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Site News - A Round-Up of News from Last Night's Live Warner Home Video Chat at the HTF

The studio answered fans questions about whether fan-favorite shows are headed to DVD (or Blu-ray)

Posted by David Lambert
Late this past week we reminded you that our friends at the Home Theater Forum (HTF) would be holding a Warner Home Video (WHV) Television and Animation Live Online Chat, and last night for three hours fans got to directly ask the WHV executives their own questions, and get direct answers. Thanks to WHV's Rosemary Markson (Vice President, TV and Special Interest Marketing), Melissa Hufjay McAlevey (Vice President, Publicity), Amit Desai (Vice President, Family, Animation and Partner Brands Marketing) and their teams for crowding around the keyboard in Burbank last night and participated! Thanks also to Ron Epstein and Parker Clack of the HTF for hosting and moderating the chat, and to everybody who came to participate. In case you missed it, or missed parts of it, look for Ron to post a transcript of the chat here at the Home Theater Forum as soon as it is ready.

As is our custom, we would like to offer our readers a round-up of the TV/Animation chat, covering info provided in the discussion about such titles as TVShowsOnDVD would normally provide. We consider this an overview, and some quotes might be taken out of context, so interested fans are urged to read the actual chat transcript at the HTF site for the complete passage(s), to get the best possible understanding. All credit for what happened at this event goes to HTF and WHV, not to us. Here we are simply trying to bring you a high-level look at what news came out of the chat. We divide WHV's responses into three primary categories: "Good News," "Items Being Evaluated" and "No Plans At This Time." The latter phrase was unfortunately said a LOT last night, but we certainly appreciate WHV's honesty on the matter, and where possible the explanations given as to why that was the case.

Which category we use here at TVShowsOnDVD is our own judgment, and WHV and/or fans might disagree with our interpretation...but again, this is just a general round-up of info...use your own judgment and interpretation! Some of the responses WHV gave, though, kind-of defy explanation. Here are a couple of examples where we simply could not decide which category the studio's reply falls into. But it's all certainly interesting info:
  • TimC: Any chance of a complete Tex Avery set at some point?
  • Warner: there's always a chance! In the meantime Droopy is available on DVD.

  • GabeL: Will there be any plans to release SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron in a complete series box set as part of the Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection?
  • Warner: we continue to evaluate the Hanna Barbera classic animation library and will certainly keep your enthusiasm in mind.

  • scottyz: Are there any plans to release the Linda Lavin series ALICE or the spinoff series FLO.
  • Warner: Alice has been on our long list for some time. There were some issues with the masters. We wouldn't release a spinoff until we release the original series.
There are some more interesting exchanges that have to do with "general knowledge" rather than specific television show titles, but we'll get to that shortly. For now, here's the general round-up that you're waiting for!

"Good News" (per our interpretation of WHV's statement, quoted below "as-is" from the chat):
  • "Good news on the Growing Pains front...we are looking at a potential release for 2011."
  • About Dallas: "We do have plans to release the movies in a collection once the seasons are complete."
  • "We hope to release Friends on Blu Ray but we cant share any further details at this point but its looking good ;)"
  • "we'll be releasing Courage the Cowardly Dog on July 20th! Please go out and buy so we can continue to bring you more Cartoon Network Hall of Fame classics!"
    • RogerM: From what I've seen on various cartoon message boards, Dexter's Lab seems to be the most wanted CN title on DVD. Why are you starting with less popular series (JB, Courage)?
    • Warner: We believe that Johnny Bravo, Courage the Cowardly Dog and Dexter's Lab are equally popular. Again, our hope is Cartoon Network's Hall of Fame will be a long continuing series.
  • "look for the animated Adventures of Superboy...coming in the future."
    • "If there's more classic DC Animated content...we'll put it out!"
  • "we are exploring new Yogi Bear DVDs timed to the upcoming theatrical release. Stay tuned for more details!"

UPDATE (4/7): OOPS! The event was so lengthy that maybe it was inevitable that we would overlook something important. At one point in the chat WHV mentioned (not in response to a question directly asking about the show, which is why I probably missed it) that "Batman: The Brave and The Bold Season 1, part 1 2 disc set will be coming out this August!." Sorry for missing it, and our thanks to "Corey" for the memory jog.

"Items Being Evaluated":
  • more New Adventures of Old Christine
  • more Mama's Family ("but no specific plans to share at this point")
  • "still early on Night Court Season 4 but definitely under consideration"
  • further Tom & Jerry collections
  • "Regarding Popeye, you never know...we hear that there is a movie in development at Sony."
  • "we're evaluating Captain Planet. We want the power to be YOURS."
  • Scooby-Doo on Blu-ray
  • more of the Peanuts library on Blu-ray
  • "We are evaluating the entire DC Comics animated library for Blu-ray"
  • V and V: The Final Battle on Blu-ray ("Remastering costs are high so there are no specific plans at this point.")
  • "we are looking into going back and releasing [early seasons of] Smallville on Blu Ray, unfortunately, there were some technical issues on Season 1 that we're trying to work thru"
  • Regarding Classic 50s/60s shows: "we are looking at potential future opportunities, in particular, Maverick"

"No Plans at This time":
  • more Knots Landing ("sales for Season 2 were less than expected which has prevented us from scheduling the next season release but...we're continuing to look at it")
  • more CHiPs ("[but] we continue to evaluate it")
  • more Perfect Strangers ("[but] we continue to evaluate the title")
  • more Superboy ("sales did not meet expectations so there are no future seasons planned")
  • more Third Watch ("Music costs are very high on Third Watch Season 3. We're still looking to see if we can make that work")
  • China Beach ("I'd love to get China Beach out but music is extremely problematic but we're continuing to work at it")
  • Murphy Brown ("problematic due to high music costs")
  • Drew Carey Show ("problematic due to high music costs")
  • Harry O
  • Jack and Bobby
  • Step By Step
  • Love Sidney
  • Brimstone
  • Time Trax
  • Shazam! ("no updates")
  • Wonder Woman on Blu-ray ("right now our focus is on current shows that have been shot in hi def")
  • One Tree Hill on Blu-ray ("We don't feel the time is right")
  • Big Bang Theory's first two seasons on Blu-ray (note: S3 comes out on Blu and DVD on September 7, 2010)
  • Enos
  • The Dukes (animated Hazzard spin-off)
  • more Animaniacs
  • more Tiny Toons
  • more Silverhawks
  • more Ed, Edd n Eddy
  • more Moral Orel
  • more Shaggy and Scooby: Get A Clue
  • more Wait till Your Father Gets Home ("Based on poor performance, additional doubtful.")
  • separate (non-Saturday-Morning-Cartoons) release of The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show
  • separate (non-Saturday-Morning-Cartoons) release of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
  • 2 Stupid Dogs
  • The Pirates of Dark Water
  • The Mighty Orbots
  • Pac-Man
  • Baby Blues
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack season sets
  • Chowder season sets
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force on Blu-ray
  • Robot Chicken on Blu-ray
  • Duck Dodgers
  • Taz-Mania ("No plans at this time in the US")
  • Looney Tunes "Censored Eleven" shorts
That list of titles with "no current plans" comes across as QUITE daunting, doesn't it? Keep in mind, though, that plans (or lack of plans) can always change. However, ALSO bear in mind that there are other avenues that the studio can use to release these properties. The HTF moderators instructed chat visitors not to bring up questions about the Warner Archive manufacture-on-demand (MOD) program, as the team involved with that arm of the studio wasn't represented at the chat. But it came up in any case, as did the fact that WHV has licensed a pair of series (Max Headroom and The Norm Show) to Shout! Factory for release, and others potentially could later on be farmed out as well. We feel that this exchange best represents Warner's general rule of thumb about how they prefer to handle that:
  • scottyz: is there any chance of licensing [stalled] Shout Factory OR release them in the Warner Archives?
  • Warner: We want to make as much of our content available in the best way possible so we are looking at various alternatives. We prefer to continue releasing these classics ourselves.
WHV execs on the chat also mentioned this tidbit: "we can't confirm the specifics of Warner Archive but we have been looking at a number of short lived tv series as potential Warner Archive releases." These insights into how it is approached can be fascinating, but both the MOD program and the licensing of properties out to third-party studios such as Shout! (especially the latter) are in their infancy right now, so we feel Warner still needs time and room (and consumer patience) to develop their methods on determining which titles utilize these alternate channels.

Another hot topic was TV-on-BD (Blu-ray Disc); as you can see from the above lists the topic of specific shows getting released on high-def Blu-ray was brought up often in the course of the chat. One person asked about Babylon 5 for example, and WHV responded "we've definitely considered releasing Babylon 5 on Blu Ray, however, there are some technical issues with the CGI that make this release difficult. We'll continue to investigate further in the event we're able to address it." These types of technical issues with many programs were explained in further depth at another point during the event:
  • SimonC: Hi Warner! Are there technical reasons why we haven't seen older (pre-00's) TV shows on Blu-ray ? There are suggestions that TV shows with CGI can't be done on Blu-ray without redoing all the CG elements, can you clarify the situation?
  • Warner: That is correct. We want to make sure that we're releasing our product with the high degree of quality that we know our fans expect. There are some technical issues on certain shows as well as issues related to how the shows were originally shot and whether or not they can be converted properly.
There were a few shows that Warner execs really couldn't help too much on. One example is when "Albert" asked "since WB distributes BBC's 'Doctor Who' on DVD, is there progress on the rights issues with Universal regarding the TV movie, since R2 is getting an SE later this year?" Warner responded simply that they can't comment on that, but they didn't explain why they couldn't. Quite basically, Warner distributes this show for BBC, but have no participation in production issues, including rights issues. It's all up to the BBC. So WHV is the wrong entity to ask, it would be the BBC America home video team to put the question to. Here at TVShowsOnDVD, we'll see if we can look into it. To be honest, our hopes aren't very high on this one.

Nor on the classic Adam West Batman show, which HTF co-owner Ron Epstein asked WHV about. Ron wanted to know "Is there any chance that Fox and Warner can work together to get the 60s Batman on DVD? This is the most requested show and for years there has been a stalemate situation in both studios being able to work together to get it out." Warner replied this way: "Thanks Ron, we agree that it would awesome to see this great series on dvd. It's a complicated situation for everyone involved." It certainly is we've reported in 2008 (and nothing's known to have changed since then), besides the main rights issues related to the property and character rights (which are actually with DC Comics; WHV has NOTHING to do with this, which the studio has stated on previous HTF/WHV chats), there are also possible issues with Greenway Productions/The Dozier Estate, with the music, the costumes and props, the talent (on both sides of the camera), etc. The show's home video status remains in limbo, unfortunately. And Ron sums it up best when he says "It's a shame. Fans lose big time.."

We'll try to keep up with Batman, Knots Landing and other shows that there are known/explained issues keeping them off store shelves (including that Doctor Who telefilm, and other missing installments of that program) over at our "What's the Hold-up?" FAQ, which we keep as part of our Facebook fan page. In the days to come we'll update it further with information gleaned from last night's chat. In the meantime, we'll post separate stories shortly for a couple of the "good news" titles (Growing Pains and Courage the Cowardly Dog)...stay tuned for updates about those as further developments occur! Again, our thanks to everybody at WHV, the HTF and all the participants. Including you, our readers, who made it to the chat and did such a good job asking some very good questions!

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