The Untouchables – Season One, Volume One
Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C- Episodes/Film: B
Arnaz and Lucille Ball took over RKO Pictures and turned it into their personal
TV production company Desilu, many were unhappy despite the sad state of the
studio at the time. Their I Love Lucy was a huge hit and their
Westinghouse-sponsored Desilu Playhouse
was one of the top anthology series on the air, still legendary by even today’s
standards. From that series came their
first dramatic hit, and the Gangster Drama The
Untouchables put Desilu further on the map.
though other hit shows were being made there, this was Desi’s project and it
went off spectacularly well. Robert
Stack became a huge star playing Eliot Ness, the man who eventually brought Al
Capone down, but the series shows that it was not his only case and added a new
chapter to the big picture each week.
Debuting the year after Film Noir ended in 1959, the show was modeled on
the early semi-documentary police procedurals that informed with their “voice
of God” stance and also served as propaganda.
their show stand out, instead of an unknown or police/official voice, Desilu
struck a coup by getting the great journalist Walter Winchell to narrate each
show. It made the show more energetic
and gave it more possibilities as a result.
Set in 1930s Chicago, the hour-long series was a hit immediately and
this Season One, Volume One 4-DVD
set offers the following episodes:
1) The Scarface Mob (two-part episode/was theatrical film release too)
2) The Empty Chair
3) Ma Barker and Her Boys
4) The George "Bugs" Moran Story
5) The Jake Lingle Killing
6) Ain't We Got Fun?
7) The Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll Story
8) Mexican Stakeout
9) The Artichoke King
10) Tri-State Gang
11) The Dutch Schultz Story
12) You Can't Pick the Number
13) Underground Railway
14) Syndicate Sanctuary
15) The Noise of Death
how far Gangster tales have gone all the way up to The Sopranos, these shows hold up incredibly well, are well cast,
written and directed. That would be a
high hallmark of all Desilu Productions and this is only the first half of that
landmark season. Stack was better here
than this critic remembered, having long since sent up his image in movies,
voicing the Beavis & Butt-Head
film and becoming one of the first icons of reality TV with Unsolved Mysteries. In real life, he could act.
there are these new 1.33 X 1 black and white transfers, which are some of the
best black and white we have seen to date with nice depth and detail. They never looked this good and there is even
an old Happy Days episode where the Cunninghams are watching a show on their
TV. That was optically printed. Sure, there are soft moments and the prints
are not 100% perfect, but they are fart more impressive for their age than you
would expect. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
is also decent for its age, cleaner than expected as well. All extend to The Scarface Mob, the two-parter given a theatrical release and
looking good here.
there are no formal extras, the Arnaz introductions on the Desilu Playhouse
broadcasts of those first shows are in tact on the prints here. That suggest that there has to be more in the
vault on these shows and they will hopefully surface on future volumes of the
series. I wonder if the Gangster fandom
that now exists will catch on to these shows.
There’s enough to be impressed with here.
- Nicholas Sheffo