Saturday, November 08, 2008
Route 66 - The Complete Second Season (Roxbury Entertainment, $49.98) -- takes you on a roadtrip through America, and allows you to see all of the drama and misfortune that two guys somehow manage to run into each and every week. For those unfamiliar with the series, Route 66 stars Martin Millner (as Tod) and George Maharis (as Buz) as two guys (from different backgrounds) that just happen to have come together to take a road trip (for several years, apparently) all throughout America. Every week, they end up somewhere different in America, going everywhere from California to Texas to Massachusetts. While they meet many different people along the way, they somehow manage to find themselves running into those that they'd rather not run into, including murders, racists, drug addicts, and other mentally unstable folks. Sometimes, while on the journey, they find themselves in trouble, and perhaps have their own life at risk. The series was perhaps one of the first dramas to take on serious situations that were relevant in the time, and many situations which are still very much relevant (if not more so) in the modern era. The Complete Second Season contains 32 original and unedited episodes on eight discs.
The season begins with "A Month of Sundays," where Buz finds love in a dying woman. In "Good Night, Sweet Blues," Ethel Waters plays a dying jazz singer that wants to get her old jazz band together one last time. In "Birdcage on My Foot," the guys have to deal with a heroin addict. It just so happens that there are people in a small Maryland town that look exactly like Buz (they happen to be played by Mahris' own relatives) in "The Mud Nest." In "A Bridge Across Five Days," Tod and Buz are working in a shipyard with a recent release from a mental hospital.
Tod is accidentally given a psychosis-inducing drug at a party that may cause suicidal tendencies in "The Thin White Line." In "To Walk with the Serpent," Tod and Buz face people that have plastic explosives. Slim Pickens guest stars in "A Long Piece of Mischief."
Julie Newmar guest stars in "How Much a Pound is Albatross," where she plays a woman cruising on her motorcycle (without any license tags). Ed Asner guest stars in "Shoulder the Sky My Lad," where the guys find that anti-Semitism is still alive and well. Buz is temporarily blinded in an accident in "Even Stones Have Eyes," and finds love at a school for the blind, but what will he do when he regains his sight and can no longer attend the school?
Cloris Leachman and Tuesday Weld guest star in "Love is a Skinny Kid." A school boy falls overboard on an excursion boat in "Two on the House," and claims he was pushed. The guys discover a woman with two identities at an amusement park in "Between Hello and Goodbye."
The set comes packaged just like the first season did, in a huge box containing two "volumes" of discs. Each disc within the set contains exactly four episodes and each case contains not only a listing of the episodes on each disc, but also an episode description, a list of guest stars, and filming locations. The only thing missing (and it isn't a huge deal) is original airdates!
The menus are very nicely designed, although there is a slight flaw, and that is in the fact that the episodes are listed in a circular fashion on some of the discs, which makes navigating the menus sometimes counter-intuitive. For example, you may sometimes have to use the "up" button on the remote to go down on the menu. I shouldn't complain, though, because they obviously put some time into creating these menus. While there are no scene selection menus, you will find chapters placed within each episode.
It is amazing to see how great the video and audio quality is on the episodes. The episodes aren't totally perfect, though, as there is some grain here and there, but the picture quality is generally clear and the audio sounds great. The episodes have all been remastered from the original copies this time, so you won't find anything unnatural in the episodes this time (like a 2000 era Sony logo or a 1980s Columbia Pictures logo). The only bad news is that the episodes do not contain subtitles or closed-captioning. Every episode on the set is (supposedly) unedited, with each running somewhere around 50 minutes or so.
The packaging says that the set contains original 1960s commercials, BUT I was unable to find these ANYWHERE on the set! I don't know if I merely overlooked them or if this was just a mistake on the packaging (the first season did contain such commercials). The other special feature that the set promises, however, can be found. That would be the cast biographies with video clips. This is a very nice feature for those that love guest stars. Basically, on each disc, you can go to a menu that lists every single guest star contained on the episodes on the disc that you are viewing. When you select a guest star, you get a filmography for that cast (usually not a complete one, just as much as they can fit on the screen), and you can watch a clip of that guest star in the episode. This is a very useful since the series is loaded with guest stars.
This is one of those series that I had never watched prior to seeing the series on DVD, but I am QUICKLY becoming a fan of the series! Generally, these older anthology dramas don't appeal to me, but this show is full of entertaining drama that contains plots that are actually relevant. The series is almost cinematic in quality and is very much enjoyable. Fans of true classics, as well as fans of good drama are certain to get their kicks on Route 66!
Reviewed by skees53
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