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Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron - The Warner Archive's 'Swat Kats' DVD Release is Pulled from Sales

The studio hasn't answered questions about the reasons, but we've heard industry info about the causes for it...and for Night Court as well

Posted by David Lambert
As we've reported, late last year the Warner Archive Collection began selling Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron - The Complete Series Collection on DVD, a manufacture-on-demand (MOD) title only available at first from the studio's online store (through the URL at this link, which is currently not working), then later also sold at a slightly higher price through Amazon. Last week we learned, however, that Warner had pulled the title's listing from the WBshop website. Amazon continues to sell through remaining inventory of the title, but as of the moment of this writing they show that only one copy is left in stock.

We wrote to our contact at the Warner Archive last week, inquiring about this situation with Swat Kats, and also inquiring for an update about another Warner MOD title which had been similarly pulled last fall: Night Court - The Complete 4th Season. Although our contact communicated with us on other matters, they remained steadfastly silent about both Skat Kats and Night Court. We turned to our other (non-Warner-employed) industry sources, however, looking for hints about what's going on. These are trusted sources who have rarely let us down in the past, and in the absence of anything official from the studio (which we still welcome) we have no qualms about passing along what they've told us to our readers. However, please keep in mind that it's "unofficial" info...but it explains a great deal, if accurate!

What we've learned is that last fall's official word from the studio about why Night Court - The Complete 4th Season was pulled is actually only part of the story. It's true that there was an audio sync issue as described, and also true that the episodes on the discs didn't match the lists of episodes printed on the disc labels. Both of those are easily fixed, so why hasn't Warner started selling the title again through the WBshop site? Because the studio also found out that at least some of the episodes on the fourth season set were in fact edited-down syndicated versions of those episodes, and after complaints in the past with selling TV-DVDs in stores that way (such as Mama's Family), they didn't want to continue the practice. So, it seems, this release of Night Court was put aside from sales while the powers that be search for versions of the affected episodes as they were originally broadcast. Any copies of that title for sale ANYWHERE right now, either "new" or "used," presumably have the issues described above.

What does any of that have to do with Swat Kats? Quite a bit, actually! Our source goes on to inform us that last December's MOD release of the animated series ALSO used edited-down versions of the show. Although I've never personally seen the program, I'm told that almost all of the episodes, as originally broadcast, included a pre-story prologue titled "Today on Swat Kats" AND a post-story epilogue titled "Secret Files of the Swat Kats." According to reports from fans who purchased the Warner Archives release, all of these segments were missing from the MOD-DVDs. Given the reason for the Night Court MOD to continue to be off the market, there's a very strong chance that the edited episodes are the cause for the Swat Kats set being pulled as well.

And, it appears, that these experiences may have taught the Warner Archive team to be more cautious with their future releases. A WAC Facebook post from last December that we passed along to our readers had said that the animated show The New Adventures of Gilligan would be available as an MOD title in the spring, with the later cartoon spin-off Gilligan's Planet being planned as well. Now the Archive team is backpedaling on that spring timeframe a bit, with a Facebook post last week saying the following: "Our team is hard at work evaluating sources on these series, trying to achieve optiumum [sic] quality. This process is always time consuming, and moreso for these two animated Gilligan shows. That being said, our goal is to have both series available this year."

Once again, please keep in mind that the information we're providing about the cause of Swat Kats (and Night Court) being pulled from sales is NOT official word from the studio. We did, however, ask (more than once) for an official statement about these matters from the studio, and after waiting more than a week and getting no reply, we felt we had to pass on whatever reliable information we did have, in the best interest of our readers. Please, however, take it with a grain of salt...if this unofficial info turns out to be incorrect, then it would not be the first time. For example, last November we reported "from friends in the industry" (a different source from the info in today's report) that the Warner Archive team was working on a February/March release of Hanna-Barbera's Pac-Man series. Last week, however, the folks at WAC's Facebook page posted a comment characterizing that info as "cyber rumors," and saying that there is "Nothing to report on this for the moment." So apparently Pac-fans have gotten their hopes up in vain, at least for now. It goes to show that we do our absolute best to bring our readers news and info that they can rely upon, but we're not perfect. Of course, as we said above, we'd still be grateful to the Warner Archive Collection team if they want to provide OFFICIAL word about the matters discussed today.

We hate to close out this report if it were ALL bad news. So, in the interest of leaving our readers with some sort of smile on their face, we'll pass along a Facebook post from the Warner Archive Collection, made this past Tuesday, which says that the 1993 animated TBS series 2 Stupid Dogs is planned for an MOD-DVD release "later this year." This is good news for many of our readers, right? Now let's just hope that the studio finds the source elements in good order for that one! Stay tuned for updates.

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