Apparently, Newhart is coming out now because online retailer Amazon told Fox Home Entertainment of all the requests it had received for the ’80s show... Ironically, he added, it’s his understanding that Amazon also has urged Fox to release Seasons 5 and 6 of the older show, too.
“The fifth and sixth seasons of The Bob Newhart Show are in limbo as far as I am concerned, as far as Fox’s attitude toward them,” Bob said. “I think Fox has an obligation to put something out and not quit after the fourth year.”
He said he feels bad for fans, many of whom have contacted him through his website to ask what’s up.
“I think it hurts because people don’t want to start collecting if they’re not sure they’re going to have the whole collection,” he said, adding with a laugh: “There were eight years of Newhart. Now, how many they are going to put out, I don’t know.”
Read the whole thing, which has more quotes from Newhart and more info about Fox's bizarre history with non-current catalogue titles.
Fox really, really needs to start licensing out its TV catalogue to someone, anyone. The current situation -- where they release the first season of Newhart and no one, not even Newhart himself, thinks we're likely to see the whole series -- is nuts.
I don't know if this would be practical or possible, but one thing that occurs to me is this: since these titles appear to sell better through Amazon than in regular stores (since Amazon has told Fox that they want these titles), shouldn't there at least be some consideration given to making these shows online-exclusive titles? It's probably not practical, but there's no doubt that these older shows are easier to market online -- where they will be bought by fans and by older viewers -- rather than to impulse buyers in stores.