Q: Do you know when and where short-lived '80s shows "Gavilan" and "Star of the Family" could show up in syndication?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

No, and frankly, it's unlikely they ever will.

If you're talking about traditional television, they almost certainly never will. Both of those shows only produced 10 episodes apiece -- far short of the usual 100-episode cutoff that gives a show a chance at broadcast (or even cable) syndication.

However, the TV world is being transformed by online streaming, and that provides some scant hope.

Most of the excitement related to streaming TV swirls around a small number services: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon in the U.S., and Crave in Canada. However, there are dozens of other, lesser-known streaming services online that are feeding off the scraps left behind by the big players -- services such as Shudder (which specializes in horror movies), Sundance Now (for indie films) and Shout Factory (for classic and cult TV and films).

So far, there's no service that specializes in failed TV shows, which is really what we're talking about here (maybe that's a little too frank again, but a show only getting 10 episodes means failure in the TV biz).

I say "so far" because it could just be a matter of time before someone comes up with just such a service. The internet is the land of niche targeting -- if the content comes cheaply enough, and there's at least some kind of audience for it, theoretically someone will eventually put it on a website and sell some ads around it.

Networks occasionally cut out the middlemen and do this with their own back catalogs. For example, ABC's site has a section called "Throwback" that streams old series (some that had very short runs).

This is where the hope comes in: Your question is proof that there's at least some kind of audience for shows like "Gavilan" and "Star of the Family," and so some day the rights holders (MGM Television and Paramount, respectively) may decide to either sell the rights to someone or to make them available themselves. Maybe.


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