BOOTLEG FILES 739: “Diana” (1973-74 sitcom starring Diana Rigg).
LAST SEEN: One episode is on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Unavailable for many years.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.
Yesterday brought the sad news of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg at the age of 82, and there were countless tributes to her glory days as Emma Peel on the cult television series “The Avengers” along with her performances in film classics “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Theater of Blood” and her late-career success in “Game of Thrones.” Much less attention was paid to one of Rigg’s more curious endeavors: an American sitcom called “Diana” that ran for 15 episodes in the 1973-74 television season. In a career that was rich with artistic and commercial successes, “Diana” was a very rare misfire for the gifted actress.
After the end of the seventies series “WKRP In Cincinnati,” star Howard Hesseman went on to more downbeat fare that, while formula, was at least a different direction. “Head of the Class” is a childhood favorite, a series I fondly remember watching as it came to a close, and then re-watching in reruns. I loved the show then, and years later it’s perfectly fine. As an eighties multi-camera prime time sitcom, it’s a serviceable and occasionally funny series about a substitute teacher who manages to take charge of a group of mismatched students with high IQ’s.
I’ve been one of the loudest and ardent defenders of “The Big Bang Theory” since it premiered and I’ve remained a fan for many years. I don’t own any of the merchandise, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the series, and have purchased a few of the seasons here and there. While it lost me after season ten, I still find “The Big Bang Theory” to be a fun, often funny, and engaging sitcom with that comfort food sensibility that’s helped make other sitcoms so celebrated. Judge me all you want, but I loved “The Big Bang Theory” well in to its run on CBS, and enjoy it every now and then on cable. After twelve seasons and a successful spin off, “The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Series” is now on DVD and Blu-Ray in a cozy boxed set, and a Limited Edition Flat Box set with assorted bells and whistles.
BOOTLEG FILES 687: “Are You Being Served?” (1980-81 Australian version of the popular British sitcom).
LAST SEEN: A few episodes are on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Never made available outside of Australia.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not in the U.S., mate!
One of the most beloved programs in the history of British television was “Are You Being Served?”, which followed the zany antics of the staff of a badly-managed London department store. The show first aired on the BBC as a pilot episode in September of 1972 and with a five-episode first season broadcast in March and April of 1973, and it was an immediate hit with British audiences.
“Modern Family” is one of my favorite sitcoms on television, it’s a hilarious, often heart felt look at the idea of modern families that break the conventional mold of the nuclear family. The cast is brilliant, the writing is great, and you can’t help but engage yourself in their mishaps and activities. While “Modern Family” doesn’t celebrate Halloween every year, every time it’s delivered a Halloween episode, it’s a cause for celebration, because they’re very good about paying tribute to the holiday while also making us laugh. These are the Halloween specials so far from Worst to Absolute Best.
BOOTLEG FILES 650: “Freddie & Max” (1990 British sitcom starring Anne Bancroft and Charlotte Coleman).
LAST SEEN: Three of the series’ six episodes are on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A flop that never turned up in America.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.
In the spring of 1990, the British newspapers were aflutter over some extraordinary news: Thames Television had signed Hollywood legend Anne Bancroft to star in her first sitcom. Bancroft was to receive a $175,000 salary for appearing in six episodes of “Freddie and Max,” a production that carried a budget of $1.4 million, the largest (at the time) for a British television series. And with the writing team of Dick Clement and Ian Le Fresnais – the creative force behind the popular British TV comedy “Porridge” starring Ronnie Barker – the project seemed very promising.
With so much television available at our finger tips, there is always a demand for the revisiting of the golden age of television where everything was more simple. Mill Creek Entertainment has taken everything they could find in their catalogue and have built two rather large television time capsules and experiences that are suitable for audiences that grew up during what they call the “golden age” of TV. The “Watch Around the Clock: 24 Hours of TV” pair of box sets even includes the original commercials and ads for various products from the era, and there’s even a small fold out guide that allow you to view what TV shows are available through the entirety of the twenty four hour block.
It’s tough to find someone like Elvira who can squeeze in so many double entendres in to only a half hour of comedy. “The Elvira Show” was essentially like the movie from the late eighties, but extended in to a sitcom setting. It was “Bewitched” meets “Sabrina” meets “Married with Children” with Elvira dominating the screen as always with her sexuality and sharp delivery of one liners. There are so many great sexual puns squeezed in to the opening scenes of the pilot from replying to hunky officer Chip “I bet you can’t eat just one,” to explaining that she and her family will be like the Cleavers, with she, of course, being “The Beaver.”