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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Spy > Detective > Drama > Comedy > Swords > Arrows > Literature > British TV > Documentar > retro-ACTION! 3: The Cool Age Of TV In High Definition (Adventures Of Robin Hood (1955)/The Baron/Danger Man/H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man (1958)/Return Of The Saint/Shirley’s World/Zoo Gang/Network U.K.

retro-ACTION! 3: The Cool Age Of TV In High Definition (Adventures Of Robin Hood (1955)/The Baron/Danger Man/H.G. Wells' Invisible Man (1958)/Return Of The Saint/Shirley's World/Zoo Gang/Network U.K. Region B Import compilation Blu-ray) + The Universe - The Mega Collection (History Channel/A&E Blu-ray w/Blu-ray 3D)



Picture: B+/B (Blu-ray 3D)/B- Sound: B-/B Extras: D/C+ Episodes: B



PLEASE NOTE: The retro-Action!: Volume Three Blu-ray edition is only available in the U.K. from our friends at Network U.K. and can be ordered from them exclusively at the website address links provided below at the end of the review. This is a Region B Blu-ray and will only play on players capable of handling that kind of software, so this excludes most U.S. players.



Two new TV on Blu-ray collections compiling some fine programming are covered here with an impressive action set and science mini-series any home theater aficionado would enjoy.


First, we have the third volume of a new import compilation series from Network U.K. entitled retro-ACTION! Volume Three has the most episodes of the three sets, all featuring stunning transfers of 35mm hit TV shows from the ITC vault that we have covered many releases of before on DVD. Network U.K. and A&E in the U.S. have already issued stunning sets of The Prisoner - The Complete Series (not reviewed, but strongly recommended, a sample episode is even on Volume Two of retro-ACTION!) and Space: 1999 - Season One as covered here in it's A&E edition:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10626/Space:+1999+%E2%80%93+Season



Now for a look at the Volume Three episodes:


The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Sheriff's Boots - This still-impressive 1955 black & white series with Richard Greene in the title role holds up well enough and this is as solid an example of the half-hour show as you'll get. We previously reviewed the U.S. Mill Creek DVD editions, including a Complete Series set at this link:

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/8938/The+Adventures+Of+Robin+Hood+%E


I never thought I would see the show get such good treatment and to be blunt about it, it looks as good as the new BBC series on Blu-ray, any feature film that made Blu-ray, expect it will look as good as Robin Of Sherwood due from Acorn Media on Blu-ray (Network U.K. already issued their Season One set) and despite some print age can say this can compare well to the full color 1938 Adventures Of Robin Hood Blu-ray from Warner Bros. I am always recommending. I just wish ITC's Count Of Monte Cristo with George Dolenz was on one of these sets.


Shirley's World: The Rally is an episode form the short-lived Shirley MacLean TV series where she plays a photojournalist, which puts her in interesting situations. It only lasted for 17 half-hours before it was axed (she was not happy with how the show was going) and is not a great show, but worth a look and you can see it was meant to be an ambitious show. I barely remember it, but its release on Blu-ray is welcome (there is no DVD set in the U.S. to date, though Network U.K. did the entire series on DVD) and is good viewing. John Gregson and Stuart Damon also star.


The Invisible Man: Secret Experiment is the first episode of the 1958 black and white series (we missed the U.S. Dark Sky/MPI DVD release) and again, WOW does this black and white look good. The one gimmick for the show is that an actual invisible man was running around, so the voice actors were not credited (there would be two for the short run) and it would only last 26 half-hours. Still, it is fun and worth seeing again, especially in a copy this good.

The Baron: Something For A Rainy Day was ITC's first color action show (1966) and a big, expensive production for the time. E1 just issued a basic DVD set in the U.S., Network U.K., did their DVD set a while ago and Umbrella in Australia issued this special edition set of the complete series:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/8544/The+Baron+%E2%80%93+40th+Anniv


A solid show, it only lasted for a season of 30 hour-long shows, as audiences were apparently more loyal to Roger Moore's Saint, but Steve Forrest was decent in the title role and it has the money in it, so a Blu-ray really shows off how serious Lord Lew Grade was in making it a hit.


Return Of The Saint: One Black September. This underrated series has never been issued in the U.S., but Network recently did their DVD set and Umbrella delivered the first Complete Series box set of DVDs for the show's 25th Anniversary:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/6250/Return+Of+The+Saint+%E2%80%93


I am a big fan of the series and cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see it in High Definition. Grade was spending the money for the locations and this was his last big action show before departing ITC. Ian Ogilvy was fun as Simon Templar, not trying to imitate Roger Moore and the several actors who have tried to take over the role since have not come close. This political thriller show pairs Templar with an Israeli agent and was the 4th episode, as well as one of the more serious ones. Still visually colorful with some interesting moments of lighting, this Blu-ray shows how superior the cinematography really was and this should have been a bigger hit series. I hope HD gives it some new respect.


The Zoo Gang: Revenge: Post Dated was a show aimed at a somewhat younger audience with Barry Morse, Brian Keith, John Mills and Lilli Palmer as the title characters, a group of French Resistance veterans solving crimes. Only six hour-long shows were made and even with the whimsy of a theme song by Paul McCartney with this great cast did not last.

Last but not least is the original half hour version of the Patrick McGoohan hit series offering the first episode of Danger Man: View From The Villa. We have covered the show several times over the years (including a few times from A&E) and Network U.K. debuted the new transfers of the series in this import DVD box set:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9460/Danger+Man+%E2%80%93+The+Com


I thought that looked great, but the Blu-ray offers the best black and white presentation of all the monochrome shows here and compares well with the first three seasons Image Entertainment has issued of the original Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone and Network U.K.'s own Space Patrol Blu-ray. Hopefully, Complete Series releases of all these shows cannot be far behind and I hope to catch up with the other retro-ACTION! releases at their website.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 image is centered in the 1.78 X 1 frame in all cases and all look great for their age, as well as all offering demonstration quality shots that will stun those who have never seen TV look this good. The PCM 2.0 Mono is also pretty good throughout the episodes, superior to their DVD Dolby Digital equivalents by being warmer and without compression. Obviously, some audio might not be perfect, but will surprise many and is even sounding better than some tracks on the many CD soundtracks Network exclusively offers of these shows, including this great best of CD set:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9167/The+Music+Of+ITC+(1962+-+1979/Bri


There are sadly no extras and since we first posted this coverage, none of these shows arrived in the U.S. market in new versions, nor did Network U.K. issue complete Blu-ray series of any of them yet. Odd, especially after they made Blu-ray releases of The Persuaders (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and The Professionals CI-5 big events.



In speaking of A&E, The Universe - The Mega Collection has all five seasons of the hit science TV series, plus the Blu-ray 3D title we reviewed at this link with Season Five:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10671/The+Universe+%E2%80%93+7+Won


Our only other coverage had been the Our Solar System compilation reviewed here:


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10282/The+Universe+%E2%80%93+Our+So



This is the first time we have seen the first four seasons (though they all saw separate release) and they are just as rich as the later ones with fun, informative episodes and the newest thoughts on our future and what is really out there beyond the stars. The first four sets have three Blu-rays each, though Season Two has a fourth, so there is a wealth of material to watch and you could watch them out of order, but I would recommend chronological in this case.


The 1080i 2D 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition presentations across the 2D Blu-rays are about even with some flaws and softness, but looking about as good as HD-shot presentations with its level of digital animation can. I still like the 1080p 1.78 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray 3D disc the best and it is a nice way to wrap up the series. All the 2D discs have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 2.0 Stereo with some surround information and the 3D has a DTS-MA 5.1 lossless mix that is slightly better.


Though the previous titles covered had no extras, three of the seasons here do. Season Two adds a Backyard Astronomers featurette, Season Three adds Universe Facts in text and a Photo Gallery and Season Four adds two featurettes: Meteors: Fire In The Sky and Comets: Prophets Of Doom. Nice to finally catch up to the rest of the series.



As noted above, you can order the retro-ACTION! Blu-ray imports (including the first two volumes we did not get to cover) exclusively from Network U.K. at:


http://networkonair.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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