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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Comedy > Adventure > Family > Children > Drama > Poverty > Bullying > Daniel Boone: The Complete Series (1964 - 1970/Fox TV Archive DVD Set)/The Equation Of Life (2013/Shelter Island DVD)/Hellion (2014/MPI/IFC DVD)

Daniel Boone: The Complete Series (1964 - 1970/Fox TV Archive DVD Set)/The Equation Of Life (2013/Shelter Island DVD)/Hellion (2014/MPI/IFC DVD)

Picture: C+/C/C Sound: C+ Extras: D/C/C Main Programs: B-/C+/C

Here are the latest children's releases, one a hit TV show, one a drama about children in social trouble and another that has some ideas about that trouble.

Daniel Boone: The Complete Series (1964 - 1970) was the culmination of many Western genre TV series aimed at a child audience. As soon as TV was launched, you had 15-minutes-long adventures as early as the late 1940s, then came Davy Crockett, Annie Oakley, Roy Rogers and even The Lone Ranger. Many of those shows were syndicated or on daytime TV, but Westerns for children were starting to loose ground to cartoons, action shows, educational shows and comedies, so this hit show with Fess parker in the title role was the peak of that cycle.

Finally, all 165 hour-long shows are here in one heavy 36-DVD box set and it has been decades since I have seen the show. The theme from the first season stuck with me the most, but only bits and pieces of the actual shows did. Remembered it being a good show, at least being child-friendly for its time, but then you have Hollywood-style Indian stereotypes, animal hunting and other politically incorrect surprises that for some, might make them want to revisit it on that basis. It also has its share of unintentionally funny moments.

Patricia Blair was a regular as Rebecca Boone, Ed Ames played the indian friend Mingo, a young Darby Hinton was added to appeal to child viewers and semi-regular characters were also played by Veronica Cartwright (who left early), Dal McKennon, singer Jimmy Dean and Roosevelt Greer in the last season. Being a hit, it attracted star talent like Lloyd Bochner, Don Pedro Colley, Ivor Barry, Bo Stevens, Ramon Bieri, Jim Davis (Dallas), Cesar Romero, Simon Oakland, Warren Stevens, Nita Talbot, Edward Mulhare, Victor Buono, Jeffrey Hunter, Diane Ladd, Peter Graves, Jay Silverheels (Tonto on The Lone Ranger), John Crawford, Cesare Danova, R.G. Armstrong, Paul Mantee, Forrest Tucker (F Troop), Sid Haig, Burl Ives, Royal Dano, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Dick Sargent, Richard Kiel, Claude Akins, Doodles Weaver, Slim Pickens, Isabel Sanford, Alan Napier (Batman), Michael Ansara, a young Zalman King, Jodie Foster, Butch Patrick, Gloria Grahame, Brock Peters, Walter Pidgeon, Michael Rennie, Jeannie Cooper, Vic Tayback, Cameron Mitchell, Abraham Sofaer, Maurice Evans, Madlyn Rhue, Fabian, Jack Elam, James Gregory, Barbara Hershey, Ricardo Montalban, Mike Farrell, Severn Darden, Andrew Prine, Joan Hackett, Jim Backus, John Carradine, Richard Anderson, James Best, Pat Hingle, Gordon Jump, Jill Ireland, Ted Cassidy, Lloyd Nolan, Robert Lansing, Leonard Nimoy, Leslie Nielsen, George Kennedy, Barbara Bel Geddes, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Woody Strode, Julie Harris and Vincent Price among the many famous names and faces. Ida Lupino even directed an episode!

I like the earlier shows better since they are more serious, but as the show goes to color, it lightens up a bit, then starts to get really campy. There is also that theme song, in its original form only in the debut season. They ruined it for Seasons 2 - 4, then try to give it a Beatles-like beat for the last two seasons! The producers should have left well enough alone. Now you can see the whole show, flaws and all.

There are sadly no extras.

Gerry Orz's The Equation Of Life (2013) may have a co-director and runs only over a half-hour, but it is an interesting piece on bullying, not just from fellow neighborhood kids, students or the like, but from parents and other adults that is not as discussed. The same adults who allow bullying to go on as if it were nothing when it is a growing problem. Talk about irresponsibility. Without knowing it, this program (with its limited acting) hits on this and is worth a look for those interested.

Extras include Orz Intro and his appearance at the California State Senate in 2012 and 2013 battling against bullying.

Kat Candler's Hellion (2014) is an expansion of a very short tale that here turns into one of a father (Aaron Paul) and his two sons dealing with poverty, social limits and a troubled older son (Josh Wiggins) who keeps getting into trouble. It has some good moments, decent performances and Juliette Lewis shows up in a good-if-obvious turn, but the last half hour get ridiculous, throwing out anything that worked and the ending is just not believable or convincing. The use of songs don't always work either.

Extras include Behind The Scenes featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer, the Original Short Film that inspired this feature and its Sundance Premiere.

The 1.33 X 1 image on the Boone set is the best of the releases here, starting with the black & white Season One that has some detail issues and age issues, but could be worse. The remaining seasons are in Deluxe color and though not as colorful as say Batman in the same period, looks better than I remembered. They are also sharper with more detail and depth than the early black & white shows. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image color image on Life and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Hellion have some good shots, but are both digital shoots with motion blur and detail issues of different kinds. Life has a bit more of an excuse with its budget limits, while Hellion is having issues with style choices and some bad shots that don't match the better ones.

Sound is equal on all three releases with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Boone sounding better than expected, though it can vary from episode to episode as expected but is professionally recorded overall. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Life has location audio issues and some compression and distortion issues, but they are limited, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Hellion only engages its surrounds so much, is dialogue-based as much as not and has soundfield limits as a result.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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