Newcomers still plentiful among sets


With so many popular TV series having run their course on DVD, it would seem the stock of marketable programs is getting depleted.

But that's hardly the case. Figures compiled by the DVD Release Report show that the number of new shows "debuting" on DVD with "complete first season" sets this year is expected to top out at 158, up from 137 in 2005.

And a look at the newcomers shows some surprisingly familiar names, series that despite the TV-DVD boom -- which is now a $3 billion-a-year business -- have somehow escaped their day on disc until now.

Among the new series that bowed on DVD this year are "Hill Street Blues," "I Dream of Jeannie," "The Wild Wild West," "Boston Legal," "Beverly Hills, 90201," "Melrose Place" and "The Bill Cosby Show" as well as such all-but-forgotten classics as "Rat Patrol," "Perry Mason" and "F Troop."

"It used to come as a surprise when some really obscure TV series would get the full-season treatment, but there are so many arriving each month that the novelty of it has worn off," DVD Release Report editor Ralph Tribbey said. "That's a good sign that maybe 2007 will find 'Route 66' or '77 Sunset Strip' on someone's announce list."

In just the past week, three series have been slotted for their first-ever DVD appearances, all from Paramount Home Entertainment.

First up is the cult TV series "Beauty and the Beast," which debuted in 1987 and lasted three seasons. The first season of the fantasy series about a man-beast named Vincent and his love for a beautiful assistant district attorney is due Feb. 13 in a six-disc set ($49.99).

A week later comes Season 1 of "Family Ties," on the eve of the long-running (1982-89) sitcom's 25th anniversary. The series, about liberal parents trying to raise a traditional suburban family (including a conservative son played by Michael J. Fox), will arrive Feb. 20 in a four-disc set ($42.99).

Finally, on March 6 comes the first season of the crime drama "Hawaii Five-O," which consistently drew top ratings throughout its 1968-80 run. The seven-disc set ($54.99) includes the two-hour pilot movie "Cocoon," plus a 1996 retrospective.