'Welcome Back Kotter' and more TV on DVD

From left, Stephen Shortridge as Beau De Labarre, From left, Stephen Shortridge as Beau De Labarre, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Freddy Washington, Ron Palillo as Arnold Horshack, Robert Hegyes as Juan Epstein, John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino and Gabe Kaplan as Gabe Kotter in "Welcome Back Kotter." Photo Credit: AP / ABC

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No problem giving your favorite tubehead what she or he wants for Christmas. Or Halloween. Or even Labor Day.

TV complete-series sets will flood DVD shelves in coming weeks. "Twin Peaks" on Blu-ray is already there. "The Equalizer" is out on DVD today, and "Welcome Back, Kotter" arrives next week. Then it's recent hits like "How I Met Your Mother," "The Office," "Spartacus" and "Psych."

Best of all are the "holy grail" shows finally satisfying fans' longtime demand for their release -- coming-of-age saga "The Wonder Years" and radiocom "WKRP in Cincinnati" with nearly all their essential rock songs intact, plus the '60s pop-art campfest "Batman," freed from years of studio squabble.

Pop culture purveyor Shout Factory alone has five sets spanning TV history -- "Kotter," "WKRP," "Sgt. Bilko," "The Jeffersons," remastered Blu-ray of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" -- after acquiring the shows' rights from their owners.

"These are shows we've been wanting to do for years, and the studios have finally decided to let them go and let us put them out," says Shout co-founder and president Garson Foos.

Big Hollywood studios seek big sales potential, while smaller Shout loves cultural touchstones and nostalgia. Music is another specialty at Shout, which regularly crafts CDs crammed with extras.

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"In the case of 'WKRP,' " Foos says, "the music licensing was so challenging and expensive, the studio just didn't want to deal with it." (Fox's 2007 Season 1 set was a debacle as fans snubbed song replacements.)

Shout has built a track record these past five years with acclaimed complete sets like "All in the Family," "Barney Miller," "Leave It to Beaver" and "The Larry Sanders Show," wisely presented in sturdy boxes with juicy booklets and bonus features.

They've "gained the trust of the studios," who've been feeling "pressure from show producers to put things out," Foos says. Steven Bochco's game-changing '80s cop drama, "Hill Street Blues," finally hit DVD complete this year when Fox, which had released a couple of season sets, licensed Shout the whole seven-year series. Shout's five imminent box sets represent deals with five different studios.

"Shout Factory has a great record of doing that," says Gord Lacey, founder of website database TVShowsonDVD.com. But Lacey doubts we'll see a repeat of this fall's flood of "high-profile releases, simply because there's less to release" as the videodisc medium matures after 15 years of frenzy.

Lacey expects soon "your main driver is going to be Amazon," where "Three's Company" arrives Tuesday as a complete set exclusive to an e-tailer that needn't wheedle shelf space in retail stores.

@Newsday

COMPLETE SERIES ON THE WAY

TUESDAY: "Three's Company" (only at Amazon.com); "The Equalizer" (order online from VEI/Canada)

AUG. 26: "Welcome Back, Kotter"

SEPT. 9: "Elvira's Movie Macabre"

SEPT. 16: "Spartacus"

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SEPT. 23: "How I Met Your Mother"; "Mama's Family" (in stores)

SEPT. 30: "My Little Pony"; "Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts" (in stores); "24" with "Live Another Day"

OCTOBER: "The Wonder Years" (only from timelife.com)

OCT. 7: "The Office"; "Psych"; "China Beach" (in stores)

OCT. 14: "Jackass"

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OCT. 21: "Annie Oakley"; "Pee-wee's Playhouse" (Blu-ray; ships Oct. 7 from shoutfactory.com)

OCT. 28: "WKRP in Cincinnati" (ships Sept. 23 from shoutfactory.com)

NOV. 4: "The Sopranos" (Blu-ray); "Poirot"; "Quantum Leap"; "Sgt. Bilko"; "M Squad"

NOV. 11: "Batman" (Adam West); "Highway to Heaven"; "Starsky & Hutch"; "Wings"

DEC. 9: "The Jeffersons"

EXPECTED 2015: "The Facts of Life

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