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261 of 263 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy Howdy, the Powerful Barkleys Ride Onto DVD!!
There were few TV shows that made a greater impression on me growing up than did this classic western, The Big Valley, which ran on ABC from 1965-1969. From its stellar cast featuring the incomparable Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley, (the matriarch of a close-knit, proud and prominent family in 1878 California,) well-written/action-packed scripts, to stirring music,...
Published on February 10, 2006 by E. Hornaday

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MISLEADING PRODUCT
The title stats " The Complete Series One" DVD is only the 1st season. At $159 this is a total RIPOFF!!!
Published on September 27, 2012 by lwcougar77


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261 of 263 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy Howdy, the Powerful Barkleys Ride Onto DVD!!, February 10, 2006
By 
E. Hornaday (Lawrenceville, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
There were few TV shows that made a greater impression on me growing up than did this classic western, The Big Valley, which ran on ABC from 1965-1969. From its stellar cast featuring the incomparable Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley, (the matriarch of a close-knit, proud and prominent family in 1878 California,) well-written/action-packed scripts, to stirring music, The Big Valley remains a standout in the barren plains of TV mediocrity.

The first TV drama to feature a powerful female lead (a woman the commercials proudly proclaimed had "backbone and bite"), it also dealt realistically with situations formerly taboo for TV. It began by revealing that Victoria's husband, Tom Barkley, a prominent, wealthy cattle rancher now deceased, had been involved in a secret affair leading to the birth of an illegitimate son. In addition to the ranch, the family controlled gold and silver mines, citrus groves as well as logging camps.

This five-disc (episodes on "A" and "B" sides) boxed set contains all 30 of the show's first season episodes, including its pilot. A few of these episodes were available years ago on poor quality VHS tapes, but this fantastic release represents the first time that the entire first season of the series has been available to the public in ANY format! As such, most of these episodes have not been seen uncut since the show aired more than 35 years ago.

The pilot, which introduces the powerful and proud Barkley family, depicts the conflict when the illegitimate son, Heath, abruptly arrives at the huge Barkley Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley, near Stockton, Calif., in the midst of a range war and claims his birthright.

After the recent death of his mother, Heath had learned his father's identify. None of the Barkleys had known of his existence, and it is later revealed that Victoria's husband had broken off the brief affair with Heath's mother and that she had never told him that she was pregnant. Victoria immediately accepts Heath and soon treats him as one of her own sons.

In addition to Miss Stanwyck (who performed many of her own stunts despite her age), the cast included Richard Long as eldest son, attorney Jarrod, Peter Breck as son and ranch foreman Nick, Lee Majors as Heath, Linda Evans as daughter Audra, and during its first season, Charles Briles as youngest son Eugene, a character who was dropped without explanation. Napoleon Whiting portrayed the family's servant, Silas, throughout the series.

First season episodes included in this set are: (Disc 1, Side A) Palms of Glory; Forty Rifles; Boots with My Father's Name; Young Marauders; (Disc 1, Side B) Odyssey of Jubal Tanner; Heritage; (Disc 2, Side A) Winner Lose All; My Son, My Son; Earthquake!; The Murdered Party; (Disc 2, Side B) The Way to Kill a Killer; Night of the Wolf; (Disc 3, Side A) The Guilt of Matt Bentell; The Brawlers; Judgment in Heaven; The Invaders; (Disc 3, Side B) By Fires Unseen; A Time to Kill; (Disc 4, Side A) Teacher of Outlaws; Under a Dark Star; Barbary Red; The Death Merchant; (Disc 4, Side B) The Fallen Hawk; Hazard; (Disc 5, Side A) Into the Widow's Web; By Force and Violence; The River Monarch; The Midas Man; and (Disc 5, Side B) Tunnel of Gold; and Last Train to the Fair.

As of this writing, the studio had not announced what, if any, special features would be included in the boxed set.

Just a few of the guest stars in this first season were Andrew Duggan, John Anderson (Richard Dean Anderson's father), Jeanne Cooper (Young and the Restless), Katharine Ross (The Graduate), Charles Bronson, Warren Oates, Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible!), Ron Howard, Anthony Zerbe, Claude Akins, Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), William Shatner (Star Trek), Bruce Dern (Laura Dern's father), Jill St. John, George Kennedy, and James Whitmore.

Here's hoping the remaining seasons of this award-wining series will be released ASAP! We can also only hope that this means other studios that own the rights to other worthy vintage westerns, like The High Chaparral, will get the message that there is an appreciative audience anxiously waiting and begin releasing these episodes on DVD complete season boxed sets.
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130 of 136 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes! My favorite Western on DVD! Move over Bonanza!, March 7, 2006
By 
Sean Pasek (Escondido, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
*Note: This series looks fantastic on DVD and what's better is that they are all unedited. There are scenes here that I've not seen in years!

I've had most of the Big Valley episodes on tape from television. Most of them are obviously edited, due to the commercials. This is my favorite western series. I am so glad they are releasing this!

While I didn't grow up when the Big Valley was originally aired, I still watched it most mornings during the 70s-80s. I tried Bonanza a few times, but found the Big Valley more appealing. Barbara Stanwyck had even said, "Our show is grittier and more realistic than Bonanza. Our stories have to do with hardships and dangers of living in the west." Plus, the Barkley ranch is a cattle ranch...for real cowboys!

Okay, first I have to mention my favorite western character. I know Lee Majors (Heath) and Linda Evans (Audra) received much attention, but to my mind the "perfect" cowboy will always be Nick Barkley (Peter Breck). It took most of Season 1 for them to really get his outfit down. He first wears a small hat and not too-colorful outfit before changing to the large hat, brown shirts and black leather vest and gloves which will mark him as the ever-tempermental tough cowboy of the west.

The series is about a matriarchal family living in Stockton, California. While the famous Ponderosa may boast more land, the Barkley ranch, overall, probably boasted more wealth in all its business ventures from cattle to peach groves to mines and land. The Barkley's were also renowned not only by the California government, but even in Mexico and other states.

There is first son Jarrod, who prefers his law practice to sweating out in the hot sun taking care of the ranch. He is often cool-headed and logical, preferring diplomatic approaches to more violent ones. He's a wizard in the courtroom and he proves that he won't back down on a principal, no matter the cost. Richard Long played this character beautifully. Ever suave, Jarrod could be a hit with the women who liked is handsome, intelligent ways of doing things. He is often at odds with Nick, as Jarrod prefers more diplomatic approaches to solving problems than the fist-a-cuffs of Nick.

Middle son is Nick Barkley. Nick is in charge of the ranch. He has some 100 or so men to look after who help to maintain the ranch from cattle to blacksmithing, to taking care of the trees and horses. He is fiery and tempermental, a complete opposite to his older brother, Jarrod. Nick is passionate and will speak his mind no matter what anyone says or does. Nick also loves a good fight, and he'll take on two or three men in a bar-room brawl, if necessary. Especially sensitive to criticism of himself or his family, he is extremely protective. Victoria quoted him once, "When Nick is pushed he pushes back with everything he has." Peter Breck also incorporated Nick as a fierce and deadly gunman. He was clocked at six-hundredths of a second on the draw by a western magazine that has him down as the fastest in television history.

Youngest son is Heath who is actually a half-brother to the family. He shares the same father, Tom Barkley, but a different mother. Heath, in the pilot, storms the Barkley ranch after his mother dies to take what is his. At first he gets more than he bargains for when Nick confronts him, suspecting Heath to be a spy for the railroad. Heath's character lies between Jarrod and Nick. He will fight when pushed, but he will also be more diplomatic as well. He's often quiet and brooding in his demeanor. Ironically, the person he's closest to his Victoria. He also enjoys being with Nick, and the two of them share some great adventures throughout the series. He also has a special affection for Audra, probably because they are both the youngest, and Audra is the first Barkley he comes across. There are also more episodes involving Heath than any other character. Lee Majors was a new-comer to acting and Barbara Stanwyck actually took the then young actor under her wing. During the course of four/five seasons, you will see him really shape his character. You'll also notice that his southern accent becomes much less distinct than in the first season.

The Ponderosa never had a regular beauty on their show, but the Big Valley did! Linda Evans, while not going to win over anyone with her acting, did so as far as eye-candy is concerned. Linda was even quoted as saying, "Believe me, I know why I'm on the show." As the feisty Audra, she plays a character who loves helping children and the poor, but she can also be fiery and tempermental. She even says, "Nick is the only one who understands me."

Last and certainly not least is Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria. Barbara had already had a more than successful film career. Loving the outdoors and the old west, Stanwyck tried for years to have a western, but the networks never believed anyone wanted to watch a female cowboy. Then, the Big Valley came along. For the first few episodes, she's stuck in beautiful dresses and pretty much inside the mansion. Barbara had quickly approached the producers to set the record straight. "I'm not here to sit on couches and answer the door." She demanded that Victoria have some adventures of her own, and she certainly got her wish. What's more her stories prove very effective as she often uses her mind to get out of a situation. She's also not bad with a gun, so watch out!

You will see so many future film stars and even current film stars of the day grace the Big Valley. Many of the stories deal in business ventures, greedy landlords, gangs of bullies, Heath's battle to find a place as a bastard son, and so forth.

The show also has, to me, one of the best themes in television history. The very music cries of something big and epic as we follow this family on their adventures.

The only reason I give this 4 stars is because it did take them some time to really settle in. Seasons 2 and 3 are fantastic!

Yes, the series will probably show its age since the mid to late sixties when it ran, but to me, this western T.V. show is timeless!
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ATTENTION 20TH CENTURY FOX!, April 24, 2006
By 
E. S. Frasuer (Los Angeles, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
Here's a great SPECIAL FEATURE to include in a future BIG VALLEY set: The 50 minute TV special titled "Portrait: Barbara Stanwyck" filmed on the set of The Big Valley. It's a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of Miss Stanwyck,

Peter Breck, Richard Long and others as they film an episode (and kid around a bit). Exerpts from it can be seen in the TNT Stanwyck biography "Fire and Desire".

It's owned by the sons of the producer Rick Spalla (Cinesconic Records, Los Angeles, 323-469-3146). PLEASE RESCUE IT from their vault before it's lost to posterity!!!!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare yourself, May 23, 2006
By 
S. Kendall "groovy2gogo" (Las Vegas, NV United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
Always loved this classic.However there is a problem with this set.Insert this gem into your DVD player at your own risk.Once you watch one of the episodes you'll find yourself unable to stop.Just like potato chips you can't watch just one.The Barkley family will captivate you with stories rich in emotion and suspense.Not to put the other westerns of the time down but what set this "Horse Opera" from the rest was the relationships between the characters.The tension between Nick and Heath at first which develops into respect for each other later will keep you coming back for more.The strength of Victoria as she fights to keep the Barkley name one to be held in honor and respect.Jarrod who can fight equally well with a gun or a law book.Audra who...well....she looks great (Thats enough,isn't it?).

Bonanza,great...Gunsmoke,great...but The Big Valley is in a class by itself.Buy it, watch it and hold it in reverence.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Western Of The 60's, July 30, 2006
This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
It took a long time, but finally The Big Valley is out on DVD. Season one introduces Lee Majors as "Heath Barkley", who comes on scene and wants to claim his rightful heritage as a Barkley.

This was a superb western drama with great action, scripts, and guest stars. It also had it's comic light hearted moments and stressed the importance of family and family values in the Wild West. Linda Evan's, who plays Audra Barkley, is absolutely stunning, and Barbara Stanwick is perfect as the head of the family.

Everyone thinks of Bonanza as the all time best western, but the Big Valley was truely unique, and no one will be disappointed with the high quality of the DVD's. Don't miss out on this classic western and let's hope Season Two isn't to far behind.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I had forgotten how good this show was.., July 12, 2006
This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
I watched "The Big Valley" during the summer and/or weekends when I was a kid. Usually memories of how great a show was/is can be colored by those experiences. When you catch up with the show as an adult you discover how bad it really was (I'm thinking of a great episode of "Frasier" where he discovers that a "great" actor (delightfully played by Derek Jacobi) Frasier admired as a kid is a horrible ham but doesn't discover it until he agrees to present a play with the actor in it. I've discovered that with shows I loved as a kid that are cheesy fun now but horrible drama.

Luckily "The Big Valley" doesn't fit in that category.

The show is as big, bold and fun as I remembered it from the larger than life opening title music to the marvelous performances from the entire cast. In the premiere episode Heath Barkley (Lee Majors)the bastard son of the scion of the Barkley clan goes to see widow Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck)to reveal that he is the long lost son of her husband. The family which includes the eldest Jarrod a lawyer (the late Richard Long), Nick the tough boss of the ranch (Peter Breck), daughter Audra (Linda Evans) and the youngest Eugene(who soon disappeared--he was drafted and didn't return to the showplayed by Charles Briles)is at first resistant to Heath's claims (especially Nick)buteventually accept him as one of the family.

In fact Heath's first meeting with at least two of the Barkley clan is extremely unpleasant. Borrowing the first meeting from "Robin Hood" of Robin and Little John, Heath and Nick meet on a bridge across a river with passage for just one. Both refuse to back up and both end up quite wet in the process. Later when Heath goes to the grave of his father his half sister Audra hits him with her riding stick assuming that he's there to trample on her father's grave and destroy the fresh flowers she has just left behind. Heath impresses Nick and he hires on at the Barkley ranch before revealing to the family who he is and why he's there. Fireworks fly after this big confrontation scene. It's a great sequence well acted and directed.

The show looks extremely good in this DVD set from Fox and includes all 30 episodes (luckily Fox chose NOT to break this up like they did some other TV shows on DVD). I do wish that Fox had enlisted Lee Majors, Peter Breck and Linda Evans to do a commentary track or two in this set. Also, it would have been nice to see a featurette discussing the creation of the series and its reception by critics (particularly since it was aired while "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke" were still in their prime). "The Big Valley" had a very different vibe from the other westerns. While all were well written I always felt that "The Big Valley" was the more adult of the westerns on TV.

The set features five dual sided discs housed in slimline cases with the first four discs facing each other in the set. I'm hoping that they don't get scratched and I would have been willing to settle for single holders for each disc. Aside from that the complaints are few about this marvelous set and series.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GRAND DAME OF TV DRAMAS, July 6, 2006
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
Yes, yes, roll out the rest of the seasons, and load 'em up with chats with Peter Breck, Linda Evans, the remaining producers, guests at that on-set "Portrait: Barbara Stanwyck" special. The Big Valley is one of the most entertaining old-school drama series ever made. Its Freudian tales and morality plays are as riveting as ever (thanks Lou Rawls, Julie Adams, Marty Allen, Coleen Dewhurst!). And the show comes off more adult, smartly economical and relevant than ever. How many series have featured an illegitimate son as a main character? Or a black cowboy? Or a feisty, sexy near-senior citizen riding horsies and wielding guns--believably? Yes, Jarrod could be a little self-righteous, and Nick's hot temples beg for some Valium, but at its often best Valley boasted terrific writing, absorbing and researched stories, irresistibly dramatic performances, inventive cinematography, rich production values and one of the most sweeping, chest-lifting theme songs in the history of the tube (best heard in the show's latter seasons, when the logo in the opening credits went '60s-mod and bold). Too bad The Carol Burnett Show was kicking its tooshy in the ratings and ABC didn't have the smarts to switch it to a new timeslot like CBS had with the flailing Gunsmoke. Another fun fact: the show boasting two pilots, one with Sissy from Family Affair as Jarrod's young ward. While the writing was pooped in the last few episodes, The Big Valley had an increasingly hot cast and growing aesthetic confidence (check out those groovy Spanish guitar soundtracks) had much more life in it, as its rabid following more than attests. Here's to some of the strongest characters to ever grace the medium!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Count me in as a Fan!!, July 28, 2006
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
I was never a fan of the TV Westerns that seemed to dominate prime time television back in the 1960s when I was growing up. I opted to watch such shows as "The Flying Nun," "That Girl," "Family Affair, "Laugh-In" and "The Avengers," to name a few, instead. And while the grown-ups in the family may have chosen to watch "Gunsmoke," "High Chapparel," and "Bonanza," "The Big Valley" was, unfortunately, overlooked in our household. Throughout the 1970s and into my teens now, I'd come across reruns of "The Big Valley" and although I never watched, I always said this was a show I could probably get into if I ever gave it chance.

Well, that chance finally came thirty years later when I caught a particular episode of "The Big Valley" on th E-Western channel on satellite a few weeks ago. The show was so good that I decided to catch another episode the next day and liked that one just as much. By the third episode I found myself hooked. The Barkleys were far more appealing than Hoss and company, and they certainly didn't have a lovely female character such as Linda Evans who plays daughter Audra. So, I just had to place an order with Amazon and buy this Season One DVD set. My set came a week ago and I've been watching TBV every chance I get.

I'm in my mid 40s and this is truly the first Western TV series I have ever enjoyed. The stories are great, the guest stars are A+, and most episodes leave me feeling really good or teary-eyed. This family really cares about each other and they will risk their lives to save one another.

I rated this four stars, however, because of the design of the DVD set itself. There are 30 episodes on 5 double-sided discs, but none of them are marked except in very tiny lettering on towards the center of the disc. So tiny that you have to squint to see what side is "A" and which side is "B." That's just plain ridiculous; there's no reason to skimp on slapping some ink on the disc in large lettering so each DVD can be identified. Even Victoria Barkley wouldn't stand for this.

Also, I am disappointed in the quality of the prints. While they are not of dollar DVD picture quality, new prints should have been made so there would be more color. In my opinion there just seems to be a lack of true, vivid color throughout the show. Either that or I am getting tired of seeing Nick wearing the same old brown vested outfit or Heath's yellow pants.

I hope they will release a Season Two set of TBV but if they do, they need to give us some extras. No true Barkley would ever pass up the opportunity to talk about the ongoings of the Barkley Ranch. So how 'bout it powers-that-be? And please label the discs properly next time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Valley - Season 1, July 2, 2006
This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
I was very pleased with this product. The picture quality is great. It was neatly packaged with colorful pictures on the dvd jackets. I am now waiting for the other 3 seasons to come out so I can purchase them. I like Big Valley because it is a very wholesome show without bad language or a lot of blood and gore. It is very refreshing to watch these shows again that I had watched years ago.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This has been a Four-Star Production - literally!!!, March 24, 2006
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This review is from: Big Valley - Season 1 (DVD)
I never watched "The Big Valley" when it originally aired, but I was just under 10 years old when it debuted in the fall of 1965, and back then, on Monday nights, when your parents said be in bed by 10 pm, you obeyed. I began watching the show when it began its run in syndication in 1969, airing most weekday afternoons. In my eyes, Linda Evans was simply the most beautiful female on TV back then.

To see any season of "The Big Valley" finally reach DVD is an event to celebrate. The reasons I give this release four stars instead of five is that in my humble opinion, the first season was weighed down a bit by overacting, with the cast getting more comfortable in their characters as the season went on, and the writers toning down the soap-opera angst, especially involving Heath. In the first season, the main cast was given to rambling, almost Shakespearean speechifying, out of place in a western. Fortunately, this defect was mostly gone by the far superior second season, where Heath is noticeably more laconic and the actors and writers are not trying so hard.

Gone by the second season as well is the character of Eugene, the youngest Barkley and least interesting brother. The actor who played him was drafted and had to leave the show, or so the story goes. Either way, it only helped the series hit its stride. Also, Linda Evans was even more beautiful in the second and third seasons.

So if you love a great TV western, this is one of the best ever, and although I would recommend the first season to nearly anyone who loves westerns, the series only got better.
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Big Valley - Season 1
Big Valley - Season 1 by Murray Golden (DVD - 2006)
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