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Burke's Law: Season 1, vol. 1
DVD | Box Set
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BURKES LAW was a hit, prime-time TV series that aired on ABC in 1963 and ran until 1966. Gene Barry starred in the title role as Amos Burke the suave millionaire Chief of Detectives for Los Angeles, who was chauffeured around to solve crimes in his Silver Cloud II Rolls-Royce. The detective series featured unusual plot twists, glamorous settings and a fabulous list of legendary guest stars. So good, BURKES LAW was brought back for a brief run in 1994. Each episode had the title Who Killed followed by the victims name. The opening of the show revealed the murder, but not the murderer (that was left for Captain Burke to discover.) VCI will be releasing season one in two separate collectors sets of 16 episodes each. Digitally remastered from the original 35mm fine grains masters, each collection includes bonus original commercials and previews.
Watching the smart, sexy, sophisticated, and more than a bit naughty Burkes Law is like entering Hefs swinging pad for a little Playboy After Dark action. Gene Barry, in his Golden Globe-winning role, stars as Amos Burke, a millionaire playboy. He is described as "a bon vivant, elegant, an attractive man." He also happens to be a police captain in charge of homicide. "Its what he does best," his partner explains. Well, not quite. Hes better at juggling a bevy of beautiful ladies. "We have a nodding acquaintance," he smooth-talks one. "You say nodding about marriage and thats the way I like it." Inevitably, his trysts are interrupted by word that a murder has been committed and a body found. Then, its off to the crime scene in his chauffeur driven Rolls Royce (piloted by the trusty Henry, portrayed by scene-stealer Leon Lontoc). Fun enough, but what further distinguishes Burkes Law is its dazzling array of stellar suspects; former Hollywood greats, contemporary stars, comedians, indelible character actors, and fresh-faced up-and-comers. Just dig this line-up for the episode, "Who Killed Billy Jo?": Cesar Romero, Phil Harris, Tina "Ginger" Louise, Ida Lupino, Ken Berry as a swinging partygoer, and in a surprising cameo, David Niven as a bumbling juggler. Gary Collins provides some potent youth appeal as Tim, a go-getting new detective and fount of arcane information related to each case. But hes no match for "the old captain," who dispenses his own brand of wisdom, such as, "Never drink martinis with a beautiful suspect," and "Never grow up; youll grow old," punctuating each aphorism with, "Burkes law." A cop show like no other, Burkes Laws pleasures are anything but guilty, from the seductive voice that purrs, "Its Burkes Law" during the opening credits to guessing which star is the culprit. Wally Cox? Carl Reiner? Frankie Avalon? Carolyn Jones was nominated for a Golden Globe for her virtuoso quadruple role as sisters in "Who Killed Sweet Betsy?" and Barry himself has a high time with his dual role as a lookalike murder victim in "Who Killed Snookie Martinelli?" Almost worth the price of this set is the prologue in which Barrys Snookie regales his exhausted all-night party guests with an energetic rendition of "Cest Si Bon." How 60s can you get? As a welcome bonus for classic TV buffs, each disc contains vintage 1963 commercials (Arnold Palmer for L&M cigarettes--"Hes been smoking them for years"). Youre still deciding whether to order this? "Dont think about it, just do it." Thats Burkes law! --Donald Liebenson
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When I was seven (7) years old, I vividly remember watching the noted series. More importantly, I also remember where and how I was commonly positioned (laying on the carpet), in front of our black and white television set, how our living room was arranged, the lasting aroma from dinner still lingering in the air, and even how my hair was styled (in long braids).
During the noted period, I lived in a small town located in the "Bay Area" and everything in my life was pretty routine and predictable. Conversely, I was @ an age where I was beginning to formulate some ideas about what I liked and disliked about my life (do you get the picture??).
In any event, one evening, "Burke's Law" popped on our T.V. set and I suddenly learned about a smooth, sophiscated, rich, and sauve LAPD cop being chauffeured by a limo driver. How exciting!!
Amos Burke's life seemed so glamourous, tantalizing, a litte dangerous, and all I knew is that I wanted more. While investigating and solving crime, he also did alot of kissing, which made me curious about how to kiss a boy?? (I am still questioning whether I am doing it right??).
Specifically, last night, besides all of the expected smooching, I watched the third (3rd) episode of the first (1st) series, which featured among many stars, "Mary Astor" (famous for her role in "The Maltese Falcon" w/Humphrey Bogart).
To summarize my viewing, I watched the noted episode with great wonder as well as disappointment. I watched with wonder because "Astor" still possessed her acting chops. You can always count on "Mary" to add a certain degree of suspense to any role and she delivered in "Burke's Law." She was marvelously entertaining!! Oh, the drama....
However, I was rather disappointed in how she appeared in the series. Although, she was advanced in age (not an issue), I could not get over how she was poorly dressed (very drabbed), which was contrary to my memories of her (usually a well dressed woman). How simply unfortunate to see "Astor" in that manner. Clearly, Astor's appearance had everything to do with casting and playing the specific role (i.e. a rundown and rejected woman).
Nevertheless, if you enjoy watching detective shows especially from the 60's, featuring a host of great stars (some you may actually miss seeing) such as Paul Lynde, John Saxon, Elizabeth Montgomery, Lizbeth Scott, Zsa Zsa Gabor, etc., than "Burke's Law" is worth some of your T.V. viewing time.
Gene Barry as Amos Burke, the millionaire police captain, homicide investigator, and swinging bachelor was as cool as it got. Each week had an all-star cast of suspects, and a LOT of witty banter between Burke and witnesses, suspects, his fellow detectives, his chauffer, and his always eye-popping dates.
The theme music was one of the many excellent jazz numbers which graced TV shows in the 60s. It is punctuated with a throaty-voiced lady purring at it's climax: "It's Buuuurkes Law". As we started up an episode last night, I remarked to my wife that whatever the actress who did that voiceover got paid, it certainly wasn't enough by a LARGE margin! LOL That voice will still send a thrill through a guy 50 years later. :-)
The picture on this DVD presentation is adequate for dated B&W TV material. Be sure to set your equipment to show it at 4:3 rather than widescreen though. These low-res 60s TV shows just don't look very good when you stretch the picture out on a widescreen, high definition set.
Voices are fine, but the music has some distortion, again not uncommon for material with aged sources. I'm a bit sad that the spicy theme music isn't a really clean presentation, but that is a minor complaint. If I only wanted the theme music, I'd have looked elsewhere than buying the entire season (I got both volumes) of TV shows.
The writing in these shows compares very favorably to most of what you get in today's TV series. While some of the plots may be a bit simplistic or forced at times, the dialogue more than makes up for it in clever and amusing bits that keep us smiling through the shows.
Occasionally these older movies and series, when released by smaller 3rd party outfits, are disasters. You can purchase this series confidently, however. It will almost certainly look and sound as good as it did when originally broadcast for viewing on 15 to 19 inch TVs with one relatively cheap mono speaker.
I would have preferred the commercials, which are included as extra, at least be an option to have in the original spots during the shows. That would make the watching the shows even more fun.
Good escapism when there's nothing worth watching, which is most of the time.