Interesting programs, poor transfers...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 03/19/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As with the other offerings in the Reel Values TV Classics set, this one is worth a viewing primarily because the shows being offered are rather rare and hard to find elsewhere on DVD.
That being said, this disc is probably the poorest of the ones in the set that I currently own. The shows are both in color, but the "Judge Roy Bean" transfer is horribly oversaturated to the point of blurred muddiness. "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" goes in the opposite direction; so pale and washed out, that the color that was originally there becomes somewhat incidental.
Other than that, the shows themselves are a wonderful trip back in time, when shows were simpler and held to a more black and white morality than we have on TV today.
"Judge Roy Bean" features Edgar Buchanan (forever famous as Old Uncle Joe from "Petticoat Junction"), as the famous western figure who bent the Law to suit his own purposes. Naturally, the show makes Bean out to be a hero, when real history paints a darker picture of the man. Regardless, the show is fun, and one of these episodes even features the western star Lash La Rue as a black hat (he actually appeared in several episodes of this series).
Shot on location at Pioneertown, a western movie set location in Southern California that was used for many film and TV westerns, the show has both an air of accuracy and absurdity. Jack Buetel, Russell Hayden (co-founder of Pioneertown), and Jackie Loughery round out the regular cast."Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" is impressive if for no other reason than the production appeared to have been made partially on location in a snowy area, which reveals a bit of money was spent on that part of the show. Dick Simmons plays the lawman Sergeant Preston, and is the master of he-man heroics bordering almost upon satire of all he-men characters. William Shatner's portrayal of Captain Kirk has nothing on Simmons' portrayal of Sergeant Preston, but that's half the fun (and, I suspect, the origin of the cartoon character Dudley Dooright). If memory serves, Simmons either originated or at least played the role of Preston in the "Sergeant Preston" radio show that the TV show was based on.
Both "Sergeant Preston" and "Judge Roy Bean" are pretty much mid-50s kids' shows, and even more wholesome and harmless for kids to watch unattended today than they were when originally broadcast.
If only the transfers or source elements were better, the disc would be less of a disappointment, and more of the pleasant surprise that the other discs in the Reel Values TV Classics set are."