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 TV WESTERNS ON DVD (PT.2)

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chris



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PostSubject: TV WESTERNS ON DVD (PT.2)   Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:26 pm

SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON,

On you huskies !

This series originally started as a long running radio show 'Challenge of the Yukon' (later Sgt. Preston of the Yukon) and was first brought to television in 1955 by the Wrather Company, who also produced 'the Lone Ranger' & 'The Green Hornet'.

As the title suggests, the show was set in the frozen wastes of the Yukon in the gold rush days at the turn of the century and it was aimed squarely at kiddies. Burly Richard Simmons starred as the Mountie hero, Preston was smart, tough & uncompromising with criminals but had a strong sense of justice & fair play. He made a great role model for kids as someone they could look up to.We could sure do with a few more heroes in this vein today.

Preston's field of operations seemed to encompass the entire Yukon territory. He occasionally had some help, but on the whole appeared to police this vast wilderness by himself with only his equally brave & intelligent husky dog ' King'. This resourceful animal (actually a Malumate) was often called upon to rescue Preston & save the day.

Curiously, the series was filmed in colour, although there were very few colour sets around at this time.Production values were very much on the low side.Obvious indoor green sets,comprising a cabin or clearing with a few insert sequences of Preston driving his sled team through the wilderness.There was limited gunplay & the odd somewhat stiff fight. The direction was often clumsy & the acting very wooden.Simmons, however always played it straight. Some segments took place in the Summer & Preston rode a horse -Rex. Mostly though he relied on King & his dogs. These oudoor sequences of snow & greenery, when they appear do tend to look good.

At the end of every episode, with the villains vanquished, Preston would pat his dog & remark " Well King, this case is closed".

Some episodes were directed by actor Edward (Eddie) Dew who appeared in a few 'B' westerns

The theme music was the 'Donna Diana Overture' from a long forgotten opera by an equally forgotten compose Emil Von Rezniceks. Actually quite stirring.

No of seasons - 3

No of episodes -78 (possibly filmed as two seasons of 39 each but split over 3 series)

Copyright - Wrathers & Classic Media ? - some appear to be in the public domain

Network - CBS - later repeated on NBC - UK- some episodes shown on ITV in the 60's.

Season 1- 1955/6 - 33 episodes
Season 2- 1956/7 - 23 episodes
Season 3 -1957/8 - 22 episodes

DVD RELEASES

Timeless Media, Genius Entertaiment & several other PD companies have put out various releases with odd episodes on.Mostly they are poor quality,washed out prints & are not recommended.

In 2006 Critics Choice released the complete Season 1 taken from the original masters & they look very nice indeed, with good colour & sound. It was a 5 disc set in slimline cases with an outer slipcase. It was re-released in 2009 with different artwork.They followed this up with complete Season 2 in 2007 as a 4 disc set & this was also re-released in 2009. Complete Season 3 arrived in 2008, also as a 4 disc set. Two of the episodes in this set were monochrome so I assume the original colour prints could not be found. A couple of reviews suggest that there may be an audible hum on some episodes but I have not watched the set so cannot verify. This 3rd set seemed to be quickly deleted & is now very hard to find. It has not been re-released.

A complete series boxset was scheduled for release & Amazon still has a listing for this with artwork. However the set never appeared

If you are prepared to overlook the low production values Sergeant Preston of the Yukon can provide a half hour of nostalgic & undemanding entertainment.
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Chain Lightning
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PostSubject: Re: TV WESTERNS ON DVD (PT.2)   Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:25 pm

Howdy Chris!!

Remember this ole series with much fondness. Sergeant Preston and his faithful dog King!! It was, as you say, a good clean 30 minute show. Dressed in his familiar red and black outfit, which showed up on the ole b/w t.v. as light grey and dark grey, with his little fur hat and his mustache, he was a sight to behold. I seem to remember him wearing "riding britches" in the ole series. He used an ole .455 Webley British revolver, as I recollect, which broke down much like a cap gun, with a thumb lever on the left side. A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, he was a tough little guy. As you say, we could use more like him and more shows like that today!!!!!

Ed
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chris



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PostSubject: Re: TV WESTERNS ON DVD (PT.2)   Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:05 pm

RAWHIDE

Little I need to say about Rawhide, one of the great western TV shows, most fans, I imagine, would place it in the top 3 or 4 western series & rightly so. Great cast, Frankie Laine's booming title song, & solid scripts & production values elevate it above most of the competitors. It did fall away towards the end of its long run, chiefly due to ill advised tinkering with the format by new producers & of course, the dreadful decision ,for the last season to fire half the cast (in particular Eric Fleming), replacing them with more, as the producers saw it, 'relevant' characters . They even dropped the theme song ! After that its demise was swift.

Like all long running shows there were good & bad episodes , but when Rawhide was good, it was very good.

Perhaps if they had returned the format to its first few seasons & shot in colour it might have lasted even longer. Anyway here are the DVD & other details if you are not aware.

No of Seasons - 8

No of episodes -217 (includes 2 two part episodes)

Copyright- CBS/Paramount

Network - CBS - UK - ITV
(Not all seasons shown - Also had long run on C4 in the 90's with some nice prints, minor cuts for violence though.

Season 1 - early 59' - 23 episodes
Season 2 -1959/60 - 31 episodes
Season 3 - 1960/61 - 30 episodes
Season 4 - 1961/2 - 30 episodes
Season 5 - 1962/3 - 30 episodes
Season 6 - 1963/4 -30 episodes
Season 7 - 1964/5 -30 episodes
Season 8 - 1965/6 -13 episodes

nb - The S7 episode 'Texas Fever' appears to be a rehash of an earlier episode with many repeated scenes.

DVD RELEASES -

Columbia House video released a number of video tapes of 'Rawhide' in the 90's, with remastered prints (2 episodes per tape) . They did tend to choose shows with 'name' guest stars though which were not always the best.

CBS/Paramount has been issuing discs sets ,albeit somewhat slowly.

Season 1 - 2006

Season 2 Vol 1 -2007 & Season 2 Vol 2 2007

Season 3 Vol 1 - 2008 & Season 3 Vol 2 2008

Season 4 Vol 1 -2011 & Season 4 Vol 2 20
11

You can also buy a complete s1-3 set or a complete s1-4 set.

The first 3 seasons were restored & look very nice, S4 was not but still looks OK to me. The cover artwork emphasises Clint Eastwood & poor old Eric Fleming has been left off the cover completely for the 4th season.

Australia has the best deal however, All 8 seasons have been released there.

Seasons 1 to 3 have been released in the UK in complete sets.

Further Releases - My spies tell me S5 Vol 1 may be out this Summer !

GRAY MARKET - All episodes can be found although the last season is less common.

Of interest also, is the unscreened pilot 'Incident at Barker Springs', not a particularly great segment but has some different scenes to when it was actually broadcast as episode 12. The main feature here is that the chuck wagon cook is played by Robert Carricart who was replaced by Paul Brinegar as the great 'Wishbone'.

For further info - I recommend the book

RAWHIDE - A HISTORY OF TELEVISION'S LONGEST CATTLE DRIVE by David R Greenland . Lots of background, photos, episode guide etc. Available at Amazon.Paperback published by Bear Manor Media.
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Chain Lightning
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PostSubject: Re: TV WESTERNS ON DVD (PT.2)   Tue Mar 27, 2012 4:14 pm

Howdy Chris!!

Pard, I agree, Rawhide was a very good western t.v. series. The Encore/Western channel is showing them now and they must have gotten the masters from C.B.S/Paramount, because the episodes are all crisp and sharp. If you didn't know better, you would think it was a recent western series in B/W. I had forgotten just how young Eastwood was, when this series was filmed. He lacked the smoother, more professional style, that he would take on in the Sergio Leone films. He appeared younger and more boyish in the Rawhide series. Eric Fleming was the star and the anchor for this series. His strong baritone voice was made for commercials. Sad, that he died so young, after such a successful series.

Ed
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PostSubject: rawhide   Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:27 am

Chris/Ed
Complete agreement with you guys,Rawhide was an excellent TV Series,and deserves to be in everybody,s top 5.
I have Season 1 and it amazes me how GOOD the story,s were,I aint talking shakespeare here,but for a weekly show to continualy come up with good,interesting story,s is quite amazing,then to do it for 6-7 seasons is even moreso.
Like Cheyenne,I was impressed with the picture quality of Rawhide,and neither of these two great TV Series felt "dated",of course I,m westernnut so I will be a bit biased.
Lastly,I,ve always thought that Eric Fleming played a great lead role as Gil Favour,a role model,and that,s with no disrespect to Clint,GIL was the man,aye,sad day when Eric left us,what could have been???
Davy,westernnut.
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chris



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PostSubject: Re: TV WESTERNS ON DVD (PT.2)   Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:21 pm

BONANZA

No preamble needed for Bonanza, probably the best known western series of them all & a huge hit in its day. Indeed it has been in constant rerun throughout the world since the last episode aired. For a western it seems to have an enormous female following which possibly contributes to its longevity.

Making its debut in Sept. 1959 with the pilot show 'A Rose for Lotta', quite an atypical segment, as it was very much the producers blueprint for the forthcoming series. Ben was prone to speak in strict biblical phrases " Feast thine eyes on it, Adam" was the opening line as he surveyed his vast empire, Adam & Little Joe were at loggerheads & didn't get along too well,the latter not even allowed to visit town unaccompanied, whilst Hoss was something of a simpleton. The Cartwrights were fiercely protective of the Ponderosa & drove off anybody who dared to set foot on their land. The villains of the piece were the Virginia City silver barons ,out to plunder the Ponderosa of its rich timber. This was to be the continuing saga ,but changes were quickly made when it was apparent this approach would be difficult to sustain.The silver barons evaporated, Ben spoke normally ,& the united, happy family became the norm. This first episode is also infamous for the ridiculous scene where the Cartwrights sing the title tune, Fortunately wiser counsel prevailed & it was cut from the broadcast ,though can be found as an extra on the CBS/Paramount S1 release.

Bonanza was one of the first major series to be filmed in colour which helped it to survive after a shaky first season.Growing in popularity it eventually became a huge ratings hit with its mixture of stories -,dramatic, comedy, soapy & some plain old fashioned western action. Some of the early shows were quite violent (witness the climatic fight between Little Joe & the baddie played by James Coburn in 'The 1st season 'Truckee Strip ' episode ) whilst the 4th segment -'The Paiute War' contained a full scale massacre. The Cartwrights were very prone to failed romances , no doubt this appealed to the ladies in the audience. At one time or other ,each Cartwright was set for marriage but it would always end in tragedy, usually with the poor intended girl dead. Historical real life figures were often portrayed on the show & there were some excellent name guest stars.

As is well known, Pernell Roberts hated 'Bonanza' & quit after the 6th season. He refused to talk or have anything to do with the show right up until his recent death. Bonanza survived, however & ran for another 8 seasons. It may have gone longer but the death of Dan Blocker was a blow too many & it eventually perished in 1972/3.

Such was the popularity of Bonanza, that the cast cut several records both as the Cartwrights & under their own steam- Lorne Greene had a No 1 hit with the song 'Ringo'.A lot of these albums were reisuued as a set by Bear Records.

No of seasons 14

No of episodes 430 (includes two 2 pt episodes)

Network - NBC - UK -ITV - Later seasons shown by BBC although not all seasons shown in the UK.

Season 1 - 1959/60 - 32 episodes
Season 2 - 1960/61 - 34 episodes
Season 3 - 1962/3 - 34 episodes
Season 4 - 1963/4 - 34 episodes
Season 5 - 1964/5 - 34 episodes
Season 6 - 1965/6 - 34 episodes
Season 7 - 1966/7 - 33 episodes
Season 8 - 1967/8 - 34 episodes
Season 9 - 1968/9 - 34 episodes
Season 10 -1969/70 - 30 episodes
Season 11 -1970/71 -28 episodes
Season 12 -1971/2 -28 episodes
Season 13 -1972/3 - 26 episodes
Season 14 -1973/4 - 15 episodes

DVD RELEASES

For such a popular & long running series commercial releases have not been remarkably successful. In the video days Columbia House attempted a run with their direct sell range but it was quickly abandoned due to poor sales.

31 episodes,comprising various segments from the first two seasons were not copyrighted properly & have fallen into the public domain. DVD companies worldwide have siezed on these & issued them in various forms, under titles such as 'The Lost Episodes' or 'The Best of ' etc. There are no lost episodes though there are a couple
which were banned by 'The Family Channel' when it ran the series due to the
views of the channel owner ,who felt they were in 'bad taste' One of these was the two-parter from S8 'The Pursued' with Eric Fleming & the S5 episode 'Twilight Town' (a good segment) for its supernatural elements.

Althougfh the 31 episodes are in the PD,the music is not ,so unless the company has licenced the music they have had to replace it, often with some weak tinny theme.

The PD releases are best ignored as,apart from the music issue, they use old washed out TV prints, some of which are cut.

Artisan/Republic issued a two disc set in 2003 containing 8 good episodes, mostly from the first half of the series including 'The Crucible', an unusual & excellent entry, guest starring Lee Marvin. In my view the best segment in the entire series. Unfortunately this set is now deleted but can probably be picked up on Ebay or somesuch,

Rights issues have held up Bonanza sets for a long time but the German company Vertrieb Und Marketing overcame these & commenced issuing Bonanza in officially licenced season sets in 2005, using uncut & remastered prints.They were on 4 double sided discs but quality was excellent. Purchasers could select either the original English or German soundtracks. There were no annoyinging subtitles, Seasons 1 to 7 were issued prior to the series being dropped in 2008 .(One episode on S7 does have German subtitles as it was never shown in Germany & consequently no dubbing was done),Some of these sets can be obtained by visiting AmazonDe -that is Amazon Germany. It looks like Canal Plus have now picked up the rights & are re-issuing them on single sided discs.

Finally, we have the rather late to the party ,USA releases, S1 in 2009 & S2 in late 2010, These are two part sets for each season ,Vols 1 & 2. Many extras are included & pic quality is excelllent.

Future releases - I understand dates have been set later this year for further sets to be released. However not yet confirmed though I do know work has been done on various extras,

THE GRAY MARKET

Although some seasons of Bonanza have not be screened as frequently as others all episodes can be obtained on the gray market. Beware though, a lot of showings were, and are still are cut, particularly from the likes of TV Land & these are what usuallly appear on 'complete series sets'.

There have been no less than 3 books on 'Bonanza'

Bonanza - An Unofficial Histry of the Ponderosa - by fan Melany Shapiro- softcover.
Quite well written by a fan but ,as it states, 'unofficial' - seems out of print.

Bonanza -A Viewers Guide to the TV Legend -by David Greenland this is an authorised book so contains a lot of background info. This is the one I would recommend -recently reissued by Bear Manor Media .Softcover

A REFERENCE GUIDE TO TELEVISIONS BONANZA, PERSONNEL & BROADCAST HISTORY by Bruce R Lieby. - A further reference book,Hardcover

All 3 books contain good episode guides.
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