Pop culture Q&A

Pop culture Q&A

By Rich Heldenfels

Q. I would like to know where I can find “Walking Tall” DVDs with the original actor.

A. Tennessee lawman Buford Pusser’s crime-busting tactics inspired an array of screen adventures and a fistful of actors following in his footsteps.

The first “Walking Tall” movie in 1973 starred Joe Don Baker as Pusser. When that film proved a big success, a sequel was planned, with the real-life Pusser starring; he died in an automobile accident before it could be made. Instead, “Walking Tall Part II” (1975) and “Final Chapter: Walking Tall” (1977) were made with Bo Svenson as Pusser. Then “A Real American Hero,” a TV-movie with Brian Dennehy as Pusser, aired on CBS in 1978. There also was a “Walking Tall” TV series, with Svenson back in the role, in 1981. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson starred in the 2004 “Walking Tall” movie, with the names changed and the story modified, but with elements from the old Pusser story. Kevin Sorbo then starred as another differently named crusading lawman in two direct-to-video efforts, “Walking Tall: The Payback” and “Walking Tall: Lone Justice,” in 2007.

So, where can you buy these? Since you asked about the early work, the Baker and two Svenson movies are in a budget-priced “Walking Tall: The Trilogy” set on DVD and Blu-ray from Shout! Factory; if your local retailer cannot get the set, it is for sale online from Amazon.com and other vendors.

The Dennehy, Sorbo and Johnson films also are on separate DVDs. A set of the seven episodes in the “Walking Tall” TV series was released in 2006; it no longer appears to be in production, but I have seen copies for sale on Amazon.com.

Q. During my youth (late 1960s- early 1970s) Sunday night’s “Wonderful World of Disney” had, I believe, more than one episode of a program called “Scarecrow.” I think it was about a “Robin Hood”-type group. What can you tell me about it, and is it available on DVD or any other way to get it?

A. The Disney shows often included adventure miniseries. “Davy Crockett,” with Fess Parker, started that way, and there were other dramas about Texas John Slaughter (played by Tom Tryon), Elfego Baca (Robert Loggia), the Swamp Fox (Leslie Nielsen) — and Dr. Syn, a character also known as the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Patrick McGoohan starred in the three-part drama based on a series of books; the episodes also were edited into a movie.

The Walt Disney Treasures line of DVD releases included one called “Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” in 2008; it contained the episodes and the movie. Unfortunately, that DVD is not in current production. Since you are one of many fans of the program, even used older copies of the DVD package can run you $180 on Amazon.com (with new ones about $300). But if you just would like to see the program again, I saw the three episodes on YouTube.

Q. Are there any plans to bring “Southland” and “Merlin” back on any network? I am looking for new episodes, not reruns.

A. Both shows will have new telecasts. “Merlin” will begin a new season on Syfy in January. Police drama “Southland” will resume on TNT in February.

Q. In 2002, William H. Macy and Kyra Sedgwick starred in a made-for-TV movie, “Door to Door.” Will this ever be released on DVD or Blu-ray?

A. The movie is available. And it’s surprising that the DVD was not released until 2012. (There had been an earlier, VHS version.) The film — which starred Macy as Bill Porter, a real-life salesman with cerebral palsy — won a bunch of Emmys after it aired on TNT, including best TV-movie, lead movie actor (Macy), director (Steven Schachter) and writing (Macy and Schachter).

Do you have a question or comment for the mailbag? Write to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com. Please mark the email or envelope with “mailbag.” Letters may be edited for publication. Please do not phone in questions. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

2012 Akron Beacon Journal

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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