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'McHale's Navy' DVD Release Brings Together Cast Members

21 Dec, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Too often, legendary TV stars are overlooked when their classic shows are being prepped for DVD release. Sometimes it's a case of money; other times it's simple neglect.

At the third annual TV DVD Conference last October, Jack Klugman made a big stink out of being excluded from the DVD release of “Quincy, M.E.,” particularly since his mug was prominently featured on the cover. And several other stars have noted they weren't even aware their shows were available on DVD until they saw a copy in stores.

Shout! Factory is bucking this trend when it releases the complete first season of “McHale's Navy” on DVD on March 20, 2007. This week, surviving cast members, including leads Ernest Borgnine (Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale) and Tim Conway (Ensign Charles Parker), are gathering for a reunion, footage of which will be included as an exclusive DVD featurette.

It's the first time the cast of the 1962-1966 comedy, about a misfit PT boat crew during World War II, have come together since the show went off the air.

“I think it's a great idea for all DVDs to do that,” Conway said. “You get a look at what went on and how the guys really got along. I run into Ernie every now and then — he gives you a hug and breaks a couple of ribs — and we always reflect on some crazy thing that happened at that time. But it's great to sit around and talk about those days with all the other guys.”

Other cast members taking part in the reunion are Carl Ballantine, Edson Stroll and Bob Hastings.

Gord Lacey, who runs the popular fan site TVShowsOnDVD.com, said “very few classic TV shows are released with cast interviews, so it's nice to see Shout! Factory go the extra mile. DVD is a wonderful way to preserve these old shows, but it's also a great way to preserve the stars' thoughts and experiences, working on the series. I'm surprised more studios aren't shooting bonus material while the stars are still around.”

Shout! Factory president Garson Foos said he never really considered any alternative, since his company targets “pop culture junkies and collectors who eat up these classic shows.”

“Where possible, we restore and re-master each episode, dig up lost footage, and track down any cast members who might be willing to participate,” Foos said. “As soon as we decided to bring ‘McHale's Navy' to DVD, we immediately set about locating all the various cast members – some as far away as Japan. With a show like ‘McHale's Navy,' driven as it is by an amazing ensemble cast, witnessing these veteran comedians together more than 40 years later underscores the significance of the show and its contribution to TV history. The actors' memories and interactions always reveal something new, and often hilarious, and contextualize the show in the wider pop culture.”

In addition to the regular five-disc set, Shout! Factory is creating a specially packaged edition of “McHale's Navy exclusively for Naval bases worldwide, through an arrangement with the Navy's international distributor Eurpac.

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