Shout! Factory, which now basically has the TV-on-DVD business to itself (when it comes to non-current items), is trying a new strategy that I sincerely hope will work out. In an effort to continue releasing shows, they’re going to make a bunch of season sets available as “Online Exclusives,” available from Shoutfactory.com’s online store. The site does appear to offer shipping to Canada, and TVshowsondvd.com reports that these releases will be factory-produced sets, making it more appealing than the computer-burned discs being offered by Warner Brothers and other companies.
These are sets that the stores don’t want to take, because of sales levels for their most recent releases (coupled with the fact that stores are relentlessly slashing the amount of space they devote to anything “old”). So two of the first sets released will be season 3 of Ironside and the second and last season of Bill Cosby’s first sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show — the company released the first season years ago, it didn’t sell, and they were never able to figure out how to get the second season into stores.
Other shows being made available in this batch: My Two Dads (season 2) Mr. Belvedere (season 4) and Room 222 (season 2). I’m a little surprised about Mr. Belvedere because that show was one of their bigger sellers, but I guess there was a large sales drop-off with season 3. (I guess one set of Mr. Belvedere is enough for just about anyone.) Finally, the animated series The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is being continued as one of these online exclusives.
I hope this works out, because chain stores certainly aren’t going to devote more space to older TV shows, which means that the only way for these shows to complete their runs is for the DVD producers to bypass the stores, and sell the seasons directly to the consumer. And if this is going to happen, I’d certainly rather it be done this way, with “real” DVDs, rather than DVD-Rs. So I’d suggest keeping an eye out for these and other releases, and ordering one of there’s one you want. I’m probably going to order Mr. Belvedere s4, not for the show itself but just because I enjoy the commentaries (which for this set will include the showrunner as well as the cast).