HTF REVIEW: Emergency! Season One

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Steve Tannehill, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. Steve Tannehill

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    XenForo Template  Emergency! Season One Studio: Universal Studios Home Video Year: 1972 (2005 Release) Rated: Aspect Ratio: 4x3 Audio: English DD 2.0 Captions/Subtitles: English SDH; Spanish Subtitles Time: 655 minutes Case Style: Keep Cases, with a cardboard slipcase Disc Format: Dual Sided / Dual Layered (DVD-18, 2 disc set) The Feature: Jack Webb had a penchant for shows with buddy cops. First, there was the original buddy cop show, Dragnet. Then he produced Adam-12 in the late 1960’s. Then he branched out to the fledgling area of paramedics in 1972’s Emergency!. Today, we take for granted that trained medics are a 911-call away from our doorstep, but back then it was a new concept gaining respect across the country. I watched Emergency! as a kid, during its original run and in syndication (back when the series donned a second name of Emergency One! to avoid confusion in TV Guide). And I was very excited to hear that the series was being released on DVD, along with other shows of the day including Adam-12. When the screener package showed up on my doorstep, needless to say, it was a happy occasion. The series follows the efforts of Squad 51, manned by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics John Gage (Randy Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe), as they are dispatched in a variety of rescue and field situations. Gage and DeSoto’s partners in medical treatment are the doctors and nurses in the emergency room at Rampart General Hospital—Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller), Nurse Dixie “Dix” McCall (Julie London), and Dr. Joe Early (Bobby “Route 66” Troup), in particular. Of notable inclusion in this set is the pilot episode, “The Wedsworth-Townsend Act.” Like a few of you mentioned in this great earlier thread, I don’t recall seeing the pilot episode, although it was vaguely familiar. Some research on the equally great Emergency Fans website shows that the pilot was recycled as a 2-part flashback episode in 1975. The pilot sets out how we meet Gage and DeSoto, how Dr. Brackett was initially against putting medics into the field, and how Nurse McCall was for it. We also see that Dix and Kel are involved (although I am pretty sure this went over my head as a kid). There is a definite chemistry between the characters, which is why the show worked and lasted so long. And I’ll have to admit that the situations are entertaining and even suspenseful on occasion, although the show is cut from the formula that everything resolves itself in the constraint of the hour episode, and generally with a happy ending. This is 1972, and the realism we’ve come to expect from shows like e.r. just isn’t there (Love’s Labor Lost with Bradley Whitford? I think not.) Overacted melodrama? That’s more like it, but again, that was part of the formula.) Oh, sure, we get to see people zapped with the defibrillator, and the occasional gross makeup effect, but so far I’ve never seen anything gushing out that might make me want to forego supper. Frankly, and I mean this with endearing respect, Emergency! seems like the basis for a great college drinking game. For example, any time Dr. Fuller tells Gage or DeSoto to start an IV of lactated ringers D5W, you could take a shot. Of course, if you take too many, you could end up with a paramedic at the scene and a trip to the emergency room. Season One contains the pilot and eleven episodes--the show started airing mid-season, so later seasons have roughly twice the shows. The episodes are spread across two dual-layered, double-sided discs (DVD-18). I'm not a huge fan of DVD-18 (nor are many of the readers here) because of the tendency for discs not to play or to be easily damaged. In my case, I have a hard time reading the tiny print on those inner rings, although I think we finally figured out how sides are indicated on Universal releases. The episodes can be played individually, by scene, or with a play-all option (per side, of course). Menus are in 4x3, as is the feature. Disc 1 – Side A The Wedsworth-Townsend Act (Original TV Movie)– 1:35:38 The Mascot – 50:52 Botulism – 50:47 Disc 1 – Side B Cook’s Tour – 50:48 Brush Fire – 50:47 Dealer’s Wild – 50:51 Disc 2 – Side A Nurse’s Wild – 50:47 Publicity Hound – 50:51 Weird Wednesday – 50:52 Disc 2 – Side B Dilemma – 50:51 Hang-Up – 50:50 Crash – 50:51 The Feature: 4 / 5     Video: This is not a perfect video transfer, but it is very good. And when you consider how silly it seems to be reviewing it on a 50-inch 4x3 screen when I originally watched the show on a 13-inch color TV—well, you get the idea. My, how times have changed. The colors are accurate with a liberal does of the Seventies. Remember Harvest Gold appliances? Avocado Green? Speaking of greens, the color palate is wonderful, from the green surgical uniforms, to the yellow-orange surgical theater lights, to the blue paramedic uniforms. The reds are especially red—and tortuous. The blacks are rich. The flesh tones look accurate even in the presence of red fire trucks and orange jumpsuits. It all looks fine on a properly calibrated set—and that is no small feat even if your color decoder is up to the challenge. Disc 1/Side A and its 197 minutes of content concerned me with a lack of fine detail (names on name tags, for example, and occasional grain and background blurriness). I also detected what appeared to be some slight edge enhancement. The detail improved significantly on Disc 1/Side B and Disc 2, where there were only three standard-length shows per side, clocking for a total per side of 152 minutes. Detail was greatly improved—check out the grocery store shelves in the episode where Roy is going to cook dinner to see what I mean. Colors continued to be stellar. The only other sources of concern with the video quality do not relate to the transfer, but to the source material itself. There are some speckles and dirt. I would expect that for a show 33 years old. All in all, I am pleased. I think you will be, too, and if not—perhaps you need to pull out that old 13-inch color TV and compare.  Video: 4 / 5     Sound: The English soundtrack is monophonic, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. It sounds very full-range on the full-range center-channel speaker. (Wow, what a difference from the little speaker on that 1970’s console television.) Dialogue is crisp and understandable. There is no distortion. Even the sound effects are good. If I want to put the home theater through the rigors of a 360-degree fire and rescue experience with modern THX theater playback, I’ll put on Backdraft . Meanwhile, Emergency! is good for what it is. Sound: 3 / 5    Extras: There were no extras, but isn’t almost 11 hours of classic television enough? No? How about this... Universal gave me two extra copies of the set for giveaway. Answer this simple trivia question and you'll qualify for a drawing for one of the two copies: Julie London, who played Nurse McCall, was related to two of the primary contributors to Emergency!. Who were they, and what was the relationship? Sorry, but since I'm paying postage, I'll have to limit this to entries in the United States. Just click on the email icon above, and send an email with the subject "CONTEST" and your answers. The winners will be chosen at random from those entries with the correct answers. The contest closes at midnight CDT on August 31, 2005. Extras: 0 / 5 In Conclusion: Emergency! is a real blast from the past, and a sentimental favorite. If you take the extras out of the rating, this would rank very high—so that’s exactly what I am going to do. If you want to find out more regarding the show, there is a good link above. Overall Rating: 4 / 5     Release Date: August 23, 2005
    Display calibrated by Steve Martin at http://www.lionav.com/
     
  2. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Good Review althoug I'd drop it 1/2 a star for the DVD-18 usage.
     
  3. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Thanks for a fine review Steve. I can almost hear those loud "tones" now (or "buzzer" thingies or whatever the initial notification system is called whenever Station 51 got a call to go out on a fire run). [​IMG]

    Steve -- Any problems with the DVD-18 playback for you? I've heard a lot of people complaining about freeze-ups and break-ups on the Emergency & Adam-12 sets from Universal.

    I'm guessing it might be older Players giving the DVD-18s fits; any truth in this? It'd be nice, when someone reports a glitch, if they'd also say what brand player they have and how old it is. It might help hone-in a little on the problem (if it's strictly player-related only with regard to the DVD-18 Universal trouble) -- because some people don't seem to have trouble with DVD-18s at all; I haven't.

    Thanks.


    "Squad 51; time out 21:44".
    "Squad 51, roger -- KMG 365".
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Steve Tannehill

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    I had no playback problems with the spot identified in the other thread--I was looking specifically for it.

    I have a hard time docking a title for packaging or layout choices like DVD-9 vs. DVD-18. But I think it is important to mention my dislike for the DVD-18 format, hence the remarks in the review. Universal does read these reviews--here's hoping that some constructive criticism will yield the results we desire.

    However, in all fairness, if we ask for DVD-9 instead of DVD-18, the price will probably go up. Compare Emergency! Season One at $40 retail to Firefly at $50 retail to see what I mean. Both have 4 disc's worth of content, but Firefly has it on 4x DVD-9 in ThinPacks instead of 2x DVD-18 in keepcases.

    Interesting, though, the sale price at one of the deep discount online vendors has Firefly only $2.02 higher in price than Emergency!.... Hmm...

    - Steve
     
  5. Jim Saunders

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    Great review, Steve. I'm slowly working my thru this (about to start disk 2) and really enjoying it.
     
  6. Barbara.G

    Barbara.G Stunt Coordinator

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    I have had no problem with my Adam-12
    Emergency or Quincy sets what so ever.

    I love them ALL.[​IMG]
     
  7. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Do NOT use the "play all" feature with this release! When used, the first episode per side will play correctly, but on subsequent episodes it will skip the teaser and possibly the opening credits. Better to play individual episodes one at a time and catch the whole thing, okay? I don't know why this is so hard to get right; it was an issue for Paramount on ST:TNG and I think it came up on Uni's Baa Baa Black Sheep as well...just as a couple of examples. [​IMG]

    Other than that, I'm enjoying the hell out of this release, my 7-year old son now know the theme music by heart, and the video and sound, while not *perfect*, they are so close to it and are so damn clear it's just like watching it back in the day. Wonderful!
     
  8. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Thanks David for that PLAY ALL heads-up. I never use Play-Alls anyway.

    BUT -- To be honest, I think that type of "skipping the credits" Play All is an excellent idea. I almost always chapter-skip by the open titles anyway, so why not let the Play-All do it for you and just start up Program 2 with Chapter 2? Makes sense IMO.

    Plus, skipping any "teasers" is also a good idea IMO as well; I for one consider them merely plot-spoilers on something I've never seen (or not seen for years anyway), and never want to be "teased" by them before watching the episode. I think Universal's done good by instituting that kind of truncated "Play-All". Makes any Marathon-watching all the better, IMO, by not having the redundancy of watching the (sometimes)-lengthy credits each and every time.

    Although -- It'd be kind of nice if they'd TELL the consumer on the box someplace (or the Menu itself) that by selecting Play All you'll not be getting some of the footage. Why couldn't that be done? (But, then too, I guess it becomes fairly obvious once you've used Play All for the first time.)
     
  9. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    No No NO! NOT a "next on..." style trailer! The "teaser" is the "prologue" act. The part of Star Trek prior to the opening credits where we learn that Kirk has taken the Enterprise deep into Romulan territory for no good reason, so the crew thinks he might have gone insane. And 3 Romulan warships decloak, surrounding the Enterprise, and the camera focuses on Kirk's sweaty face and he tries to decide what to do next. Fade to black, and the opening credit roll. THAT sort of teaser! The VERY ESSENTIAL part of a story that sets up everything to follow, that teases the viewer just enough to make sure they don't flip channels while the opening credits are rolling. Emergency! is full of that stuff. The 2nd episode, "Mascot", is all about how a lady in a traffic accident makes Fireman Gage promise that he won't let them take her prize-winning dog "Bonnie" to an animal shelter. Well, if you skip the part before the credits, you miss the paramedics arriving at the scene of the car accident, you miss her screaming for Bonnie, and you miss DeSoto finding the dog in the back seat piled under some luggage that bounced around in the smash-up. If you miss this part, then you are left wondering "hey, where did this dog come from, and why is Gage watching her?"
     
  10. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    OK, David L.
    Thanks for setting me straight on the teasers.

    I thought you meant a "teaser"-like "Trailer" (like we'll hopefully find intact on each of the 120 episodes of "The Fugitive" when that series inevitably finds its way to Paramount DVD). That kind of teaser/trailer is merely redundant for the viewer, with footage that's repeated in the episode.

    But, yes, cutting out the type of teaser you're referring to on "Emergency!" is utterly ridiculous on Universal's part. Just silly.
     
  11. Steve Tannehill

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    Dave, thanks for the heads up--but I'm not seeing this problem.

    - Steve
     
  12. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    Teaser Intros: Why would you want to skip them? A-Team, Knight Rider, Magnum P.I. and a lot of the classic action/adventure shows from the eighties had these pre-teasers before each episode. They never showed spoiler type info that spoiled the episode and they merely served as a respit for the episode.

    I'd like to know why Universal would choose a truncated Play All feature. The Play All works fine for A-Team, Knight Rider and Magnum with no problem and it disturbs that Universal screwed up Emergency in this fashion. Although I think they're hurting themselves with the high price (11 episodes plus the pilot for the price of a standard boxed set).
     
  13. Steve Tannehill

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    Again, Mark, I don't see the problem. I suspect it is player-related. I am hoping others will chime in with similar (or dissimilar) experiences so we can track this down further.

    Meanwhile, I think it's a bit premature to slam Universal.

    - Steve
     
  14. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Steve, I tried it on 2 players before saying anything (a console and a PC). I have 7 brands of players in the house all told between consoles, videogames, PCs, portables, etc. So if you want I'll try this some of my others. Better yet, anyone else try it yet and see what happens?
     
  15. Jim Saunders

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    I was watching with the play all feature. After reading Daves post last night, I put in disk 1, side b, and selected the 3nd episode. I did not notice any teaser at the beginning at all. The episode begins with the guys sitting around the kitchen table in the firehouse playing cards.
     
  16. Jim Saunders

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    And I to be honest, I cant recall seeing a single teaser since I've been watching this disk. I just tried again with a different episode, Disk 2 side A, 'Nurses Wild' by selecting it individually, and no teaser. It begins with the Universal logo thing and then goes right to the opening scene, they guys standing out in front of squad 51 with some nurses in the hospital parking lot.
     
  17. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    THAT part with the guys in the parking lot with the nurses IS the "teaser"...the part of the story before the opening credits which let's the viewer know in a nutshell what themes this episode's stories are going to cover.

    See, it set up the story plots: you knew before the opening credits rolled that Gage was trying to charm some nurses as he and DeSoto were demonstrating to them about being a paramedic and showing the equipment on the Squad. And you knew that there was a store owner who shot an armed robber and felt bad about having to do it, and was agitating himself into a cardiac case over the whole thing. As both of them got transported to Rampart and the owner said to Gage (riding in the ambulance with both cases) that you don't know what it's like to have to shoot someone, Gage got a very dramatic and solemn look on his face and then it faded to black, only to have the credits appear right after.

    In the TV industry, this section of the storyline is called a "Teaser". Then each section after the credits and between each commercial would be an "Act", and the wrap-up after the final commercial but prior to the closing credits is called the "Epilogue".

    So, Jim, you've been watching the teasers...no worries! [​IMG]
     
  18. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    There are less than 10 TV shows that I want to own in their entirety and this is very close to the top of that list. That said, I refuse to buy it as long as it's on DVD-18. I've owned too many DVD-18s that have been a problem (Especially from Universal). For every title that I have skipped, there have been many reports of problems from other forum memebers, and this only serves to justify my stance. Personally, I would have ZERO problem paying any cost difference to have these on DVD-9. As for my hardware, I don't have the model number in front of me, but it's a high end Yamaha DVD player, and I've also encountered the problem on a Marantz, and several Toshiba models.

    Universal has lost about $300-$500 from me personally, and I'm more than happy to give it to other studios.
     
  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    You had better be prepared to never buy any Universal show then, as it looks like DVD18 is here to stay for their releases.
     
  20. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I most definitely am. There are plenty of studios releasing product that plays fine for me to give my money to.
     

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