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Zane Grey Theatre Complete Season One
DVD | Box Set
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Wonderful tales of the Old West laden with history and adventure are presented in Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, a half-hour western anthology TV series that debuted on CBS, October 5, 1956 and ran for 5 whole seasons. Dick Powell served as the host for the entire series and also starred as various characters in 15 episodes. The series was originally based on the short stories and novels of western author Zane Grey, but as the series continued, new material was included. Aaron Spelling, who later became a legend in Hollywood, wrote twenty Zane Grey episodes. Zane Grey Theatre was also ground-breaking for producing five episodes which were spun-off into subsequent TV series: (1) Trackdown (from Season one's Badge of Honor) starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, (2) The Rifleman (from Season 2's The Sharpshooter) with Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, (3) Black Saddle (from Season 2's Threat of Violence with Chris Alcaide instead of series star Peter Breck as Clay Culhane), (4) Johnny Ringo (from Season 3's Man Alone) starring Don Durant, and (5) The Westerner (from Season 3's Trouble at Tres Cruces) starring Brian Keith as Dave Blassingame. In addition, Wanted: Dead or Alive, with Steve McQueen playing the bounty hunter Josh Randall, was a CBS spinoff of Trackdown, and Law of the Plainsman, starring Michael Ansara as a Harvard-educated, Native American U.S. Marshal was an NBC spin-off of The Rifleman.
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Lastly, the DVD's transfers and restoration process is very good for film from the fifties! Bring on season two!!
PS> Its the whole season one! Not season 1, vol. #1 followed by vol 2 and 3 as some businessmen have packaged other products trying to squeeze every buck out of the buying public!
There are many stories presented, too many to get into, but the series does an excellent job of capturing the old west and the values of an era gone by. Guests included Powell himself, Cloris Leachman, Ida Lupino, Jack Lemmon, Wendell Corey, Carolyn Jones, David Niven, Ernest Borgnine, Beulah Bondi, and many others.
Thankfully, VCI has gone through pains not only to restore the image quality of the series, but also to find the most complete openers to each episode. Powell introduced each episode with short stories or lessons about the old west, and many were cut during re-runs to omit mention of previous sponsors. In some cases, the originals were unable to be found, but in many, the complete introduction is presented. On top of that, we get to feast on vintage commercials and an excellent interview with Dick's son Norman Powell. The interviewer cuts Norman off a few times and occasionally abruptly changes the subject, but Norman seems a willing and knowledgable interviewee.
If you are a fan of Zane Grey, classic television, or Dick Powell, you will love this set.
- Mike S.