A Unique and Funny Cop Show
Only-A-Child | 02/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 64 black and white hour-long episodes of "Burke's Law" were originally broadcast from 1963-65 on ABC. The show then morphed into "Amos Burke, Secret Agent" for another 17 episodes during the 1965-66 season. And one episode "Who Killed the Jackpot" served as the introduction of the "Honey West" characters played by Anne Francis and John Ericson.
Gene Barry played police captain Amos Burke, who headed up homicide while maintaining a lavish lifestyle; not because he was on the take but because he was already extremely rich and was just working for whatever intrinsic value the job provided. This was the main hook or novelty of the show, which was a weekly showcase of his lavish lifestyle (chauffeured limo with fully stocked bar, mansion, and a host of gorgeous women clamoring for his affections). Although technically a mystery-adventure series there was a significant comedy element generated by the reactions of his detectives and his superior to Burke's displays of wealth and indulgence.
Barry was perfectly cast as the suave and sophisticated working playboy. Unfortunately the supporting cast was quite marginal and the writers never developed these secondary characters beyond the most superficial level. But this did allow room to showcase a multitude of guest stars and like "The Wild Wild West" many of these were Hollywood's hottest starlets. Especially memorable was former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley whose unexpected chemistry with Barry led to multiple appearances during the course of the series.
Unlike "Columbo", the series withheld the identity of the killer from viewers until the end although it was not disclosed in the standard "Murder She Wrote" moment of revelation.
The huge popularity of "James Bond" and "The Man From UNCLE" caused producer Aaron Spelling to introduce a secret agent formula into the final season. Unfortunately what had been a unique cop show became just another silly spy series and it expired after just half a season.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
First Class Show, First Class Release!
Eric Paddon | Morristown, NJ | 05/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A decade before Aaron Spelling gave us a long list of big-name celeb guests on shows like "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" he was serving them up on this great 1963-65 detective show "Burke's Law", which starred Gene Barry as the suave millionaire playboy police captain solving a murder from which a half dozen big named guest stars were among the suspects.
VCI's release of the first half of Season 1 (16 hour long episodes) is first-rate, especially since they've never handled a TV series before for release. The episodes clearly come from the original 35 mm masters, and while not as sharp as the prints we see on CBS/Paramount DVDs, they look very good. Original commercials from the film prints have been presented as a supplement, similar to Image's later releases of "Naked City" while the end of each episode retains the preview for the following week's show narrated by Barry.
VCI is committed to doing the entire run of the show (including its reimagined "Amos Burke" version) as well as the spin-off "Honey West" and they are to be commended for bringing back these B/W gems of mid-60s TV to us!"
Improbable, but highly entertaining series....
Kenneth M. Pizzi | San Mateo, CA United States | 05/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How many of LA's Chief of Detectives, have been chauffeured to work in a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, live in a palatial mansion, and are the toast of society? Enter one, Amos Burke, played expertly by Gene Barry, whose only real distinction in the cinema was a starring role in George Pal's "War of the Worlds," (1953).
Barry, not unlike the character depicted in "Burke's Law," was well-suited to the role. Born into a family with musical credentials, (his father was a violinst; his mother a singer) Barry had a sense of effortless style, grace, charm and an attractive baritone voice and, at one time, entertained the idea of an operatic career for the stage.
After appearing in several forgettable films, save "War of the Worlds," Barry embarked on a successful acting career throughout the 50's and 60's. He even had the distinctive honor to be the first villain in the pilot for "Columbo" entitled "Prescription Murder" (1968), as what else? An eminent psychiatrist suspected of killing his wife. In the 70's Barry starred in the short-lived series, "The Adventurer" with Barry Morse and the lovely Catherine von Schell (Maya from Space 1999), as a globetrotting, ultra wealthy, bachelor (although a little too old for the role)solving international capers. The european locales added a bit of flair to this otherwise pedestrian series.
Nonetheless, this first set of Burke's Law comes highly recommended. VCA has done a superb job of remastering the episodes and has even included vintage commercials from LARK and L&M cigarettes, Crest toothpaste, and other interesting spots from VCA's vaults--all accessible from the menu screen. The only downside to this set is that VCA has opted to only release the first 16 epsidoes of Season 1, rather than the whole season. Taking the economically expedient and profitable route, it seems VCA's practice has become all too familiar with these popular vintage series' cherished by classic television fans like me.
The show also stars a pre-"Land of the Giants" Gary Conway as Burke's indispensable assistant. The show has a bevy of recognizable guest stars that reads like recitation from Hollywood's Walk of Fame--even silent star Zazu Pitts and Anne Francis in the pilot episode, "Who Killed Honey West?"
If you like classic crime dramas as I do, here is yet another collection you will add to your DVD library.
Stylishly Cool 60's Crime Show with a Twist...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 08/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Burke's Law" may seem more than a bit implausible to today's jaded TV viewers (a swinging millionaire choosing to be a homicide cop is, honestly, a BIT of a stretch!), but for those of us who grew up in front of the TV in the 60s, the show was fabulous...and I am thrilled it is finally on DVD!
The series had (in it's heyday) a kind of Politically Incorrect, 'Rat Pack'-style chic, with star Gene Barry ("Amos Burke") sipping martinis, seducing nubile and oh-so-willing women (the opening theme song even featured a breathy, seductive female voice moaning, "It's Burke's Law!"), and arriving at crime scenes in a Rolls Royce (chauffeured by funny Leon Lontoc), often attired in a tuxedo. Once on duty, however, Burke was all business, offering sage advice (the actual "Burke's Laws") to young detective Gary Conway and veteran cop Regis Toomey.
What really set each episode (always entitled "Who Killed...?") apart were the quirky nature of each homicide, and the guest stars, virtually a "Who's Who" of the Golden Age of Hollywood, often in off-beat roles. It became great fun just to see who would appear in each episode! With effortless ease, Burke would sift through the suspects, and always prove the less-likely one was the culprit, much to the chagrin of his partners...then it would be back to the boudoir and more "ring-a-ding-ding"...
Until the series made the disastrous decision to capitalize on the spy craze (by revamping the format, completely), "Burke's Law" was one of the most stylish shows on TV, and certainly deserves to be on DVD. While I dislike splitting the seasons into 'volumes' (which is why I only give this collection 4 stars), it does also offer some terrific vintage commercials, as un-PC as the series, itself.