Happy end of February. As most of us know, February was Black History Month. I’m old enough to have been in school when the right people finally woke up and realized that maybe we shouldn’t teach the same rich old white men who could never do any wrong history. I’m also old enough to have seen teachers play Glory and think that was good enough.
While society has moved forward and great strides have been made there are still glaring omissions. Specifically, in the television and DVD worlds. Some of the stupidest worst TV ever is available on DVD and multiple streaming services. Yet many TV shows which star most or an all African American cast have never been released on DVD. I don’t mean out of print, I mean ever. And why not?
So lets take a look at the shows that deserve to be on DVD and why they deserve to be (and in some cases what little is available.)
A Different World.
141 episodes. Spin off of The Cosby Show (lets leave other stuff aside for now). Top 10 show in seasons 1-4. Ranked #1 in black households for seasons 2, 3, 4, and 5. “African-American youth who watched the show often cite it as a defining reason why many of them decided to attend a historically Black college or university.” Season 1 has been released on DVD back in 2005 and that is it despite numerous plans to release season two starting in 2006.
Only Season 1 out of five has been released on DVD. Despite Living Single being more popular with African American and Latino communities than all of NBC’s Must See TV (along with New York Undercover and Martin). 118 episodes. Anyone who was anyone in Black culture appeared on the show over its seasons. Strong black leading women and a time capsule of all that was important in the mid 90s.
First TV show to feature a Black woman in a non racist way. She was a nurse! Her husband died during Vietnam and she worked hard to raise her child. This was back in 1968. Ranked #7 in its first year. The actress that played Julia, Diahann Carroll, was nominated for an Emmy for her role. The first African American woman to ever be nominated in the category. She won a Golden Globe for this role. Just from a historical standpoint this show needs to be available. Out of 3 seasons and 86 episodes, zero are available.
Its Family Matters! Urkel! A staple of our Friday nights for decades. Out of nine seasons only the first four are available on DVD.
The Flip Wilson Show
Ranked #2 in its first two years. First show starring an African American to cross over and become successful with white audiences. Ground breaking series. If not for Flip then the show should at least be available for the guests. Every popular musician or comedian of the day and every up and comer showed up. Not only did they perform but they also acted in skits with Flip. If anything this show should have National Archives level historical significance. No episodes or seasons are available on DVD.
Part of the DC Animated Universe along with Batman, Superman, Justice League and Batman Beyond. 52 episodes and four seasons. One of the biggest African American super heroes of all time. Six episodes were released on DVD but Warner Bros has no plans to release any more.
Think about that. A part of the most successful and loved cartoon series is not available on DVD. Its tough to think the reason is something other than the fact he’s black.