Cannon: Season Two, Volume One
Directed by Phil Leacock et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 609 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Review Date: May 29, 2009
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. This box set with the first twelve episodes from Season Two represent the series moving toward the apex of its popularity. It finished the season ranking as the fourteenth most popular series on network television and collected an Emmy Award nomination as the Best Drama Series.
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, and his work this season earned him an Emmy nomination as Best Dramatic Actor. 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 two episodes, Cannon sometimes goes undercover to get to the bottom of his cases (e.g. posing as a disgraced cop eager to join the mob). 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. Among them are Michael Tolan, Larry Linville, Richard Hatch, Lloyd Bochner, Micky Dolenz, Jessica Walter, Robert Webber, Patrick O'Neal, Belinda Montgomery, Mike Farrell, Sheree North, Phyllis Thaxter, Rosemary Murphy. Dana Elcar, George Maharis, Stephanie Powers, Robert Mandan, Max Gail, Kathleen Freeman, Clu Gulager, Julie Adams, Lois Nettleton, William Daniels, Louise Troy, Alex Rocco, Neva Patterson, Andrew Duggen, and Carl Betz.
Here is the rundown of episodes contained in this box set. This particular Quinn Martin production followed a four-act scenario with no epilog present in the episodes presented here:
1 - Bad Cats and Sudden Death
2 - Sky Above, Death Below
3 - Bitter Legion
4 - That Was No Lady
5 - Stakeout
6 - The Predators
7 - A Long Way Down
8 - The Rip-Off
9 - Child of Fear
10 - The Shadow Man
11 - Hear No Evil (complicated blackmail scheme is my favorite episode in the set)
12 - The Endangered Species
The cover art displays the usual caveat about the possibility of editing, but as all of these episodes seemed exactly the same length, if there is editing, it has been minimal.
The program’s original 1.33:1 television aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in these transfers. Unlike some of Paramount’s premiere classic series like Mission Impossible or Hawaii Five-O, the masters for Cannon are decidedly inferior in sharpness, color stability, and cleanliness. There are speckles and occasional scratches, and the image is never as sharp as one would hope. Color is sometimes fine but at other times either washed out or overly saturated. Blacks are very inky, but shadow detail is sometimes obscured by crushed blacks. Without anamorphic enhancement, there are jaggies, moiré patterns, and pixilation occasionally. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters without the promos or an additional chapter if they‘re selected.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio mix is very typical television sound of its era. Fidelity is limited, and ADR is often very obvious. Still the dialogue has been recorded well and is always discernible.
Each of the twelve 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.
There are trailers for Mannix, Mission Impossible, and Hawaii Five-O.
Cannon is an above average crime drama of the period, and this box set offers the first half of one of the show’s better seasons. A lack of any bonus material won’t matter to fans who want more of the adventures of Frank Cannon.