Today sees the release of the much-delayed DVD set for the 90s MTV sketch comedy show "The State" (my order's on the way from Amazon!). I absolutely loved this show when it first came out and really look forward to immersing myself in it again this weekend. Since The Now pretty much sucks, I like to take comfort in pop culture nostalgia (especially that of my high school and college years) and the wait for these DVDs has been nigh excruciating. Rejoice! For we all will finally be able to cheer on Bologna Feet, eat Grandma's potato chowder, and discover the proper way to wear pants.
The release of "The State" DVDs got me to thinking about what beloved video treasures of my past are not yet available in the format. Pretty much everything I want is out there now (or will be released shortly), but there are some glaring gaps in my collection:
EL PASO - MARTY ROBBINS STEVE MARTIN
Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty - When I think of my pop culture childhood, watching this NBC special comprised of comedy sketches is among my most cherished memories. Martin was at the height of his goofy stage (as opposed to his current unfunny kiddie movie phase). There were guest stars aplenty: Peter Graves! Regis Philbin! Paul Reubens! Joyce DeWitt! The highlight was probably when Martin acted out Marty Robbins' country & western chestnut "El Paso"…with chimps!
"Get a Life" - Ah, the Holy Grail of my DVD Wishlist. Comedy genius Chris Elliott plays a 30 year old paperboy. That's pretty much all you need to know about this series. Years ago Rhino put out a couple of DVDs with a handful of episodes on each them, but I want complete seasons, dammit! Elliott has said that years ago he recorded commentaries for the first season, so at one time the gears were in motion. I recently downloaded the full series on the down low, but it'd be nice to get this in a quality higher than the seemingly third generation VHS dub transfers that I have.
"Ed" - I'm an unabashed Tom Cavanagh fan. The guy's just so quirky and funny and this David Letterman-produced show (where he first caught my attention) was a perfect fit for his talents. How can anyone not fall for a show about a disgraced man moving back to his small Ohio hometown to run a law firm/bowling alley and woo his high school sweetheart? Sure, the show inevitably lost some steam in its last season when "will they or won't they?" turned into "they did," but it was still really enjoyable. As with its big screen romantic comedy counterparts, there were montages aplenty - usually at least one per episode - and word has it that music rights issues are keeping this from seeing the light of day.
"Love Monkey" - Another Tom Cavanagh show, only this one was about an indie rock A&R guy and his trials and tribulations with musicians, women, and his major label former employer. Yeah, it pretty much played to my music geekery and Cavanaugh fandom. Unfortunately, this series got canned after only a handful of episodes aired. Repeats have currently been popping up on the Universal HD channel. Could there be a Blu-Ray release in the future? Unlikely, but my fingers are crossed.
"The Knights of Prosperity" - This one season wonder centered around a bunch of oddballs who try to pull off the perfect crime: robbing Mick Jagger's apartment (I much prefer the show's working title: "Let's Rob Mick Jagger"). Like "Ed", this was produced by David Letterman and shared its offbeat sense of humor. But it died a premature death and I'd love to revisit it.
"Mystery Science Theater 3000" - Shout Factory! has recently taken over the distribution reigns from Rhino and so far they're doing a bang-up job. Some episodes of this show will never get a proper release, though, because the licenses of certain movies that Joel, Mike, and the bots riff on have lapsed. And there are also some rights holders who don't like the fact that their poorly-made films were the butt of so many endless jokes by the Best Brains crew. Luckily, the folks at the Digital Archive Project are "circulating the tapes."
"Beavis and Butthead" - Yes, there are "B&B" DVDs out there, but they don't include the best part of this show: the music videos. Come on, Enuff Z'nuff, Pantera, etc. Don't be buttmunches. Grant your permission to use the videos.
"Heat Vision and Jack" - Okay, considering that this is an unaired pilot for a series that was never picked up, I realize that the likelihood of it ever officially coming out is about zilch. But it's got a sizable cult following and how could it not? It's got all of the elements of classic: Ben Stiller's direction, Jack Black as an astronaut who becomes a genius every night at sundown, Owen Wilson as a talking motorcycle, and the late Ron Silver as an evil version of himself. Knowledge is power…for real! (Watch part one here and part two here.)
Ed's Next Move - This is the only film left that I want to come out on the format (well, this and a release of The Man With Two Brains in its proper aspect ratio). It first landed on my radar during my college radio days when I got a free copy of the excellent Ed's Redeeming Qualities-heavy soundtrack (the band plays a central onscreen role in the film). Since getting the soundtrack, I've only seen the movie once, but I remember finding it pretty charming.
I hold some hope that these will one day live again. After all, other shows and movies that I like a lot and thought were lost forever - "The Tick", "Kitchen Confidential", The Chocolate War - have gotten DVD releases.
So, what are you holding out for?