HTF REVIEW: Wanted: Dead or Alive – Season One

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Stone, Jun 3, 2005.

  1. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
    Wanted: Dead or Alive – Season One
    Starring: Steve McQueen

    Studio: New Line
    Year: 2004
    Aspect Ratio: 4x3
    Running Time: Approximately 16.8 Hrs
    Rating: NA
    Audio: 1.0 Dolby Digital (English, French)
    Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
    MSRP: $39.98
    Street Date: 7 June, 2005

    Review Date: 3 June, 2005
    (Ratings are out of five stars)

    Summary
    Note: I did not have the time required to watch all 16+ hours of this show as well as the extras. Feel free to add comments about the quality of the show itself to supplement my technically oriented review. You have been warned J

    Wanted: Dead or Alive ran for three seasons on CBS and launched Steve McQueen’s career as gentleman bounty hunter Josh Randall. The character, originally introduced in an episode of the television Western Trackdown, was so popular that the production company created Wanted: Dead or Alive so that McQueen could reprise the role of Randall.

    Josh Randall was not a typical rough-hewn bounty hunter of the Old West; he was a consummate gentleman who always gave half – or even all – of his reward money to charity. He was a man of few words, and, unlike most bounty hunters, he carried neither a shotgun nor a rifle but rather a 1892 Winchester lever action pistol, which he wore on his belt and fondly called his “Mare’s leg.” Josh Randall’s catch phrase, “Let’s go,” launched him into unforgettable, classic western adventures.

    The 4-disc DVD box set includes the first season of the series and is packaged in a book-like case similar to the Smallville season set packaging. All four discs are double-sided and include extras and episodes on each side. Included in the packaging is an insert that lists all the episodes along with short summaries for each one.

    Video
    Overall, the video quality is pretty damn good for a 1958 black and white Western. The picture is soft in some spots, but usually quite sharp. Edge enhancement wasn’t noticeable on my Panny 53WX42 or under magnification on my computer. In general, I’d prefer a soft black and white transfer to the over-cooked EE on releases like High Noon. There’s a moderate amount of dirt visible on the transfer, but it’s not overly plentiful. Like most of the other reviews I’ve done thus far, considering the fact that this isn’t exactly demo material, I’d whole-heartedly say the quality is sufficient for the release.

    Video Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Audio
    Much like the video, the audio quality is as good as the original elements could have provided. There’s no constant hiss like on some older shows/movies, and the dialog is always clear. It’s hard to be overly critical concerning audio on a show that ran from 1958 to 1961.

    Audio Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Extras
    Disc 1 – Side A
    Genesis of Wanted: Dead or Alive: This is a series of 8 text cards with information about the origin of the show as well as McQueen’s career.
    Steve McQueen Bio Part 1: Like the previous, this is a series of text cards with biographical information of Steve McQueen. The bio continues on discs 2 and 4.
    Color Episode of The Martin Poster

    Disc 1 – Side B
    The Bounty Hunter Featurette(13:48): Interesting look at the show. Mainly focuses on Josh Randall character analysis.
    Photo Gallary

    Disc 2 – Side A
    Life in the Fast Lane documentary (Parts 1 & 2)(~17:00): The beginning of a 6 part documentary on Steve McQueen. Pretty standard stuff, focusing on McQueen’s exploits. There are interviews with people related to McQueen both by family and profession. As someone who knew little about McQueen, it was a very interesting documentary. I’m sure a lot of the information will be repetitious to fans of McQueen, but it’s well presented non-the-less.

    Disc 2 – Side B
    Steve McQueen Filmography
    Steve McQueen Bio Part 2
    Color Episode of The Favor

    Disc 3 – Side A
    Angel or Devil Featurette(13:48): Opens up the exact same way as the Bounty Hunter Featurette. For a minute there, I thought it was going to be the same thing due to the same running time. It’s not quite the same, but more along the same lines. This featurette focuses more on the flawed nature Randall’s character.
    Photo Gallary

    Disc 3 – Side B
    Life in the Fast Lane Documentary (Parts 3 & 4)(~12:00)

    Disc 4 – Side A
    Steve McQueen Bio Part 3
    Color Episode of Six-Up to Bannach

    Disc 4 – Side B
    Dead End featurette(10:47): Continuation of the other featurettes with focus on McQueen’s acting in the series.
    Life in the Fast Lane Documentary (Parts 5 & 6)(~16:00)
    Photo Gallary

    Overall, the extras are very good. It annoys me that the documentaries are broken up into chunks and spread over all four discs, but the space is maxed out, so I can’t blame them. The only other moderately annoying thing was that the same 36-second promo plays when you select extras on the discs with the “Life in the Fast Lane” doc. Other than that, the extras get a big thumbs-up from me.

    Extras Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    In Closing…
    I’m confident in saying that this is the best Wanted: Dead or Alive has ever looked or sounded. It’s not a flawless restoration, and there is some occasional dirt on the transfer, but the quality of the audio and video is high enough to please fans of the show. With the relatively low MSRP, presentable quality, and copious amount of extras on Wanted: Dead or Alive, I can easily recommend the DVD set to fans of the show. If you’re not sure, you might want to give it a rental first.

    Overall Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Matt Stone
    3 June, 2005
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Sounds good! I can't wait to pick this one up this week[​IMG]
     
  3. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    Bumping this since a standard search couldn't find it for some reason.

    Matt, you may want to edit this:

     
  4. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    Derp...thanks for that one Greg. Meant to edit that out, but must've forgot to.
     
  5. Roy Wall

    Roy Wall Supporting Actor

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    It's funny watching the intro to the show with McQueen with that tough guy walk and that macho glare but his character is very human and considerate. The stories so far have been very good as I've watched about 14 episodes.

    Unlike The Rifleman....he doesn't gun down every guy that looks at him a little funny.[​IMG]

    Hey...I own DVDs of the saga of the McCain boys too.
     
  6. Bill Parisho

    Bill Parisho Stunt Coordinator

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    Correct me if I'm wrong as I haven't picked up this set yet. I heard they did a botch job. I heard the episodes are speeded up from a Pal master.
    Has anybody else hear that these episodes are time-compressed?
    Bill Parisho
     
  7. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    Yes, they are -- there was another thread on that topic in this forum.

    Apparently they used the PAL masters and each episode is sped up so they run about a minute and a half shorter than they should.
     
  8. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    I don't care if the episodes are time-compressed in this case, as long as all of the dialog is intact.

    The only thing I'm concerned about is that I can watch those 3 episodes in original black & white --- not colorized (the word Matt neglected to use in his review). I'm not going to turn off my TV's color to watch those. The three were the only episodes to be converted into color by computer for VHS release in the mid 1980s. It was such a disaster that no more of the 94 were put out in that form. Oddly enough that was a time in which colorization was in fashion.
     
  9. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    Well, the colorized versions are just extras, so you can just ignore them.
     

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