I think it's a psychological barrier I have toward owning TV series on home video. You kids of the DVD/download generation won't understand, but I grew up in the VHS era. Only a handful of TV series were ever released on VHS. Primarily, these were golden age classics like The Andy Griffith Show or I Love Lucy; documentaries like Ken Burns's Civil War; animated children's fare like Transformers or sci-fi shows with cult followings like Star Trek. Even at that, most of these home video releases contained a mere two episodes per tape and cost as much as movie. In the case of the Star Treks, they held one episode per tape, though they were generally priced around $15 apiece whereas the feature films were priced around $20.
I can already hear you asking why, in an era of an entire season of a show for the price of a couple of individual episodes, I would still resist buying a TV series on DVD. I think it has to do with buying habits. Mine in regards to home video were formed at a time when TV shows just weren't something that we as a society were all that into owning. When you've gone for so long not doing something, it's hard to get used to doing it.
I think another barrier for me is the idea of re-watchability. Now, in all honesty, I can debunk this myself. Truthfully, I rarely re-watch very many movies we have in our library, and I've probably sat through far more re-runs on TV than I ever watched first-run airings. And yet, there's an idea that if I had a TV season, I would only watch it on DVD once. I'm not saying this is rational, mind you. I'm just saying these are the hold-ups for me when it comes to buying a TV series on DVD.
Still, I've recently become more open to the idea. Mostly, this is because I've been reflecting on the 1980s as a consequence of having read President Reagan's memoirs recently. At some point, it occured to me that some of the cartoons I loved as a kid are rarely aired on TV anymore; certainly, not when I'm awake and looking for something to watch. I got to thinking of such series as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; Transformers, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and ThunderCats. I've researched them, and discovered that there were only two seasons of He-Man and ThunderCats, each spread across four volumes of DVDs. There are another three volumes of She-Ra, Princess of Power. Transformers and G.I. Joe were edited for their DVD release with new sound effects that no one seemed to have liked. Hasbro re-acquired the rights to these series last year, though to date no re-issues have been announced.
Then, there's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which first aired in 1987 and wrapped up in 1996, by which point I had long since abandoned them. Were I to add this series to our library, where would I stop? I don't remember myself when I definitively quit watching the Turtles, and it may well be that I would enjoy the later seasons today. It's hard to know with something like that.
Anyway, here is the tentative list of series I enjoyed enough over the years that I would consider owning on DVD. Some of these are already out in their entirety, some are stuck in rights limbo, and many are somewhere between.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force (I have the first three volumes, and I love the randomness of this series)
- Batman Beyond (not a huge fan, but it has a place in the Bruce Timm DC Universe I love so much, and Kevin Conroy continues to voice Bruce Wayne, so there's that)
- Batman: The Animated Series (a cheat, since I actually already have all four volumes)
- The Boondocks (hands down, one of the greatest shows ever to appear on [adult swim])
- Burn Notice (the best show on TV today)
- Cheers (my gold standard for a sitcom)
- Dallas (I watched it as a kid with my parents, each on their weekend; I re-watched the series in its entirety in '96 on TNN and was completely addicted)
- The Dukes of Hazzard (I cried from my playpen when an episode would end; along with Dallas, a staple of TNN in '96)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (my brother and I loved the animated series and the action figures; I also read and loved the comic book, scripted by Larry Hama)
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (the first animated series of my generation, as far as I'm concerned)
- Homicide: Life on the Street (I wish I'd bought the complete series file cabinet when it was in print)
- House, M.D. (my wife loves it as a medical drama; I love it as a comedy, and we already have the first three seasons on DVD)
- Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (to be honest, I wasn't a huge fan, but it's the final act, it seems, of the Bruce Timm DCU)
- Muppet Babies (the greatest Saturday morning cartoon of all time, bar none)
- Psych (maybe not great, but certainly one of the most enjoyable shows I've ever seen; I already have the first two DVD releases)
- Robot Chicken (as someone who bought the very first Winter Special edition of ToyFare, I can't help but love this series)
- Seinfeld (the definitive 90s sitcom; I'm not sure about it, though, because I've found re-runs rarely make me laugh they way the episodes did the first time around)
- She-Ra, Princess of Power (knock it all you want, this extended the He-Man universe and I enjoyed it for doing so)
- Sherlock Holmes [1954-1955] (a friend lent this to my wife and me recently, and we completely fell in love with it)
- The Sopranos (I'm content owning the individual season releases and will likely not upgrade to the complete series boxed set)
- Star Trek (another cheat, as I already own all three seasons)
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (the greatest of all the Treks; would love a complete series boxed set)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (I already have the first two seasons)
- Superman: The Animated Series (because I love what Bruce Timm did for the Man of Steel)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (though, as described above, I don't know where to stop)
- The Tick [animated] (I actually got up on Saturday mornings just for this series)
- Transformers (Optimus Prime and Grimlock will never not be cool)
- The Venture Brothers (possibly the finest of the [adult swim] series)