Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Hill Street Blues in a Hospital"

"St. Elsewhere" finally gets a season 1 DVD release. December 12 is the date.

MTM Enterprises, the company that produced "St. Elsewhere," did quite brilliantly in the fall of 1982, when they brought out three new shows: "Elsewhere," "Remington Steele," and "Newhart." All three shows underwent some re-tooling in their sophomore years ("Elsewhere" and "Newhart" for the better, "Steele" for the worse), but basically all three were very high-quality shows that enjoyed healthy runs. The odd thing about that is that this year was not the peak period for MTM, but the very end of its dominance; the company would literally never produce another hit show (it didstributed but did not produce "Evening Shade"). The rest of MTM's existence would be a combination of promising flops like "The Duck Factory" and pointless re-hashes like "Mary" and "The New WKRP in Cincinnati."

The collapse of MTM can presumably be traced to the departure of Grant Tinker, who left in 1982 to become president of NBC. The three hit shows above were probably green-lit while Tinker was still with MTM. It's too bad that such a strong production company declined so quickly and so completely; on many DVD commentaries for MTM shows (all of which are now owned and released by Fox), you can hear a tone of nostalgia for the MTM factory, which in many ways operated like a TV equivalent of the old movie studio system.

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