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M-Squad Coming 9/23/08


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146 replies to this topic

#61 of 147 Bert Greene

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Posted November 29 2008 - 06:06 AM

An interesting judgment call for Timeless... release a collection of "M Squad" comprised of 60-70% of the episodes, all from relatively decent-looking 16mm transfers, or go all-out for completeness, courtesy of adding some dodgy old video dupes. To be honest, I'd be happy either way, as the series has never really re-surfaced anywhere in recent decades, and certainly constitutes a rarity. I just wanted to see the series, regardless.

And, it sure is a zippy little crime series. Not necessarily a must-see 'classic,' but the episodes are briskly-paced and consistently satisfying in a rather seedy, pulp-like manner. Tons of familiar character actors popping in and out. I'm ten or so episodes into the set, and certainly enjoying it. Quite a lot, actually. But, I can see how some folks might balk at the Alpha-level print quality on some of the episodes. Maybe I should balk a little too, but I can't help but marvel at the fact that, holy smokes, I've got the whole bloomin' run of this super-rare series here at my fingertips! Wow!

#62 of 147 Gary OS

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Posted November 29 2008 - 06:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert Greene
An interesting judgment call for Timeless... release a collection of "M Squad" comprised of 60-70% of the episodes, all from relatively decent-looking 16mm transfers, or go all-out for completeness, courtesy of adding some dodgy old video dupes. To be honest, I'd be happy either way, as the series has never really re-surfaced anywhere in recent decades, and certainly constitutes a rarity. I just wanted to see the series, regardless.

And, it sure is a zippy little crime series. Not necessarily a must-see 'classic,' but the episodes are briskly-paced and consistently satisfying in a rather seedy, pulp-like manner. Tons of familiar character actors popping in and out. I'm ten or so episodes into the set, and certainly enjoying it. Quite a lot, actually. But, I can see how some folks might balk at the Alpha-level print quality on some of the episodes. Maybe I should balk a little too, but I can't help but marvel at the fact that, holy smokes, I've got the whole bloomin' run of this super-rare series here at my fingertips! Wow!


I'm sure it's a nice series and I wish I could have pulled the trigger. I'm not as picky as some folks when it comes to quality, but at the same time I do have lines I have to draw in the sand. I have no idea whatsoever where this set is on that scale, for me personally, so that's not the sole reason I took a pass. To be honest, this last quarter was just so filled with huge vintage sets that something had to give because of my wallet. It's just that when I read about the A/V quality I decided that the "Abbott & Costello Mega-set" and the "Lone Ranger mega-set", along with a ton of other things, simply made this one expendable for the time being. But I have no doubt it's a great series to have in hand.

Gary "it's still on my radar" O.
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#63 of 147 Gary16

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Posted November 30 2008 - 02:51 PM

I just discovered that discs five and six of "M Squad" both contain the contents of disc five. Although the discs are correctly labeled, the small print around the center hole clearly says "disc five" on both of the discs. Has anyone else found this to be the case? I will try to contact Timeless about a replacement disc.

#64 of 147 Bert Greene

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Posted November 30 2008 - 03:55 PM

Just checked my set, and the discs 5 and 6 are okay, with appropriately different contents. Must be an individual anomaly. Unfortunate, but I think Timeless will make good on the error.

#65 of 147 Bob Hug

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Posted November 30 2008 - 11:18 PM

I'm still awaiting my set from DVD Pacific, as it still hasn't shipped yet, but I guess that's the tradeoff for getting the set at nearly half off.

I'm in Bert's camp on this set, knowing the situation with Timeless and their licensing deal with NBC Universal. I just don't see "M Squad" being given any kind of major restoration work, so this set will probably be as good as it's going to get. I still would have purchased "M Squad" even if Timeless didn't come up with the missing episodes.

#66 of 147 Gary OS

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Posted December 01 2008 - 01:30 AM

Hope I wasn't understood on this issue. I didn't take a pass on this set simply because I heard the prints were uneven. I knew that would be the case regardless, and unless they were as uneven as those initial ROUTE 66 prints it wouldn't have mattered to me. I'm sure it's a neat set and down the road I'll pick it up when finances allow. But this 4th quarter was so jam-packed with vintage material I knew that I could only get two of the big three mega sets that were coming out (A&C, Lone Ranger, and M-Squad). I picked the first two because they were more important series to me. But I am hoping that you guys can report in as you keep watching this set and tell us how it looks, and how the episodes play out, over all.

Gary "take care, friends" O.
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#67 of 147 Bob Hug

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Posted December 01 2008 - 01:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary OS
But this 4th quarter was so jam-packed with vintage material I knew that I could only get two of the big three mega sets that were coming out (A&C, Lone Ranger, and M-Squad). I picked the first two because they were more important series to me. But I am hoping that you guys can report in as you keep watching this set and tell us how it looks, and how the episodes play out, over all.

Gary "take care, friends" O.

Gary, you're absolutely right about the 4th quarter and vintage releases. I had to take a pass on the mega Wagon Train set because of budget and it's killing me that right now Amazon has some of the Timeless westerns on sale . . . . . but I just can't afford them right now after the DD/DVD Planet sales and, to top it off, one of my DVD players died last week . . . . just in time for the Black Friday sales.

#68 of 147 Gary16

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Posted December 01 2008 - 01:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary OS
I am hoping that you guys can report in as you keep watching this set and tell us how it looks, and how the episodes play out, over all.

I have now watched the first 5 discs of "M Squad" (I indicated above that for some reason my disc 6 is the same as disc 5 even though it has the correct printed label on it). Even though some of the transfers are almost unwatchable without making severe adjustments to your monitor/projector -- such as turning the brightness way down-- I find that I am still enjoying every episode. I haven't watched a dull one yet and Lee Marvin is just sensational. Despite the many guest stars, Lee carries the show and is in virtually every scene. While I could never recommend this set to someone expecting it to look like "Perry Mason" or even "Burke's Law" or "Honey West," I still highly recommend it for fans of the show (some of the episodes do look genuinely good but many do not). Many years of film collecting taught me that a good movie is still good even if you're watching a lousy dupe. The same applies here.

#69 of 147 Gary OS

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Posted December 01 2008 - 02:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hug
Gary, you're absolutely right about the 4th quarter and vintage releases. I had to take a pass on the mega Wagon Train set because of budget and it's killing me that right now Amazon has some of the Timeless westerns on sale . . . . . but I just can't afford them right now after the DD/DVD Planet sales and, to top it off, one of my DVD players died last week . . . . just in time for the Black Friday sales.

Ughhh. I forgot about the Wagon Train set. That makes 4 mega sets that I had on my radar initially. But I just can't afford all of them right now. It is tough when you have to choose, but Abbott & Costello have been my favorite comedy duo of all time (I'm a huge, huge fan to say the least) and the Lone Ranger set was just too sweet for me to pass up. That left me very short on cash - unfortunately.

Gary "oh well, good things come to those who wait - for big sales down the line Posted Image " O.
"Do not challenge supernatural unless armed with sword of truth"
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#70 of 147 Gary16

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Posted December 01 2008 - 07:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert Greene
Just checked my set, and the discs 5 and 6 are okay, with appropriately different contents. Must be an individual anomaly. Unfortunate, but I think Timeless will make good on the error.

Just spoke with the customer service person at Timeless who couldn't have been nicer. She said there were a few wrong disc sixes that got through and she's sending out a replacement disc immediately! Great customer service.

#71 of 147 Bob Hug

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Posted December 01 2008 - 07:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary16
Just spoke with the customer service person at Timeless who couldn't have been nicer. She said there were a few wrong disc sixes that got through and she's sending out a replacement disc immediately! Great customer service.

I've had good customer service responses from BCI Eclipse, VCI Entertainment, S'more Entertainment, and Mill Creek Entertainment in the past, so it's nice to hear that Timeless Media Group can be added to the list of good companies to deal with, though I've yet to experience any issues with TMG. Notice how it's these smaller independent companies that "try harder" to satisfy their customers.

#72 of 147 Bob Hug

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Posted December 02 2008 - 12:04 AM

Good news for those who ordered "M Squad" from DVD Pacific . . . . they're finally shipping the sets.

#73 of 147 Doug^Ch

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Posted December 31 2008 - 07:55 AM

I am really having a lot of fun watching this series on DVD. Strangely enough Entertainment Weekly picked M Squad as one of their five favorite TV on DVD releases of 2008 along with Mannix Season 1. I say strangely, because generally these type of magazines only cover current stuff. Anyway, it was nice to see that someone on their staff appreciates classic TV. By the way Bob, I enjoyed your review of M squad on Amazon.

Doug

#74 of 147 chas speed

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Posted December 31 2008 - 10:03 AM

I really have loved this set too. If they had come from the negatives at Universal vaults (I got to think they're there) I would probably label this the greatest set of all time. I had never seen an episode before and was shocked by how good they were.

#75 of 147 Bob Gu

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Posted January 01 2009 - 02:43 PM

I am having fun reading the M Squad credits: Spotted so far, directors Robert Altman and James Neilson (Dr Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh), and writers like Harry Junkin who later wrote for The Saint.

You would think Universal could supply better prints for the sake of company or artistic pride.

#76 of 147 chas speed

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Posted January 01 2009 - 06:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Gu
I am having fun reading the M Squad credits: Spotted so far, directors Robert Altman and James Neilson (Dr Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh), and writers like Harry Junkin who later wrote for The Saint.

You would think Universal could supply better prints for the sake of company or artistic pride.
I doubt Universal gave them any of this stuff. I also am not aware of any case where Universal has ever "lost" a lot of episodes to a TV series (fans provided some of these prints). I have heard that the contract did not include Universal lending them any of their prints, but I really have no idea what to believe. I do know that about every TV series Universal owns was remastered in the 70's, so I can't imagine any of this came from Universal. You make a good point asking how or why would Universal allow this to happen. None of this makes any sense, but it's weird that since the invention of DVD we are getting more and more edited TV shows and inferior picture quality. You would think it would be just the opposite.

#77 of 147 Bob Hug

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Posted January 01 2009 - 11:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug^Ch
By the way Bob, I enjoyed your review of M squad on Amazon.

Doug

Thanks, Doug, I greatly appreciate it. I've been watching an episode or two of the series every evening and the more episodes that I get under my belt, the more that I've noticed a few things. First, the show is pretty low budget, but the exterior location shots in Chicago make it look more expensive than it really is. Second, I like the fact that the show is in the half-hour format . . . . there definitely would be more character development if it had been produced for an hour slot, but the half-hour stories really move along at a crisp pace . . . . very little "fat" in these episodes. Third, the list of character actors, future stars, "B" movie refugees in this series is pretty amazing . . . . all sorts of people pop up unexpectedly in both large and small roles. As I referenced in my review, I'm surprised at the number of "Dragnet" alumni that appear in "M Squad," including two of Sgt. Joe Friday's partners, actors Barney Phillips and Herb Ellis . . . . I keep waiting for Ben Alexander to make an appearance. Finally, what can you say about Lee Marvin? He really dominates this show and it's hard for me to imagine another actor other than him as Detective Lt. Frank Ballinger.

#78 of 147 Bob Hug

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Posted January 02 2009 - 12:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Gu
You would think Universal could supply better prints for the sake of company or artistic pride.

Bob, I suspect it comes down to Universal's allegedly high in-house remastering costs to tape. It does appear, in the cases of color episodes used for "Laredo" and "Wagon Train" and, presumably, the upcoming release of "Laramie," that pre-existing tape transfers from Universal were used . . . but only because they had been previously produced for airings on cable TV, e.g., the color "Wagon Train" episodes were broadcast on Canada's Lone Star channel. But, apparently, when it comes to the black & white series, the transfers aren't available, Universal won't incur the expense of producing the transfers and, as a consequence, Timeless is on its own in tracking down episodes for release. It's certainly not the ideal situation, but at least these shows (most of which I never thought would have received a release) are getting some form of release.

#79 of 147 Bob Gu

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Posted January 02 2009 - 05:06 AM

It's also interesting how some of the smaller companies can come up with nice prints or masters: Dangerous Assignment for example or actually restore freshly struck prints from negatives for Burke's Law.

I suppose in some cases the shows were being readied by the owners and cleaned up for a new syndication run, but I'd like to think that the owners did it out of love for the show and actually wanting to put out the best looking DVD product they can.

So it's still perplexing that Universal costs are reportedly so high,since the smaller companies like VCI/Blair can do it for Honey West and Burke's Law.

My favorite line from the Route 66 S1 Vol1 discussion was when the guy from Roxbury said, they "used the prints the archivist gave us." So clueless,"use what's handy", office politics enters into too.

M Squad with Lee Marvin is a real blast and it's great to be able to own the complete series.

#80 of 147 chas speed

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Posted January 02 2009 - 05:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Gu
It's also interesting how some of the smaller companies can come up with nice prints or masters: Dangerous Assignment for example or actually restore freshly struck prints from negatives for Burke's Law.

I suppose in some cases the shows were being readied by the owners and cleaned up for a new syndication run, but I'd like to think that the owners did it out of love for the show and actually wanting to put out the best looking DVD product they can.

So it's still perplexing that Universal costs are reportedly so high,since the smaller companies like VCI/Blair can do it for Honey West and Burke's Law.

My favorite line from the Route 66 S1 Vol1 discussion was when the guy from Roxbury said, they "used the prints the archivist gave us." So clueless,"use what's handy", office politics enters into too.

M Squad with Lee Marvin is a real blast and it's great to be able to own the complete series.
This is such a great show that it's hard to believe a cable channel never picked it up. I wish the Encore channel would air them and also the Fugitive with the correct music.


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