Saturday, 18 July 2015

5 Rare Retro TV Shows Crying out for a DVD Release

You see them TV archives over at all the major broadcasters? Yeah, there's a right load of gold in them thar hills in the form of unbelievably good TV, but most of it lays there like an unwanted jumper on a hot July day.

And, yeah, we suppose a lot of this suppression is down to tediously complex legal issues and *whisper it, children* even a general lack of interest in shows that people can't remember for toffee.

But what about the art and the beauty of these majestically constructed shows? Don't that count for nothing no more?! No, it bloody don't and the capitalist brutes in charge of publishing don't give a damn about nothing more than cold hard cash. That's why there's so many fitness DVDs out there by them birds off Hollyoaks.

It's a completely unacceptable injustice because, after all, surely the DVD market should be dictated to by some nerd and his niche taste in retro tellywaves, right?!


Anyway, here's our pick for the 5 retro TV shows which deserve a DVD release.

1. Johnny Jarvis

Johnny Jarvis, right, is a show that has suffered complete ignominy when it comes to being celebrated. You see, it was shown way back in 1983 and then...


No repeats, no VHS release and there certainly ain't been no DVD release, neither. And this infuriates us no end as it's bleeding amazing!

Johnny Jarvis taps powerfully into the source of adolescent alienation all whilst being played out against the harsh backdrop of Thatcher's Britain. It's a show haunted by drugs, unemployment, depression, racism and bullying - everything that gave the 80s its gritty edge and is completely absent from our beautiful, peaceful contemporary society.

And there's a big audience just waiting to devour a DVD release of the show. We're yet to come across a fellow who don't think it's the finest thing since sliced bread. Don't get us started on the theme tune, either, as we'll get it stuck in our heads for another fortnight.

Sure, you can get hold of murky copies of the show if you look hard enough, but c'mon, BBC, pull your finger out and give us a decent copy to watch through out eyelets.

2. Old Boy Network

We discovered Old Boy Network a few months ago and we'd be lying if we said it didn't captivate us and take a special place in our beating hearts for eternity.

Not only is there Tom Conti in sublime form there's also cracking scripts from those trusted pensmiths Clement and La Frenais. And the majesty just keeps on coming with a handful of drop dead gorgeous females in strong roles - a sure fire way to gain the tick of approval in the Curious British Telly household.

It's not very well remembered, though, since its 1992 airing and, as a result, it's a barely a footnote in Conti's or Clement and La Frenais' careers which is a bloody shame. You see, it's packed full of charm, treachery, suspense and, most importantly, plenty of giggles.

Network DVD need to take note of our pleas and get it in their release schedule as a matter of urgency!

3. Asylum

Who's that Simon Pegg fella? You ever heard of him?


But way back in 1996 we didn't really have a clue who this curious Gloucestershire chappie was. However, it was in this timescape that he first started grabbing a few people's attention with his psych-com Asylum.

Simon Pegg's a humble pizza delivery boy who's gone and got himself into a bit of bother by getting banged up in Dr Lovett's (Norman Lovett) asylum. He only went to deliver a pizza, just can't get the breaks can he? Anyway, Pegg finds himself at the centre of a bizarre experiment to reprogram peoples identities, the bloody sadist!

However, there's still room for a right royal helping of hilarious antics, so don't despair!

Being on the Paramount Channel it only attracted a small, cult audience, but Asylum is an important curio for British comedy which should never be ignored. Remember that influential TV show Spaced? Well this was put together by the same successful triumvirate of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Jessica Stevenson.

And what did Pegg and Wright go on to do together? Oh yeah, that's it! They trounced the bleeding box office all over the world with the Cornetto trilogy.

The initial seeds were sewn in Asylum and, you know, it's actually pretty funny and packed full of up and coming comedians such as Bill Bailey, David Walliams and John Moloney, so we feel like it's time to discharge this from the Paramount vaults and out into the ether.

4. Conjugal Rites

Ah, good old Conjugal Rites! There was a sitcom which we lived for back in the mid 90s! And it wasn't just us, up to 10 million people tuned in to watch the strained marriage of Gen (Gwen Taylor) and Barry (Michael Williams).

Despite this popularity at the time it seems to have taken a bit of a kicking since its tellywaves were first broadcast. God knows why as we've caught up with it in recent years and found that the accusations being levelled at is as being a stereotypical middle class are nothing short of scandalous, m'lud!

Look past the light and fluffy somewhat suburban setting and you'll discover that the pain in that relationship runs deep, man! The level of despair hanging over Gen and Barry's marriage has been induced by several antagonists such as missed opportunities, potential affairs and trying to figure out what to do with the infirm, but randy Grandad (Alan MacNaughton).

Will the pair find happiness together? Or apart? That's the question that kept everyone on the edge of their seats.

Strangely, for a show that was so popular relatively recently, there's little footage out there. 5 episodes from series 1 are floating about, but they're very poor quality. We've got hold of a decent copy of the first episode, but that's it.

Given the original success of the show it's surely only a matter of time before Network DVD release it, right?

Well we emailed them a while back and they said they had no plans to release it any time soon. Brutes.

5. The Mad Death

We love dogs, but we don't fancy being bitten by them. Especially if they've got RABIES!

Oh, blimey! Rabies, eh?! We don't want none of that over here! Quick, board up the Channel Tunnel for them Frenchies wanna send us all mad!

Life's not quite as bad as that, but we got a quick look through a similar lens with terrifying serial The Mad Death back in 1983. And, boy oh boy, was it one helluva bleak look at what could happen if some pesky canines brought their infected saliva to our precious bloodstreams.

Are there deaths? Sure, loads! Are there crazy women? Yes, a couple! Is there panic on the streets? You betcha, baby!

And you can't help but get sucked into the whole thing because WHAT IF IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?! WHAT WOULD YOU DO?! COULD YOU SHOOT THE BLUE PETER DOG IF NEED BE?!

But is it out on DVD? NO! Although, there was a VHS release way back in ancient times, so someone, in a position of power, at some point, thought it was an ace idea to get it out amongst the public for keeps. Said VHS, though, is nigh on impossible to find now.

The Mad Death certainly isn't as bleak or disturbing as Threads (thankfully out on DVD), but it's another fascinating excursion into the fear and paranoia building up in the public subconscious back in the 1980s. This time capsule value, alone, ensures it deserves a DVD release.

So, there we have it, those are our 5 top picks that we want to see nestling on the shelves/webpages of all major DVD retailers. Whether we'll ever see them is difficult to tell, but we have faith that the retro telly gods will make it so.

Let us know in the comments below which shows you'd love to get an official DVD release!


  1. CAB for me. A CITV show from the 80s set excitingly in a Citizens Advice Bureau with a woman called Franny (amusingly misheard by us wee Glasgow schoolboys as Fanny). There was a cursed sarchophogus/mummy in the Citizens Advice Bureau (of course!) and flashbacks to Ancient Egypt i think. ...

    Unless I'm wildly misremembering...!

  2. I really really want to see 'The Boy Who Won The Pools' again. I remember the characters, but not very much of the story, but I did enjoy it at the time!

    1. I've had that show mentioned to me a few times, but I've never managed to track it down. One day I will though...