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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars M Squad...Thank GOD!
Yes, the quality of the episodes varies from not so good to totally watchable, and the sound is about the same on the scale of things, but I'm thrilled just to be able to take a few hours at a time and treat myself to a batch of M Squad's in any form! I had low expectations when I read about how this set came together, and thus far, after watching 5 discs, my...
Published on December 22, 2008 by J. A. Goodman

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113 of 120 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Picture Quality's Been Murdered Too
It's great that this series is out in a full 117 episode box set, but whoever is responsible for the video transfers obviously didn't know what they were doing. 16mm syndication prints were the source elements for the transfers and if they were professionally done they would look far better than they do here. It appears that someone ran these off on a home system of...
Published on December 1, 2008 by Jim Harwood


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113 of 120 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Picture Quality's Been Murdered Too, December 1, 2008
This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
It's great that this series is out in a full 117 episode box set, but whoever is responsible for the video transfers obviously didn't know what they were doing. 16mm syndication prints were the source elements for the transfers and if they were professionally done they would look far better than they do here. It appears that someone ran these off on a home system of sorts as there is no control over contrast levels at all. Sometimes the episodes have completely blown out contrast and are murky in the extreme, other times there is no contrast at all, with everything appearing a milky gray color. The prints are dirty, with hairs often getting in the gate and the sound quality is like mud on some episodes. This show was originally shot on 35mm film and if a proper transfer had been done, it could have looked glorious. As-is, some episodes look like they came off of bad kinescopes, which isn't the case. Even using 16mm prints should have yielded much better results than this. I certainly hope the original elements survive on this show and hopefully someone will one day give this show a proper presentation. Until then, we're stuck with this mess. Yes, I'm glad to have the DVD collection, but it's obvious that every expense was spared in the making of it.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great show but less than great picture quality, November 28, 2008
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This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
I started watching this series and as far as the stories go the series lives up to its billing. The problem is the picture quality. I've watched the first few episodes and spot checked some of the later ones. While the picture quality is passable its not much better than public domain copies of shows like Dragnet. Do not expect to see anywhere near the picture quality of shows on DVD like "The Untouchables". I realize that some of the episodes were donated by fans because they could not be found but the quality of the other episodes is not much better. Buy this set because of the stories and Lee Marvin. Just wish the picture quality had been better.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars M Squad...Thank GOD!, December 22, 2008
By 
J. A. Goodman (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
Yes, the quality of the episodes varies from not so good to totally watchable, and the sound is about the same on the scale of things, but I'm thrilled just to be able to take a few hours at a time and treat myself to a batch of M Squad's in any form! I had low expectations when I read about how this set came together, and thus far, after watching 5 discs, my expectations have been exceeded. I've not seen an episode I couldn't make sense out of and to be honest, watching these late at night on my cathode ray tube makes me feel like I'm a kid again watching something clandestine and forbidden, mostly due to the quality. It's like being out in the sticks and then after everyone has gone to bed a signal is being beamed into my living room thrusting me into a time warp where the signal comes over the air instead of a cable or satellite feed and if I aim the rabbit ears just right Frank Ballinger comes into focus and solves the heinous crime in question...and the music, and the black and white photography, and the Chicago exteriors and dingy interiors...I love this set and highly recommend it to any fan of Lee Marvin, hard-boiled crime procedurals, and noir milleu.....I'm happy to have it and if you have issues with pristine images versus down and dirty, then maybe you should stick with your Heroes and King Of Queens box sets and leave this one for the real fans! When I get to the end I'm going to start over as this set stays right by the TV Set at least until someone releases the complete Johnny Staccato series and then Marvin can alternate with Cassavetes.....
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M Squad, winning. Print transfer experts, idiots, June 5, 2011
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This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
I'm so sick of people talking about the transfer of old TV shows and how the quality is not there and so on. Are you so spoiled that you can't tolerate a less than average print of something. I love the washed out look, the change of quality. It adds great character to the series. Do you go into a bookstore with old books and complain about the pages not being new? Given the chance to have a perfect print using the technology that you babble about and a washed out or faded look I'll take the latter. The outfits and the style from the fifties is so beautiful. You don't see morons with baggy jeans and tatoos and the crap style that people wear today. Women were feminine and dressed classy,the cars were awesome and the interior shots were simple and noncluttered. There is no swearing are the lingo was interesting. No gruesome scenes or images. Music is top notch. Lee Marvin voice is deep and commanding. If you like 1950's stuff this is top notch.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For What It Is Worth . . . . . . ., December 17, 2008
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This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
This box set has a few good and a few bad.

First the good. Yes, it does include all 117 episodes in chronological order from the first to the last. All three seasons. The bonus CD is great and I wouldn't ask for better.

Brief summary: M-SQUAD was a product of its time. Why people compare it to DRAGNET I have no idea. There is no comparison. The show features jazz music which PETER GUNN and SHOTGUN SLADE and MAN FROM UNCLE did. Jazzy music scores were a fad at the time. Lee Marvin makes the show shine. Without him, it would have been another cop program. The show is extremely violent. Heck, the opener has Marvin coming out of his car, being shot at and he fires back. Before the opening credits roll it's already featuring four gun shots. Critics complained in the early 1960s because of the violence. Heck, watch the one episode that opens with a family being killed off (women and children) when someone throws a live pineapple (grenade) into thier back yard!

Like a lot of 50s TV shows, the guests are occassionally impressive and a surprise. Angie Dickinson, Charles Bronson, Leonard Nimoy, Ed Nelson, DeForest Kelley, H. M. Wynant and even a young Burt Reynolds. Don't look up the cast list in advance - just watch them and be surprised when they appear on screen. Plenty of other supporting role characters would have been just as notable had they later hit the success the above did but you'll certainly see other familiar faces.

There is one episode in the second season that depicted Chicago cops in a bad light and that episode alone prompted the then-current mayor of Chicago to ban filming in the streets of Chicago. That ban would not be lifted until the early 1980s when they filmed THE BLUES BROTHERS. Yep, this show REALLY worth watching.

Now the bad news: these episodes were not from the original studio negatives. As pointed out in other reviews, they are certainly transfers from 16mm prints. Not that this is a bad thing, but instead of getting 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 in picture quality you get 8.5 to 9.5 depending on the print. Some episodes are great, others are a bit washed out or too bright and a few are missing 1 or 2 minutes from the prints.

Still, it comes down to this or nothing. And the price cannot be beat for 117 episodes. I only give it four stars instead of five because of the occassional lack of good prints. Buy it today!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Boiled Cop in 1950s Chicago, December 15, 2008
By 
Robert Huggins (Suburban Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
"M Squad" has the reputation, deservedly so, as being one of the key television crime series of the 1950s. Lee Marvin stars as Detective Lieutenant Frank Ballinger, fighting crime in the mean streets of Chicago. What works for this show is the casting of tough guy Marvin, the location filming, and the half hour time-frame of this series, which forced the series' writers to create tight scripts for the show. "M Squad" has been referred to as one of the prime examples of "TV noir" and it's easy to see why based on the episodes that I've had a chance to watch so far in this 15-DVD set, which includes all 117 episodes from the series' three seasons (1957-60). The series is probably closest in tone to the original 1950s version of "Dragnet," and includes plenty of voice over narration by Marvin, just like Jack Webb's narration in "Dragnet." And one of the early episodes in this DVD release includes no fewer than four actors from Webb's "stock company" of actors who appeared on "Dragnet" multiple times (William Bryant, Herb Ellis, Olan Soule and Peggy Webber). But "M Squad" is a tougher, more hard-boiled series devoid of "Dragnet's" lighter moments and, unlike Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday, Marvin's Lt. Ballinger goes it alone without a partner more often than not. It's easy to see why "M Squad" made Lee Marvin a bankable star . . . . once the crime is committed in the opening sequence, Marvin is in virtually every scene as he pieces the evidence together.

This is a vintage TV-on-DVD set that's a bit tougher to evaluate given the circumstances surrounding its release. The DVD releasing company, the Timeless Media Group, has a licensing arrangement with NBC Universal for this series and several others like "Checkmate" and "Arrest and Trial" where they have DVD release rights only. Universal did not provide Timeless with any prints for this series and Timeless had to secure prints on its own, including reaching out to collectors who own 16 millimeter prints of the series. Originally, this set was slated to have 100 episodes, but collectors of the series contributed the additional 17 episodes necessary for a complete series release. Consequently, the audio/visual presentation for "M Squad" is highly variable. None of the episodes that I've viewed so far are of the razor sharp quality found in vintage TV releases from the major studios and, frankly, these episodes are much closer in audio/visual quality to public domain releases from companies like Alpha Video or Mill Creek Entertainment; those who are familiar with some of the public domain episodes of the 1950s version of "Dragnet" will know what to expect. So here's the dilemma for prospective purchasers of this release. Does one buy this set with very inconsistent audio/visual quality, or does one hold out for something better in the future? The series' rights holder, Universal, seems to be releasing fewer vintage television releases on its own, preferring to license some of its older series to companies like Shout! Factory ("McHale's Navy," "Ironside," "Adam-12"), Arts Alliance America ("Banacek") and Timeless Media (several TV westerns and the aforementioned "Checkmate" and "Arrest and Trial"). So it's unlikely that "M Squad" will ever see a release directly from Universal, given the cost of restoring and remastering episodes. Ultimately, the purchasing decision for "M Squad" is a trade-off in audio/visual quality versus the chance to own all 117 episodes, plus the set's sole bonus item . . . a music CD soundtrack of the show.

At best, the audio/visual quality of this release would earn no more that three stars, but the fact that Timeless has included the entire run of this rare-to-see series, plus a bonus music CD, earns the set an additional star. Videophiles will want to avoid this set, but fans of the series will appreciate the opportunity to own the entire series in a single package.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars *** ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC TELEVISION ***, January 19, 2009
By 
danny (wheaton, maryland United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
i dont regret buying this set! the shows are interesting and nostalgic to me. the content of the stories are not quite on the level of the untouchables but they are way higher than dragnet in my opinion. the people who put this set together did a very good job with the materials they had to work with.
im watching these episodes on a 65" large screen and its very watchable if you adjust your brightness control and sometimes your treble control on your audio.im so glad they put this out because previously the copies available were horrible quality, if you could find them,and they were not sold cheap. if your looking for hi def video quality go out and buy csi or something not so rare. im personaly glad m squad is now available.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great detective show from the 1950's..., September 23, 2008
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This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
I've been waititing along time for this series. Next to "The Naked City" & "Peter Gunn" this is my favorite from that era. All that I could ever find were inferior bootleg copies at memorabilia shows.

I thought it was great how the company putting this out appealed to the general public for episodes they didn't have & the public responded to make the series complete.

I like how it's actually filmed in many places in Chicago, the locale for this outstanding Lee Marvin show, the only tv series he did. It's like a weekly film noir for TV! The music (a bonus CD of M-Squad music is included), plots, atmosphere, acting, etc, are all outstanding. If you like gritty detective shows from the 1950's, don't pass this up. It's really fine watching late at night when there's a storm outside & you have the right atmosphere at home. ENJOY THIS CLASSIC SERIES!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad For the Money, September 20, 2009
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This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
Ok, first the bad: Not only are the best of the episodes (imagewise) not restored, but some of worst are of poor video quality. M Squad was an important police drama of the late 50's - early 60's and you would think that NBC Universal would put some money into restoration efforts. Shows of the same era -- such as Perry Mason and Naked City look excellent by comparison. But the DVDs are better than nothing and for the price---you are getting 117 twenty-five minute episodes plus a fabulous audio CD of the jazz music from the series. Count Basie wrote the show's opening theme (for the second and third seasons) and other jazz greats contributed to the show's music.

Although Lee Marvin had appeared in numerous feature films prior to this series, you can see why this show made him a star. He had that rough and tumble, no-nonsense screen presence as Detective Lt. Frank Ballinger. Twenty-five minutes doesn't give a lot of opportunity for plot development, so there's a quite a bit of fast paced action--not a lot of talk, but a lot of shooting first and asking questions later.

But it is an interesting relic of the past and there is the pleasure of watching early performances for a lot of actors who went on to stardom: Charles Bronson, Mike Connors, Burt Reynolds, Tom Loughlin, Angie Dickenson, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, Ed Nelson, etc. Plus a lot of obscure character actors who are immediately recognizable as staples of TV for the next thirty years.

Although exteriors where shot in Chicago, most of the time the stories were filmed on the back lots in Hollywood, so the production values don't really match up with the Naked City. But all in all, the DVD is money well spent for an enjoyable time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great show! Probably As Good As We'll Ever Get On DVD, March 28, 2009
By 
jrc "jrcasey" (Jonesboro, AR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: M Squad: The Complete Series (DVD)
NBC-Universal actually licensed this show to Timeless Media Group for this DVD release. As someone has already mentioned, the transfers are from high-contrast 16mm prints. Trash, dirt, and lines are everywhere in places. The sound isn't that great, either.

Even given those problems, this is a set worth owning--particularly if you can get it as cheaply as possible. Universal apparently had no plans to release this themselves, so I'm sure this is probably it for a DVD release. It is certainly watchable, and this is a prime example of how the studios "spoil us" with their own releases in terms of cleanup and presentation.
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M Squad: The Complete Series
M Squad: The Complete Series by n/a (DVD - 2008)
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