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HTF DVD REVIEW: Have Gun - Will Travel: The Fourth Season, Volume Two


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#1 of 3 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

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  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted July 02 2010 - 01:48 PM

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Have Gun – Will Travel: The Fourth Season, Volume Two
Directed by Ida Lupino et al

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1961
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 491 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles: CC


MSRP: $ 39.99


Release Date: July 6, 2010

Review Date: July 2, 2010



The Series

4/5


Just about every aspect of the classic television western Have Gun – Will Travel is now iconic: the theme music and that haunting title song sung over the closing credits, the calling card with the show’s title followed by “Wire Paladin/San Francisco,” the main character’s all black outfit with its signature gun and holster, its easy transitions between comedy and drama depending on the story it’s telling. Viewing these episodes from the second half of its fourth season brings back vivid memories of Saturday nights spent in front of the television from long, long ago. The show has lost nothing over the decades, effortlessly telling its stories with a minimum of fuss but featuring a raft of appealing (and in many cases soon-to-be award-winning) guest stars supporting one of television’s most commanding leading men: Richard Boone. The craggy-faced, often taciturn actor is picture perfect casting as the Lancelot of the Old West, riding in to save the victimized from those who wish to steal from or harm them. He also directs several of the episodes this season and usually quite well.


The fourth season of the series represented the last year in its lifespan in which the show would command among the largest audiences for a broadcast series. The show ranked third in popularity at the end of the season, its third year in a row at that lofty position (and last; the following season would mark a sharp drop off in popularity though it was never out of the top thirty shows). Perhaps the show’s winning formula, a person in some kind of distress comes to or sends word to Paladin for assistance and his command as something of a troubleshooter for the weak or distressed allows him to investigate the situation and take whatever measures are necessary to help his client, kept audiences coming back for more season after season. Whatever the reason, the self-contained half hour episodes still play beautifully today, the tight scripts and western locales offering up copious amounts of entertainment bang for the buck.


Among the jobs Paladin finds himself involved with in the second half of this fourth season are becoming the tax collector for a territory whose inhabitants don’t want to pay tax, finding and returning a gold bar stolen from a bank by a disgruntled employee, serving as a lawyer in a rigged trial with a crooked judge presiding, dealing with three bullying young cowhands terrorizing a town, being stalked by scavengers on the range, protecting a duke who wants to become the new emperor of Mexico, dealing with the infamous Calamity Jane, and guarding a prisoner who may have contracted diphtheria and who is intent on spreading it to all he can. Among the writers for some of the season’s episodes are future Oscar winner Frank Pierson and Gene Roddenberry.


The guest stars who show up in these nineteen episodes represent some of the best character actors working in television at the time: Mike Kellin (two episodes as different characters), Kent Smith, William Talman, Ivan Dixon, Hal Needham (two appearances as different characters), Harry Carey, Jr., Allyn Joslyn, Royal Dano, Andrew Prine, Harold Stone, John Fiedler, David White, Ned Glass, Buddy Ebsen, Kenneth Tobey, Ed Nelson, Frank Ferguson, George Kennedy, Werner Klemperer, Pippa Scott, and Ken Curtis.


Here are the nineteen episodes found on the three discs which make up this release:


1 – Shadow of a Man

2 – Long Way Home

3 – Taxgatherer

4 – Fatal Flaw

5 – Fandango

6 – The Last Judgment

7 – The Gold Bar

8 – Everyman

9 – The Siege

10 – The Long Weekend

11 – El Paso Stage

12 – Duke of Texas

13 – Broken Image

14 – Brother’s Keeper

15 – Bear Bait

16 – The Cure

17 – The Road

18 – The Uneasy Grave

19 – Soledad Crossing



Video Quality

4/5


The series’ 1.33:1 original television aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in these transfers. True to the last volume of the series, these transfers look amazing in their clean, clear, sharp images with almost perfectly delineated contrast offering up a superb grayscale that is really impressive. The image is so sharp it’s easy to make out Richard Boone’s stunt double, and the doubles for other characters who engage in fistfights with him. Yes, an occasional dust speck is visible, there is a black scratch or two, and there is some moiré to be seen in pinstripe patterns of some coats, but overall, there shouldn’t be many complaints about the picture quality offered here. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


While the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound is decoded by Dolby Prologic properly into the center channel, the mono recordings have more than decent fidelity. Hiss is minimal along with other aural artifacts that sometimes plague older programming, and the sound is so clear at times that you can hear squeaks in Paladin’s leather jacket and saddle, and ambient sounds of birds and other animal life on the prairie are also clear. With the other sound effects and the music all blended into the mono mix, it’s a very good representation of the sound quality of the period.



Special Features

0/5


There are no bonus features on the disc. There are promo trailers for Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible, and  The Wild, Wild West on disc one.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


The fourth season of Have Gun – Will Travel gets a fine presentation on DVD in this second of two volumes, and while there are no bonus features, fans will likely delight over the excellent video and audio quality of the set. Recommended!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 3 MattPeriolat

MattPeriolat

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Posted July 02 2010 - 02:15 PM

Where's Handel's Messiah when I need it?


Seriously, I'm so glad we're finally getting this last half of Season 4 after so long! Really looking forward to seeing the Roddenberry scripts and the Lupino directed episodes since we've seen some of their previous work and it's always nice to add to the catalog.


Sounds like a good one. Can't wait to get it.


So much TV... So little money! Please visit my blog at: http://tvhistoryondvd.blogspot.com/

#3 of 3 Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

    Screenwriter

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  • Real Name:Rich Gallagher
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Posted July 02 2010 - 02:45 PM

I'm happy to hear that Paramount did a good job on this. And of course I'm hoping for seasons five and six..


Rich Gallagher