A single colorized episode of 'Wanted: Dead or Alive' cost nearly $20... in 1986

By: H&I Staff     Posted: November 23, 2022, 12:27PM

Wanted: Dead or Alive is still viewed as one of the great Westerns during television's golden age. The three-season black and white series ran from 1958 to 1961 and starred Steve McQueen as soft-hearted bounty hunter Josh Randall. 

The series catapulted McQueen into stardom and proved he, one of the "cool" Hollywood actors, could play any role well. 

If a show was shot and originally aired in black and white, fans feel that is generally the best way to watch it, even today. 

Often times, when a show or movie is brought into color with technology from today, it's done very well and the quality level might even be better than the original. That wasn't always the case. 

For years, all television lovers knew was black and white programs. That slowly began to change in the late Fifties and into the Sixties. By the Seventies, just about everything was in color.

Sometimes, fans wanted a new version of something from the black and white era. What would it be like, for example, to see Josh Randall in color? In the mid Eighties, VidAmerica, a bygone VHS and home video distributor, began selling colorized versions of Wanted: Dead or Alive.

According to a 1986 article in The Buffalo News, the first two volumes of the Western were hitting the shelves at VidAmerican in colorized fashion, and it was going to cost a pretty penny. The colorized episodes were released in two volumes, each containing a Wanted episode. 

Episodes "Reunion for Revenge," the 21st episode of season one, and "The Medicine Man," the 10th episode of season three were available for nearly $20, per episode! 

"At $19.95 for each 22-minute episode, that's nearly a dollar a minute - decidedly not a good consumer value," The Buffalo News article stated. Today, entire seasons of television shows could cost less than that price. The hike was due to the colorization process, but at the time it wasn't an exact science and results varied. 

The author of the article in the newspaper said the "colorization of the shows is the same smeared quality I've seen elsewhere. If you've ever made a copy of someone else's copy, you have an idea of the quality I'm talking about."

But, paying $20 for a single episode, even at that time, did have at least one benefit according to this critic. You'd see that McQueen's eyes "are a lovely, if unrealistic, shade of blue." 

Would you have paid $20 in 1986, worth roughly $50 today, for a single colorized episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive