Route 66 - Season 1, Vol. 1
DVD | Box Set
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Now available on DVD for the first time, Route 66 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.
Vintage TV buffs will get their kicks (you saw that one coming) from Route 66, the 1960 nomadic series that brought Beat-inspired wanderlust to primetime. Three years after the publication of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Yale-educated Tod (Martin Milner) and his scrappy Hell's Kitchen-bred friend, Buzz (George Maharis), set off in search of America in Tod's awesome Corvette convertible, his sole possession following his once-wealthy father's death. Buz ("the kid with the punch") handles most of the scrapes the buddies get into as they take odd jobs and invariably become embroiled in the personal dramas of the people they meet, as in the pilot, when they arrive, unwanted, in a closed-off small town hiding a shameful secret.
Route 66 is perhaps best-known today for Nelson Riddle's classic cruising theme song (not the Nat "King" Cole tune), but nearly 50 years later, the series still runs like a top, with a vivid sense of place (the cross-country episodes were filmed on location) and dialogue that goes from cool banter ("Buz." one lunchtime pickup inquires, "is that your name or a high frequency?") to philosophical musings. Sterling Silliphant, who would go on to win an Academy Award for In the Heat of the Night, wrote the bulk of the literate, compelling scripts. The DVD box misleadingly pictures as guest stars Walter Matthau, Robert Redford, and Martin Sheen, who did appear during the series' run, just not in these first 15 episodes. But we do get Lee Marvin as a nasty rancher in "Sheba," Leslie Nielsen as a scientist who takes refuge in Carlsbad Caverns in anticipation of a bomb attack in "A Fury Slinging Flame," and E.G. Marshall as a misguided father in "Three Sides." There is unfortunately no star commentary, but this four-disc set gets some extra mileage from original commercials for Bayer Aspirin and Phillips Milk of Magnesia, and one touting the '61 Chevy Biscayne featuring William "Bub" Frawley and the kids from My Three Sons, and a Chevrolet Corevette photo gallery that should get classic car buffs' engines running. --Donald LiebensonSee all Editorial Reviews
- The first 15 episodes on four discs
- Classic original TV commercials
- Filmographies of stars and special guests
- Classic Corvette photo gallery and specs
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Top customer reviews
What can I say to convince you it's a `60s B&W series worth watching? Well, the vette is one thing, but it never overshadows the stories. Despite all the adventure, travelogue, drama and poetry this duo gets into, the real subject of the series was the human condition. Tod and Buz acted as observers and mentors to broken-down prizefighters and rodeo clowns, sadists and iron-willed matrons, surfers and heiresses, runaway kids and people from all walks of life, forced by circumstances to confront their demons.
While we may only get Route 66 Season 1 in Volumes 1 and 2 as some reviewers have indicated, this is what we have to look forward to in the first year (October 1960 to June 1961):
Episode 1 -- "Black November" -- Car trouble strands Tod and Buz in a small town with a terrible secret.
Episode 2 -- "A Lance of Straw" -- Tod and Buz sign on to crew a shrimp boat, despite the objections of the female captain's boyfriend.
Episode 3 -- "The Swan Bed" -- Tod and Buz meet a girl in New Orleans during a parrot fever epidemic.
Episode 4 -- "The Man on the Monkey Board" -- Tod and Buz meet a Nazi-hunter and his quarry on an offshore oil rig.
Episode 5 -- "The Strengthening Angels" -- Tod and Buz try to help a migrant worker who is in trouble with the local sheriff.
Episode 6 -- "Ten Drops of Water" -- Devastated by drought, three orphaned ranchers need Tod, Buz and the Corvette.
Episode 7 -- "Three Sides" (aka Three Sides of a Coin) -- Tod and Buz get involved in family strife while working for an Oregon hop farmer.
Episode 8 -- "Legacy for Lucia" -- While working at a logging camp, Tod and Buz meet a girl from Italy, who insists she has inherited the state of Oregon from a local man.
Episode 9 -- "Layout at Glen Canyon" -- Tod and Buz act as bodyguards to fashion models at the Glen Canyon Dam construction site.
Episode 10 -- "The Beryllium Eater" -- Tod and Buz help an old prospector stake his claim after he finds beryllium ore.
Episode 11 -- "A Fury Slinging Flame" -- Tod and Buz meet a scientist (Leslie Nielsen) who intends to hide in Carlsbad Caverns with friends until an expected nuclear holocaust is over.
Episode 12 -- "Sheba" -- Tod and Buz work as cowboys for Woody Biggs (Lee Marvin), who isn't done with the woman he sent to prison.
Episode 13 -- "The Quick and the Dead" -- Tod becomes a race car driver as he and Buz get involved in a family controversy over whether an aging driver should retire.
Episode 14 -- "Play It Glissando" --Tod and Buz try to protect a woman from her jazz musician husband.
Episode 15 -- "The Clover Throne" -- Tod and Buz work for a date farmer (Jack Warden) who fights the highway department while he "waits out" his sexy ward, hoping she will marry him.
Episode 16 --"Fly Away Home (Part 1)" -- Tod becomes a crop duster for a struggling company.
Episode 17 -- "Fly Away Home (Part 2)" -- Tod and Buz get involved in a quandary over an extra-dangerous crop dusting contract.
Episode 18 -- "Sleep on Four Pillows" -- Tod and Buz meet a teenage girl who claims to be on the run from gangsters - but her family thinks she has been kidnapped.
Episode 19 -- "An Absence of Tears" -- Tod and Buz try to protect a blind widow from her husband's murderers.
Episode 20 -- "Like a Motherless Child" -- Buz and Tod split up over whether to return a runaway boy to an orphanage.
Episode 21 -- "Effigy in Snow" -- Tod and Buz try to stop a murderer who has left his latest victim in the snow at Squaw Valley.
Episode 22 -- "Eleven, the Hard Way" -- Tod and Buz meet a gambler (Walter Matthau), whom the people of Broken Knee have asked to save their town.
Episode 23 -- "Most Vanquished, Most Victorious" -- At the request of his aunt, Tod traces the life of his saintly cousin through the Los Angeles slums.
Episode 24 -- "Don't Count Stars" -- Tod and Buz get involved in a custody case over a 9-year-old heiress and her drunken, gambling "uncle."
Episode 25 -- "The Newborn" -- Tod and Buz protect a Native American girl and her newborn from their employer, who rules the land like a feudal baron.
Episode 26 -- "A Skill for Hunting" -- Tod and Buz are framed as poachers after Tod interferes with a real poacher's hunting.
Episode 27 -- "Trap at Cordova" -- Tod and Buz are coerced into teaching school children in rural New Mexico.
Episode 28 -- "The Opponent" -- Buz visits and inspires his boyhood hero, a former boxing great (Darren McGavin) who is now on the skids.
Episode 29 -- "Welcome to Amity" -- Tod and Buz meet a woman (Susan Oliver), who wants to bury her mother in a nearby cemetery. The people of Amity want to stop her.
Episode 30 - "Incident on a Bridge" --Tod and Buz board in a home with an abused, mute girl and her two jealous - and violent - suitors.
So, c'mon. Hitch a ride and relive these nostalgic vignettes of America and Americans. It's a great trip!
POST-SCRIPT (31 Oct. 2007):
I concur with subsequent reviewers, regarding the audio-video transfer quality to this DVD set. It could be better. Although the video is too dark, the brightness and contrast can be adjusted from your system. Audio varies from episode to episode, and I would have thought with today's technology this could have been improved. It is a pity because the packaging of this boxed set is well done. The menu of episodes, commercials and bio-film background are nice touches to a great, great series. Does this mean I regret buying this DVD set? Not one iota, considering its the best thing out there at the moment.
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