Retro TV

Can You Believe These Shows Aren't Available to Stream?

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When I was around 15, and craving a shiny Buffy DVD, my father said “One day, you’ll be able to watch all of the television you want, on demand.” I thought this was insane, but here we are, 15 years later, and he was right. (Aren’t parents often right?).

Seinfeld is finally streaming and the knee-jerk reaction from a lot of us was “great! Now pretty much everything is available.” With the sheer number and variety of streaming services – recently augmented with a pay service by the BBC, Verizon’s Go90, and Comcast’s Watchable – it’s easy to think that your wifi has you covered. But there are still a few things left that you need to watch the old fashioned way – on DVD (lol) or in syndication (at 4:30 am).

Working with Alex, I sat down to make a list of my most-wanted shows for streaming on Netflix or Hulu on Amazon Prime. I’m probably already behind on about 20 shows past and present, but hey.

Alex’s Wish List

murphybrownMurphy Brown – This CBS sitcom has historical significance. Yes, it got dragged into a presidential election when Dan Quayle made an issue over a professional woman having a baby outside of marriage. But it was also considered a great experiment, because Candace Bergen was a movie star who decided to do TV. That’s right kids, the film to TV thing was actually a big deal, because that simply wasn’t done. But Bergen did it, and two decades later movie stars are flocking to TV, shifting the balance from big screen to small screen. Most importantly, Murphy Brown was funny, and it was smart. It should be streaming.

Northern Exposure – We had to rent this from the library so Bri could watch it last summer. Northern Exposure was the first David Chase show, and you’d never guess he would go on to create the Sopranos. A fish-out-of-water story featuring a New York doctor who transplanted to Cicely, Alaska in order to pay off his student loans, Northern Exposure was like the witty, light-hearted cousin of Twin Peaks.

er-originalER – There were medical shows before ER and there were medical shows after ER. However, NBC’s dominant drama was an incredible show in its first five seasons or so. Although the show slowed and stalled in its middle seasons, it reinvented itself during its last five seasons. The early show had everything – it turned George Clooney into a superstar, launched the career of Juliana Marguiles, revived the career of Anthony “Goose” Edwards and told medical stories in a way that has been copied by every medical TV show that came after it. Oh, and there was also a live freaking episode, of a show set in the ER. That’s a high wire act we should be able to relive.

ALL THE SOAPS  – There is enough content of old soap operas to run 24 hours a day for the next 245 years. Actually I made that statistic up, but it feels like it should be true. With the enduring popularity of soaps, it is insane that soap fans have almost zero access to old episodes of their favorite stories. The networks (and Proctor & Gamble) rarely even make the shows available on DVD, and when they do, it’s in batches of ten, which is laughable. Even though most of the best soaps have now been canceled, there is huge market for them. Do soap opera weekends and cruises and meet-ups still sell out? You bet they do. I guarantee that if Proctor & Gamble made Another World, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light available on a pay streaming service, people would pay monthly. The same is true for old episodes of Dark Shadows, All My Children, Santa Barbara and dozens more.

Battlestar Galactica – Yes I know that it has been on streaming before, but Netflix pulled it out of rotation last year. Bring it back, I command you!

Bri’s List

Disney66Walt Disney Presents / Wonderful World of Disney – PBS recently premiered a two part documentary on Walt Disney. American Experience: Walt Disney reminded us that Disney was one of the first producers to leverage TV to sell his movies and expand his brand. As the documentary explained, Disney pitched his TV ideas to CBS and NBC with the goal of getting a network to finance Disneyland. When that price was too steep, Disney made a deal with then-loser ABC. The weekly broadcasts were a smashing success that Disney also used to run teasers updating viewers on the progress of his theme park. While we’re at it, other Disney properties like Zorro and the Mickey Mouse Club would be great additions too. Throw all of the original Mickey Mouse shorts too.

My Little Pony (Original) – I like the new version of My Little Pony. I do. But I fell in love with MLP as a kid and I want the original series back for nostalgia purposes! The original episodes ran from 1984 to 1987 (and predated the Bronies by decades.) Who can forget the theme song and opening credits? Don’t you want to share it with your sons and daughters? There was also a movie which I totally made Alex watch one rainy day. For the record, there are several of these I’d want streaming; My Little Pony cartoons, My Little Pony, My Little Pony and Friends, and My Little Pony Tales.

MuppetShowThe Muppet Show – Although the Muppet Show is experiencing a revival with its new sitcom, the only way to see clips of the original Muppet Show is through illegal YouTube videos. I learned this after I decided to try to watch the show for the first time ever. The variety show was part Saturday Night Live, part American Bandstand and all awesome.





Saturday Night Live – SNL is perhaps one of my favorite shows of all time. It’s galling that we still can’t get watch Saturday Night Live in its entierity streaming. Now, I admit that the show is available on both Hulu Plus and Netflix, and for that, I’m grateful, because sometimes I get the itch to watch a certain season or episode, but it’s been cut significantly. Also, only seasons 1 to 5, then 30 and beyond are available on the streaming services, leaving us whole chunks of 1990’s moments missing. Where’s my chance to watch Wayne’s World, Church Chat, Toonces, Celebrity Jeopardy and more? Fix it.

We know we haven’t covered it all, and maybe we missed one of your favorite shows, so let us know what we missed. What shows do you want to see added to Netflix or Hulu?

Bri is the founder and co-editor of What the Fangirl. She loves chai lattes, Disney and fairy tales.


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