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Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season One


TITLE: ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - SEASON ONE


Info:

DVD Release Date: October 4, 2005 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
B&W
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3 (double-sided)
Number of Episodes: 39
Running Time: Approx. 16 hours, 43 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English and Spanish subtitles
Special Features: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: A Look Back


Introduction:

Goooooood Evening. Tonight I have something for you that I know that you'll all enjoy. It is a tale about a 3 disc DVD set featuring every single episode from Season One of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the program that "brought murder back into the home--where it belongs." Enough of the Hitchcock impression--all 39 episodes of the first season of one of the finest television programs about murder in all of history will be coming soon on DVD from Universal Studios Home Video, as well as a small interview. These episodes have some of the greatest Hitchcock tales with some of the greatest guest stars.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents was probably the first program of its kind. Of course, it began when television was a rather new medium, so pretty much anything was new back then. But this show brought murder into primetime, which is something that was groundbreaking at the time. Hitchock had already been known before the series for some of his movies, including "Dial M for Murder" and "Rear Window," which had been released just one year before the show had begun. But now, he had an opportunity to direct a weekly television program. Although he wasn't as involved in the show as one might believe (for example, on the interview, it is revealed that he would work just one day every few weeks just taping about 10 or so of the introductions for the episodes), the show would not have been the same without him and his wry sense of humor. And the fact that most of the episodes end without any real conclusion, such as what happened to the murderer, makes the show even more interesting, and keeps the viewer interested in knowing what is going to happen next, even though there is NOTHING coming up next. Each episode keeps the viewer in suspense, which is just what Hitchcock wanted--and also what makes the program so great. The show would go on for another nine seasons, although it did change networks and formats throughout those seasons.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

I don't even know where to begin! There are so many great stories and guest stars on this show that I could just go on forever here! We start with the first episode, "Revenge," in which a man decides to get revenge on a man that attacked his wife (played by Vera Miles) when she tells him that the man that they see on the street is the one that attacked her--but is this woman mentally stable at all?? And as a bonus, Frances Bavier plays a neighbor in the trailer park in this episode. Cloris Leachman and John Forsythe make guest appearances in "Premonition." In "Don't Come Back Alive," a man decides that a perfect way to earn money for his retirement is to pretend that his wife is dead for seven years and collect on the insurance seven years later--which his wife is perfectly happy about doing. But when she decides after 6 years and 363 days that she no longer loves him, the husband becomes enraged, and what does he do? In "Breakdown," an emotionless businessman gets into a car accident that leaves him completely paralyzed, to the point where everybody believes he is dead and he is about to be buried--what is the only way his life can be saved? Charles Bronson plays a detective in "And So Died Riabouchinska." In "Back for Christmas," we have a tale about a man that murders his wife and places her in their basement in England, then goes to America--only to find a letter addressed to his wife in America that concerns a wine cellar that she has given him for Christmas... it needs to be built in the basement! In "The Belfry," a man builds a house for a woman, hoping to gain her love and admiration, except she has a fiancé! So what does the man do? He kills the man and hides the body in the one place where nobody would look--in the belfry of the schoolhouse, where NOBODY is going to bother to ring the bell, right?

And that is only a small portion of the episodes that are available on this set--all of the other ones are good in their own way, and are DEFINITELY worth watching.


Packaging:

This set has a very elegant packaging that seems only fitting for the program. Basically it is just a black box with Hitchcock standing on the front, holding a sign that says "Alfred Hitchcock Presents Season One." The outer box is very sturdy and slim, something that is very nice to see in a DVD box set. Inside, we have a four panel digipak with pictures from various episodes occupying each panel of the digipak. There is also a listing of all of the episodes on the set on one of the panels. With 39 episodes, I feel like there should have been some kind of episode booklet included. While it is easy for somebody like me to go online and find an episode guide for episode descriptions, the average person buying this is not going to do that, and will instead have a hard time figuring out which episodes they want to watch.

There are three two-sided discs, with seven episodes on each side of each disc, except for Disc 3 Side B, which only has four episodes. Obviously with two-sided discs, there is no disc art.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season One DVD Menu Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season Two DVD Menu

Menu Design and Navigation:

Basically, this is the very simple style of menus that you have likely grown accustomed to if you've seen any other Universal TV on DVD set. We start with a main menu, which has Hitchcock holding a clapboard (isn't that what directors are SUPPOSED to do?) with the theme song playing in the background with options on the clapboard for Play All, Episode Index, Languages, and Bonus Materials. Oddly enough, those options are on every menu of every disc, even though Disc 3/Side B is the only one with a special feature on it. Episode Index will take you to a menu where you can select an episode, and once you select the episode, you go to another menu that has an episode description. Now I'm not sure what happened here, but usually this menu on a Universal set gives you an option for scene selection. However, there is no scene selection option on this set. And even further, there are no chapters placed anywhere within the episodes. I can't figure out why there would be absolutely no chapters on the episodes, as this is something that Universal is generally pretty good about doing.


Video and Audio Quality:

We are talking about a show that will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sunday, October 2nd. Naturally, that means that the audio and video quality is not going to be the greatest, but in all honesty, I was still a bit disappointed by what I saw. I've seen other shows from the era that look much cleaner than this, but on this set, there was a SERIOUS problem with grain EVERYWHERE. Older shows often have this problem, but this was bad even when considering the age of the show. But, things aren't ALL that bad. This problem seems to vary from episode to episode, so there are some episodes on the set that have this issue with the video quality and others that do not.

The audio quality also tends to vary from episode to episode. On some episodes, the audio quality sounds great, but on other episodes, the audio level is kind of low. Fortunately, however, the concerns for the audio don't really go beyond that. That isn't to say that the audio is perfect, but considering the age of the show, one had might as well say that it is about as good as it is going to get. The audio level seems like something that COULD have been fixed in spite of the age of the show, however. The audio, by the way, is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, and for those that are hard of hearing or just want to read along with the episode, English subtitles are available (but no closed-captioning). And for those that speak Spanish or want to learn Spanish, there are even Spanish subtitles available so that you can read Hitchcock saying "buenos noches" at the beginning of each episode.

And there is no need to worry about the episodes--they all seem to be uncut, running at about 25:30-26:00. Sponsorship information is missing from the episodes in general (I have no clue who the sponsors were for the show), but that isn't a huge deal... but I say "in general" because there is ONE episode ("Don't Come Back Alive") that has its original sponsorship at the beginning of the episode, which was Bristol-Myers.


Special Features:

All that we have for special features is an interview on Disc 3/Side B. I have to admit, it is a nice interview, and a little bit interesting, but it leaves much to be desired. It basically just talks about the history of the show and why Hitchcock did the show, and doesn't really say much more. It has interviews with Pat Hitchcock (his daughter), Norman Lloyd (Producer/Director/Actor), and Hilton Green (Assistant Director). The interviews run for 14 minutes, 43 seconds, which is not nearly enough time to get into any interesting details about the show or Hitchcock in general. A lengthier interview, as well as original sponsorships on all of the episodes would be nice to have on future releases. There are also some forced trailers at the beginning of Disc 1/Side A, if you REALLY care about that.


Final Comments:

I'm not a huge fan of Hitchcock's films, but this has always been a show that I have really enjoyed, which is unique because I'm not a fan at all of this genre. I was a little disappointed with the audio and video quality, and the special features were a little bit of a let down, but even with that, this is a great set to have, and it is at a great price. At $39.98 for 39 episodes (and believe me, it'll be obtainable for under $30 from many stores), you are getting a deal that can't be beat on one of the finest shows in television history. I only hope that the other 322 (that includes The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) episodes get released sometime, but I'd imagine that with all of those episodes, we could be in for a long wait. But for now, pick up this set, especially if you are a fan of Hitchcock or murder mystery programs in general.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/28/05

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000AL733G/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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