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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding Gold When You're Not Looking For It.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the relative of a friend, telling me that he had a few of my old rare shows on DVD.
"Rare" in this instance, translates to "flop".
"Flop" doesn't necessarily translate to "bad".
He sent them to me, and they were quite good.
At least I thought so.
He asked me if I had any other "rare" shows of mine on DVD.
I told him that all I had were on Betamax tapes, which I probably don't have anymore, because I didn't have a working Betamax Machine.
But if he finds them, I'd love to get my hands on them.

A couple of weeks ago, I was rummaging upstairs in various rooms, looking for early drafts of scripts I had later drafts of, so I could use the clean backs of them to write my bets on.
That's about all they're good for.
I open a cabinet, and a couple of drawers in it, and find the Mother Lode.
All my old Betamax tapes.
With most of my "rare" shows on them.
And two Betamax machines.

These tapes were now over thirty years old, as were the machines.
And the machines didn't work too well thirty years ago.
But something possessed me to shlep all of it downstairs, hook a machine up to one of my new TVs, and hope for the best.
By the way, these Betamax machines each weighed a ton.
We've made some progress in that regard.

The first machine I tried had the same problem it had thirty years ago.
You couldn't extract a tape from it without using the equivalent of forceps.
And there was a tracking problem.
My hopes were getting dim.
I hooked up the other Beta machine.
The problem on that one used to be that it stopped intermittently.
During recording or playback.
Other than that, it worked fine.
This would preclude my being able to use it successfully.
I put in a tape.
The more than thirty year old tape played fine.
And the machine didn't stop intermittently.
It was working fine, although I didn't know for how long.

I hooked it all up to my two year old DVD recorder, got some blank DVDs, and of course, the two year old DVD recorder kept spitting out the blank DVDs.
We've made no progress in this regard.
The thirty year old Betamax worked fine, the two year old DVD recorder, which I used maybe twice before, was a washout.

This problem was solved when I made a trip to Best Buy, where the first salesman tried to sell me another $300 DVD recorder.
Another salesman sized up the problem and cost the first salesman his commission by suggesting that I buy a $50 DVD recording device that hooks right up to my computer.

As my mother would have said, "$50 is a whole lot better than $300".

And it was.
And it worked fine.
All the Beta tapes worked fine.
I never had the stopping problem with the Betamax machine.
How it cured itself over thirty years, I'll never know.

And I now have about 20 episodes of a series I did called "Busting Loose" on DVD, where I can watch them any time I want to, without any shlepping, and without my heart in my mouth.
I have a handful of episodes of other series: One I did with Ted Knight, and one called
"Makin 'It".
We actually only did a handful of those.
Four episodes of "The New Odd Couple".
I also have a couple of wonderful unsold pilots, and a couple of not-so-wonderful unsold pilots.
All on DVD.
I never thought I'd see any of this stuff again.
When I got done, I laughed like a loon, just the way Walter Huston did as he did his crazy dance when he informed his colleagues that they were standing on gold, and too stupid to realize it, in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre".

If any of my regular readers are interested in seeing any of this stuff, e-mail me at, and we'll figure out if there's a way to make this happen.

Also, if the actress Barrie Youngfellow, or anyone else connected with a 1979 unsold NBC pilot called "Single Life" wants to get their hands on it, I have that too.
It aired after one of my unsold pilots, and I left the tape rolling.
I Googled it, and there is absolutely no information on it anywhere on the entire Internet.



  1. Wow I remember Busting Loose as being one of the first shows that actually had a lead with a Jewish name. Being a Jewish kid from Long Island I felt I had a connection to that kid (I was 16). And boy did I have a crush on Barbara Rhodes. And the show WAS funny.

  2. I have fond memories of Bustin' Loose and even remember some of the lines ("You guys want some wah-wah?" No thanks, wah-wah makes me wee-wee.") I had a crush on Liberty/Louise Williams and thought she was a great Tabitha in the unsold and misspelled "Tabatha" pilot (I also bought Sucess Rice because of her).

    The thing I remember most about The New Odd Couple was that the lead characters kept referring to each other by name in almost every line. Did the network think we would forget or something?

  3. They did that on the Old Odd Couple too.
    And in the play.
    It made me gag in all instances.
    It was beyond my control.
    My mother did that to me all the time.
    As if I didn't know who she was talking to.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."