TITLE: LEADING LADIES OF TELEVISION'S GOLDEN AGE
Release Date: November 19, 2010 (Timeless Media Group)
B&W and Color / 1950, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1966
Packaging: Two Amaray cases
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 16
Running Time: 500 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
In the golden age of television, the small screen was largely dominated by men. But there were a few ladies who took control and were in the lead role as pioneers of television. In Timeless Media Group's Leading Ladies of Television's Golden Age DVD set, we get to see sixteen episodes from four different series of the early days of television. Included in this two-disc public domain set are The Burns and Allen Show, Life With Elizabeth, The Lucy Show, and The Loretta Young Show.
Disc 1 includes four untitled episodes of The Burns and Allen Show. In the first one, the Burns' have a talk with the banker about Grace's unusual checking account habits. In the second, Grace attempts to explain her tax deductions to a frustrated IRS agent. In the third, a childhood friend of Grace's comes to visit, and just won't go away. In the fourth one, a teenage girl comes to stay with the Burns' while her parents are on vacation.
Disc 1 also includes four untitled episodes of the Betty White series, Life With Elizabeth. Each episode contains three stories, and among these stories, we see Elizabeth getting some help with the cooking, Elizabeth getting a black eye, Elizabeth getting a job as a receptionist, Elizabeth's mom coming to visit (though we don't see her), and more.
Over to Disc 2, we four episodes of The Lucy Show from the fifth season, including episodes with George Burns, Milton Berle, Carol Burnett, and John Wayne
Finally, on Disc 2, we have four episodes of The Loretta Young Show, including "Son, This Is Your Father," "Oh, My Aching Heart," "Lady Killer," and "Count of Ten."
The episodes included on the set are mostly unedited, but not quite. For some reason, the episodes of The Lucy Show are missing their opening and closing credits. Other than that, everything appears to be included for all of the series on the set. Runtimes are as follows.
The Burns and Allen Show
Bank Account (29:15)
Income Tax Man (27:00)
House Guest (27:45)
Teenage Girl Spends the Weekend (28:13)
Life With Elizabeth
Episode 1 (25:47)
Episode 2 (24:24)
Episode 3 (26:08)
Episode 4 (25:41)
The Lucy Show:
"Lucy and George Burns" (24:11)
"Lucy Meets the Berles" (24:15)
"Lucy Gets a Roommate" (24:09)
"Lucy and John Wayne"(23:35)
The Loretta Young Show:
"Son, This Is Your Father" (25:30)
"Oh, My Aching Heart" (25:23)
"Lady Killer" (25:30)
"Count of Ten" (25:17)
The set comes packaged in a very crudely designed cardboard sleeve that contains two standard Amaray cases. The cover art has all of the stars of the four series included on the set with a black and white photo and wearing red lipstick. The back lists all of the episodes and the episodes, although they left off two of the episodes for The Loretta Young Show. Inside, the two Amaray cases have similar artwork, and the back of each case lists the episodes included on the set with descriptions. Except, they goofed AGAIN, this time failing to include a description for the fourth Life With Elizabeth episode. The discs have no artwork other than the series title logo and a listing of all of the episodes on the disc. The discs aren't numbered, but one of them contains four episodes of The Burns and Allen Show and four episodes of Life With Elizabeth, while the other disc contains four episodes of The Lucy Show and four episodes of The Loretta Young Show.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very crudely designed with a listing of the episodes on the disc. Once you select an episode, it plays right away. There are no chapters within the episodes, and once an episode finishes playing, the next one starts immediately... except on The Lucy Show, where the episodes as listed on the menu are in a different order than the order in which they play. Some royalty-free piano music plays in the background on the menu.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on the set is about what one would expect from a public domain set--in other words, it is pretty rough. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of each disc that an effort to restore the episodes was made, but I'm not buying it for one second. The picture quality is very rough, scratchy, and there is grain and debris everywhere. As for the audio, it is somewhat low, muffled, and wobbles at times. The Burns and Allen Show is probably the roughest looking of the series. But if that isn't bad enough, there are even logo bugs on the episodes themselves! This is something that is literally unheard of on DVDs, and I couldn't believe it myself when I saw it. For example, The Lucy Show had a MM&V logo on the bottom of the screen during parts of the episodes and The Loretta Young Show had the series title on the bottom of the screen. I'm not even sure why these were there. Of course, the episodes are NOT closed-captioned or subtitled... but you do have the series title there to remind you of what you are watching, whether you like it or not.
There aren't any special features on this set at all. It certainly would have been nice to see something on here, perhaps a feature about the legacy of these series and the women who starred in them.
While it is certainly nice to see many of these series in one collection, this set is, lamentably, a very standard set of public domain television series. Furthermore, it fails to stand out above and beyond any other public domain set out there, and for that reason, I can't really say that I would fully recommend purchasing this particular set when everything that is included in it can be found on other (and perhaps cheaper) public domain sets. This is further reinforced with the fact that the quality of this set doesn't stand out, and the missing opening and closing credits on The Lucy Show episodes only makes matters worse. It disappoints me that TMG puts out such great sets of western series, but any sitcoms they always get this treatment. If the set really and truly sounds interesting to you, then you may want to pick it up, but I can't specifically recommend it.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 1.5/5
Audio Quality: 2/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 2/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/10/10
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