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Route 66: Season 1, Vol. 2

3.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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(Feb 05, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Now the second half of Route 66's first season is available for the first time and has been digitally transferred from the original masters. The television series, which aired 1960-64, is one of the most brilliant dramas to emerge from the '60s, famous for its catchy Nelson Riddle theme song, intriguing characters, top-drawer writing and stellar guest appearances. The original "road trip" drama, this classic television series was one of the most highly rated of the era, establishing the Corvette as an American icon.

Infinity Entertainment Group has been very excited to bring the iconic television program Route 66 to DVD for the first time. We have taken great care in restoring and packaging this beloved classic for collectors. However, it recently came to our attention that there is some confusion in the marketplace about some of the technical aspects of this restoration process.

A key decision in the digital restoration of the series was whether to retain the original full screen 4 x 3 aspect ratio (old tube televisions) or to update to a widescreen format with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio (new digital TVs). Since the restoration process utilized the original 35mm film assets, the goal was to do a high definition transfer, updating the aspect ratio for broadcast on new HD TVs. High Definition transfer which requires an update to the 16x9 aspect ratio for new HD TV Broadcast and future Digital Media delivery, i.e. Blu Ray DVD and HD Internet.

In this new widescreen format, without vertical cropping the program would appear distorted. During the film transfer, the post production house used a process called tilt and scan which allows a Telecine technician to examine each scene individually and center the frame on the action. Unfortunately, in extreme close-ups, the cropping may occasionally intrude on the original framing, sometimes cutting off a portion of the top of the head.

While we tried to remain as true as possible to the original programming, our overall goal is to not only make the program available once again on television, but to optimize it for the next generation of broadcast and television standards.

Infinity Entertainment Group is committed to bringing quality programming and relies on the support of our valued customers to do so.

The irresistible call of Route 66, the classic TV anthology series and the venerable Mother Road herself, is best summed up in a bit of dialogue in the episode, "Welcome to Amity," one of the 15 episodes that concluded Season One contained on this four-disc set. Yet another stranger in distress urges self-proclaimed "searchers and look-arounders" Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdoch (George Maharis) to help her. "Where are we going?" Tod asks, as she bids them to follow her. "Let’s find out," Buzz replies. Viewers happily followed Tod and Buz for four seasons on their cross-country odyssey in search of roots. Each week brought a new location, a new job, and new personal dramas in which they found themselves involved. In the gripping "An Absence of Tears," they unwittingly help a vengeful blind woman buy the exact brand of gun and bullets that thugs used to kill her husband during a botched gas station robbery. In "Most Vanquished, Most Victorious," they have 24 hours to find the daughter of Tod’s dying aunt. In "The Newborn," they help an expectant Pueblo woman escape the clutches of the wealthy and powerful rancher whose late son impregnated her. No wonder that in the more lighthearted "Eleven the Hard Way," Tod suggests to Buz that they take "a 48 hour furlough from other people’s problems" (no such luck; they no sooner find themselves in Reno helping two men win enough at the crap tables to save their dying town). Compelling stories, a vivid sense of place, and literate scripts were signposts of Route 66. While Tod and Buz "give lumps to some well-deserving people" (a climactic encounter with a street gang in "Most Vanquished, Most Victorious" is a great rumble), the show (and the cast) truly shine in the more emotional and dramatic moments. In "Like a Motherless Child," orphaned Buz bonds with a lonely woman who fronts as a shill. While Tod is the studied one, it is Buz who gets the bulk of the scripts’ great, glorious riffs, as in "The Opponent," when he and Tod visit a once-legendary figure from Buz’s Hell Kitchen neighborhood ("Would you take a detour to see Caesar or Napoleon? Those are the big boys you met in books. I met my own kings, face to face, in the back alleys"). Along for the ride are some great character actors, many in their earliest screen appearances, including Robert Duvall as "a trigger-happy kook" in "The Newborn," Darrin McGavin as a boxer on his last legs in "The Opponent," featuring Ed Asner (with hair!) as his trainer and Al Lewis (Grandpa from The Munsters) as a gym owner, and Walter Matthau at his schlubby best as a disreputable gambler in "Eleven the Hard Way." As in Volume 1 there are no commentaries or interviews, but vintage TV and classic car buffs will cruise through nearly 20 minutes of commercials for Chevrolet and Bayer Asprin. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: George Maharis
  • Directors: Arthur Hiller, George Sherman
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, NTSC, Closed-captioned
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Infinity Entertainment Group
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
  • Run Time: 780 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010SB064
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,062 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Route 66: Season 1, Vol. 2" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Hands down, "Route 66" was one of the greatest dramas produced in television's golden age. The acting, writing, and production values for this "show-on-the-go" were trend setting for its time and still resonate strongly with this viewer . . . . . surely a five star series if ever there was one. And that's why it pains me to give this second release from Roxbury Entertainment and the Infinity Entertainment Group only three stars.

The good news is that the visual quality for the episodes contained in this second volume represents an improvement over those in volume 1, at least based upon my viewing of the first two episodes (a good two-parter titled "Fly Away Home" with the great Michael Rennie) and spot checking other episodes. The visuals aren't in the same eye-popping category as some other shows from the era that have been released on DVD like the "The Untouchables" or "The Fugitive," but they still look pretty good to my eyes and represent an improvement over the vast majority of the episodes contained in volume 1. The extra features contained in volume 2 follow the same format as the first volume, cast credits and episode clips (to help you identify the actors) and early 1960s era commercials on disc 4.

Now for the bad news, Roxbury and/or Infinity have matted the top and bottom of the episodes to give it a FAKE WIDESCREEN look. So in certain scenes, the tops of the actors' heads are missing. This might not be so readily apparent to viewers who have never seen the show, but after releasing the first 15 episodes in volume 1 in the correct, full-screen aspect ratio, it becomes glaringly apparent. Even the bonus commercials on disc 4 are matted!
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6 Comments 68 of 70 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Route 66, like all TV shows of its era, was filmed in a squarish 1.33:1 aspect ratio. But for this "Volume 2" DVD set, the manufacturer has shamefully CROPPED the top and bottom of the image to about a 1.77:1 frame. Essentially, you are missing part of the picture and it ruins the original photography.

Sure, it fills a "widescreen" TV, but at what expense? Tops of heads are frequently "cut off", and the cropping further deletes some of that wonderful Americana from 1960 that provided the mesmerizing backdrop of this classic series. The packaging does not warn you of this image tampering, so buyer beware! Maybe one day we'll see a re-release of the FULL image that was filmed and shown back in the '60s.
Comment 32 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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To Infinity Entertainment Group:
What were you thinking? I bought volume 1 and lived with the subpar prints, now this 16x9 crap -- I mean crop? How does cropping to 16x9 help try to draw a bigger audience beyond the die-hards when the series is black and white to begin with? I was a guaranteed sale of this and future volumes, but you lost me with this bizarre move.

Leave it to viewers whether they want to watch the show in a 16x9 picture.
All decent HD sets have a zoom function to fill the screen for 4x3 pictures (avoiding stretch-fill), plus a way to adjust up and down to find the visual center (above true center.) Sometimes I watch classic TV like Star Trek this way and it's fun. But that's my choice. I do not want that imposed on me, as Infinity, you are doing.
Comment 37 of 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I would gladly give an intelligently produced release of Route 66 five stars. It ranks with the best American TV has to offer. Unfortunately, Kirk Hallam/Roxbury have chosen to disappoint AGAIN. The first 66 set featured mostly poor quality prints, as well as an edited episode. Mr. Hallam has subsequently explained that this was due to pre-Christmas release deadlines. OK, I'll buy that tale, but artificially altering the aspect ratio? Why??? How could a person who is involved in the creative process (Hallam is a film producer) approve such a bastardization of other people's artistic efforts? How would Hallam feel about someone doing that to one of HIS projects? Disgusting. Perhaps the next half- season can be colorized. Obviously Hallam has little/no appreciation for this series or it's historical context (witness the amateurish "Drive-In Theater" menu screens). I just wish Image had produced these sets. Buyer beware.
1 Comment 31 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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For all folks who care about the importance of maintaining the original aspect ratios of films and television programs I urge you to avoid this set. IMO, the cropping of the original 4:3 aspect ratio destroys this visual aesthetics in spite of using better source prints for picture transfers over the first boxed set.

Others may differ, but ignoring or overlooking the problem doesn't mean that there isn't one. The visual damage from cropping the 4:3 image to fit a 16:9 screen without window-boxing combined with the packaging deception is at the very least tragic, and arguably criminal, since consumers are purchasing butchered product that distorts the artist's original intent; the franchise holder should be ashamed. Note: The excuses I've read in respect to this botched effort don't inspire confidence that Infinity Entertainment Group will take responsibility and ameliorate the situation.

These should be returned to the vendor for a refund in the hope that the rights holder(s) will get the message and either correct the existing sets by a recall and replacement offer or at least release future seasons in the proper aspect ratio. Another reason to consider returning the second set as defective is the fact that consumer outrage over the practice of "tilt & scan" may be the only means of insuring that other series avoid a similar fate.

The one star rating is given because it's important to clearly delineate an advocacy position on these issues. Those who care about the BIG picture should say My Way or the Highway to Route 66.
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Topic From this Discussion
The Route 66 widescreen contoversy
Robert, this reminds me of GONE WITH THE WIND prints which were released to theatres in the late sixties. They also cut off the tops of the actor's heads. As it is, I don't have a wide-screen tv and I'm not likely to get one anytime soon. So I'm glad the first volume and the multi-season... Read More
Feb 18, 2008 by SALOON SINGER |  See all 7 posts
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