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TV Q&A: Why do shows in syndication air out of order?

TV Q&A: Why do shows in syndication air out of order?

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NCIS

From left: Pauley Perrette, Brian Dietzen and Michelle Pierce in "NCIS"

Q • Many times, when I’m watching reruns of a particular series, they’ll show several episodes in a row. However, most of the time those episodes are not chronological. For example, Season 1, Episode 4 may be followed by a Season 3, Episode 6. Why aren’t they shown in their original broadcast sequence?

A • When I am wasting time — I mean, doing research — by watching reruns on some cable channels in the daytime, I will often see episodes run in chronological order, especially when the storyline is a multi-episode one. But that depends on the network and the program. In broadcast and cable, programmers do not always own all the episodes and tend to focus on episodes they know are popular with viewers even if they are out of order, AND sometimes put together themed sets of broadcasts (for example, one channel airing a sequence of “NCIS” Christmas episodes during the holidays). Streaming services are more likely to have all the episodes available in order and in their entirety, but even there it’s not always the case.

Q • In the late 1980s, there was a show called “Wiseguy” starring Ken Wahl. Where can I watch reruns?

A • Let me start by saying the possible homes for TV shows and movies are numerous and wide-ranging. As you have seen here before, I work hard to find the homes of various productions and to mention them here. But there’s always a chance there are other locations.

As for “Wiseguy,” which originally aired on CBS from 1987 to 1990, Wahl starred as an undercover agent investigating organized crime for three seasons, with Steven Bauer becoming the new “wiseguy” in a brief final season. There was also a reunion movie with Wahl. The original series favored serialized multi-episode stories and colorful villains, played at various times by, among others, Ray Sharkey, Kevin Spacey, Tim Curry and Stanley Tucci. I have found episodes on streaming channels Tubi, Pluto, IMDb TV, Roku Channel and Peacock. There have also been some DVD releases. But some episodes are not available, apparently because of rights issues.

Q • I remember a Western movie, maybe from the late 1970s, about a gunfight. I think one actor was Johnny Cash. The ending was shown twice depicting how life would go depending on who won the gunfight. Was this a real movie, or did I dream it up? If real, is it available?

A • It’s a real movie, called “A Gunfight,” from 1971. Kirk Douglas and Johnny Cash play gunfighters who stage a duel and sell tickets to it for a big payday. At the end, after the fight is over, a character imagines what might have happened if the fight’s outcome had gone the other way. One place you can find the movie is on YouTube.

Q • Is there any chance Cecil B. DeMille’s “Samson and Delilah” (1949, with Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature) will ever be shown on TV again? Seems it hasn’t been shown for years.

A • I can’t say when it was last on TV. I can tell you that Amazon Prime Video has it, as does Vudu. Depending on how you access Kanopy, a streaming service available through libraries and universities, you may also find “Samson and Delilah” there. It has been released on DVD and Blu-ray, and the Movies! channel has a reference to it, although I have not seen a listing of a scheduled airing.

Q • Are Kimberly Paisley-Williams and Ashley Williams sisters in real life?

A • The stars of the recent “Sister Swap” TV movies are indeed sisters. Kimberly Williams-Paisley — to arrange the hyphenate correctly — is the older of the two; she’s married to musician Brad Paisley.

Q • Can you tell me if it’s possible to bring up on demand the “Fargo” TV series? I am interested in getting the first season and watching it from there. Also, will there be a fifth season?

A • I have not seen it On Demand but have found the first four seasons on Hulu and Prime Video. Series creator Noah Hawley has talked about a fifth season, but he’s a busy man, and I have not seen anything recently indicating where plans stand.

Send questions to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or brenfels@gmail.com.

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