Answer Man: When will we see our favorite classic TV shows on DVD?

January 6, 2014 

Q. Two of my favorite shows from the 1970s were "Happy Days" and "The Love Boat." "Happy Days" was released on DVD with just a few seasons, but not its entire run. The same was true with "Love Boat." Do they have any plans to release the entire run, maybe on Blu-ray?

-- Brianmark

A. I don't see any "Happy Days" in at least your short-term DVD-watching future -- and new releases of "The Love Boat" may be lost at sea as well.

Apparently, there are no plans to release additional seasons, so you'll have to make do either finding them on retro-TV stations or enjoying the few seasons that have been issued. If you're keeping track, only four of the 11 seasons of Richie and the Fonz have been released (the last in December 2008) while just two of the nine "Love Boat" cruises are available (the last in August 2009).

"Happy Days" fans probably are particularly upset because season five marked several watershed moments -- both good and bad. On the plus side, it was the year that Richie met his future wife, Lori Beth, Scott Baio joined the cast as Charles "Chachi" Arcola -- and Robin Williams flew in as Mork from Ork in the episode "My Favorite Orkan." Of course, it also saw Fonzie water-ski over a shark, leading to the now well-worn phrase "jumping the shark" to describe the point at which the plot of a TV show becomes so ludicrous that it starts to go downhill.

Another disappointment: Only one season of "Murphy Brown," the classic sitcom with Candice Bergen that ran 10 years, is available. CBS, however, shelved plans to release additional seasons because of poor sales coupled with the high cost of paying for all that copyrighted music they used.

You see, every time a show or movie inserts someone's pop song to emphasize a plot point, producers have to strike a deal with those associated with the song. This may be affordable when the show is aired, but may make it prohibitive when it is released on DVD.

From what I've learned, this may be one of the sticking points with such shows as "Happy Days." For example, Suzi Quatro performed many of her own songs, but all of the actors likely would want a cut as well. If the studio doesn't think sales will turn it into a moneymaker, it's probably going to stay in the vaults. So you'll have to be satisfied with what you have and just load up those stacks of wax on your old stereo.

Q. I was driving down West Main Street near Lindenwood University in Belleville and noticed some new speed limit signs. They were outlined in red instead of black. Was the color change made because of some new state law? Does the red color mean something? Or was it because Christmas was coming? Why didn't we see signs with green, too?

-- W.G., of Belleville

Now there's a thought -- speed-limit signs to match the season.

Like hanging those holiday wreaths from street lights, crews could dangle colored eggs for Easter, attach electric sparklers for the Fourth of July and have big turkeys pop up for Thanksgiving.

You must admit they'd certainly get noticed -- which is the whole idea behind the striking new signs near Lindenwood.

"The purpose of the red border is to draw attention to both the sign and the speed limit," Chuck Schaeffer, Belleville's director of public works, told me.

"I have been working closely with Lindenwood officials in an attempt to ensure the safety of their students. These students live in houses across the street and need to cross West Main to get to classes. Most drivers in that area don't realize the speed limit drops to 25 mph on campus. This is an attempt to get drivers' attention. Do we have a variety of speed signs to choose from? No. These signs were a special order. We just have the standard speed limit signs."

Today's trivia

What one-word telegram did comedian Bob Hope reportedly send Harry Truman after his 1948 victory in the presidential election?

Answer to Sunday's trivia: Now it's expected that presidents will establish libraries after they leave office as a legacy to their history and repository for their papers. Currently, Hawaii and Illinois are already grabbing headlines as possible sites for President Obama's future library.

The custom began in 1916 when the family of Rutherford B. Hayes, the country's 19th president, established the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. Opened 23 years after his death, the library was designed to preserve Hayes' 12,000-volume personal library along with archival material from his military and political career, particularly during his presidency from 1877-1881. Over the years, the staff has expanded the collection to more than 80,000 books to reflect Hayes' special interests, including genealogy, local history and the Gilded Age period in which he lived.

The library complex also includes a museum and Spiegel Grove, the Hayes' family home. Only two other 19th century presidents have their own named libraries -- the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield and the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University.

Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or rschlueter@bnd.com or call 618-239-2465.

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