Tuesday, February 11, 2014

'WHAT WOULD YOU DO...' The most requested TV series never to have been released on DVD, finally becoming a DVD box set.

The most requested TV series never to have been released on DVD - due to incredibly expensive and difficult to obtain music licensing rights - is finally becoming a DVD box set.

The whimsical 1980's TV show set in the 1960's, The Wonder Years, will finally be released on DVD for the first time ever, in its entirety, StarVista Entertainment/Time Life announced today.

The Wonder Years which won multiple Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe was shown in South Africa on TV4 and continued on CCTV when the channel name changed.

CCTV however - although the same channel - but then with a newly aligned focus to cater for a black viewership - ended The Wonder Years shortly after and South African viewers never saw the show's conclusion on public television.

M-Net eventually took The Wonder Years over and did it justice, by starting over and showing it daily until the end of the series during its then Open Time window.

The Wonder Years also went to DStv when The Wonder Years was broadcast on the original Series Channel (which eventually became M-Net Series, and which is now three different channels) for South Africa viewers.

StarVista Entertainment/Time Life is now planning a deluxe version of The Wonder Years with Fred Savage, Danica McKellar, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills, Jason Hervey, Olivia d'Abo, Josh Saviano and Daniel Stern - complete with Joe Cocker's unforgettable theme song rendition of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" as it is painstakingly securing the rights for every song in the show.

Why The Wonder Years didn't go to DVD yet is because the show was produced in the 80s before DVD disks and box sets as a revenue stream for TV shows existed on Hollywood's radar.

Nowadays DVD rights for things like music are automatically incorporated and part of contracts when shows are commissioned, but for earlier and older TV shows it has to be individually sourced and acquired as separate contracts.

For a show like The Wonder Years, filled to the brim with music - sounds and iconic songs which are intrinsically linked to the creative work of each episode and which can't be stripped out without completely altering an episode's original character and tonality - acquiring the music licensing rights has seemed not just a laborious, but basically impossible task.

The additional cost of the work, as well as the new payment for rights, also make something like The Wonder Years almost too expensive.

Which it why it and other DVD box sets of older shows where there's a dispute over rights, too many rights to be cleared, defunct studios and uncertainty of who owns the original work, or other too difficult issues have seen beloved TV shows not making it to disk.

"As we've done with many other classic TV shows, the series will be treated with the care and attention it fully deserves after all these years, with deluxe packaging, robust extras and a lot more. We're really big fans of the series, too," says Jeffrey Peisch, the senior vice president for entertainment programming and marketing for StarVista Entertainment/Time Life in a statement.