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Crime Story - Season One

4.2 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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(Nov 04, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Following the phenomenal success of MIAMI VICE, Executive Producer Michael Mann returned to television with a new kind of gritty crime drama, one that talked tougher and hit harder than anything the small screen had ever seen before. For two explosive seasons, CRIME STORY told the hard-boiled saga of hair-trigger cop Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) and his obsessive pursuit of ruthless gangster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) from the mean streets of early '60s Chicago to the neon nights of mob-run Las Vegas. Today, CRIME STORY is considered a true cult classic as well as one of the most startling series in television history. featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Stephen Lang, Bill Campbell, Ted Levine, Darlanne Fluegel and Joseph Wiseman, and such guest stars as David Caruso, Michael Madsen, Pam Grier, Ving Rhames, Lorraine Bracco, Gary Sinise, Deborah Harry, Vincent Gallo and Julia Roberts.


Conceived as a "22-hour movie for television," the incendiary first season of Crime Story (1986-87, on NBC) marked a controversial milestone in TV history, and its lasting influence can be seen in such better-known series and films as The Sopranos, Homicide: Life on the Street, Donnie Brasco, Casino and elsewhere. The season-long story arc followed Chicago Police detective Lt. Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) and his tireless pursuit of fast-rising mob boss Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) from Chicago to Las Vegas, circa 1963-64. Heading the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) with his hand-picked team of detectives (including fresh-faced Bill Campbell, long before Once and Again) and passionate public defender David Abrams (Stephen Lang), Torello moves from city to federal jurisdiction as Crime Story unfolds its post-Kennedy scenario with stark, often brutal authenticity, pausing for stand-alone episodes that propelled the Torello/Luca rivalry while showcasing such up-and-coming guest stars as David Caruso (in the electrifying pilot), Gary Sinise (who also directed two episodes), Ving Rhames, Lorraine Bracco, and 19-year-old Julia Roberts, who shows early promise as a sexually abused teenager in "The Survivor," a typical example of the show's emphasis on character depth and gritty, hard-hitting plotlines.

Riding high on the success of Miami Vice, executive producer Michael Mann (who helmed the penultimate episode "Top of the World") had several aces up his sleeve: Cocreator Chuck Adamson had been a legendary Chicago detective; Farina was an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Police before he switched to acting; and Luca's dim-witted Mafia sidekick, Pauli Taglia, was played by John Santucci, who had been one of Chicago's most notorious criminals in the 1960s. All of this--along with James A. Contner's color-saturated, mostly nocturnal cinematography--guaranteed that Crime Story would be unique for its time, earning controversy (over its rugged depiction of violent cops) and just enough ratings against ABC's Moonlighting to win a second-season reprieve. Unfortunately, Anchor Bay's budget-conscious DVDs represent a missed opportunity: Crammed onto four discs with five episodes each (with the pilot on a separate disc), the transfers barely rival VHS quality, and costly music rights resulted in song replacements that loyal viewers will regret. Lack of chapter indexing and a perfunctory background essay do little justice to a landmark TV series that deserved a full-featured release on DVD. Those caveats aside, Crime Story can be appreciated as an ambitious American epic that still packs a wallop. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Contains all 20 episodes and the pilot

Product Details

  • Actors: Dennis Farina, Tony Denison, Bill Smitrovich, Steve Ryan, Billy Campbell
  • Directors: Aaron Lipstadt, Abel Ferrara, Alan Myerson, Bobby Roth, Francis Delia
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 1033 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CABIQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,754 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Crime Story - Season One" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I love Crime Story. I watched every episode during its original release (a large statement, since I almost never follow a TV series) and five or six years ago, I bought on VHS the complete series. The fact that I have now purchased this DVD set says a great deal about my respect for the plot, the actors, the director, and just about everyone involved.
But the transfer to DVD is shockingly bad. Apart from the image quality, which is a standard TV grain, they have replaced much of the original music. This is most dramatic in episode four, "The War," which used to have John Coltrane and Duke Ellington playing their classic, meditative version of "In a Sentimental Mood" and now features a studio saxophonist playing music that, at best, would be appropriate for a meaningless hot tub encounter.
The four-page booklet inside does not track the episodes--the only way to know what's included on each disk is to insert the DVD and check the menu--nor do the episodes include any chapter breaks. Given what's possible now, this packaging is genuinely third rate.
This set is not as disappointing as the cancellation of the show, but it's close.
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Format: DVD
Crime Story is one of the finest crime dramas ever aired on network television bar none. This is the L.A. Confidential of television and then some! The cinematography, casting, acting, writing, painstaking attention to detail in rendering period authenticity, music, style...there's never been anything like it before or since. It holds up very well to repeat viewings even for those who don't like watching anything a second time. Until now, the only examples produced, have been various videotape releases, the domestic LD releases of both pilot and first 2 episodes, and the Japanese release of the entire first season (complete with subtitles). They all consist of dated, soft, low contrast, hazy transfers. None of them compare to this new Season One DVD Box Set in picture quality. The Pilot episode in this new set is sharper and smoother looking than previous releases (even the DVD), has excellent contrast with nice inky blacks, deep rich colors and a warmer look to it. The rest of the episodes have the same high contrast, deep blacks and saturated colors with adequate shadow detail. The dark and gritty look is by design, fitting to the film noir subject and not distracting in any way; and being DVD, clean clear freeze frames are rendered. This transfer is current and up to the minute.
As for audio, some have had their panties in a wad over replacement music. Expecting the worst, I did A/B comparisons between this set and older tapes of the series. Episodes compared were The Kingdom of Money (one of my favorites) and The War. Sequence for sequence from opening scene to closing credits both versions of The Kingdom of Money were virtually identical-not a single note of music was different (I suspect this is indicative of most of the episodes as well).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
What can I say about Crime Story as a show that hasn't already been said here? It was underrated in its day and still is. So I'll keep this review focused on the DVD box set itself.
As an owner of the VHS box set that came out in the early '90s, I was really looking forward to a DVD version mainly for the better picture and sound quality. I was not let down and this alone makes the set worth the price. The picture is sharp and clean and the sound, although mono (remember, this is from the pre stereo TV days), is clear and free of chops and drop-outs. Anchor Bay did a great job transferring the series to this medium.
About the only thing I can fault is the lack of extras. There are no bonus features at all. No interviews. No original trailers/teasers. No press photos. Nothing. Although the liner notes for the set are extensive with some really nice background info, it doesn't make up for the utter lack of extras that could have been included.
And one plea to Anchor Bay. Back when the show was first on TV, New World produced a full video for the theme music. I saw it a few times on late night TV and it was a bonus on the VHS version of a New World movie called The Demons. When the season two box set is released, how about putting that on there?
Regardless of the lack of extra features, this is a wonderful collection of a wonderful series. Whether you're a Crime Story fan or just looking for something to watch when the network shows are in reruns, do yourself a favor and grab this set. You won't be disappointed.
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By A Customer on November 17, 2003
Format: DVD
I was so looking forward to this release. I love Crime Story, and have not seen it in many years. But this DVD is terrible. The transfer is muddy and grainy, the packaging is terrible, NO CHAPTER BREAKS!! and the original music has been replaced with generic music!. I was going to purchase the second season, but I am going to pass. Anchor Bay should be ashamed.
I rate the series 5+ stars, the DVD rates a zero.
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Format: DVD
I had been hoping that the DVD release of Crime Story would finally bring fans of the show a "definitive" release of this classic series. However, after borrowing the set from a friend (I did not shell out the $60, thank goodness) I was VERY disappointed in both the poor quality of the transfers (some of my original VHS copies look better!) and the replacement of the original music on many of the shows. I do not know if this was merely an error (using the wrong masters) or cheapness (going by the rest of the packaging and the mastering, it wouldn't surprise me) but this set is far from "definitive".
I'll hold on to my old VHS copies (as beat to hell as they are) and continue to wait for SOMEONE to treat these shows with the care they deserve. Meanwhile, anyone that is new to the show, you could pick this set up - the acting will stand up on its' own - but the overall quality and soundtrack mastering mistakes will prevent one from getting the exhilirating viewing experience of the original shows as they aired.
Also - as a long-time fan of the show since it originally aired - don't even bother with season two. In fact, cut your losses and stop watching after the next-to-last episode ("Top Of The World"). Everything after that is a mere cartoon charictarization and pale shadow of what came before it. The second season lost most of the orignal writers (and is an outright abomination), but that does not excuse the poorly-written "season finale" of season one (which plays out like it was written on a matchbook cover during lunch), especially following the excellent episode that preceeded it.
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