Most helpful positive review
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Good Set if you want the missing episodes (edited), otherwise skip it
on June 4, 2013
My Collectors' Edition set arrived a bit ago from Amazon. I've had a chance to look at some of the discs, their running times, and the other contents of the set, and here's how it breaks down:
At first glance, the book is indeed the size of a coffee table book and won't fit on a bookshelf/media shelf. It has a nice slipcase with a glue-tabbed label on one side advertising all of the contents (it also mentions "Over 92 hours of Original Lone Ranger" and 221 episodes/30 DVDs including the 2 movies). The thing is quite heavy to boot.
The Discs Themselves: Each season's discs are color-coded with new disc artwork, and these have new menus compared to the 75th anniversary set. With that set, you had to wait for a portion of the intro to play before getting to the menu, and you couldn't skip it to go straight to the menu. Here, the menu loads immediately as the intro plays in a portion of the screen. I consider this to be a small, but pleasant, improvement.
Seasons 1 & 2: These have the same episode counts on each disc and same run times on each discs as the 75th anniversary set (varying from 24 minutes and change up to 25 minutes and change). Prints look the same. Aside from the menu change, these discs seem identical to the earlier set.
Season 3: I can't recall from syndication if these episodes still featured the Clayton Moore intro, or if they had a new intro with John Hart, but here on these discs, it's the same Clayton Moore intro as Seasons 1 and 2. Run times vary from 22:40 to 23 minutes and change, with a stray episode here and there running around 24 minutes it seems. These appear to be of similar video and audio quality to the Season 1 & 2 shows, but obviously shorter syndicated prints than on those seasons. The shorter run times allow them to fit more shows on each disc compared to Seasons 1 & 2. These were also clearly authored from videotape transfers. 9 episodes to a disc this time, 6 discs for the season (7 episodes on the last disc).
Season 4: Same as season 3--we get episodes ranging from 22:40 to over 23 minutes and almost 24 in a few instances. Same audio/video quality, videotape transfers. 9 episodes to a disc once again, 6 discs for the season (7 episodes on the last disc).
Season 5: 4 discs, with 10 episodes on the first 3 and 9 on the last disc. Same audio/video quality as the other seasons (except of course they are now in color, and appear to be videotape transfers). Run times are around 22:30 each and a few run close to 23 minutes. I compared these prints to Rhino's Season 5 set, and while those also had the same run times as these (~22:30-23:00), the Rhino episodes look better simply due to much less compression (that set had about 5 episodes to a disc, compared to the 10 on these). The Rhino episodes also had several chapter breaks in each episode, whereas this set has no chapter breaks on any episodes.
With regards to the season 3-5 episodes, I did not detect any time compression or speed-up in the audio or the video, same as with the earlier seasons.
Bonus Disc 1: This appears to be the same bunch of extras as the 75th anniversary set (same Lassie episode-"Peace Patrol", same Lone Ranger animated episodes from 1966, and the same radio broadcast). I believe the menu is even the same, so I think this is the exact same disc with new disc art.
Bonus Disc 2: Features the 2 movies, "The Lone Ranger" (1956, color) and "The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold" (1958, color). Run time on the first movie is 1:26 and the second movie is 1:21. Prints are not remastered in any way, but generally good quality, same as the episodes themselves, perhaps slightly better due to less compression. These also seem to be from videotape transfers.
The Collectibles: The same contents in the sleeve pouch as the 75th anniversary set, EXCEPT no trading cards (at least not in mine). The pages of the coffee table book hold 2 discs to a page (top and bottom right side), and the discs are easy to remove without having to pinch the edge of the page (by comparison, the James Bond 50 set discs were much harder to get out of those sleeves which were also contained in the pages of a book). The artwork on the pages is similar to the artwork on the pages of the 75th set's collectible booklet. HOWEVER, the 75 set's booklet had a TON of text material, which I found very informative, and this set has NONE of that text material contained in the pages of this book. Both feature the same timeline (with the new set having an updated timeline for 2007 and 2013). The lack of all that wonderfully written historical information giving detailed background on the history of the character and the series is SORELY MISSED in this book--I don't understand why it wasn't included here. You do get a Life Magazine-sized episode guide to each season's shows by disc, but no other written content.
Interestingly, my 75th set had a certificate for "Weber's Lone Ranger Safety Club" and a number, 90240. The same certificate and number is included in the pages of this set as well.
Overall, if you already own the 75th anniversary set and the Rhino set, you do not need to purchase this set unless you simply want the missing episodes (I'm sure some enterprising individual will probably be selling the Season 3-5 discs on ebay before too long). The Season 3-5 shows are also heavily edited down, unlike the earlier episodes. Additionally, the wonderfully detailed text from the book is not included, nor are the trading cards, and the prints on the Rhino set are a little nicer looking with chapter breaks, unlike these. HOWEVER--you do get the 2 theatrical features, and I'm not sure if these are/were sold separately on DVD at some point.
I'm a huge Lone Ranger fan who never missed an episode an syndication as a kid, week after week, year after year, so having a complete run of the shows was worth the double-dip for me ($150 on Amazon currently), even though the size of this set is cumbersome. I am disappointed that not as much TLC went into this set as went into the 75th anniversary set, but ultimately, I'm happy to have them and share them with my young 'uns!
Hopefully this info helps some of you make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase. Hi-Yo Silver, awaaay!