Restoring Old (Or At Least Not New) TV Shows

I heard a while ago that the producers of Thirtysomething might be working on a deal with Shout! Factory (which already had a big success with My So-Called Life, from the same producers). Now the Los Angeles Times has the official announcement.


The best part — in view of the poor-quality or edited masters that Shout! has been releasing for some of the shows it’s licensed — is that Zwick and Herskovitz have apparently taken the time to give their show the kind of restoration work that’s usually reserved for movies:

[Garson] Foos approached Herskovitz about how to get “thirtysomething” out of limbo more than a year ago, after Shout! Factory’s successful re-release of “My So-Called Life.” Now both obstacles have been overcome. “It doesn’t look like we’ll be cutting any music from the show,” Foos said. And high-definition master copies of the episodes have been created — meaning, according to Foos, “the visual quality is going to be incredible.”

“The answer was that somebody had to take the time to finally do it,” Herskovitz said.

There have been a few other shows where the producers actually went back to the film sources and created new, high-quality DVD masters; Seinfeld was a highly-publicized case. (The reason Seinfeld looks so much better on DVD than most shows from the ’90s is that the DVDs are taken from new masters, rather than the video masters used for TV broadcasts.) That kind of restoration work is routine for movies, very rare for TV. But if a show is going to get an adequate representation on home video, the way movies do, there really needs to be more of an investment in new masters — not just for the sake of home video, but for the sake of preserving the show for the future.

Also, I was rightly pilloried for posting two Scott Baio clips in two days, and I see that the L.A. Times page currently has a sidebar photo of… Scott Baio!? Not my fault. And it doesn’t even make sense, because the sidebar isn’t calling for a Joanie Loves Chachi DVD release.

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