Burke's Law/Honey West

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Bob Hug, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Thanks, Jeff, I often forget about that Amazon shipping policy even though I've used it several times. But this set was priced a penny under the threshold at $24.99, and DD had it at $18. It's funny how we're all still hunter-gatherers with these DVDs looking for that great bargain or just to save a few dollars, but then on other occasions, the bargain-hunting goes out the window and we just impulse buy to have something immediately (negating all those dollars we saved on the last set).
     
  2. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    Finally received my set and watched the first four episodes. VCI has done a really nice job with this set. The transfers are, indeed, very good, perhaps just a notch or so down from "typical" CBS Paramount black & white TV show releases. There's a little grain visible in certain scenes but, on the whole, this is as good as one might expect. There has been some digital restoration done to the episodes and there are some side-by-side comparisons shown on disc 2.

    The shows are really fun to watch, especially with all the guest stars which include Hollywood old timers, some dating back to the silent film making era, and then current stars of the early 1960s, along with some off-beat casting like Soupy Sales in one early episode.

    There are previews for next week's episode and a ton of commercials (not sure if these are actually from the show or are just from the era, but they're enjoyable to watch and there's a good variety of products to be seen). The notes in the disc 1 insert are largely contributed by fan web sites like InTheBalcony.com and another site contibutes a large list of Amos Burke's "laws."

    VCI's previous TV-on-DVD releases have largely been of the public domain variety with some licensed shows ("The New Loretta Young Show"), but this release is, arguably, their best. Those "on the ropes" might want to wait for the DeepDiscount 20% off sale where, if current pricing holds, you'll be able to get this set for less than $15 shipped . . . . a real bargain. My only complaint on the set is that I wish VCI (and Timeless Media, for that matter) had used slimline cases for space saving purposes.
     
  3. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Bob,

    Thanks for the info on Burke's Law! Detailed information that helps us out big-time here.

    I have one question about the Commercials. I'm guessing that they're menu "extras". I wanted to verify that they're separate from the actual episodes.
     
  4. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    Yes, they are a special feature on each of the four DVDs in this set; they are not integrated into the episodes at all, though I think I recall possibly seeing a "Burke's Law . . . brought to you by . . ." bumper on the fourth episode (but no actual commercial).
    I'm impressed with what VCI has done with this set and I'll undoubtedly pick up "Honey West" and "Zane Grey Theatre" when they are released. I should mention that the one public domain episode of "Burke's Law" ("Who Killed Jason Shaw?") that's been making the rounds on various PD collections is on this set (episode 15), but it's the best that it has ever looked here.
     
  5. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Bob, thanks for the commercial info. I figured it was a separate menu feature but wanted to be certain.

    Just imo, but I like the sets (ie Naked City) that offer this extra on the menus. It's sure a time-capsule of vintage TV ads. My Mom actually rememebered some of the commercials on that Naked City set.
     
  6. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey, Bob! Thanks for the early review.
    For someone like me who hasn't seen BURKE'S LAW, but who is tempted to buy any action/adventure series of this vintage, can you (or anyone else who's familiar with it, of course) give a little more info on the show -- i.e. it's overall tone, the quality of its writing, plots, action, etc.? What shows would you compare it to?
     
  7. FrosteyV

    FrosteyV Stunt Coordinator

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    I can partially answer that. From what I remember the show starred Gene Barry (Bat Masterson) as the title character and Gary Conway (Land of the Giants) as his second in command. Amos Burke was a wealthy playboy police commissioner, and weekly episodes were a "who dunnit" murder mystery. It was written in a light manner with a slight comedy twist, and each week had a who's who of guest star "suspects". The talent was primarily very well known current TV stars and old Hollywood movie stars of a bygone era. It was quite entertaining. I think the last year of the series, they redefined the Burke character, making him a secret spy agent.
     
  8. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    Jeff, it's a light weight, but enjoyable show . . . . . let's face it, the premise has an LAPD Captain of Homicide, Amos Burke (Gene Barry), as a millionaire who is driven around in a chauffered Rolls Royce. The show follows a basic formula each week; a murder occurs and Burke and his associates, Gary Conway and Regis Toomey (both good in this show) chase down leads and interview suspects. It's the suspects that make this show fun to watch as many of the actors come from Hollywood's "Golden Age" as well as up-and-coming actors early in their careers. For some strange reason (maybe it's just me), I liken the tone of this show to "Banacek" though the solving of the crime is never as complex. "Burke's Law" is not much of an action show, the emphasis is on Burke's interaction with suspects. The show will celebrate its 45th anniversary of the first broadcasts this Fall and VCI has really done a great job with this set.
    Hope this helps a little; perhaps others could weigh in with their thoughts.
     
  9. phil*

    phil* Second Unit

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    While the transfer to DVD is acceptable, the images are not nearly as pristine as those on "Time Tunnel" or "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"...one wonders why this is so...cost considerations as per usual?
     
  10. Jeff Flugel

    Jeff Flugel Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Bob and FrosteyV, for the input about the show! Much appreciated!
     
  11. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    For anyone still on the fence about this purchase, I just wanted to add my testimony that Burke's Law is a totally entertaining show that holds up marvelously. Sue me, but I've enjoyed watching these episodes much more than the recent Perry Mason anniversay set. Part of that enjoyment is the pacing - this show is much faster paced due to the abundance of guest stars it has to squeeze into 50 minutes. It's full of humor, starlets, and so-very-60s sexual innuendos. The writing is solid and, unlike an overly-convoluted Perry Mason plot, you actually have a shot at figuring at the killer because they do reveal a telling clue on the suspect early on.

    The guest stars, as mentioned by other posters, are a calvacade of golden age Hollywood stars and 60s TV luminaries, and they obviously have a blast playing eccentric Hollywood types. When I first watched this show in reruns as a teenager, although I loved the show, I thought these self-absorbed eccentric characters the stars were playing were a little over the top - almost cartoonish. But having subsequently worked in the film business for 17 years (and moved on!), I now recognize how ridiculously accurate these stereotypes actually were ... and still are. There's nothing more bizarre than reality in La-La Land.

    You've got Rita Moreno playing a former studio concubine chained to poolside lawn chair as part of her rehab for alcoholism overseen by a Nazi maid. Terry Thomas as a burned out bartender drinking one matching shot for every drink he delivers (and peeking out from his phony eyepatch). The very rugged Ed Begley Sr. playing totally against type as an effeminate publisher. Elizabeth Montgomery slinking it up as a provocatively-dressed seductress. And on and on and on. The joy they get from stepping outside their normal type-casting is obvious. Plus they relish in the opportunity to all play potential suspects.

    A couple comments about the presentation. I looked at the before and after restoration demonstration on the main menu page and it appears they just ran the tapes through some kind of noise filter to reduce film grain or video noise. They smoothed out the image, yes, but took away some of the sharpness. The presentation is still good (not Fugitive good), but I just find it funny that the before/after presentation doesn't really make the case for the effort. I'd prefer a little grain and a sharper image, to be honest. And it doesn't 'sound' like they did anything with the sound. It's pretty tinny and thin. But the less-than-great presentation is not in any way enough to take away from the value of this set. It's simply a hoot.

    When you watch Gene Barry trading suprisingly clever and direct inneundos with purring Hollywood suspect sex bombs, well, it gives the term 'guilty pleasures' a whole new meaning. And this show is definitely one of them.
     
  12. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    The show is a veritable time capsule- it has people from the silent era (Gloria Swanson, ZaSu Pitts), the Golden Age (June Allyson, Broderick Crawford, Ruth Roman, Cesar Romero), and stars who would soon be household names (Elizabeth Montgomery). You even get to see future stars as extras (blink and you'll miss soap diva Susan Flannery as a secretary to Eva Gabor in a episode). Murder, She Wrote owes a lot to Burke's Law as it was the first show of its kind to use Hollywood legends as guest stars (and suspects!)- not even Perry Mason used that much star power. On the other hand, Four Star was founded by big names (Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, Ida Lupino and David Niven), so you know they had a lot of friends in the industry to hire. This was also Aaron Spelling's first success as a producer, and a lot of the names on the show wound up on later Spelling shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island- including both Gene Barry and Gary Conway!
    I love that VCI included the original 'coming attractions' for the next episode which aired on ABC and the original commericials in a separate chapter on the DVDs. Obviously they went to the original negatives for this. I can't wait for the rest of the series!
     
  13. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Right, those 'coming attractions' narrated by Gene Barry and identifying each of the next episode's stars with clips are priceless. But they are missing from several episodes after the end credits and Four Star logo. I would've loved a menu feature where you could separately view all the trailers together. It would've played like a fast compilation edit visually identifying and name-checking every great star that appeared on the show.
     
  14. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    VCI Entertainment can be all over the map with the audio/visual quality of its releases. For example, their release of the made-for-TV movie "Guyana Tragedy" with Powers Boothe, while watchable, underwent no discernable restoration whatsoever. So, in some respects, I wasn't expecting too much from them on "Burke's Law." Yet, they have exceeded my expectations on this set. Despite the restoration, there are still some grainy scenes in the episodes to be sure, but there are also some scenes that are "near CBS/Paramount quality." I suspect that some of the variation found in the episodes is inherent in the source material that was made available to them. VCI is a comparatively small company (estimated 19 employees), so any effort made by them to improve a release like "Burke's Law" is greatly appreciated by me.
    VCI profile: Blair & Associates, Ltd (Vci Entertainment) - Tulsa, Oklahoma (OK) | Company Profile
     
  15. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

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    IMDB lists Frank Sinatra as appearing in "Who Killed Wade Walker?" episode, which is not improbable since Nancy Sinatra is a guest star and the description on the case states "Look for a very special guest in a cameo appearance in this episode." I've been unable to spot him, although there is a scene in which Nurse Dana Wynter tends to a patient (it's definitely not Sinatra) that seems like an awkward buildup to a gag that never comes. BURKE'S LAW had some interesting cameos (David Niven and Bobby Darin) during its run, but has anyone been able to spot Sinatra in this episode?
     
  16. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    Tsk, tsk, Charles....don't you know anything about NOT REVEALING SPOILERS TO THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO SEE THE EPISODE OR FILM????? Now go into that far corner to the left and stay there until you apologize to everyone on this forum!!!!!!
     
  17. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Anyone know if VCI has gotten rights to the entire series? They released half of season 1 of CRAIG KENNEDY almost a year and a half ago but have never followed up with another release. I'm a bit hesitant to bite on Burke's Law for this reason.
    Also, they should really consider using slimline packaging for releases such as this.
     
  18. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    There's only reference to season 1 at VCI's web site (and on the back of the slipcase) . . . .
    "VCI will be releasing season one in two separate collector’s sets of 16 episodes each."
    I suppose that it will come down to how well season 1 sells (I'm certainly in for volume 2). And, yes, I have to agree with you about using slimline packaging. Both VCI and Timeless Media really need to start using the space saving packaging.
     
  19. Mike*HTF

    Mike*HTF Supporting Actor

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    I'm definitely hoping they continue with this - especially season 3 Amos Burke, Secret Agent which I haven't seen since it's original run.
    Any word on the release date for Honey West?
     
  20. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    No, though VCI features it prominently on their home page here:
    VCI Entertainment: Home
     

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