When the famed TV producer Gary David Goldberg passed away last week from brain cancer, most of the obituaries dealt prominently with two things: Goldberg’s up-from-Brooklyn life story, and Family Ties. That series, after all, was Goldberg’s most famous and most-watched, and the first thing most people associate with his name.
I was happy to see, though, that Brooklyn Bridge got some attention as well. The semi-autobiographical series, created by Goldberg and based on his childhood in 1950s Brooklyn, ran on CBS from 1991 to 1993, and drew a small but cultish audience who followed it through numerous timeslot shifts and long disappearances. The cast included Happy Days veteran Marion Ross, veteran character actors Amy Aquino and Louis Zorich, and then-child actress Jenny Lewis, who went on to indie rock stardom. Art Garfunkel wrote and sang the theme song- “that place, just over the Brooklyn Bridge/will always be home to me.”
As I’ve written before, the series took on special resonance for my family: The protagonist was a baseball-loving Jewish kid in the ’50s named Alan Silver, and my father had been a baseball-loving Jewish kid in the ’50s named Alan Silver, one who looked an awful lot like the actor playing the fictional Alan. There were other similarities- Alan, like my dad, had an Uncle Buddy- and my parents were so taken with the show that they launched a letter-writing campaign to save it.
The show ultimately only lasted for just two years, but my family’s connection with the show continued: Gary David Goldberg wrote a letter to my father thanking him for his campaigning, and we met up with Marion Ross when she was in our area performing a play. Years later, the actor who played Alan Silver, Danny Lanzetta, wrote a letter to Deadspin about the New York Knicks, and my father ended up exchanging emails with him (Lanzetta, now a novelist, eulogized Goldberg on Deadspin last week.) And when I ran into Aquino at an International CES panel two years ago, she was excited to hear Brooklyn Bridge mentioned and specifically remembered the fan campaigns to save it.
Now it’s time for another campaign.
Brooklyn Bridge has never been released on any home video format- VHS, DVD or Blu-ray. It is not available on any streaming service, and never has been. I haven’t seen it since it last aired in 1993, and unless they taped it off the original CBS broadcast 20 years ago, kept the tape and still have a working VCR in their house, neither has anyone else. There’s also no trace of the show on YouTube, except for this promo:
In this age in which, through the magic of disc and streaming, fans can rediscover the best old TV shows pretty much whenever they want through a wide variety of options, this gem of a show is completely undiscoverable to anyone who hasn’t ever seen it.
It’s been well-documented that Goldberg fought for several years, including multiple near-misses, to get Brooklyn Bridge released in some type of home video format. But sadly, it never happened in his lifetime. The site TV Worth Watching, along with Goldberg’s own website, mostly led the charge, and TVWW published a ticktock of the series’ near-release on DVD in 2010, which fell apart over wrangling between Goldberg and CBS Home Entertainment.
CBS Home Entertainment owns the series, and any release would likely come from them. So, how about it, CBS? Please strike a deal with someone- retail, Amazon, Netflix- to get Brooklyn Bridge out there. Gary David Goldberg may not have lived to see his most personal project rediscovered and re-embraced, but the news of his passing has brought more attention to Brooklyn Bridge than at any time since it was on the air- and perhaps that attention will lead to its rediscovery.
If you’re interested in seeing a disc or streaming release of Brooklyn Bridge, contact CBS here.