The Virginian: Season 1
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Owen Wister's 1902 western novel The Virginian was one of the first great novels of the American West. Set in the semi-mythical town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming in the 1890's, it chronicled the lives and relationsips of the people who came west and settled the wild land. Starring James Drury in the title role, The Virginian was the first 90 minute television western, airing in prime timeon NBC from 1962-1971. The stellar cast included Lee J. Cobb, Doug McClure, Gary Clark and Roberta Shore, and each week brought talented guest stars to The Virginian. Season One's line-up of luminaries reads like a who's who of Hollywood, including George C. Scott, Lee Marvin, Bette Davis, Robert Duvall, Brian Keith, Colleen Dewhurst, Hugh O'Brian, Ricardo Montalban, Eddie Albert, Tammy Grimes, Clu Gulager, Fabian, Vera Miles, Michael Rennie, Ida Lupino and many more! Color New Packaging - 10 DVD Set in one Case.
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My 3-star rating is mostly due to the product issues and not the show. I really like season 1 so far and would give it 5 stars. However, I've had nothing but problems with every order. I had this set 3 times and every time disc 3 had production issues with the episode Impasse (2nd episode on disc 3). Every disc would not play that episode on 3 computer drives (2 Blu-ray and 1 DVD) and 2 stand-alone Blu-ray retail units: one a Sony and the other a high end Oppo. About 30 minutes into the episode, the show would either jump to the end credits or rewind to the beginning.
After the 3rd bad set, I emailed Timeless Media Group (firstname.lastname@example.org) and eventually got a replacement disc 3 that worked. It's obvious to me that they have a bad batch of badly produced DVDs (disc 3 specifically). So if you've had this issue, you may as well contact Timeless directly to get a replacement since it looks like they have a lot of these bad discs out there. Two of the orders were from separate vendors.
The Timeless Media Group info can be found here: http://timelessvideo.com/help.html
The guest stars are great on this show, but the continuing cast is just as impressive. James Drury does an amazing job bringing The Virginian to life. The Virginian to me (and I know this may sound silly) is a little bit like a combination of Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk. He's in command and has a sense of humor and charisma like Kirk, but he's almost coldly logical and ethical in working out his decisions most of the time. He's a thinking person's hero who really doesn't like to draw his gun often, and hates to kill. There are sometimes shoot outs in this show, but mostly it's a drama set in the West, not a shoot em up kind of show. Co-starring is the charming Trampas, wonderfully played by the very handsome Doug McClure. He's full of wit and fun, but is a good guy too--if not as responsible as the V. I think there are a lot of ladies who are fans of these gents--who by the way sometimes have scenes with their shirts off!
I've watched about a dozen episodes so far. Some are better than others, obviously, but so far they set a pretty high standard for a TV show. It seems more like watching a good B-Western movie to me than watching a tv show, esp. when you compare it to some of the other Westerns that were on the air in 1962. The Virginian gets my vote as the best Western of the 1960s. Even if you don't normally go for Westerns much, you might give this one a try. And if you like Westerns you owe it to yourself to watch one of the best. You have to slow down a little to watch this show--it's not about action, shooting, and fast cuts all the time, but more about drama, character development, and a bit of humor.
One of the most famous fans of this show was former president Dwight Eisenhower. When the network messed up one of the episodes one night by showing the reels of film out of order, he called up the network himself to complain!
The picture quality is very good. Now this is a DVD, not a blu-ray (it would look great in that format, I think, but it's never gonna happen) so don't get your expectations too sky high. But on these fine DVDs it probably looks better than it did when it was broadcast at the time.
PS I agree with the newer review that the packaging and disc authoring are less than ideal. It's still a good show, however, and my discs so far have worked fine.
PPS There a nice fan group for discussing all aspect of The Virginian on Yahoo. It still has a pretty big fan base.