The Golden Age of Broken Buttons

Josh Hadley

josh hadley | the shadows of pop culture | dec. 2016

You know, there are so many great TV shows out there that you can't watch and yet it is said that we are living a new golden age, when everything is available at the touch of a button — well, it's not.

This may look familiar:

"Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for this home entertainment version."

There are some series that we have been outright told will NEVER come out commercially due to music rights. “Werewolf: was one of the original seven shows that debuted on the Fox network back in 1987. It' been a title fans clamor for. The company had the DVD set solicited and ready to release a few years ago, but then found out that one of the music companies was asking such an exorbitant amount for the rights to a single song that the entire set was canceled.

The song was used so prominently that it was impossible to remove it without harming the content of the episode (the series was mixed in mono so there was literally no way to separate the music and the dialog track). This was on the 2-hour pilot episode and a poll was taken asking fans if they would like to see the rest of the series released minus that pilot. The result was that we would rather not have it all than have it all butchered up.

The amazing and groundbreaking series "China Beach" is another show to recently come to DVD and streaming, but missing many of the period-specific songs that made the series so memorable.

“Miami Vice" had this same issue but in only a few cases, Universal was able to re-license the bulk of the music.

I hear people say "I will just find it on Netflix," or "I can watch it on Hulu." No, in many cases, you cannot.

Stalwart series that were monster ratings hits in their original run are completely missing from streaming services. Try finding an episode of “NYPD Blue" on Netflix or Hulu. The show ran for 12 seasons. Nope, not there, and if a series like that is absent, imagine how smaller series such as the 1983 Ed Asner lead “The Bronx Zoo" or the obscure “Cliffhangers" from 1979 are going to fare.

Anyone else remember the MTV show “Dead at 21"? I do and I have them all on tape, but good luck finding them on a popular streaming service or even DVD.

What about “Baywatch Nights," “Adventures of Superboy" or The Showtime neo-noir “Fallen Angels" or HBO's “Perversions of Science"?

Sometimes even when a show is online it's incomplete. Look at the old Raymond Burr as “Ironside." The show ran for eight seasons, but oddly, only the first 3 are on Hulu. Why? Not enough demand.

“St. Elsewhere" ran for six years and changed television, yet only the first season is available on DVD. The sales were so bad they decided not to put out the rest.

I look at just how many TV shows have no digital equivalent and all I see is apathy and indifference. The people only care about what's convenient for them now. If they can't stream it to their IPad then it must not be worth it.

Now, there are always "alternatives" out there to see episodes of old shows. Torrents, illegal streams or even Youtube bootlegs. I am not talking about that crap; I am referencing the legal means of watching a TV show. Sometimes it's right issues as stated above but sometimes it's the market itself that fights to keep things in the dark.

Henry Rollins once had a show on IFC called “Henry's Film Corner." He would do a rant about something current in movies, review whatever was out in the theater that week and then have a guest on (usually an actor or a director). These are great shows and I once asked him why he never put them out on DVD, the answer: No one wants to see them.

Turns out that since the movies are no longer "relevant," there was no point for IFC to even consider releasing the show.

Good thing I had them on tape then, huh?


A fiercely confrontational and arrogant critic whose stubborn nature makes him immanently readable and equally angering, Josh Hadley is a writer for magazines such as Hustler, Fangoria, Paracinema, Shadowland, Grindhouse Purgatory and Cashers du Cinemart, as well as a radio host on Jackalope Radio. Find more from him at 1201beyond.com, a website that only the most anti-social personalities would engage.

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