Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monster Squad on DVD

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but never got around to it. On June 23 one of my favorite, seldom seen, children television show was finally released to DVD. The Monster Squad is a live-action, Saturday morning program that featured Fred Grandy (aka Gopher on the Love Boat) and a cast of superhuman wax monsters that come to life at night to fight crime. Originally aired on NBC in 1976 it hasn't been seen much since then, at least in the US.

I don't know the source material used, but I doubt they pulled these from the original film negatives. The sound is a bit muffled in some episodes and the picture grainy, and no real extras to speak of. Too bad... I have a bunch B&W film negatives and color slides I would have been happy to share. With that said, I'm still ecstatic that these were finally released, considering the fact that fan copies circulating over the years are completely unwatchable. I'm looking forward to other D'Angelo releases (Big John, Little John - Oct 2009) hopefully coming soon.

I do take some small satisfaction in helping to get it finally released, although some would say I had no bearing in the matter. A friend of mine who has made finding Monster Squad episodes a life-long obsession had tracked down producer Bill D'Angelo many years ago to see what the ownership status was... Reportedly, Bill claimed to have the original film negatives stored in his basement, along with most of his other early Saturday Morning shows. My friend made many calls to both Bill and his lawyer over several years to urge them to do something with the shows. D'Angelo and his lawyer eventually stopped taking his calls and then in 2002 (June 22) Bill died at age 70, along with hope of ever seeing Monster Squad.

As many of you know, BCI had obtained the distribution rights to the Filmation library in the US and did a great job with the sets it released. I contacted someone affiliated with BCI and suggested they investigate getting the DVD rights to the D'Angelo library. Surprisingly they were looking for new libraries to tap and asked for any contact information I could provide. I gave them everything I had and told them to contact my obsessed Monster Squad friend for more info.
There you have it. Okay, it's not like I did anything above and beyond what any self-respecting fan boy would have done, but let me have my victory, please.

Rumor has it that BCI approached D'Angelo's son and expressed an interest in the programs. Apparently not happy with the offer (or the terms), Bill Jr. began shopping around for other distribution deals... eventually going with Virgil Entertainment.

BCI went out of business at the beginning of this year after a great run of Filmation DVD sets, which was too bad... I'm convinced they could have produced awesome sets of D'Angelo material.


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