy since it was only $30), Firefly (the gf has been making me watch Buffy and Angel, so I made her get Firefly to complete the Whedon-Cannon), and Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis (I never caught either of them when they were on air originally, but liked the original movie and always enjoyed RDA in MacGyver that I couldn't resist the temptation). One I'm looking at investing in (eventually, read: when I have money) is the Gilmore Girls.

At December 20, 2005 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to pick up Sports Night soon.There are several shows I discovered on dvd:
-Everwood (I NEED Season 2)
-Gilmore Girls
-One Tree Hill
-Joan of Arcadia
-Las Vegas
-Starsky and Hutch

Then there are some blind buys that I have yet to watch that I hope will be great: Lost,Desperate Housewives, Veronica Mars, and several others.

TV on dvd is about the only way I watch tv shows.I love it.

At December 20, 2005 4:15 PM, Blogger peggy said...

One of the reason I really want "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." (thanks Gord!) is that I didn't get into that until way after it was on tv and only have the TNT versions so I want to see how it is different.

Besides that I bought "24" because of everything I heard about it and then continued to buy all the seasons out.

I also did Monk for this reason but stopped after the first two seasons.

Believe it or not I am 44 years old and never watched "Dallas" when it was on but a friend was really enjoying her set so when it went on sale for that 19.99 I bought it and have loved it.

Those are all I can think of since I don't normally buy anything unless I know what it is but "Sports Night" is sounding really good.


At December 20, 2005 5:23 PM, Blogger BrazenPuppy said...

I've been a huge "Star Trek" fan for years and knew that when "The Next Generation" was to be released as season sets I would have to get them. At the time, I didn't seriously consider ever getting any other shows (especially considering that very few were available at that time). But one show in which I was interested but could never catch in broadcast due to scheduling issues was "Babylon 5." When the first season was released on DVD, I did not immediately pick it up, but when season 2 came along, I figured what the hell and gave them a try. I was immediately hooked and ended up picking up the rest of the series as it was released.

I have since picked up other series whose premises have intrigued me, but I never watched in their original runs. A couple have been so-so (such as "Earth 2"), but others have been phenomenal ("Lost," "The Sopranos," and "24" to name a few).

TV shows on DVD now account for a majority of my rather sizable DVD collection. It's great to add shows to my collection that I have loved watching in the past (as mentioned, the various "Star Trek" series, but also "I Love Lucy," "Friends," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Twilight Zone," and many, many others. But it's at least as much of a thrill to find some new gem that, for whatever reason, I never had the priviledge to watch previously. I love the DVD format for that reason. I'd probably try out even more shows, but I sort of have to pay bills and put food on the table too. But I would like to personally urge everyone to take a chance and try something new and unknown once in a while.

At December 20, 2005 5:25 PM, Blogger Tannerman said...

I love "The Avengers" solely from being exposed via A&E's DVD releases.

At December 20, 2005 6:43 PM, Blogger Dave Lambert said...

re: "Sorry Dave, I fixed it for ya and forgot to drop you an email"

Ah, well, thanks Gord for looking after me. My apologies to everyone for the mistake...thanks for being so understanding!

I see Freaks & Geeks mentioned, and realize that I forgot to name that one myself. Excellent series. I've picked up Undeclared, but I haven't had a chance to dig into it yet.

Sopranos is also one I discovered on DVD. Great stuff.

At December 20, 2005 7:22 PM, Blogger T said...

I don't know what I'd do without TV on DVD. It's how I discovered my favorite show of all time "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and was invited into its captivating universe.

Other than that, I've discovered "24," "Freaks and Geeks," "Felicity," "Alias," and am currently viewing the new "Battlestar Galactica" thanks to Blockbuster Online. TV on DVDs are amazing.!

At December 20, 2005 7:31 PM, Anonymous Alex Oatley said...

I've discovered a number of Britcoms through blind DVD buys:
The Office
Fawlty Towers
The Thin Blue Line

I also discovered some great shows through recommendations of friends and family:
Battlestar Galactica (2003)
Freaks and Geeks

And I saw some shows on a friend's DVD before buying the DVDs for myself:
Clerks (the animated series)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

Needless to say, DVD has definitely changed the way I watch TV.

At December 20, 2005 7:55 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

I've thought about buy ER too. I've loved that show over the years, but never watched it regularly. I'm not sure what you're talking about with the "that season 4 thing with both versions at Target will only be out this week and then it's gone forever". I haven't been keeping up!!!

Dave, you have to watch Undeclared soon. I like it even more than I did when it was on tv. My favorite episode, if I had to pick, is Sick in the Head. I've watched it like 5 times since I bought the set and it's still cracks me up.

Oh, 1 more thing. You have no idea how happy it makes me that so many people are mentioning Freaks and Geeks. That is my all time favorite show! So much so, that I bought the special yearbook edition. Too bad NBC didn't give it a chance.

At December 20, 2005 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discovered "Queer as Folk" on dvd, and thank goodness I did. What a wonderful show! Season 1 was magical. It pushed boundaries and claimed an audience beyond the gay community. The five season love story between Brian and Justin is one of the most genuine, capitivating TV love stories of all time.

I also discovered "Six Feet Under." I've only rented the dvd's due to their cost. Hopefully they will put out a five season compilation at a more reasonable price. As in "Queer as Folk," wonderful writing and acting.

At December 20, 2005 8:24 PM, Blogger Dave Lambert said...

Leah: read this:


I love ER, especially these early ones but still good throughout. I can't recommend it enough.

At December 20, 2005 9:18 PM, Blogger dorrie said...

Hey I have been loving Tvshowsondvd.com for years now. The first TV on DVD box set I bought was "What's Happening" Season One in 2003. Now I have over 50 sets, it is so addictive. I am watching Fame Season One now. I cant wait until next year when Gimme a Break comes out.

At December 21, 2005 12:34 AM, Anonymous Wesley Mead said...

I've made quite a few blind buys, all of which turned out to be excellent decisions. Many of them are quite surprising, but seeing as I live in the UK where these shows barely get/got any airtime, it's not so surprising.

-Seinfeld: bought S1-3 on sale and never looked back
-Frasier: purchased S1 with some Christmas money last year and was immediately addicted
-Family Guy: S2 had just come out over here (so we're talking early '03) and on a whim I picked it up.. another brilliant decision
-24: recommended to me, bought S1 on sale and it was brilliant
-Home Improvement: not sure what to expect; turned out to be excellent
-Cheers and The West Wing : my two latest blind buys, yet to view

At December 21, 2005 5:26 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Aqua Teen Huger Force - Never saw it but heard alot about it, so I got it and I still love it

The Bob Newhart Show - Saw the tribute on the TV Land awards and thought it looked good so when it came out on dvd I bought it

Dallas - Saw like 5 mins of it on soapnet did some research online and decided to buy it, I love it

Reba - Same as Dallas only I saw it on The WB

What's Happening - Same as Dallas only I saw it on The TV Land

There are alot more that I haven't seen but I want to get that either haven't come out or I haven't gotten around to yet...

I'm Thinking about getting Northern Exposure... What do you guys think?

At December 21, 2005 8:45 AM, Anonymous Leah said...

I HAVE to go to Target!!!!

At December 21, 2005 10:15 AM, Anonymous Jill said...

Sports Night is fantastic, agreed. I've discovered a lot of shows through TV-DVD, including my two new favorites: Veronica Mars and Arrested Development.

Everyone's probably aware of the critical acclaim that Arrested Development has received, but Veronica Mars tends to fly under the radar. It's perfect for watching in TV-DVD format, due to its highly serialized nature. Any description I could write wouldn't do the show justice, so I'll just say that I've recommended it to fans of shows as diverse as Battlestar Galactica, Alias, and Grey's Anatomy, and they've all loved it. Buy the DVD, you can thank me later ...

At December 21, 2005 12:47 PM, Anonymous Jakelshark.com said...

A must see show is Spaced, it has to be imported from England since it was a British show during 1999-2001. It features Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who starred in Shaun of the Dead (Pegg wrote it and the same director for the show as the movie). Great funny show, Season 1 is better than 2 though.

There is supposed to be a Season 3 comming out sometime on the BBC

At December 21, 2005 2:34 PM, Blogger peggy said...

I would definitely get Northern Exposure, actually I did. I didn't care for it back when it was on tv but last year I picked up season 1 and was addicted and have asked for season 2 & 3 this year.

At December 21, 2005 3:42 PM, Blogger Kaitlin said...

I bought MI-5 blind or so I only was able to watch about 10 min of one episode before I bought it. I have been thinking about buying Entourage sight unseen but I haven't gotten the courage to spend that much money and I can't seem to find it to rent any where. Is this one worth the money?

At December 21, 2005 5:58 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Thanks peggy and I am looking into entourage as well kaitlin

At December 21, 2005 6:05 PM, Blogger Gord Lacey said...

I think MI-5 is the best spy show I've ever seen. I think it's pretty realistic when compared to some of the other "junk" they have on TV.

As for Entourage; I think it's over-priced. It's an entertaining show, but I think your money could be spent better elsewhere.

At December 21, 2005 9:11 PM, Blogger Codeman said...

And here i thought i was the biggest Sports Night fan on the block...

I'm hooked on Gilmore Girls, which i started on DVD. Can't imagine life without it. Arrested Development was a show i watched the pilot of, didn't care for, and have since fallen in love with on DVD.

And of course, Freaks and Geeks, Firefly, and The Office (BBC).

But as to Sports Night, it remains, in my opinion, the best comedy of all time. And all Sorkin and Schlamme did was take everything good about Sports Night , lengthen it to an hour, and call it The West Wing. (The first four seasons are, without a doubt, the best seasons of a show, ever.)

Eli's Coming and What Kind Of Day Has It Been from season 1 are two of my favorite Sports Night episodes. I truly believe SN was ahead of times, both cast wise (look what Peter Krause and Felicity went on to do), creatively (there weren't a lot of single-camera comedies in those days), and material ('dramedy' was a new word.)

By the way, guys, love the blog. It's become my new favorite blog to check out. Keep it up.

At December 21, 2005 9:14 PM, Anonymous David O said...


'nuff said.

At December 22, 2005 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I decided to post because I didn't see anyone else mention it: A show I bought blind and have thoroughly enjoyed is Home Movies. My original thought in purchasing the dvds was an attempt to appease the dvd gods and perhaps influence them to release (the somewhat related) Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist on dvd. But on its own merits, Home Movies is fantastic. It's about an 8 year old boy and his two friends who make, well, home movies; and they do so despite having only 4 fingers on each hand. Amazing. Evolution at work? Nuclear power plant accident? I don't know. But I digress...The first season was a little uneven, despite brilliant episodes such as Director's Cut and School Nurse, and so I hesitated to buy season 2. I shouldn't have, season 2 improves very well, and loses the Squigglevision (I think I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't hate Squigglevision). Season 3 is pure perfection; funny, absurd. Of course, if the dvd gods are reading this, I'm still waiting for Dr. Katz...

At December 22, 2005 11:32 AM, Blogger Kristen said...

It wasn't a true blind buy (since I got it from Netflix first), but the show that I really discovered on DVD was Wonderfalls.

At December 22, 2005 12:07 PM, Blogger Terescia said...

I always miss the good shows when they first come out, so I love to get the DVDs for that reason. Networks have a bad habit of not replaying episodes from older seasons all that often when a show is still on its first run.

And I hate starting a show right in the middle. So if I like it, I've got into the habit of waiting for the DVD release and watching that way.

Think of all the time I save myself by not having to watch commercials!

At December 22, 2005 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it so annoying to watch broadcast TV these days, that I've made quite a few "blind" DVD purchases. Some of the shows that I've discovered this way are:

DaVinci's Inquest
Reilly: The Ace of Spies
Tru Calling

At December 25, 2005 6:23 AM, Blogger Adam said...

Man, I've discovered so many great shows on DVD...

- Firefly
- Sports Night
- The West Wing
- Veronica Mars
- 24
- Gilmore Girls
- Profit
- Wonderfalls (OK, so I did watch this on TV... for the two minutes it aired...)

At January 02, 2006 6:05 AM, Blogger J.D. said...

"Without a Trace" springs immediately to mind. I bought the first season after hearing my mom say it was good and finding it in the promo bin at Wal-Mart for 20 bucks. I love the show. I knew nothing about Poppy Montgomery before I bought and watched it, and I still have yet to pick my jaw up off the floor.

"Alias" was another blind buy for me. I had heard people talk about it. I was working for an ABC affiliate when it first aired, but had never looked into it, until I found a reasonably priced set last year. Now I can't watch the current season until I've gotten through the other four.

This may be an odd one, but "American Idol" didn't interest me until I saw the best-of DVD for Season 1 right before Season 4 kicked off. Now it's an unbeatable addiction.

"The Dead Zone" was one that I knew very little about. I only knew that I had seen part of an episode once with my dad, thought that it was interesting, and knew that Anthony Michael Hall was in. Since I enjoyed all of his 80's teen flicks, I picked up season 1, and geez louise what a great show!!

I didn't catch onto "24" until someone let me borrow their season 1 discs right before season 4, a few episodes of which had me running to the store to get my copy. Blown away. I've never known a movie or show that could keep my butt parked in a recliner for 2 straight days at 12 hours a pop.

I sort of got turned on to Smallville by someone else's DVDS. So I guess that doesn't count. But I did catch up to the story via my own DVDS.

"Gilmore Girls." I'd never seen an episode before buying season 1. I had the world's greatest reason for buying it: hot mom and hot daughter. Seemed like a no-lose situation, and thankfully I was right. This show is an insane addiction for me.

Does the "Jeff Foxworthy Show" count as a blind buy even if I only paid 5 bucks for it brand spanking new at Wal-Mart? I figured 20 episodes for 5 bucks couldn't go wrong.

Man, there are more of these for me than I thought. "King of Queens" was something I'd never seen prior to purchasing season 1 on DVD. I just knew Kevin James was hilarious and Leah Remini was smoking hot. However, I genuinely love the show and laugh out loud at it. Yet another addiction.

At January 03, 2006 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been working my way through the series "Due South" after picking up the first season on a whim at Best Buy a while back (it was priced for impulse, and I recalled that a friend had always liked it back when it was originally airing).

Cute show. Didn't change the world, but a cute show.

At January 09, 2006 9:40 PM, Blogger Damptonwyrm said...

I'll put my vote in for Tru Calling, firefly, and Wonderfalls.
A couple of other shows bought blind that I liked were - Starsky and Hutch, The 4400, Greatest American Hero ( saw a few episodes in first run but thought it was stupid. Reaaly appreciate robert Culp now) , Sledgehammer (only saw the Hammeriod episode before but a freind's fave comedy from the 80's),Eerie Indiana (because of Joe Dante's involvement. I dare you to look at the song "My Sharona" the same way again after a certain episode.), This Is Wonderland, Made In Canada,Clerks, Fatther Of The Pride .... to name a few


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