XenForo Template Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer features Darren McGavin(Kolchak: The Night Stalker) as the two-fisted detective. McGavin appeared in 78 episodes of the syndicated TV series that was produced in 1958 and 1959. The series was criticized at the time for being excessively violent for television standards and practices, and TV Guide actually called it "easily the worst series on TV." This was an unfair and inaccurate statement, and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer actually has a lot to recommend it. The series makes use of some nice location shots of 1950s New York City even though produced on a low budget at Republic Studios. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer The Complete Series DVD Studio: A&E Year: 1958-1959 Rated: Not Rated Film Length: 33 hours, 48 minutes (approximate) Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Release Date: September 20, 2011 The Series Although Mickey Spillane had no involvement with this series other than his name on the title, the regular writers had a good pedigree in hardboiled detective fiction. Frank Kane contributed many scripts to the series and had previously created the Johnny Liddell series of books. Lawrence Kimble also wrote a number of scripts for the series; Kimble had also written for Soldiers of Fortune, State Trooper, and Coronado 9. A couple of scripts were even written by Evan Hunter(The Birds), who had written the original novel The Blackboard Jungle and was also known to mystery readers as Ed McBain when he created the 87th Precinct series of books. Mike Hammer was created by author Mickey Spillane and first appeared in print in I, The Jury in 1947. In addition to the book series, there was a radio series, a comic strip, and various films including Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly(1955). An earlier effort to develop a Mike Hammer TV series was made by Blake Edwards(The Pink Panther) who wrote and directed a pilot in 1954 starring Brian Keith(Family Affair). The pilot was never picked up for series, and Edwards went on to create another TV private eye, Peter Gunn(1958-1961). Stacy Keach starred in several Mike Hammer TV movies and series in the 1980s and 1990s. Guest stars in this series included Angie Dickinson(Police Woman), Herschel Bernardi(Peter Gunn), Marion Ross(Happy Days), Dick Van Patten(Eight Is Enough), Robert Vaughn(The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Barbara Bain(Space:1999), DeForest Kelley(Star Trek), Ted Knight(The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and Lorne Greene(Bonanza). This new release includes all 78 episodes from both seasons on 12 discs. Each season has a separate clamshell case of 6 discs with both cases sliding into the illustrated cardboard outer sleeve. The episodes are apparently included in production order rather than air-date, although it is really not essential to see the episodes in order, since the episodes stand alone and aired out of order in different markets. The episodes appear to be complete and unedited, and the running times are consistent with the episodes being complete, except for one episode from season 2, Coney Island Baby, which has a running time approximately 2 minutes shorter than the other episodes. The episodes have great atmospheric titles, as set forth below: Season 1, Disc 1 The High Cost Of Dying (25:48) Just Around The Corner (25:52) Hot Hands, Cold Dice (25:51) Death Gets A Diploma (25:55) So That’s Who It Was (25:51) Dead Men Don’t Dream (25:49) Letter Edged in Blackmail (25:53) Season 1, Disc 2 Death Takes An Encore (26:06) Lead Ache (25:51) Overdose Of Lead (25:49) A Grave Undertaking (25:49) A Shot In The Arm (25:40) Stay Out Of Town (25:57) Beautiful, Blue And Deadly (25:51) Season 1, Disc 3 Skinned Deep (25:53) Peace Bond (25:52) Play Belles’ Toll (25:55) For Sale: Deathbed-Used (25:51) Music To Die By (25:50) My Fair Deadly (25:48) The New Look (25:38) Season 1, Disc 4 The Broken Frame (25:56) Look At The Old Man Go (25:51) The Paper Shroud (25:41) My Son And Heir (25:54) Final Curtain (25:52) A Detective Tail (25:48) Season 1, Disc 5 It’s An Art (25:52) Four Blind Mice (25:36) Scar And Garter (25:49) No Pockets In A Shroud (25:50) The Living Dead (25:48) Old Folks At Home Blues (25:55) Season 1, Disc 6 No Business Like - - - - -(25:48) Crepe For Suzette (25:51) Letter Of The Weak (25:41) That School-Girl Complex (25:50) To Bury A Friend (25:52) Mere Maid (25:52) Season 2, Disc 1 Accentuate The Negative (25:47) Requiem For A Sucker (25:53) I Ain’t Talkin’(25:44) The Big Drop (25:49) Aces And Eights (25:52) Baubles, Bangles and Blood (25:49) Husbands Are Bad Luck (25:50) Season 2, Disc 2 Jury Of One (25:45) Park The Body (25:51) Tatto Brute?(25:48) Coney Island Baby (23:30) According To Luke (25:42) Save Me In San Salvidor (25:50) The Last Aloha (25:49) Season 2, Disc 3 Swing Low, Sweet Harriet (25:52) Another Man’s Poisson (25:52) A Haze On The Lake (25:53) When I Am Dead, My Darling...(25:50) Stocks And Blondes (25:45) Evidence On The Record (25:51) Shoot Before You Look (25:47) Season 2, Disc 4 The Commodore (25:49) See No Evil (25:52) Curtains For An Angel (25:47) Dixie Is Dead (25:49) M Is For Murder (25:52) Pen Pals (25:51) Season 2, Disc 5 Now Die In It (25:50) Slay Upon Delivery (25:54) Groomed To Kill (25:50) Doll Trouble (25:50) I Remember Sally (25:47) Wedding Mourning (25:52) Season 2, Disc 6 Merchant Of Menace (25:47) Bride And Doom (25:56) Slab-Happy (25:49) A Mugging Evening (25:46) Siamese Twinge (25:49) Goodbye, Al (25:46) Video Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer appears on DVD in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Video quality is excellent, particularly for a syndicated black and white television series from the 1950s. Some minor compression issues are present but are fortunately not pervasive. There is some black crush apparent in night scenes. The video is surprisingly free of dirt and debris. The opening titles on a few of the later episodes have some minor scratches but these are minor as well. Audio The English Dolby Digital 2.0 track is excellent with no apparent flaws. The audio does not suffer from the audible hiss and popping that we have sometimes come to expect from television of the 1950s. Dialogue is always properly audible over music and sound effects. Special Features The special features are non-existent. Conclusion Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer is certainly not the worst show on television, not even then and definitely not 50 years later. The quality of talent behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera is impressive and it shows, in spite of the low budget sets. Video and audio quality are excellent for a series from the late 1950s. If you are looking for a hardboiled detective to solve a mystery in 30 minutes or less, you could do a lot worse than to spend some time with Darren McGavin in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer The Complete Series DVD.