Sunday, 23 November 2008

Walt Disney Treasures - What's Missing? What's left? What's possible? (part 3 - TV serials)

Firsty, apologies for lack of pitures in this installment, taking a 3rd delve into the vaults to see what gems still lurk unreleased in the vaults, this week we turn our head to the live action TV output. Given there is such a vast amount, it seems only sensible to seperate them up. So we begin by looking at the live action serials.

When "Disneland" and "Walt Disney Presents" were on the air, many stories (mostly from the Frontierland section) brought alive tall tales from the past, with Davy Crockett of course leaving the biggest impact. These stories in hourly installments were a trademark of the show. When the series evolved into "The Wonderful World of Color", leaving black and white behind was not the only change. Whilst new live action stories did air in the series, there's no pulling the wool over the eyes of most Disney fans in their ulterior motive. Whereas Davy Crockett and others were clearly episodes, it is almost undeniable that the 2 and 3 episode stories clearly had the ulterior motive of being stories made to work either in episode stallments, but also with an eye to combine them to make a feature film. Which is precisely what happened and more than half of the new material created during the guise of "Wonderful World of Color" ended up shown theatrically overseas, where the anthology series was not broadcast.

Therefor to split the productions up into sizeable chunks, I'm deeming a "serial" to be anything which was created to be a continuing part of a saga, and not something of 2-3 episodes which appears like a film split into portions (although don't worry we'll get to those another time). Naturally this is purely subjective on my part, and rather unsuprisingly leaves me covering material mostly from the black and white era.

Most people are familiar with the "Zorro" TV show, already released to DVD through the Disney Movie Club and some foreign releases. The half hour TV show ran for two seasons. But due to network issues, the production was halted before a 3rd series. Now naturally there are far too many episodes to ever possibly fit onto a Treasures set, and most would probably begrudge a few random episodes picked from here and there. However the story of Zorro did not end there. In order to keep public interest in "Zorro" going, four hour specials were made that aired as part of the anthology series, using the main series cast. "El Bandido" and "Adios El Cuchillo", both from 1960 and "The Postponed Wedding" and "Auld Acquaintance" both 1961, would be perfect contenders for a Treasures set. It would be lovely if the theatrical compilation feature "The Sign of Zorro" (1958) made from splicing episodes of the regular 30 minute show together could also fit nicely on the set! It would be nice if "Zorro the Avenger" (1959) (only released internationally), again made from cutting episodes of the TV show together could be included, however it would be a tight squeeze for disc space, but it's not totally unrealistic to suggest that the 4 hour episodes could fit on disc 1, and the two films on disc 2. And as for bonus features, many vintage trailers and TV spots for Zorro exist and have been uploaded to various sources online. So Disney can't deny the existance of material perfectly suited for bonus features.

Many fans (this one included) are very annoyed that Disney have left Elfego Baca and the Swamp Fox unfished. In the fifth wave 3 episode of each were brought to DVD and I for one would like the rest. The five remaing "Swamp Fox" episodes, "Day of Reckoning" (1960), "Redcoat Strategy" (1960), "A Case of Treason" (1960), "A Woman's Courage" (1961) and "Horses For Greene" (1961) could make another satisfactory set. As for "Elfego Baca", well aside from the rather annoying (and stupid) decision to put episodes, 1, 2 and 5 on the previous set (missing 3 and 4) the remaining 7 episodes "Lawman or Guman" (1958), "Law and Order, Inc" (1958), "The Griswold Murder" (1959), "Move Along, Mustangers" (1959), "Mustang Man, Mustang Maid" (1959), "Friendly Enemies at Law" (1960) and "Gus Tomlin is Dead" (1960) would make another satisfactory disc. And what about bonus features? Well the above episodes were again spliced together to make a number of features released thetrically. How about the opening and ending credits for the theatrical releases?

"The Saga of Andy Burnett" had 6 episodes in total, perfect for a Treasures 2 disc set. The episodes "Andy's Initiation" (1957), "Andy's First Chore" (1957), "Andy's Love Affair" (1957), "Land of the Enemies" (1958), "The White Man's Medicine" (1958) and "The Big Council" (1958) would undoubtedly please many a fan.

"Daniel Boone", another 4 episode serial could again fit nicely. The four stories making up the Daniel Boone story aired in the anthology series' final season in color. "The Warrior's Path" (1960), "And Chase the Buffalo" (1960), "The Wilderness Road" (1961) and "The Promised Land" (1961) could make another tidy set.

The most lengthy of all Walt's TV serials was the saga of "Texas John Slaughter" and truth be told the 17 episodes are definitely too much to fit on one Treasure set. Most will have seen already from my posts that there's a lot of stuff left, and I've got many more posts to come. Believe me we're not even half way. So, if anyone from BVHE should chance to read this, HINT start releasing classic material outside the Treasures line in sets with more discs!!! Anyway for sake of covering it, the 17 episodes of "Texas John Slaughter" are:

1958 Tales of Texas John Slaughter
1958 Ambush at Laredo
1959 Killers From Kansas
1959 Showdown at Sandoval
1959 The Man From Bitter Creek
1959 The Slaughter Trail
1959 The Robber Stallion
1959 Wild Horse Revenge
1959 Range War at Tombstone
1960 Desperado From Tombstone
1960 Apache Friendship
1960 Kentucky Gunslick
1960 Geronimo’s Revenge
1961 The End of the Trail
1961 A Holster Full of Law
1961 A Trip to Tucson
1961 Frank Clell’s in Town

Moochie (Kevin Corcoran), one of Disney's staple stars of film and TV during the 50s and 60s could logically have a set devoted to him too. Two Moochie serials, the first "Moochie of the Little League" consisted of 2 episodes "A Diamond is a Boy's Best Friend" (1959) and "Wrong Way Moochie". A follow up "Moochie of Pop Warner Football", again comprised two episodes. "The Pee Wees Versus City Hall" (1960) and "From Ticonderoga to Disneyland" (1961). Another possible set.

The final idea, is the only one coming from the "Wondeful World of Color" era. That is the Kilroy saga. The 4 episodes "Kilroy I", "Kilroy II", "Kilroy III", "Kilroy IV" all from 1965, could again make a nice set.

You know there is a market for classic material, Disney just needs to lower it's expectations! We all know, these titles are never going to shift as many copies as "Sleeping Beauty", "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Wall E", but that doesn't mean there isn't profit to be had. Disney is used to raking in big bucks. But face it, small independent DVD studios can put out DVDs of unknown, niche or public domain titles and turn a profit often with restored picture, interviews, commentaries and bonus features. There is always a market for any material, and always a profit to be had, but like I say Disney is simply too used to pulling in millions, and the profit they'd make from these titles would be nothing but small change in comparison. But I do sincerely hope Disney will release them! Or at least licence them to some other studio to release to the market.

Well, moan over! Next time I'll be looking at Disney's unreleased library of live action shorts.

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