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Sheriff of Cochise / U.S. Marshall

Sheriff of Cochise (1956-1960) was a half-hour syndicated crime drama starring John Bromfield as tough-as-nails Frank Morgan, the head lawman of a small Arizona county.

It's a violent series. In the show's opening the sheriff comes from behind his car unloading his pistol and no wonder - in this community almost everyone gets out of their cars with guns blazing, firefights in the street and calls for a lynching are not uncommon here. It's like a western in every way except it takes place in 'modern' times, in this case the late-1950s.

The plots are simplistic, rarely more than brazen acts of lawlessness with little thought or planning behind them executed by guys who would fit right in with Tony Soprano's clan. And when women get sassy they get slapped around and told, "There's plenty more where that came from." And there will be!

If a car squeals off the cops immediately start firing and don't stop until they've emptied their weapons. The villains all go down in a hail of bullets but the cops are barely grazed despite being fired on from a few feet away. In one battle, the Sheriff is hiding behind a tiny wicker table while being fired upon practically point blank by three goons. Not a scratch.

The crminals rarely give up and when they try their partners gun them down. One memorable episode finds Charles Bronson on the run as a murderous AWOL soldier who kidnaps a couple, holds up a gas station, attempts to rape a girl, and shoots a cop before being brought down by flying lead.

Sheriff of Cochise was from Desilu, first class in terms of production values with lots of exteriors shot on location. It's disquieting to see what the desert landscape and bucolic city streets looked like 50 years ago even though I suspect it's mostly Southern California locales we're seeing.

For the final 2 seasons, the sheriff was promoted to U.S. Marshall and the show's title was changed to reflect that. Now covering the entire state, more cases took place in city environments but there was no letup on the gun play that would erupt at least twice per episode. That's in addition to the inevitable fistfights and car chases that broke out at a moment's notice in all manner of public places.

It says something about how our society has changed that people could watch the cartoonish, hyper-violent activity and accept it as somewhat normal.

Loads of fun to watch!


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FEATURED TV DVDs:

Route 66 season 1 on DVDRoute 66 -
Season One Volume 1

Martin Milner (Tod Stiles) and George Maharis (Buz Murdock) star in this classic television drama about a couple of young guys who set out to see America in a brand new 1961 Corvette drop top.

What makes this show truly unique is that it was filmed in a different U.S. city each week, giving us a stark glance at what living in America looked like in 1960. It was a vastly different landscape, people lived a lot closer to the dirt back then. (I'll bet that decrepit New Orleans dock in episode three is a multi-million dollar condo development if it wasn't washed away by the levy failure.)

No television show had ever attempted anything on this grand a scale before, the technology necessary to make mobile TV production a practical enterprise had just been made available.

Read the entire review of Route 66 on DVD

Muppet Show  DVDThe Muppet Show - The Complete Second Season

The last of the classic variety shows and one of the finest TV programs of all time, The Muppet Show Season 2 is an unrestrained delight from start to finish. This amazing production lit up the screens when it debuted in 1976 and the second season may be the best of the series' run.

The sing-alongable theme song. The incredible guest stars. The crazy costumes. Pigs in space. The crabby guys in the balcony. The love / hate relationship between Piggy and Kermit. All here to relive or experience for the first time. If you are encountering The Muppet Show for the first time, what a treat you're in for; if you watched the show as a youngster you may find yourself uncontrollably singing along with the bizarrely choreographed Tin Pan Alley tunes.

No question, this is Muppet-mania at its peak, before the many hit movies and Muppets on Ice diluted the product. How wonderful to see the delightful Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy and Miss Piggy trading barbs that could have come right out of radio. (In fact, some of the jokes do harken from Bergen's radio days.)

Read the entire review of The Muppet Show on DVD

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Wild Wild West on DVDThe Wild Wild West - Third Season

The Wild, Wild West is stylish, colorful and just campy enough to stay interesting, undeniably one of the most exciting and offbeat television shows of the 1960s, a true classic that stands the test of time.

The pace of year 3 is a little slower than the previous 2. The production was revamped slightly for year 3 and has a grittier, more realistic feel to it than in earlier seasons without sacrificing too much of the whimsy. For year 3, Secret Service agents Jim West and Artemus Gordon are armed with an new arsenal of nifty but unlikely high tech gadgets to spirit them out of danger. They also sport some snazzy new outfits for romancing the ladies and generally looking cool as they knock heads and ride off triumphantly.

Overall there's too much chatting but Wild, Wild West Season 3 is still a rip-roaring series of bizarre adventures. The duo's diminutive arch enemy Megalito Loveless returns for one terrific episode where he fakes his own death; other far fetched scenarios find West and Gordon saving the nation from an assortment of mad revolutionaries, foiling elaborate bank robberies, confronting roaming gangs, battling voodoo zombies, and stopping the spread of small pox.

This series aired Friday nights on CBS for 4 years and beat everything thrown against it. Considered one of the most violent shows on television at the time (I mean, c'mon, a gal gets slugged in the opening credits), it was outraged parent groups that convinced CBS to reluctantly cancel the program. Compared to what we're accustom to today it's strictly cartoon violence, no blood but plenty of creative torture techniques. In the end, there's never any doubt as to who'll come out on top. (Why does the villain always leave the room before the good guys are dead?)

You'll find these episodes are beautifully restored and remastered, they've never looked or sounded better. There are no audio commentaries as were found in the season 1 set - unfortunate because series star Robert Conrad did a great job.

Which Season to buy if
you bought only one?

Besides being shot in black and white, season 1 was darker in mood than the years that followed. I found season 2 to be the most satisfying mix of adventure and humor but many fans (who will want to own every year as I certainly do) consder year 3 to be tops.

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