Saturday, November 07, 2009
Route 66 - Season Three, Volume Two (Infinity, $29.98) brings the final 15 episodes of season three together in a four disc DVD set. The series stars Martin Milner and George Maharis as Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock, two guys that come from different sides of the railroad track but are united in their desire to travel America. Along the way, they meet many people, some good and others not so good, and find odd jobs along the way to survive. Sometimes they get in trouble and struggle to find their way out in the midst of hostile citizens of the towns to which they travel. In any event, they always find a way out in each and every episode.
In the earlier part of the third season, Buz began to disappear from the series as George Maharis became ill and was unable to work on the series on a regular basis. By this part of the season, the character of Buz is completely written out, but no need to worry, because Tod still has a partner to travel the nation with. Glenn Corbett joins the cast as Lincoln Case, an Army veteran who just left Vietnam (a few years before Vietnam became such a political controversy) after a six years of duty. It doesn't change the show much, though. It is still two guys getting into different adventures every week as they travel down Route 66 (as well as numerous other highways and byways of America).
The set begins with "A Gift From a Warrior," where a German man (James Whitmore) is looking for his American father and also happens to have a gun by his side. Why would he be so violent? Robert Duvall and Lois Nettleton guest star in "Suppose I Said I Was the Queen of Spain," where a woman (Nettleton) is able to take advantage of Tod by romancing him. In "Somehow It Gets to Be Tomorrow," two orphans want help in escaping their foster family, and who else would they turn to besides Tod? In "In The Closing of a Trunk," Tod somehow gets in the middle of a dispute between a woman and her uncle who isn't too happy about the fact that his niece killed her own father (his brother). Glenn Corbett joins the cast as Lincoln Case in "Fifty Miles From Home."
Have Linc and Tod met a real, live mermaid? Perhaps, in "The Cruelest Sea of All." The series becomes involved in the politics of Fidel Castro when Linc and Tod meet up with two Cubans who aren't happy with their brother's ties to him in "Peace, Pity, Pardon." Dick York guest stars in "What a Shining Young Man Was Our Gallant Lieutenant," where Linc meets up with one of his Army officers from Vietnam and finds that a brain injury has left him with the mentality of a young child. Linc drives a getaway car for a robbery (by accident) in "Who Will Cheer My Bonnie Bride." A small Florida town wants to hang Linc after he is accused of killing a dog in "Shadows of an Afternoon." Alan Alda and Tom Bosley guest star in the season finale, "Soda Pop and Paper Flags."
Just like Volume 1 of the third season, the packaging is a double-thick keepcase with a cardboard sleeve. Both the sleeve and the case have the exact same artwork, which just has a Route 66 road sign on the highway. The back of the packaging just has the basic series information. Inside, we have the four discs, all of which have the same Route 66 road sign as on the cover art and the road on them. Discs 1-3 all contain four episodes each, while Disc 4 contains three episodes as well as the special features. Once again, there are no episode titles to be found anywhere in this set. Even a sheet that just lists the disc breakdown would have been nice, but instead, we have nothing! This was not a problem at all with the first two seasons.
The menus on the set are very basic, with the theme song playing and options of Play All, Episodes, and Extras (Disc 4 only) on the main menu. When you select Episodes, you go to a menu that lists all of the episodes as text, and it plays as soon as you choose it. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters are placed within each episode.
Despite how old the series is, the video and audio quality on the set seems to be great. There have been some compression issues on past sets, as well as some pixelation and other issues, but this one seems to be the best so far. The video is clean and crisp, with a little bit of the expected issues with grain and debris. I didn't find any issues with the audio at all except for some crackle. Other than that, the audio is loud and clear and presented in mono. Each episode is closed-captioned. All of the episodes appear to be taken from original source material this time (as opposed to syndicated Colex prints from the '80s that have OCCASIONALLY appeared on previous sets), running at about 50 minutes per episode. It was nice to not see any episodes that appeared to have any issues this time!
The only special features on the set are a bunch of commercials, specifically commercials from the series sponsors, bumpers from the series, and promos from the series. They can all be found on Disc 4. We have 12 minutes worth of these, which includes spots from Philips Milk of Magnesia, Bayer Aspirin, and Chevrolet. Which is really amazing is that all of these look and sound great, and have clearly been remastered for the DVD set. Still, it would have been even nicer to have all of these original commercials inserted back into the episodes, as is the case on one of the previous "best of" collections of the series on DVD. But I suppose that just having them is nice enough. As was noted in the Season Three, Volume 1 review, there are no guest star biographies on this set as there were on the first two seasons. Those were nice to have, and I wish that the DVD producers would have continued these for the final two seasons.
I always find myself enjoying this show every time I get a new release of it, and can't wait to go through the episodes. But, this is a volume release, and it is important to note that early next year, Infinity intends to release a set with both volumes of season 3 as one big set, so unless you already have volume 1, it is somewhat hard to justify owning THIS set. That doesn't mean that it is a bad set. In fact, it is a pretty good set, but the full season model works better in collections than the half seasons. If you REALLY can't wait to own the whole third season, Best Buy (as well as a few online retailers) already have that set available. I think that the important thing for Infinity to do for the remaining season (it is hard to believe there is only one season left) is to stay focused on video and audio quality, because they really did pretty good with that on this set, but a few nice special features would be good too. Until then, you'll probably want to wait to get your kicks on Route 66 until you are able to get the entire third season.
Reviewed by skees53
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