The Big Valley – Season One
Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: C+
The Western hit such a peak by the mid-1960s on TV that a
decline was inevitable, but not before some interesting shows were
launched. Gunsmoke was the
biggest show of them all, but no series did a better job of capturing the kind
of show and success (for four seasons) doing the kind of drama/melodrama that
kept the big rival hot for about a quarter century than The Big Valley. Barbara Stanwyck is the head of The Barkleys,
the widow matriarch of their ranch and a family that has to face all kinds of
troubles each episode.
The series introduced Lee Majors and Linda Evans to a
wider audience and the first season alone had stars (and future stars) like
Malachi Throne, Jeannie Cooper, R.G. Armstrong, Warren Oates, Ron Howard,
Anthony Zerbe, Claude Akins, J. Pat O’Malley, Ken Lynch, Yvonne Craig, John
Dehner, Diane Baker, Army Archerd, Robert Cornwaite, William Shatner, Bruce
Dern, George Kennedy, Jill St. John, Royal Dano, Robert Yuro, L.Q. Jones, Harry
Dean Stanton, Karl Swenson and Richard Anderson. Fox has issued the first season on a 5-DVD set, which includes
all 30 hour-long shows.
The show is not bad, but it also had more formula TV
convention to it than I remembered. The
stars sold the show and it was a good quality production that was fine in its
time, but at least these first season shows have not held up as well as was
hoped. Barbary Red with Jill St.
John and George Kennedy is the best of the shows in this season, in its
writing, acting and directing. Western
fans will be thrilled with this competent set.
The 1.33 X 1 image is not the sharpest all the time, with
some slight digititis, but the colors still come through for the most part and
are usually decent prints. The Dolby
Digital 2.0 is simple monophonic sound, though there is background noise here
and there, plus some of the audio is distorted at times. The latter will come as a surprise in parts,
but this is still decent for a show its age.
There are no extras, but with Majors and Evans still alive, they’ll have
a few more seasons of DVDs to show up on.
- Nicholas Sheffo