Good news for buyers of The Fugitive DVDs

February 18, 2009

thefugitiveThe licensing of the music for TV shows on DVD has always been a tricky issue.  Apparently the rights to use music in broadcast are different than the rights to use the same for DVD sales.  Sometimes who owns the rights to the music used is unclear.  Sometimes, the rights owners themselves want more money than the DVD producers want to pay.  So often you will see some small disclaimer on the back of a DVD set that says that some of the music was altered from the original broadcast.  Sometimes, this doesn’t make a much of a difference.  Sometimes, however, it makes a big difference.

I first became aware of this when I heard years ago that a small piece of Fleetwood Mac music in the Doctor Who episode “Spearhead From Space” was replaced for the official release.  (“Oh Well (Part 1)” is heard in the original broadcast as dolls are manufactured at Auto Plastics.)  I hadn’t realized that there was any Fleetwood Mac music in Doctor Who, but I checked the release versus my off-air recording, and sure enough, the music was different.  It didn’t really make a difference to the show, but as a purist, it upset me enough to remember it, and to make a mental note not to throw out my videotape collection when the next media came along.

What really brought the issue to a head with me was what happened with Quantum Leap.  If you are familiar with the show, you know that the main character Sam “leaps” back in time within his own lifespan into the bodies of other people.  The settings of the shows were mostly period pieces set in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  The music was a pretty integral part of how the makers of the show defined the time period that Sam was in each week.  When the season 2 DVD set was released, however, fans found out that most of the music in season 2 had been replaced.  Worse yet, the final scene of the last episode of the season featured an emotional scene of supporting character Al “dancing” with his wife Beth to the Ray Charles version of “Georgia On My Mind.”  That particular song because it was “their song” played at their wedding.  Al specifically mentions the song earlier in the episode.  Despite the mention of the song and the importance of the final scene, the song was replaced on the DVD set!  Subsequent seasons also had music removed, and I specifically avoided buying any releases because of the issue.

Part of the issue with the music replacement with Quantum Leap was also the fact that the first season DVD set had all the music intact.  People who bought the first set and were happy with it went out and bought the second, and only realized after the fact that the music had been switched.  Fans of The Fugitive (myself included) were stunned to find the same situation with the music for season 2, volume 1 of The Fugitive.  In fact, the season 1 releases had that small disclaimer on the packaging, and fans could find no music edits at all in season 1, and assumed that the disclaimer was just legalese.  But the music in season 2 was replaced wholesale, with the whole underscore being completely rewritten for DVD.  TVShowsOnDVD.com called them out on it, and fans were in an uproar (rightfully so).CBS DVD and Paramount Home Entertainment issued a quick response to the initial uproar, which only seemed to add fuel to the fire.  Variety wrote about it, and places like Video Business and MSN picked up the story.

The issue never died, and CBS DVD and Paramount Home Entertainment finally made things right this week.  TVShowsOnDVD.com has a statement from CBS announcing that they will be offering replacement discs.  There’s a FAQ about the replacement program, and links to CBS to download the replacement forms.  Kudos to CBS on making it right.  I hope cases like this make studios think twice about what they replace and what their customers really want.

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  1. Wow…this article really made my day, my week, my year. There truly was an outcry over the removal of the original Peter Rugolo music score from the Fugitive tv series staring David Janseen. I think everybody felt the same way I did. After watching the first show of 2nd season, I was depressed for about a day. CBS thank you thank you thank you!!!! This will be remembered.

  2. I mailed off the replacement disc form the same day.

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