Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Pricey Nostalgia"

The Denver Post has an article on "The Wonder Years" and why it isn't on DVD yet. Well, you already know why it isn't on DVD yet: music, music and more music. But the article goes into a lot more detail than usual about this stuff, talking to some very good people from Fox (which owns the show) and learning that "The Wonder Years" probably will come out on DVD once they can figure out how to reduce music costs sufficiently:

Sarda hopes to begin releasing the DVDs within two years. No matter when they come out, the original music most likely won't be on them.

"I think that's the only way really we're going to see it," says Gord Lacey, creator of the Web site TVshowsonDVD.com. "I don't have a list of the songs used in the show, but something tells me they're not going to be able to release a completely intact series."

The music-licensing hurdle is substantial. "The Wonder Years" borrowed more than 300 pieces of music for its 115 episodes. Even more daunting is the fact that the music is from what has emerged as a resurgent, nostalgic era.

"I'd love to put it out on DVD, so other people can enjoy it," Sarda said. "So we just have to work through these issues. It's not that simple, because music is an integral part of that show. So it's not like you can just go in and replace it all."

This is basically what's going to have to happen with a lot of music-heavy shows: a balance is going to have to be struck between licensing all the music (which is prohibitively expensive) and just replacing everything indiscriminately (Stephen J. Cannell did this when he released most of his self-produced shows on DVD, and it's an utter disaster, ruining shows like "Wiseguy" and "Greatest American Hero").

1 comment:

Peter Lynn said...

I suppose one solution is to at least replace the music with cheap knockoff tracks that have been changed around just enough to avoid having to pay royalties -- kind of like the way WCW wrestler "Diamond" Dallas Page's theme music was a stone-cold ripoff of "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Even if they didn't bother to change the composition, they could at least substitute a cheap cover version and save on performance royalties. It wouldn't be the most satisfactory solution, but it might be close enough.

But I certainly hope that the people producing music-heavy shows right now have at least wised up and are starting to licence the music for the eventual DVD release at the same time that they work out the initial rights for broadcast so that they don't end up in this same mess down the road. Any idea if anyone's showing this kind of foresight?