Customer Reviews: Naked City: The Complete Series
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on November 9, 2013
The series debuted in 1958 when I was 7 years old. I was not allowed to stay up and watch it. It came on Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m.; however, after the Rifleman at 9:00 p.m., it was off bed for this second grader. When it returned to television in 1960, I was 9 years old and allowed to stay up until 10:00 p.m. Unfortunately, Naked City returned as an hour program starting at 10:00 p.m. on a school night, still after my bedtime. So, I only caught an episode here and there when school was out. The word on the playground and from my brother, who was 5 years older and got to watch it on occasion, was that it was realistic, gritty, and adult.

I pre-ordered the complete series here on Amazon and have now had a chance to open it, examine the packaging, check the discs, and play a couple from the first (30 min) and second (1 hr) seasons. Here are my impressions:

DISCS AND PACKAGING: The discs are singled sided, that's a big plus with me right off the bat. Each season is in a plastic case, and all four cases are in a cardboard box. For some reason, cases holding seasons one and four snap shut nicely, but seasons two and three don't snap shut worth a darn, annoying but not a big deal. The cases and discs holders work pretty well to keep the discs protected. I put 7 discs from seasons one and two in my Sony DVD player and all loaded properly and played when selected. The menus on the discs are simple, but got the job done.

VIDEO AND AUDIO QUALITY: As noted in other reviews, season one episodes (30 minutes) lack the quality of later seasons. The video and audio quality of the episodes, both 1/2 hr and 1hr, vary quite a bit. Some are very good (pretty close to excellent) and others are not. They appear not to have been remastered, thus it seems to depend on how well the print of the episode was stored and has held up. None were what I would call poor, but one or two were good minus. But, considering that when the series was originally aired, we had a 13" Hoffman B&W television with a roof antenna, they're probably better than what I would have seen in the early 1960s.

I pre-ordered a set on October 19th at the $99 price. I don't know what happen, but sometime around October 27, I noticed the price on my pre-order had gone down to $25.48, WOW! I immediately ordered another set as a Christmas gift. So, I got two for $25.48 each. At that price, the set, even though not remastered, is a screaming deal. Because of the hit or miss quality of the episodes, had I paid a hundred dollars for the set I would have considered returning it for a refund. I'm not sure I would have actually returned it, but I would have "considered" it. Nonetheless, at $25.48, it's more than worth it.

QUALITY OF THE SHOW ITSELF: From the episodes I viewed, this was a great show . . . and still appears to be so. I will enjoy watching it over the next couple of years (one or two episodes a week) during my retirement. And for me, they'll be FIRST RUN! Cool.

*** ADDED January 27, 2014 ***
I've now viewed half of season one. I'm moving my rating to four and a half stars. This is simply great television. The video is not that bad at all. Besides, if it was too good, I might forget it's 55 years old. Not only is it better than most of the series offered on network televion today, you get a full 25 minutes instead of the 22 currently offered. I'm looking forward to season two where I'll get 50 minutes instead of 44.
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on November 10, 2013
Long awaited, Naked City: The Complete Series is the dream collection for any fan of this well-written and well-acted show, but there are a few minor inconveniences that can be addressed - although none are a major detraction to the overall quality of the series in this DVD collection.

A couple of the episodes of the first season starring James Franciscus and John McIntyre are from grainy prints. Evidently, pristine source material was not available, and rather than deprive us of those episodes it's understood that we must settle for this compromise in visual quality.

However, since Disc Five of Season One has only the final four episodes on it, there was sufficient space on the disc to include episode bumpers, more original commercials (there's just a scant few at the end of the series - certainly not a true overview of the spots used during all four broadcast seasons) and network promos.

A booklet detailing the show's history could have covered it's inspiration from the 1948 Jules Dassen film production to development as a half-hour series mirroring the movie's opening and main characters [Veteran Lt. Muldoon and rookie detective James Halloran] through it's cancellation, then re-birth as an hour-long series with Paul Burke as Detective Adam Flint and Horace McMahon as Lt. Parker.

A background anecdote could have told newcomers to the series of John McIntyre's desire to return to his Western ranch home, and how his character was killed off a little past midway through the first season [in the episode "The Bumper"] and how Lt. Parker was transferred to the 65th Precinct as his replacement... as well as how Parker and Detective Arcaro (Harry Bellaver) are the only two original characters to return in the hour long revamp.

A list of guest stars by episode would have been nice, along with episode synopsis. Image did that for the 10 DVD, 40 episode collection, but not for a 29 DVD collection with a list price of $179.99.

Image Entertainment (and their parent company RLJ Entertainment) seem to have dual purposes in their releases. They reissue classic TV programming to fill fan desire, but put little care into their physical packaging or package print content.

My set arrived in a flash from Amazon, but Disc Five, Season One was off its hub and scratched. I contacted RLJ directly only to find they "no longer have a customer service department" and that the seller needed to get me a replacement. They dumped the responsibility on Amazon - who came through like champions - but have to eat extra shipping charges because RLJ only want to sell DVDs, not offer customer service as do other disc companies (including the much maligned but customer-friendly Mill Creek Entertainment).

In fact Image/RLJ has had other interesting issues in the past. I had to scrap a fairly new DVD player and buy a replacement for it because their Twilight Zone Complete Collection was disc-authored in such a way that the audio tracked perfectly but the image locked, jumped and stuttered on some machines but not others.

Their Perry Mason packages have had either flip page hub or spindle breakage and good luck if you need a replacement case... should you be able to find just a single one for sale, it can cost you a pretty penny.

That said, I repeat that these were minor issues worth addressing, but not enough to dissuade the true fan of "Naked City" from enjoying the complete series. For enjoyment, it's Five Stars all the way. Let's be honest, if we rated DVDs just on the way they were packaged, judging by many hard-core collectors' rants... most all disc manufacturers would get an F-minus.

Don't let the minor points cloud the fact that these are powerful, character-driven stories that are worth watching again and again.

Addendum: Nov. 18, 2013: I must concur with some of the other reviewers in noting that a full remastering, along with bonus material would have made this collection stand out among others. As I'm going through the programs I have found a few with grainy images and one which seems to have an audio clarity issue, but nonetheless I'm still happy to own the entire series - despite the shortcomings of RLJ Entertainment and their commercialized treatment of a television classic.

More thoughts: Dec. 1, 2013: Having now viewed most all of the box set, I have found a few more episodes with grainy video, one with a film edit, one with some damaged (torn) frames and no audio equalization throughout. I'm still a fan of the show, and not unhappy that I own this box set by any means, but RLJ could have done so much more into making this a truly special collectable set.

I must stand corrected thanks to a posted comment by fellow reviewer Delmo Walters Jr. He correctly pointed out that CBS/Paramount released Perry Mason, not RLJ. While they offer no extras either, their audio and video mastering of the Perry Mason series are miles ahead of RLJ's Naked City box set. I got a bit confused because Image had issued some CBS product before (Twilight Zone, for example), and I had wrongly thought they had an exclusive content licensing deal with CBS.
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on November 20, 2013
First of all let me say that Amazon's customer service is Excellent, so this review does not reflect on them in anyway, and I was quite happy with the price I paid. Unfortunately the DVDs are not Excellent so far. I have only just looked at the first season so far and the quality is poor, some episodes are so dark or over contrasty that they are for unwatchable. Definitely not up to the standard that Image Entertainment would have offered. Now RLJ run this company I feel the quality has dropped. Also the cases are a bit poor, one of my cases arrived broken, not through transportation I think but because of poor quality. Hopefully the DVD quality will get better. I do feel that the ones done earlier by Image are superior. I'll be a bit careful next time in choosing RLJ products
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on May 21, 2013
There are 8 million stories...At long last...NAKED CITY is going to be released COMPLETELY on November 5th of this year (2013)...with ALL 39 half hour episodes from 1958 and ALL 99 hour long episodes from 1960 - 1963....CHECK OUT THE FABULOUS ART WORK !!!!

Naked City...New York City...the place where a landmark police TV series (based on the 1949 film The Naked City) was produced by Herbert B. Leonard. The series with so many great guest stars...Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Carroll O'Connor, William Shatner, Burgess Meredith, Robert Duvall, Ed Asner, Suzanne Pleshette, Eddie Albert, Robert Culp, Steven Hill, David Janssen, Rip Torn, Eli Wallach, Peter Falk, Claude Rains, Telly Savalas, Leslie Nielsen, Nehemiah Persoff, Jack Lord, Walter Matthau, Malachi Throne, Dick York, Alfred Ryder, Mitchell Ryan, Jack Klugman, Keenan Wynn, Dennis Hopper, Barry Morse, Brett Somers, Roddy McDowall, Martin Balsam, Frank Sutton, Hume Cronyn, Lee J. Cobb, Logan Ramsey, Jack Warden, Mickey Rooney, Martin Sheen, Peter Fonda, Orson Bean, George C. Scott, Jean Stapleton, David Wayne, Richard Basehart, Jesse White, Bradford Dillman, Frank Gorshin, Dana Elcar, Jon Voight, Michael Strong, Anthony Zerbe, Al Lewis, John Karlen, George Maharis, Vic Morrow, Henry Hull, Michael Conrad, Ross Martin, Richard Jaeckel, Simon Oakland, Luthor Adler, Chris Walken, Geraldine Brooks, Lois Nettleton, Keir Dullea, Myron McCormick, Louis Antonio, Susan Oliver, Phillip Abbott, Robert Blake, Woodrow Parfrey, Russell Collins, Robert Morse, Roger C. Carmel, Jeremy Slate, Sorrell Brooke, Joe De Santis, Nina Foch, Robert Loggia, Murray Hamilton, Johnny Seven, Jay Novello, Kim Hunter, James Shigeta, Abraham Sofaer, Richard Conte, Tuesday Weld, Joanne Linville, Michael Constantine, Edward Andrews, Neville Brand, Lonny Chapman, Paul Richards, Michael Tolan, Carol Rossen, Herschel Bernardi, Eileen Heckart, Dan Duryea, Joseph Campanella, Ed Begley. and...of course...the greatest and weekly guest star...New York City.

The 1958 episodes star John McIntire as Lt. Dan Muldoon and James Franciscus as Detective Jimmy Halloran (shown on extreme bottom left looking at DVD package front side) while the 1960-1963 episodes star Horace McMahon as Lt. Mike Parker, Paul Burke as Detective Adam Flint and Harry Bellaver as Detective Frank Arcaro (shown on extreme bottom middle looking at DVD package front side). Really giddy for this set now that the release date and Art Work are now available.

Not only does the beauty of late 50s early 60s New York City appeal to viewers...not just the many great guest stars appeal to viewers...but the hard hitting stories from the mind of Stirling Silliphant and his many varied talented writers yield many different stories about people in the Naked City from all walks in life. From the rich and famous to the ordinary every day Joe on the men...syndicate owners...those that struggle to make ends meet...tourists...immigrants...cops...politicians...poets...sailors...painters...professional sports figures...engineers...military veterans...professional hit on death name it...find their way into the drama that is...NAKED CITY.

Some of the absolute best hourly episodes not previously released will come with this set such as "The Deadly Guinea Pig", "Killer With A Kiss", "Without Sword and Stick", "Bridge Party" and "A Corpse Ran Down Mulberry Street".

Don't let this set pass you by. Lawrence Dobkin's narration of the hourly shows is superb and sets the proper mood for the hourly drama. Nelson Riddle's "Naked City" theme (for the hourly show) outstanding. The show, theme and narration for Naked City are five stars and then some.
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on July 14, 2014
This is really bad.

Sure, we now get every episode of this intriguing show, but we are forced to trade complete-ness for VISUAL QUALITY:

The previously released episodes by IMAGE were excellently mastered, with clean, crisp image quality. But now, these SAME EPISODES have been re-released as part of this new complete set, and look LOUSY by comparison-- the SAME episodes that IMAGE was able to clean up beautifully.

Who or what is RLJ, and why have they visually trashed these episodes? Isn't the beauty of digital technology the fact that the visual quality doesn't deteriorate during duplication?? So why couldn't RLJ acquire the same restored masters that IMAGE had released, and at least give us THOSE episodes in their re-mastered condition? Now I am forced to either:

a.) keep the older (excellent) IMAGE dvds on my shelf for better visual quality-- ALONG WITH the new complete set or:
b.) ditch the IMAGE versions to save shelf space, and accept CRAPPY visual quality from RLJ's complete set

This is really bad.

The new RLJ shows episodes are DARK, MURKY and often pixilated-- a sure sign of slow duplication speed, a great way to cut corners on quality. The opening interior move theater scene of "Daughter I am in My Father's House", which looked fine on IMAGE, now looks like a 4th-generation hack job. WHY?? RLJ gives us 4 Hour-long episodes on a single DVD, just as IMAGE did.

The urban glories of gritty, '60's NYC now look blurry and fragmented by comparison with IMAGE's versions; the panoramic establishing shots that looked so gorgeous on Image are now pixilated and choppy. Overall, RLJ's visual quality is akin to that of the archival World War II documentaries that can be seen at all hours on the History Channel.

But-- that's the price we pay for completeness, I suppose. Had the beautiful IMAGE remasterings not existed, I'd be satisfied with RLJ's new set, assuming that no better source materials could be found. But that's clearly not the case.

REALLY, REALLY BAD. Shoddy, unacceptable quality-- which we are forced to accept for the sake of preserving this fine series.

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on December 20, 2013
It was ground breaking in its day and after it caught on everybody wanted to guest on the show so it is great fun to find a well known actor who was just starting out acting in one of the 8 million stories of the Naked City. The quality is excellent. It will undoubtedly seem quite dated to the younger crowd but to us older citizens it is nothing short of splendid.
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on November 8, 2013
I bought all the earlier individual IMAGE releases back in 2004-05. It's great to have the entire series in one collection now. Having the 1958-59 shows is priceless. I agree with some other reviewers that the video is quite good, but not pristine (it's much better in the earlier IMAGE releases). The 1960-63 shows are better quality than those from 1958-59. Also, the new collection boasts "original commercials;" however, there are less than a dozen commercials offered, and there's no way of knowing on which show they aired. The earlier multi-DVD sets provided the entire show including the commercial intros ("Naked City is presented by..."), the actual commercials from the broadcast date and the station IDs. So, I plan on keeping my earlier multi-pack purchases.

All said, however, this is superior classic television at a great price: a wonderful look back at a New York City long gone. The guest star roster is unbelievable. Buy it while it's available!
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VINE VOICEon November 6, 2013
Everything wonderful about this series has already been said. But if you are new to it -- you are in for a seriously good ride. It explores 50s NYC like no other television show, besides "Man With a Camera." The city is the main character here, it lives and breathes way beyond the story lines. I'm not of this era but my folks are and when they come over they have pin pointed places that they've been and I'm all sorts of fascinated. Also, I love seeing old cars, gadgets and signs (the last disc of this series, and the only extras are a few commercials from this era).

But enough about how great this show is (I know, I know, I said nothing else needed to be said about it, and I gave an entire paragraph devoted to its awesomeness), let's talk about the quality of the discs. The show looks OK. They haven't been remastered and the first season looks subpar. It is still highly watchable, but if there is a night scene, forget about seeing anything that remotely resembles details or distance. The second through last season discs look great. Like the loser I am, I ran through all the discs to make sure. Nothing majorly obtrusive, but again, the image could be cleaned up and they would really sparkle.

The Naked City is a great TV show. It is up there in my top five, nestled between The Rockford Files and The Twilight Zone. A great series and it is a joy to finally have the complete set.
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on December 1, 2013
Regarding picture quality, the episodes that were previously included on the Image single-disc and "Box Set" releases are presumably the same transfers, and are all excellent quality. That's a full 60 of the hour-long episodes. The remaining hour shows are all lesser quality, transferred from prints at least a generation or two down the line, and in two or three cases quite damaged-looking. The first-season half hour shows are likewise less than perfect, with high contrast on most episodes and a couple of really poor prints.

So it could be better. But equally its shortcomings shouldn't be exaggerated.

The show itself? A genuine classic, that gains enormously from being presented complete and in order - especially the hour series, which develops from a conventional police show into an anthology series like no other before or since: sometimes melodramatic and sentimental, sometimes funny and hip, sometimes plain weird. And all against that beautiful view of New York.
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on February 3, 2014
Finally,the entire series is released on this DVD collection instead of a few chosen episodes over the four-year run.
I could not find anything much wrong with the picture quality. A few grainy episodes but nothing to complain about.
This was an excellent series.Probably, the first of it's kind to be shot on location on the streets of New York instead of in the studio. The first season are the 30 minute episodes before they took it to the hour -long format in season 2. The first season starred John McIntire from "Wagon Train" and "The Virginian". James Franciscus from "Longstreet" the TV series where he played a blind Private Eye, plays the young sidekick and Harry Bellaver plays Detective Arcaro which he would play throughout the entire series.John McIntire and James Franciscus would not continue their roles with McIntire's character being killed off halfway through season one.Maybe the first time that a main character on a series would be killed off.
The second season would see Horace MacMahon as Lt Parker and Paul Burke as Adam Flint joining the show for the rest of it's run. High production values with intriguing story lines and a cast of well known names as well as new ones that became household names like Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall would appear.
There are some kooky episodes where you wonder what the writers were thinking when they wrote them but the majority are brilliant.Even the shows that are not that great will hold your attention with the guest stars.One episode has William Shatner from "Star Trek" playing a burmese sailor.His accent has to be heard to be believed or maybe not.
Below follows some of the episodes that are my personal favourites:

Season Two

Leslie Nielson [The Naked Gun] plays a man hounded by another man who blames him for the death of his family.But did he do it and why?
Artwork of a man who was presumed dead for 20 years is up for auction.But the man is still alive and has just escaped from an asylum.
Robert Duvall, on the last day of his life hides out at his aunt's place with two cellmates taking people hostage.The aunt is played by Sylvia Sidney a movie star from the 1930's last seen in "Damien Omen 2"
A sad story of a man who does not know how to feel until his young wife dies in childbirth and now who refuses to accept her death. Marvellous performance by Luther Adler
Adam Flint and another detective played by Ed Asner [Lou Grant"] travel to L.A. to bring back two killers to stand trial in New York.But things don't go to plan as Asner is shot in the neck anf Flint has to track down the brother who survived the shoot out and is on the run.The brothers are played by Robert Blake ["Baretta'] and Frank Sutton [ Gomer Pyle"]
A vagrant who disappeared 19 years ago is kidnapped and used as an American Colonel who helped with a revolution years earlier as he bears a striking resemblance to the Colonel.
But will he make it out alive now he has returned to the land of the living.Chester Morris who was a star of the 1930's plays the vagrant.
A funny episode to end season two. A story of a once well to do family who have fallen on hard times and their maid who steals for them.
Horace MacMahon gives a splendid performance as the slow burning Lt Parker whose two detectives, Flint and Arcaro, like and feel sorry for the family but who Parker describes as a bunch of Peter Pan's.

Season Three

A hearse carrying a corpse all the way from Italy is hit by a truck.The driver,Al Lewis [Grandpa Munster] from "The Munsters" is killed instantly but the corpse jumps out of the coffin and runs down the street.Played by Sorrell Booke [Boss Hogg] from "The Dukes of Hazzard".
Richard Conte plays a gangster who's 12 year-old son has received a below passing grade in school.The relatives of the boy want him taken away from his father as they consider him a bad influence. What will the gangster do. Will he entice ,bribe or threaten the teacher to change the grade to an A. Will the teacher stand up for his beliefs and conscience or will he succumb to the pressure put upon him.And what of the boy?
Arcaro is wounded in a senseless shooting.While he lies critical in hospital the two Bonnie and Clyde newlyweds who shot him played by Rip Torn and Tuesday Weld ,continue their rampage across the city.
Alfred Tiloff, played by Jack Klugman ["Quincy", "The Odd Couple"], has been a loser all his life.But, now thanks to his wife, Alfy is a success. Successfully kidnapping a little girl and holding her for $25,000 ransom.
But can Alfy allow the little girl to be killed or will he sacrifice himself to save her.
Luther Adler plays a man found murdered in his office.But who killed him and why and where is the murder weapon and a missing piece of a puzzle? Is he laughing at them from beyond the grave?
A sad tale of a patrolman who is on the breadline see's his whole family life unravelling around him and cracks under the pressure's of life taking the whole of the 65th precinct hostage including Lt Parker.
A young boy named L. Childe, the L stands for Love, is put in an orphanage by his father.The mother is deceased. Years later the boy now a man played by Robert Duvall returns, having grown to mistrust the world, he is prone to violence and has committed murder. He breaks into the orphanage to look for his files and to find his father. For what purpose?. To seek vengeance or to seek the love he has gone without for so long.
He is now also falsely charged with child molestation by a jealous landlady who he rebukes but who knows that his only friend is a 12 year old girl who only see's good in him
A light-hearted episode about three elderly Romanian gentleman who hatch a plan to rob a bank. Lt Parker puts his two officers, Flint and Arcaro, on duty to cover the Romanian wedding of the leader of the group.It happens that Romanian wedding celebrations last three days and nights.
Funny scene when Lt Parker goes to see how his men are getting on and finds Flint swigging from a jug of wine and Arcaro dancing with a fat Romanian woman. When spotted Arcaro escapes to the banquet table while Flint tries to explain to Lt Parker that it would have been rude to refuse to drink as it is customary.When Arcaro says that the dancing woman would not let go of him,Lt Parker replies "Of course not.Where else would she find a prize like you"
Jack Warden ["Crazy like a Fox"] plays a murderer on the run.He hides out in an abandoned water tower where he comes across an 11- year old boy who calls himself "The king of Venus". The man needs the boy's help to escape over the rooftops to safety.The lonely boy begins to see the man as some sort of father figure.Will he help the man escape?

Season four

This episode involves Arcaro,[ Harry Bellaver]. When a man of Frank's years falls in love will it end happily or will it end tragically. When a jumper, played by Maureen Stapleton, is saved from committing suicide Arcaro begins to feel something for her.But why was she trying to kill herself?
A story of courage and determination. A small boy,registered as legally blind, gets cut off from his school group on the streets of New York. He now tries to make it home from Manhattan to Brooklyn by himself.But is he able to achieve this all alone.
N.B one of the boys with a patch over a lens on his glasses [Tommy Norden] and another boy seen later on in a gang [Luke Halpin] would two years later act together as brothers in a series of their own as Sandy and Bud Ricks on the TV series "Flipper"
George Segal plays a hot-shot detective who put's his life as well as his partner's in danger, see's his partner killed in the line of duty.Transferred over to the 65th he now put's Lt Parker and his team in danger.Getting himself slain in a shoot-out with Lt Parker wounded,Parker takes responsibility and decides to retire.
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