Friday, January 20, 2006


I’ve been watching random shows from a new-to-me DVD set called “TV’s Lost Shows Collection.”

Because “TV’s Lost Shows Collection” has 38 episodes from 19 shows you might assume, since the math is easy, that there are two episodes from each show. And you would assume wrong. There are three episodes from some shows, two from some, only one from others.

There is no pattern to the choices of shows. There are sitcoms and detective shows, westerns and children’s shows.

Some of the shows date to the early fifties while a couple - “Mannix” and “Petticoat Junction” - aired into the seventies.

There’s not even a pattern to the order on the discs. There’s not a westerns disc or a kiddie disc. Just five discs. Yes, the episodes are grouped by show but within that grouping you may get the older episode first or the newer one first, for no discernible reason. Take “You Bet Your Life,” the old Groucho Marx quiz show. The first episode on the disc is from May12, 1955, he second from Feb. 18, 1954.

So that’s my main problem with this set, the complete and total randomness. It’s just a bunch of old shows.

I like some intelligent design with my boxed sets. Shows from the fifties or shows from the sixties. Maybe the two best episodes from “Peter Gunn.” Or two episodes of “The Danny Thomas Show” that feature Hans Conreid as Uncle Tonoose.

I’d even settle for a little nostalgic consideration. I was a big fan of “Fury” when I was a kid. It ran on NBC every Saturday morning. I remember the show’s opening: Fury, a beautiful black stallion, rearing up, and the announcer intoning, “Fury, the story of a horse, and the boy who loved him.” But that’s not the opening on the two episodes in this set. Both these episodes are from the first season and the opening is used to tell the story of how Fury and Joey came to be friends.

Most of the shows are sharp and clear if not exactly crisp. The third “Robin Hood” episode is watchable but dim, which is a shame because it’s the only one of the three that includes the introductory announcement for sponsor Wildroot Crème Oil hair tonic. But it does include that great theme song.

I didn’t have to play the DVD. I can still sing it in my head:

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men

Feared by the bad, loved by the good

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood.

This version of Robin Hood aired on CBS from 1955 till 1958. In 1955 “Walt Disney Presents” showed its own version of the Robin Hood legend, “The Story of Robin Hood” in two parts (November 2 and 9, 1955).

As a kid I liked the CBS version better, perhaps because it ran every Monday night. I can’t even remember the theme song from the Disney version, rare for a Disney show.

I know when the Disney versions ran because I found a wonderful episode guide to “Walt Disney Presents” online. Now I can look up when Disney ran “Texas John Slaughter” or “Davy Crockett.”

The guide is at:

The shows in “TV’s Lost Shows Collection” are “Lassie” (2 episodes), “Life of Riley” (2), “You Bet Your Life” (2), “I Married Joan” (2), “Mannix” (3), “Burke's Law” (1), “Dragnet” (2), “Fury” (2), “Cisco Kid” (2), “Peter Gunn” (2), “Danny Thomas Show” (2), “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (2), “Medic” (2), “Checkmate” (1), “Petticoat Junction” (2), “Robin Hood” (3), “Sherlock Holmes” (2), “Sky King” (2) and “Racket Squad” (2).

Another of my favorite TV theme songs was the theme to Disney’s “Swamp Fox.”

Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat.

Nobody knows where the Swamp Fox at.

Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, hiding in the glen.

He runs away to fight again.

Disney has released three episodes from Swamp Fox in a “Walt Disney Treasures Limited Edition” that also includes three episodes of “Elfego Baca.” (Another great theme: “And the legend is that, like El Gato the cat, nine lives has Elfego Baca.”).I’m normally a big fan of the “Walt Disney Treasures” DVD series but this one seems like it wasn’t well thought out. Why three episodes from the 10-episode "The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca" with three of eight "Swamp Fox" shows?


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