‘Benson’ Season 2: A Way Forward?

Many thanks to Soap scholar (what the heck, he’s earned the title by now) Jeff K. for calling our attention to the fact that Sony is reportedly going to release Season 2 of Benson through its manufacture-on-demand service next month. After my flameout yesterday over the Lionsgate/Hunger Games/Oxfam baloney, it seemed only right that I give equal time to a potential solution to the screening of those hard-to-find Soap videos.

From what I understand, MOD is basically print-on-demand for video properties, the legal equivalent of your buddy burning you a copy of a program or film on their computer. No packaging, but you at least have a chance to see media that otherwise would be lost to the ages.

Naturally our thoughts here turn to all of those little lost Soap gems, especially the compilation episodes. As all media seems to be moving toward online distribution, this actually makes a great deal of sense. This could even be an opportunity for Sony to go back and release the full-versions of the Soap episodes (as opposed to the truncated syndication episodes they released on DVD) without incurring much in the way of additional cost.

I’ll buy the first round of Hoop-De-Ha if this actually gets off the ground…

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13 comments on “‘Benson’ Season 2: A Way Forward?

  1. Wow, you’ve actually used the Sony system, Lee? Have a photo you’d like to share of the packaging? (Just trying to figure out how “no frills” these things are supposed to be.)

  2. To elaborate…I have used the Warner Archive, which is Warner Brothers’ equivalent service and, in fact, Sony’s distributor. The differences between standard DVDs and these MOD discs are, in essence, price (MOD is higher), burned discs rather than pressed discs (perhaps not as permanent, but should likely last a lifetime), and remastering quality (variable, although for a videotaped series like Benson, it shouldn’t make any difference at all).

    • As you point out, Lee, the quality probably doesn’t really matter that much when talking about these older shows. It’s not as though the proper DVD releases have been anything to write home about. I think most people would just love the opportunity to see the episodes they missed. It would be grand if they just opened up their back catalogs completely to include those programs that never received a video release at all (might we suggest “Fay”?).

      • The quality can vary a lot on the older filmed shows. I meant that it shouldn’t matter in the case of Benson because videotaped shows are only going to look so good no matter what they do to them. But even with the filmed shows, I totally agree about just getting them out there. Shows that had a life in syndication have a much better chance of release, MOD or otherwise, because there are likely to be available masters in decent condition that will look OK on DVD without additional work. I’m not saying Fay would be impossible, but it is much less likely than other shows that have been rerun at some point.

  3. That’s certainly a good point Lee. But I think fans of these older shows (and by fans I mean people more like yourself and the frequenters of this site rather than casual viewers who simply have fond memories of them) are so used to the graininess of the programs and would welcome these gems in any format. I would put them in the same camp as fans (and I’m one) of old time radio. I don’t expect Jack Benny to sound as if he’s in the same room with me.

    • So true, Aaron. Universal has been licensing some of their old shows to Timeless Media (among other smaller labels), and it’s great to have them, both the well-preserved shows like The Virginian and the much less pristine ones like M Squad. I hope Sony releases a lot more of its catalog titles, either via sublicensing or MOD.

      • It seems like at a time when media distributors are lamenting poor sales figures they could be making all of these properties available via MOD (with a small outlay for publicity so people know they’re actually available) for a minimal cost to themselves. Of course we rabble always know best, eh 😉

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