Think about it. Of all the cartoons broadcast on the major cable networks (the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon network), how many have had a bone fide DVD release. As those who have waited so long to watch their favourite show whenever they want, surprisingly few.
Starting with Disney, they are actually not as bad as I thought. A quick search of Amazon reveals that DuckTales (have their own store!), the Gummi Bears and Rescue Rangers are all for sale. Recent stuff is a wee bit harder to come across and while you can buy Phineas & Ferb, you can’t get illustrator extraordinaire, Dan Santat’s fantastic show The Replacements.
Nickelodeon fares a bit better, you can find all the classic Nicktoons as well as newer stuff available. The only caveat, they’re the “burn-on-demand” type. In other words, you can’t find the DVDs in shops because they don’t make them until you place an order. I appreciate this approach as you can get an industry-standard DVD with jewel case. The only downside? The cost is a bit on the expensive side, $36 for a 4-disc collection of Danny Phantom!
The Cartoon Network is perhaps the best of the bunch. Their list of shows is exhaustive if mainly confined to shows the network owns. Nonetheless it is nice to see shows such as HiHi Puffy AmiYumi (2nd hand only now) to Codename Kids Next Door receive proper releases. In addition, actual Warner Bros animation titles are available too, with shows such as Batman: The Animated Series for sale in full, most likely as a result of the nature of comic book fans no doubt.
Cartoon Network does have one nasty habit though. They have, on numerous occasions, begun to release DVDs of a show only to stop halfway through leaving collectors and fans holding the bag until they release the full series a few years down the road. It happened with the PowerPuff Girls and is currently the situation with Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Personally I will be quite annoyed if I bought two volumes of episodes and then had to go out and buy the whole series only to fill in the episodes I missed.
With the advent of video-on-demand (VOD) the whole concept of a DVD release may become moot anyway. With the likes of iTunes already offering a whole season’s subscription to shows like the currently-being-broadcast Adventure Time and my one of my all-time favourites, My Life as a Teenage Robot, the time may come where we won’t even care if a show is released on DVD.