Ten TV Shows
The following is a list of what I feel are the best shows on DVD from television's first full decade. While a number of TV series from the 1950s have enjoyed success on DVD, shows from the early-1950s are harder to come by, mostly because so many of the productions ended up in the trash bin. It was not uncommon for networks to destroy shows after airing so they couldn't be rerun again elsewhere, few envisioned a day when programs could be syndicated to stations around the country and no one imagined a time when you could take a series home to enjoy.
10: Sky King - these simple Saturday morning TV tales are a joy to watch and it's a remarkable glimpse into life in the 1950s.
9: Perry Mason - the mysteries are intriguing, even when you know who did it. Perry Mason keeps you guessing in the tradition of modern dramas like Law & Order.
8: Adventures of Superman - a terrific DVD collection, Warner Bros. really did this one right. The stories are simple but the cast is so fine the series never loses it's luster. Enjoyable for the entire family.
7: Alfred Hitchcock Presents - surprise endings that rarely fail to deliver a payoff. Some of the best scripts of any show in the entire decade.
6: You Bet Your Life - laugh out loud funny. Groucho Marx is at his very best in this collection, even hilarious when you watch them a second or third time.
5: Gangbusters - television noir at its best, early-1950s dramatizations of the capturing of real life gangsters like Alvin Karpas, John Dillinger and Durable Mike.
4: The Victor Borge Show - the first few episodes of this unlikely sitcom / variety show are funny as heck, Borge at his best. One of the greatest comedians of TV's early years.
3: The Phil Silvers Show / Sgt. Bilko - first class DVD treatment for a true classic comedy. This show really holds up today, doesn't feel a bit dated.
2: The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes - Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows at their peak.
1: Amos 'n' Andy - gets my vote for the funniest sitcom of the era, maybe of all time.
Of course, any list should include I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone but I figured they were too obvious.
I asked Bob Huggins, an expert on shows on DVD from that era, for a list of his favorites and he came up with quite a few winners that I failed to mention.
Bob writes: There are simply tons of shows that have either been released in their entirety or have had some selected episodes released. My list is far from comprehensive, these are simply shows that I would add to your list, plus a few obscure favorites of mine which I’ve placed at the end. Incidentally, if you go to Amazon, they list in excess of 900 releases for the 1950s decade. A quick spot check indicates that not all of the DVDs are truly from the 1950s (Color Honeymooners? No way.), but there are plenty of shows from which fans of this decade can select.
Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (I prefer Mill Creek’s
collection of 100 public domain episodes, but Shout! Factory has the official
Kid Shows & More:
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