Fans of the prestige DVD label Criterion look forward to the company's monthly announcements of their upcoming titles, but yesterday's announcement of November's slate was especially intriguing. In addition to sure-to-be-sterling editions of Michael Ritchie's 1969 ski drama Downhill Racer (starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman) and the recent acclaimed foreign films A Christmas Tale and Gomorrah, Criterion is releasing a three-disc set called The Golden Age Of Television, drawn from the early '80s PBS series of the same name. Contained within are the kinescopes for eight live dramas that helped bring respectability to the medium: Marty, Patterns, No Time For Sergeants, A Wind From The South, Requiem For A Heavyweight, Bang The Drum Slowly, The Comedian and Days Of Wine And Roses. Some of these broadcasts were so successful that they were later expanded into feature films, but this set contains the televised originals, plus vintage interviews and commentary tracks featuring some of the program's cast and directors (including the likes of John Frankenheimer, Andy Griffith, Jack Palace, Rod Steiger, Kim Hunter and Piper Laurie). Criterion has ventured beyond feature films before, collecting avant-garde shorts, dance films and music videos, but outside of some foreign miniseries like Berlin Alexanderplatz and Scenes From A Marriage, this Golden Age set appears to be their first straight-up TV-on-DVD release*. Should be a good one.
*Um… except for Tanner '88. And Fishing With John. And whatever else I've forgotten.