An Experiment in the Utility of Social Media

August 7, 2012

So you’re probably all familiar with the Warner Archive.  If you’re not, that’s the DVD-on-demand initiative started by Warner Bros. in 2009 and imitated by most of the other studios.  It has radically altered the home video business, basically ending retail marketing of catalog titles and supplanting it with direct-to-customer internet sales.

I’ll bet you’re also aware that in the last year or so the Warner Archive has begun releasing some obscure old (and new) TV shows in pricy, rarely-discounted box sets: The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., Shaft, Tarzan, Medical Center, The F.B.I., Cheyenne, Daktari, ShaftSouthland.  Plus they’ve got one-off releases of a few dozen made-for-TV movies from the seventies and eighties.  Another studio, Sony, distributes its own burn-on-demand discs through the Warner Archive site, and they’ve got some TV series gems, too: Ghost Story, Born Free and, coming in October, the underrated, rarely-seen Dale Robertson western Iron Horse.

Also during the past year, I’ve been going back and forth in an unintentionally comedic and occasionally demeaning exchange with the Warner Archive’s publicists.  I was tempted to turn those e-mails into an epistolary sequel to “Dirt in the Bathtub,” in which I riffed on Shout Factory’s apparent inability to process my screener requests (productively, as it turned out, because they started sending me discs, at least for a while).

But I don’t like repeating myself, so let me just give you the upshot.  Which is that Warner Archive will not send me TV discs to review, although they have on various occasions (1) written back to ask if I’ve published my review of the discs they never sent me, or (2) offered to send me some movies instead (even though I made it clear I only write about television here).

I’m about ready to throw my hands up completely, but first let’s try something together.  I’d like to write about some of the shows Warner Archive is releasing.  The Gallant Men and Harry O just came out.  The Lieutenant is likely coming “very, very soon” (some clips were unveiled last month at Comic Con in San Diego).  I’ll probably get around to those and all of the older ones mentioned above, too.  But frankly, I can’t afford them all, and it’d send ’em much closer to the top of the pile if Warner Archive coughed up some review copies.

So how about this: If you’d like to read what I’d write about some of those shows, hop on over to the Warner Archive’s convenient Facebook page and tell ’em so.  Anyone can leave comments there, and the Warner people actually read and answer most of them.  While you’re there, why not post the link to my little blog and mention that you like this space. Who knows – maybe they would, too.

UPDATE, 8/10/12: It would appear that the Classic TV History Blog and the Warner Archive have reached a mutually beneficial arrangement.  Thanks to everyone who chimed in!


12 Responses to “An Experiment in the Utility of Social Media”

  1. John D in NYC Says:

    I just posted at the Warner site.

  2. Stephen Bowie Says:

    Thank you, John. Whether or not this has any effect (positive or negative), it would’ve been embarrassing if the only reaction was crickets! Whew.

  3. Lee O'Connell Says:

    So I should help you get free copies of the shows you want to see while the rest of us poor schlubs have to pay full price for this stuff? Um . . . no.

    • Stephen Bowie Says:

      Well, you can certainly look at it that way, Lee.

      I look at it more as an attempt to convince the Warner Archive folks that this is a legitimate media outlet … one that’s more likely to give their TV releases careful attention than some of the mainstream publications that give 99 screeners away to the interns for every one that they write about.

      I turned down a box of free movies to try to make that point.

  4. Griff Says:

    Stephen — Best of luck to you on this. I’d sure like your take on THE GALLANT MEN set. Who knows — perhaps we’ll see THE ROARING TWENTIES one of these days.

  5. Stephen Bowie Says:

    They’ve confirmed that the detective shows are a music clearance headache (which was pretty obvious, if you’ve seen them). I’m trying to remember if The Roaring 20s fits into that … Dorothy Provine does a lot of numbers, right? Maybe we’ll get The Alaskans instead….

    • Griff Says:

      You’re right — THE ROARING TWENTIES is filled with musical numbers. This once wasn’t such a problem — Warners used to be one of the largest music publishing companies in the world, and owned a great many of the (period) popular songs used in their films and shows. [The detective shows, which used more contemporary music, are likely a different story.]

  6. Stephen Bowie Says:

    That’s a good point — if the show is truly period-authentic, at least some of the tunes should be out of copyright (pre-1923). On the other hand, I’ll bet they don’t have existing video masters for this show (which they should have for the four contemporary P.I. series).

  7. bobby J. Says:


  8. Bob G Says:

    Stephen,there are a lot of interesting names in the GALLANT MEN writing credits. One of my favorite episodes was written by your interview subject, Jason Wingreen.

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