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The Beverly Hillbillies - The Ultimate Collection Volume 1


TITLE: THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES - THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 1


Info: DVD Release Date: September 27, 2005 (MPI Home Video)
B&W 1962-1963
MSRP: $34.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 26
Running Time: 765 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: 100 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English subtitles
Special Features: Extended Unaired Pilot with Introduction from Linda Kaye Henning; Paul Henning & The Hillbillies documentary; Original Cast Sponsor Commercials; CBS Network Promo; Variety Show Appearances from Irene Ryan and Buddy Ebsen


Introduction:

Weeeeeell doggies! The Beverly Hillbillies is on DVD--again. One huge difference this time though. This is the first time that AUTHORIZED release of the show has been put out. Yes, there are many public domain DVDs of the show out there from many different companies, but forget those! MPI has put together an excellent (and I'll say it again, AUTHORIZED) collection of 26 of the first 27 episodes of one of the funniest sitcoms of all time, complete with special features including the original unaired pilot episode, interviews, and more!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

What better way to start out Volume 1 of a television series than to include the first episode of the series? Sounds good enough, right? Wrong! This set demonstrates that just including the first episode isn't exactly enough. Instead, what we get is the full 32 minute version of it! Think about it--that is about 10 minutes longer than the version aired in syndication. Admittedly, most of the unaired portion of this episode, the last 5 minutes, is just Raymond Bailey talking about the series, and talking about the upcoming episodes of the series, but still, this is very interesting footage to see. You'll even notice a different title and theme song on this episode. It is called "The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills."

In "Getting Settled," the Clampetts get to meet Miss Hathaway, who mistakenly believes that the Clampetts are the hired help! In "Jed Buys Stock," Jed listens to Mr. Drysdale's suggestion to get some stock… although Jed thinks he means LIVEstock. The Clampetts decide that they should get out and know their neighbors (on Halloween) in "Trick or Treat." The Clampetts decide to start a duel with the Drysdales after Sonny jilts Elly in "The Great Feud." Mr. Drysdale wants Pearl—but not for the reason Jed believes—in "Jed Saves the Drysdales' Marriage." Jed becomes the vice-president of the bank, conveniently just in time for a bank skeet shooting contest, in "Jed Becomes a Banker."

Since this is not a "season" set, it is probably helpful to know exactly which episodes are on this set. They include: "The Clampetts Strike Oil," "Getting Settled," "Meanwhile Back at the Cabin," "The Clampetts Meet Mrs. Drysdale," "Jed Buys Stock," "Trick or Treat," "The Servants," "Jethro Goes to School," "Elly's First Date," "Pygmalion and Elly," "Elly Races Jethrine," "The Great Feud," "No Place Like Home," "Jed Rescues Pearl," "Back to Californy," "Jed's Dilemma," "Jed Saves the Drysdales' Marriage," "Elly's Animals," "Jed Throws a Wingding," "Jed Plays Solomon," "Duke Steals a Wife," "Jed Buys The Freeway," "Jed Becomes a Banker," "The Family Tree," "Jed Cuts the Family Tree," and "Granny's Spring Tonic." Basically that is 26 of the first 27 episodes, with the Christmas episode "Home for Christmas" missing, but don't worry, that is coming soon on a separate release.


Packaging:

The packaging is definitely acceptable, but it could definitely stand to be a little bit better. Basically what we have here is a thick Amaray case--much like the one used for the DVD releases of ALF and Petticoat Junction. Inside the case, there are two "pages" (I'm not sure exactly how to describe these, pages seems most appropriate because they are much like pages in a book) that hold the DVDs, with DVDs on both sides of each "page." Inside the case, there is a pamphlet that lists the episodes contained on each disc and original air dates. When MPI released The Doris Day Show, they included episode descriptions as well, but there are none in this set. They would have been nice to have. There is also a catalog for other MPI products, if that interests you.

The artwork contained in the set is about what you'd come to expect for a Beverly Hillbillies set, with the Clampett clan inside their truck gracing the cover and a publicity photo that contains the family (including Aunt Pearl) on the episode booklet. The disc art has Jethro on Disc 1 and the first 7 episodes, Jed and Granny on Disc 2 and the next 7 episodes, Elly and Granny on Disc 3 with 7 more episodes, and Jed on Disc 4 with the final 5 episodes.


The Beverly Hillbillies - Main DVD Menu The Beverly Hillbillies - Episodes Menu

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are pretty nice on the set. Basically, when you load the disc into the DVD player, the closing music plays with several scenes from the show. This lasts 12 seconds, but you can just hit the Menu button to skip past this. Then, the main menu comes up. What you see on the Main Menu is the Clampett Mansion and options for Play, Episodes, Subtitles, and (on Disc 4) Bonus Features. Also, on the main menu, the opening music plays, with a film strip going across the screen with various scenes from the show. I think the menus were very nicely done. The Episode menu is very simple, with a picture of the Clampetts standing in front of the cement pond and screenshots from each episode on the menu.

This set lacks scene selection and chapters. One thing that is a little bit annoying is the fact that if you select an episode from Episode Selection, once the episode finish playing, the next episode on the disc will play. It would be nice if it just went back to the main menu after the episode plays.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video quality on this set is much, MUCH, better than what you are going to get from the public domain sets that are out there. There is some grain on the picture, and some vertical lines on the screen on some episodes, but considering the age of the show, these issues aren't anything to seriously be worrying about. To put it in simplest terms, the video quality is much like you'd expect from a reputable TV station (i.e. not one that airs public domain stuff) airing this in syndication.

The audio quality on the set is pretty good too, and again, is better than what you get on public domain DVD sets. You are getting a mono audio track (it's 1962, what do you expect?) that sounds about as good as it was intended to. I noticed that one episode had this slight buzzing noise in the background, but it wasn't too serious of a problem. English subtitles are available for every episode.

Naturally, this set presents the episodes (pretty much) completely unedited, with each episode running around 26:00. I say pretty much because the episodes have sponsorship elements within the show (that are not integral to the plot) removed from the episodes. However, there is no need to really worry about this--I believe that probably all of these can be found within the set (see the next section for more information).


Special Features:

Lots and lots of them! One of the things that I really love about this set is the fact that the original sponsorships are included on every episode! The odd numbered episodes are sponsored by Winston Cigarettes (that is a sponsorship you wouldn't see on TV these days) and the even numbered episodes are sponsored by Kellogg's. A brief message from the sponsor (to the tune of the theme song) airs after the opening credits on each episode. There are even PSAs on the end of many of the Winston sponsored episodes, which is ironic considering the fact that these days, many PSAs advocate not smoking. You'll find PSAs from The United Way, Radio Free Europe, the National Safety Council (seat belts save 5000 lives a year... that is a statistic that has surely changed), and a Challenge to Americans PSA (I have no clue what this one is all about). Sponsorships within the episode, such as characters eating Corn Flakes or smoking Winston cigarettes, are not included in the context of the episodes, but most (probably all, I can't confirm it though) appear to be included on the set anyway, in a 25 minute feature that is contained on Disc 4. Additionally, there is a 1 minute CBS promo for The Beverly Hillbillies on Disc 4, but this is obviously a promo for a later season, since it advertised that the show is "now in color."

There are also interviews on the set... and not just 1 minute interviews or anything meaningless like that! There is a whopping 63 minutes of interviews on this set. The main one, "Paul Henning and the Hillbillies," focuses on Paul Henning's life and creating the Beverly Hillbillies. In here, we see interviews from Linda Kaye Henning, Max Baer, Dwayne Hickman, Gunilla Hutton, Shirley Mitchell, Lori Saunder, Martin Ranschoff (Filmways chairman), Ted Switzer (Filmways publicist, Mark Tuttle, Charles Lane, and even archive footage of Paul Henning. There is an additional separate interview with just Max Baer where he talks about his experience on the show, and how he has dealt with life after the show. He even goes into detail on Jethro's Casino, a Beverly Hillbillies themed casino that Max Baer is planning to build on the former site of a Walmart in Carson City, Nevada. These interviews are all on Disc 4. Additionally, on Disc 1, there is an introduction for the Pilot episode from Linda Kaye Henning.

Finally, we have two appearances from Irene Ryan and Buddy Ebsen when they each appeared on the program The Hollywood Palace (I'd never even heard of this show until I saw this set). They are just brief clips with them coming on stage, in character, and singing a song about themselves basically. They are short (Irene Ryan Sings at 5:50, Buddy Ebsen Sings at 3:18), but very interesting. Again, these are on Disc 4.

I'm very satisfied with the special feature on the set. Really, the only thing missing is audio commentaries; commentaries from Max Baer Jr. would be very nice to have on the episodes. Every other special feature imaginable has been covered with this set.


Final Comments:

This is an excellent set! It is probably one of the best sets that I've had the privilege of reviewing. Many elements of the show have been preserved in a way that many other companies may have not preserved them, the audio and video quality is pretty good, and the special features in the set are very nice. My only REAL complaint about this set is that it isn't the ENTIRE first season; it only would have taken a few more episodes for it to have all of the episodes. Fortunately, though, this set is labeled as Volume 1, which hopefully means that more episodes (I'm hoping the entire series!) are on the way. The missing Christmas episode will be on the way soon, and hopefully whenever Volume 2 is released (assuming there will be a Volume 2, I have no inside information on this stuff), it will contain the rest of the first season as well as the beginning of the second season. But all in all, this set is nice and I'm looking forward to more on the way.

One final note about this set: this set is being released by MPI Home Video. If you are going to purchase this set, MAKE SURE that you buy the release by MPI Home Video (The Ultimate Collection Volume 1). There are at least three other companies that I know of that have Beverly Hillbillies Volume 1 releases on the market, but those are NOT the real deal. What you are getting there are barebones public domain releases that aren't NEARLY as good as these, and they are not even remotely similar to this set.


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

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

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 08/28/2005

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009OUBPQ/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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