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HTF DVD REVIEW: Cannon: Season One, Volume One



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#1 of 36 Matt Hough

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Posted June 30 2008 - 03:12 PM


Cannon: Season One, Volume One
Directed by Don Taylor et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1971
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 656 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: July 8, 2008
Review Date: June 30, 2008


The Series

3/5

Frank Cannon was something of an anomaly in the world of TV private investigators. Oh, sure, he could karate chop with the best of them when things got tough, but otherwise, he was nothing like his more sophisticated and stylish counterparts from the 1950s (77 Sunset Strip), the 1960s (Burke's Law, Mannix), or the 1970s (The Rockford Files). Overweight, dour, and operating as a lone agent without secretary or sidekick, Frank Cannon was a most atypical TV private eye. And yet, he flourished in a crime drama series that ran for five very successful seasons, yet another in the spokes of the drama wheel manufactured by TV entrepreneur Quinn Martin.

Character actor William Conrad stepped from the shadows of others’ stardom to become a star in his own right with the role of Frank Cannon. With an imposing presence despite being somewhat short and overweight (which he himself drew attention to often during the course of the series), Conrad’s stentorian voice (which had been used for voiceover work in everything from The Fugitive to The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle as well as starring on radio as the voice of Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke) served him very well as the focal point of this otherwise fairly average drama series. In this first half of the season one episodes, Cannon sometimes goes undercover to get to the bottom of his cases (e.g. posing as a truck driver). At other times, he’s simply digging into the crimes which the police have either abandoned or failed to properly investigate the first time. The shows are all closed ended so that by the end of the fifty minutes of program, the case has always been resolved. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Cannon regularly gets hurt, either by shooting or in fights or ambushes though obviously he will live to fight another day. Such are the comforts in series television of this era.

With no regular supporting cast, Cannon resorts to an unusually heavy load of guest stars. The pilot film, introduced as a CBS movie in the spring of 1971, alone sports the likes of Keenan Wynn, Earl Holliman, Lynda Day, Vera Miles, and Barry Sullivan . Once the two hour pilot got picked up as a series, the usual guest stars of the period made regular stops at this new Quinn Martin production. Among them are J.D. Cannon, Murray Hamilton, Tom Skerritt, William Windom, Wayne Rogers, Robert Hogan, Clu Gulager, Joan Van Ark, Diane Varsi, Tim O’Connor, Mitchell Ryan, Pamela Peyton-Wright, Andrew Duggen, Ron Harper, Andrew Prine, Kim Hunter, Barnard Hughes, Harold Gould, Roy Scheider, Arthur O’Connell, Dack Rambo, Lou Antonio, Don Chastain, and Richard Anderson and seen in some of their early TV work are Vincent Van Patten, Mark Hamill, Max Gail, and Vic Tayback.

Here is the rundown of episodes contained in this box set. This particular Quinn Martin production followed the prolog/four act scenario with no epilog present in the episodes presented here:

1 - Pilot (Parts 1 and 2 which play as a single feature)
2 - The Salinas Jackpot
3 - Death Chain
4 - Call Unicorn
5 - Country Blues
6 - Scream of Silence
7 - Fool’s Gold
8 - Girl in the Electric Coffin
9 - Dead Pigeon
10 - A Lonely Place to Die
11 - No Pockets in a Shroud
12 - Stone Cold Dead


Video Quality

3/5

The program’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is faithfully reproduced in these DVD transfers. The pilot episode is in poor shape with widely fluctuating flesh tones (from purple to brown), lots of dirt specks and debris, bothersome softness, and somewhat faded color. Once the series episodes begin, things pick up in terms of sharpness and more stable and better saturated color, but the shows still don’t have the crispness or clarity of other Paramount vault series that I’ve reviewed lately, and there are still dirt specks in every episode. And, as usual, without anamorphic enhancement, patterned coats flash and there is plenty of aliasing. Each episode has been divided into 4 or 5 chapters while the pilot is 8 chapters long.

Audio Quality

3/5

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track sounds very tinny in the pilot episode, but the series episodes sound a bit better balanced and a trifle more alive for vintage TV mono tracks.

Special Features

½ /5

Each of the eleven series episodes offers a network promo which runs about 30 seconds. The viewer has the choice of watching the episodes with or without the promos.


In Conclusion

3/5 (not an average)

Not one of the great crime dramas of the 1970s, Cannon is still a slightly above average action series featuring a less than glamorous leading man taking care of business in a highly professional way. The DVD transfers are fairly average looking and sounding, but fans of the show will no doubt be happy to see the first half of the series’ maiden season now available for purchase or rental.


Matt Hough
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#2 of 36 Jeff*H

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Posted July 01 2008 - 03:03 AM

Despite the apparent shortcomings of this DVD set, I'm still picking it up. I have fond memories of watching reruns of this show as part of WOR's afternoon cop-show lineup in the 80's, and I've always enjoyed William Conrad.
Hopefully CBS Paramount hasn't replaced the Cannon music cues (love that tuba)...
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#3 of 36 Joseph Bolus

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Posted July 06 2008 - 09:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff*H
Hopefully CBS Paramount hasn't replaced the Cannon music cues (love that tuba)...

That was my big question as well ... How much of the underscore has CBS/Paramount replaced?

Like "The Fugitive" (which Conrad narrated) this is a QM Production and therefore probably used cues from many stock libraries. Now that CBS/Para has established the precedent that the entire underscore for every episode can be replaced, reviewers owe it to their readers to pay close attention to this aspect of a classic TV release.
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#4 of 36 David Von Pein

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Posted July 06 2008 - 09:59 AM

Quote:
No epilog present in the episodes presented here.
This surely won't go over well with TV-on-DVD fans. Unless, for some reason, the "Cannon" series went against the QM tradition and didn't include ANY "epilog" scenes at the end of the episodes. Does anyone know for sure? I can't remember.

But my guess would be that "Cannon" DID have epilogs in each show (like other QM productions), which means that every episode in this DVD set has been trimmed by a couple of minutes (on average), which would be the springboard for yet another round of verbal salvos being hurled at CBS/Paramount for an altered DVD release. Yuck. Posted Image

#5 of 36 Corey3rd

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Posted July 06 2008 - 10:03 AM

The episodes run around 51 minutes long so I don't think they cut anything out. I don't remember the Epilogue card for the show.
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#6 of 36 David Von Pein

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Posted July 06 2008 - 10:13 AM

Quote:
The episodes run around 51 minutes long so I don't think they cut anything out.
Well, that's good, Corey. Thanks.

However, the total listed run time in the review above says "615 minutes". Divided by 13 episodes (counting the pilot as 2 shows), that only makes an average of 47.3 minutes per show, which sounds too short for a circa 1971 series (although, of course, as time went along, the run times of shows got shorter and shorter).

But since Corey says the Cannons run for about 51 minutes, either that "615 minutes" time is wrong, or some eps. are much shorter than 51.

Oddly, though, the 615 figure works out perfectly (at 51.25 min. each) if you divide it by just 12 episodes, instead of 13. But since the first show is a 2-hour pilot, the 615 should be divided by 13.

Does the studio actually COUNT the number of minutes they list on their DVD boxes? I doubt they do. Because I've found errors regarding that subject in the past too.

~shrug~

#7 of 36 Corey3rd

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Posted July 06 2008 - 11:23 AM

here's the number breakdown for these episodes.

1 - Pilot (Parts 1 and 2 which play as a single feature) 97:25
2 - The Salinas Jackpot - 51:00
3 - Death Chain - 50:58
4 - Call Unicorn 50:56
5 - Country Blues 50:58
6 - Scream of Silence 51:00
7 - Fool’s Gold 50:30
8 - Girl in the Electric Coffin 50:00
9 - Dead Pigeon 50:57
10 - A Lonely Place to Die 50:58
11 - No Pockets in a Shroud 51:00
12 - Stone Cold Dead 50:49

seeing how everyone that participates in this forum seems to be concerned about running times, it would be good to include them on the listing of episodes.
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#8 of 36 Steve...O

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Posted July 06 2008 - 01:14 PM

Thanks for the timings, Joe. What is your opinion of the PQ of this set?

The pilot may or may not be missing footage. If originally aired as one long movie, a couple of minutes may have been cut to allow for the insertion of "previously seen on..." footage when this was edited into a two part episode for syndication. Hopefully that is not the case here.
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#9 of 36 Corey3rd

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Posted July 06 2008 - 04:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve...O
Thanks for the timings, Joe. What is your opinion of the PQ of this set?

The pilot may or may not be missing footage. If originally aired as one long movie, a couple of minutes may have been cut to allow for the insertion of "previously seen on..." footage when this was edited into a two part episode for syndication. Hopefully that is not the case here.

also with the 2 hour TV movie version, they didn't have to run the opening and closing credits a second time. The TV movie pilot for Jake and the Fatman runs 93 minutes and 32 seconds.

The quality on it is weird because it doesn't look like CBS went back to the film to strike an HD master. Even the syndication Bible makes no mention of Cannon in HD. But it's better than the digitally sped up version playing on RTN.

should have my review up at thedvdlounge in a few days.
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#10 of 36 David Von Pein

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Posted July 06 2008 - 04:04 PM

For the record, Corey's detailed run times add up to 656.5 minutes. Which means that the "615" listed on the box is significantly off. (I assume Matt H. got the 615 off the box.)

#11 of 36 Corey3rd

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Posted July 06 2008 - 04:08 PM

that doesn't include the 30 seconds of promos on most of the episodes
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#12 of 36 Matt Hough

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Posted July 07 2008 - 02:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Von Pein
For the record, Corey's detailed run times add up to 656.5 minutes. Which means that the "615" listed on the box is significantly off. (I assume Matt H. got the 615 off the box.)

Actually, I got it from the PR sheet, I think. I'll adjust on the review. Thanks.

#13 of 36 Steve...O

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Posted July 07 2008 - 02:12 PM

Thanks to Joe for the response.

Also, I neglected to acknowledge Matt's review in my prior post. Great job, Matt! My apologies for overlooking this earlier.

I am admittedly on the fence about this. I very much want to support these type of releases. CBS/P has soured me a bit with the Fugitive situation plus I'm a bit surprised that if CBS/P didn't remaster these in HD that they didn't make this a "value" release and put the entire season out. Matlock and Diagnosis Murder were tape based series that don't look spectacular but this was mitigated by getting full seasons. Unfortunately it appears that sales of DM were not good as this show seems to have been abandoned.
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#14 of 36 BobSchneider

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Posted July 08 2008 - 06:38 PM

I pickup Cannon last week new for 20.00 and Im glad I only spent 20.00 or I really be P.O.'d . For a CBS release this is the poorest PQ of any set Ive purchased from them in the last three years. Cannon's s1 v1 captures for video and audio are in the C- to D- range depending on the episodePosted Image . Its quite obvious very little work was done to clean up tapes or is this is good as it gets for Cannon S1, because the tapes were in such horrible condiction? Honestly Im very disappointed with Cannon s1 v1, I couldnt make threw the pilot the PQ was that bad. Booo CBS was the same arse monkeys working on the fugitive s2 v1 shelping though this set. After wonderful Mannix S1 set I had high hopes for Cannon, Im really bumbed. This is one time I got to disagree with you Matt H I give the set a very generious 2 Posted Image Posted Image

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#15 of 36 Matt Hough

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Posted July 09 2008 - 01:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchneider
I pickup Cannon last week new for 20.00 and Im glad I only spent 20.00 or I really be P.O.'d . For a CBS release this is the poorest PQ of any set Ive purchased from them in the last three years. Cannon's s1 v1 captures for video and audio are in the C- to D- range depending on the episodePosted Image . Its quite obvious very little work was done to clean up tapes or is this is good as it gets for Cannon S1, because the tapes were in such horrible condiction? Honestly Im very disappointed with Cannon s1 v1, I couldnt make threw the pilot the PQ was that bad. Booo CBS was the same arse monkeys working on the fugitive s2 v1 shelping though this set. After wonderful Mannix S1 set I had high hopes for Cannon, Im really bumbed. This is one time I got to disagree with you Matt H I give the set a very generious 2 Posted Image Posted Image

To be fair, you need to sample more than the pilot. If you'll re-read my comments on the video quality, I said forcefully that the pilot had very poor video quality. Skip to the last disc in the set and watch an episode or two. Still not in the league of HAWAII FIVE-O or STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO but much better than the pilot.

#16 of 36 BobSchneider

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Posted July 09 2008 - 03:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
To be fair, you need to sample more than the pilot. If you'll re-read my comments on the video quality, I said forcefully that the pilot had very poor video quality. Skip to the last disc in the set and watch an episode or two. Still not in the league of HAWAII FIVE-O or STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO but much better than the pilot.

Hmmm I hope what you say is true because the pilot and the second (non pilot) episode were really bad maybe it gets better disk two and behold
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#17 of 36 Dave Scarpa

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Posted July 09 2008 - 10:16 PM

Well these certainly have'nt been remastered, they look like the same 16mm versions I remember seeing on WOR Ch 9 those many moons ago. The Set should've been a lot less money considering the poor treatment.
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#18 of 36 mannix

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Posted July 10 2008 - 01:45 PM

I plan on adding this collection

#19 of 36 Steve...O

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Posted July 10 2008 - 01:53 PM

Knowing full well that I'm potentially contributing to the abandonment of this series, I have decided to pass on this release for the time being.

Looking at S1V1 at Sam's tonight and seeing that it was only $7 or so cheaper than the complete seasons of Hawaii Five-0 and Mannix sitting beside it pointed out how flawed the pricing of this release is. S4 Five-0 and S1 Mannix both have excellent PQ whereas this release is getting reviews ranging from bad to lukewarm.

If CBS/P couldn't or wouldn't restore these episodes to a level similar to their other releases they should have, in my opinion, either made this a full season set or lowered the price accordingly.
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#20 of 36 MCCLOUD

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Posted July 11 2008 - 07:31 AM

I bought my Cannon Season 1 Volume 1 DVD at Sams for $24.23 plus tax. I am disappointed that the video quality isn't as sharp or good as The Wild Wild West. However, the DVD does look the best the Cannon series has ever looked, and really the image is good if you don't try and expect it to be equal to The Wild Wild West, etc. I think the video quality might be best compared to The Invaders. This is the best Cannon has looked and maybe ever will look. I hope all fans will support Cannon Season 1 Volume 1 so we can get all 5 Seasons released on DVD. At around $26 for the Pilot Movie and 11 episodes running over 10 hours, while not as much as a money worth value as say 24 episodes and higher video quality as Mannix, Wild Wild West, etc., in relative terms it still is a good deal. You will pay over $16 for a DVD of the Wil Smith movie "I Am Legend". While "I Am Legend" will have better video and audio quality than Cannon, it runs only around 100 minutes. Even if you throw in 1 hour of extras, I Am Legend will run about 3 hours while Cannon will run over 10 hours. Using this comparison, the $26 Cannon Split Season is a good deal. Of course full Season Cannon DVD's for all Cannon Seasons using the best video and audio quality would be best, but what Paramount has given us is better than no Cannon. Let us all hope Paramount will release all of Cannon on DVD and I hope everyone will support Cannon Season 1 Volume 1 so we can get some more Cannon!

Take Care!

Robert


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