Back in the 1980's and 90's we had shows that we enjoyed watching but were limited by how we could collect them on home video since they were released on VHS and usually only up to two episodes would be released per tape which would keep us from getting an entire season (in most cases anyway). In the modern day and age we can now collect some of our old favorite television shows on DVD in season sets and, more recently, in complete series sets and we even have digital services which can play video on our favorite devices without the need for a tape or a disc, and some older shows are being released in season sets on Blu-ray. My, how far we have come in just thirty years! This offers several opportunities for home releases, however, despite these technological interventions it would seem that not all of our shows are immune to the ever present limits of release. Below I will talk about a few retro, nostalgic shows that I (and many others, I'm sure) would like to see released, my fond memories of them and why they may, sadly, never see a release on current media. Note: This may not be one of my best articles on the site but I was recently going through my reverie on these shows and how much I would like to see them again and, as sad as it is, I figured I would share it. Unfortunately I was unable to get the intros to two of these shows so we will have to settle for just the still shots. You know it's funny, I thought youtube was supposed to be a video sharing site, with emphasis on 'sharing'. Oh well, what can you do.
Eek! The Cat (aka Eek!stravaganza) Network: Fox Original Air dates: 1992-1997
I remember many a weekday afternoon after school sprinting up the road from the bus just to get back to my house in time to catch this show. I loved everything about it, from the lovable titular character, to the wry, slap stick humor and even the main theme music is awesome. Eek was a strangely purple furred cat who lived with his human family which consisted of a mom and two kids (all of whom were red heads I might add). He was well meaning but not entirely brite which was really a problem when it came to getting a date with his girlfriend Annabelle, a large, round and also curiously pink furred cat who lived nextdoor. This was because she was guarded by Sharky, a vicious "Sharkdog" who couldn't stand Eek due to his dim wittedness. The show also featured a short called "Terrible Thunder Lizards" which went on to get it's own (albeit short lived) spin off series which aired along side Eek!. Thunder Lizards revolved around three dinos named Doc, Cutter and Squat and their endless mission to eradicate a couple of humans named Bill and Scooter who were viewed as a threat to their kind. These were later joined by a second short called "Klutter" which revolved around a group of children who wanted a pet but couldn't get one due to their father's allergies, so they decided to make one by brining a pile of clothes to life with static electricity. Sadly though, Klutter failed to aquire the same popularity as Thunder Lizards so it never got it's own spin off. An official home release would be awesome but it might be difficult since it's run was somewhat complicated. It changed format so much that once Klutter was added the title was changed to Eek!stravaganza. I would also like to apologize here, I had the first intro to Eek! already embedded in the article but the person who was running it's page at youtube removed the video before I could even post the article. Thanks a lot jerkweed, I rest my case from above.
Mad Jack The Pirate Network: Fox Air Dates: 1998-1999
On the subject of Eek! The Cat I thought I would throw in a mention of this zany Saturday morning cartoon from the same creator Bill Kopp who also voiced both titular characters. In this hilarious, swashbuckling high seas tale a pirate captain called Mad Jack has recently lost his crew through terrible but unmentioned circumstances and must find some new men. Unfortunately all he could find was a man sized talking rat named Snuk who becomes his unlikely first mate. Jack likes to think of himself as dashing and heroic but he is really just incompetent and full of himself which has caused him to make quite a few enemies including his arch nemesis, a mean tempered Scotsman named Angus Dagnabbit. Sadly the show only ran for twenty three episodes before getting canceled and from what I've read online Disney of all companies now owns the rights to these shows after having bought them from Saban so an official release of them remains uncertain right now.
Jim Henson's Muppet Babies Network: CBS Air Dates: 1984-1990
Please don't laugh, this was an awesome show, and the only one on this list from the 1980's. Made during a time when it was a popular idea to make shows that portrayed characters that we were used to seeing as adults as kids for a change, and based on Kermit and Piggy's dream sequence from The Muppets Take Manhattan, Muppet Babies follows the regular Muppets gang as tots in the nursery, going on grand adventures using only their imaginations, which were apparently very powerful. The show aired on Saturday mornings on CBS and was one of the gems of my weekend line ups (it's still on top of my Saturday morning cartoon #1's list), but is currently owned buy Disney (yes, another one) along with the rest of the Muppets properties. The executives at Disney have expressed their great interest in releasing Muppet Babies after hearing the large outcry for it from my fellow fans, but it would be extremely difficult because of all the stock footage and still images that were used to help the kids' adventures along. Disney now has access to properties such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Wizard Of Oz but other properties such as Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Batman and Back To The Future would be very expensive to borrow, so an official release of this show would be very unlikely at this time. It should be noted also that the character Skeeter, Scooter's twin sister, was exclusive to Muppet Babies and hasn't appeared in any Muppets production before or since. She was made to be a female counter balance to Piggy, though Janice once mad a cameo appearance as the friend of Bean Bunny who made regular cameos towards the end of the show.
Life with Louie Network: Fox air Dates: 1994-1998
Stand up comedian Louie Anderson based this series on his childhood growing up in Wisconsin (although, in real life they were from Minnesota) following his misadventures in every day life as told by Anderson's own narrations as he deals with school, bullies (namely a bumbling behemoth named Glen), dealing with his wacky family, especially his dad Andy, and occasionally the concept of romance with girls, in Louie's case, his class mate and best friend Jeannie. This show was one of the brighter parts of my Saturday mornings while it still aired. We saw Louie live in Las Vegas once at the Excalibur where he said that he has been trying to get the show released but it has been a long and difficult battle. It has proven popular enough to warrant a few DVD releases in Europe of all places but a release here in the U.S. doesn't seem likely. "I heard that *grumble*".
Mighty Max Network: Multiple Air Dates: 1993-1994
Ah, another cartoon with a bad ass intro, I LOVED this show. Mighty Max the series was made to promote the British originated toy line but, despite how cool those tiny play sets were, the cartoon was possibly more popular. The show ran for two seasons with fourty episodes and left off on a really frustrating cliff hanger and, according to what I have been able to dig up, the story was going to have a final resolution in the form of a movie but sadly it never materialized. I know I usually caught Mighty Max on week day afternoons although I don't remember what channel, I'm guessing it was probably several. I did have a few play sets too including the Temple Of Venom and Dino Lab.
I also had Magus with Lava Lord, Virgil and Norman so now along with Max I had most of the main cast from the series.
"That was a BIG play set!" (a little Norman talk there). A release for Mighty Max would be difficult right now since, well, no one seems to know who owns the rights to it at the moment, but It seems that a complete series set would be the best way to put this out.
That takes care of the cartoons on this list, now for the live action treatment.
Land Of The Lost Network: ABC Air Dates: 1991-1992
Now before everyone starts ranting and raving here I would like to point out that I know what you are going to say. Yes, this show had it's flaws, namely the acting and visual effects could have been better, but it was a children's show so I wouldn't expect Hollywood quality. Yes, it was very cheesy but don't forget that, if anything, the 1970's version had twice as much cheddar. Heck, even the theme song was kind of hokey but I liked it anyway and I know that there are other fans of this one out there because I've seen their outcry for this on DVD while surfing the web. This was more light hearted however with a much less survivalist tone, although it did still exist here, and the dinosaurs and Sleestacks actually looked the way they should, LIKE DINOSAURS AND LIZARD PEOPLE. This time the story revolved around the Porters instead of the Marshals who arrived in the Land via their family truck instead of a boat and had to deal with the dangers of this parallel dimension while trying to catch a portal to get home. I had a huge crush on Annie Porter too because we were the same age and had three things in common: glasses, archery and vegetable gardens, plus she had a pet dinosaur which I thought was also awesome because I've loved dinosaurs since I was little (although Annie thinks of Tasha as a member of the family rather than a pet). Sadly this, along with many other shows including Sonic The Hedgehog, was cancelled when Disney acquired ABC to run their shows including our beloved Disney Afternoon, and who ever owns the rights to this (possibly Sid and Marty Kroft themselves?) doesn't seem to have any plans of releasing it. The only problem I have with this show is that I've only seen about half of the episodes due to orthodontist oppointments (it aired on Saturday mornings and I had braces at the time so I had to miss some episodes), so some form of home video release of this would be nice so that I could get cought up. Yeah, I know, there's always YouTube but I'm talking about a REAL viewing experience.
You Can't Do That On Television Network: CTV/Nickelodeon Air Dates: 1979-1990/1982-1990 (respectively)
(Broken YouTube Link Removed)
Can't is a strong word, apparently you can do this on television or this show would never have have aired. This was a variety show that acted as the precursor to Nick's later show All That but most of us "big kids" concider this to be Nick's original and classic children's variety show. It started out in Canada on CTV way back in 1979 and came to America on Nickelodeon in 1982 and then aired until 1990 in both countries for a whopping twenty seasons in all! This is also the problem with releasing it, this would be a HUGE DVD collection. This was, however, planned as part of the first line of DVD releases for the Nick Rewind Collection along with Pete And Pete and Clarissa but, as I mentioned, the shear number of seasons got in the way. This was also where Nick's famous green slime got it's start resulting in a craze that gave Nick both a famous fountain outside the studio and a really cool 1990's era toy.
Whatever you do, don't say either "I don't know" (slime bath) or "water" (water shower). I see that there have been a few best of volume releases of this on digital, and digital might be the perfect solution for this, but how about some full seasons. Besides, I just checked back at amazon and, as of the writing of this article, those videos are no longer available for purchase (?!). There is also a special documentary available on DVD and digital called "You Can't Do That On Film" which serves as a behind the scenes look at the history and making of the show.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete (season 3) Network: Nickelodeon Air Dates: 1995-1996
I know I've gone over this on retrojunk once before but given the information I've recently discovered after having watched a YouTube video of the Pete & Pete reunion, and the fact that it will have been ten years next month since this DVD set was originally supposed to be released, not to mention twenty years ago this year that the show was canceled, I figured I would throw this in for good measure. True, the third season of Pete & Pete may not have been the best of the bunch but it still counts as part of the series and, let's face it, with seasons one and two already out the set seems incomplete without it. As it turns out, this season shouldn't even exist. You may remember how the episodes of season three never got any VHS releases back in the 1990's either, there is good reason for this. The executives at Nick had acquired a ton of new shows between 1994 and 1995 and as a result several shows that were currently airing had to be canceled to make room. Pete & Pete was one of the shows on the cancelation list for the season of '95 but it's creators Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi didn't want to pull the plug just yet due to it's popularity, so they ignored the Nick execs and gave it a third season anyway. Well the bosses didn't like that one bit so, not only did they give McRobb and Viscardi the stink eye every time they crossed paths at the studio, but they also refused to release any season three VHS tapes. The newest problem is the cost of having to renew the rights to all the music that was used here. It would seem that most of the budget for this show was used on seasons one and two (mostly because of the music) so now they don't have enough money left for season three. I would assume that the most expensive music would be Lucsious Jackson since almost an entire album of theirs was used in the episode "Dance Fever". I would start an online fund raiser for this if I could but sadly, I'm afraid that the efforts of us fans to contact Paramount (as suggested in the picture above) would be fruitless, especially since amazon is now covering the releases of Nick's retro live action shows, but they probably can't help with this one either. A single completed copy of this set does exist at Paramount Studios but it's sitting around in the ware house collecting dust instead of being distributed, it's enough to make us Pete & Pete fans cry.
Well, as sad as this was I hope everyone enjoyed it. It's always nice to travel down Memory Lane, even if it's a part that we may never be able to get a solid copy of. I apologize if I missed any shows that anyone else has been waiting half their lives to get on video but I can only cover just so much in one article. If you guys can think of any shows that you are still waiting for, please tell me below, I would like to hear your personal requests. Until next time folks, thanks for reading, Nightwatcher out.
HAL and Dr. Floyd:"Floyd: Well tell whoever it is that I can't take any of this seriously unless I know who I'm talking to. -HAL: Dr. Floyd? -Floyd: Yes? -HAL: The response is, "I was David Bowman."
-HAL and Dr. Floyd"