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Golden Age of Television


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Amazon.com: 19 reviews
68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Fine examples of early television dramas Nov. 7 2009
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Early in the days of television, the teleplay was made popular with independent one and two hour segments on shows named after the sponsor, such as "The U.S. Steel Hour". These were early showcases of the excellent talents of young writers such as Rod Serling. Because you didn't have to leave your living room to see a fine drama, they had a huge negative impact on the film industry and led to such innovations as making both the color film and the widescreen film common, since these were two things you couldn't get from television. Up to now many of these early teleplays have been shown only in the public domain if at all, because they only existed on kinescope, and then only for the purpose of rebroadcasting to different time zones. The concept of the rerun and syndication had not occurred to producers at the time these were made - with the exception of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. New digital techniques have allowed these early kinescopes to be transferred and viewed with better clarity than ever before, and this new package by Criterion boasts some fine dramas from the 1950's, many of which went on to be made into acclaimed motion pictures.

EPISODES:

Marty (1953) - The motion picture was a Best Picture Oscar winner in 1955. This version has the role of Marty played by Rod Steiger and the role of the girl with which he connects played by Nancy Marchand. Written by Paddy Chayefsky.
Patterns (1955) - Written by Rod Serling. Show starred Richard Kiley as young executive Fred Staples. However, Staples can see his possible distant future in an aging executive (Ed Begley) who is constantly berated and belittled by the boss (Everett Sloane).
No Time for Sergeants (1955) - Andy Griffith is cast as Will Stockdale, a backwoods fellow who is drafted into the army. Harry Clark plays the sergeant that is his nemesis. This play was the basis for the TV Show "Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C" which ran from 1964 until 1969.
A Wind from the South (1955) - Stars Julie Harris.
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956) - Written by Rod Serling with Jack Palance as the slow-witted mountain of a man who suddenly finds his boxing career over and doesn't know what to do next.
Bang the Drum Slowly (1956) - Written by Mark Harris and starring Paul Newman in one of his earliest performances. It's a story of a baseball team that is a thinly disguised version of the New York Yankees whose catcher gets Hodgkin's disease and tries to conceal his ailment.
The Comedian ((1957) - Written by Rod Serling and starring Mickey Rooney as a difficult TV comedian who picks on his brother (Mel Torme) and drives one of his gag writers (Edmund O'Brien) to the brink of insanity by his behavior.
Days of Wine and Roses (1958) - Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie are a couple whose lives are ruined by alcoholism.

Extra features:
Commentaries by directors John Frankenheimer, Delbert Mann, Ralph Nelson, and Daniel Petrie
Interviews with key cast and crew, including Frankenheimer, Andy Griffith, Julie Harris, Kim Hunter, Richard Kiley, Piper Laurie, Nancy Marchand, Jack Palance, Cliff Robertson, Mickey Rooney, Carol Serling, Rod Steiger, and Mel Torme
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by curator Ron Simon and his extensive liner notes on each program
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Power corrupts! Nov. 21 2012
By Mark Cheney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I want to address a specific issue concerning Rod Serling's "Requiem for a Heavyweight", which is arguably the jewel in the crown of Criterion's "The Golden Age of Television" DVD set.

One of the problems with digital technology is that some people can't resist trying to "fix" older film and television resources. The overuse of clean-up software is a good example: When applied injudiciously, characters waving their arms or walking quickly will have their hands or feet virtually disappear. Over-correction can be worse than none at all, since new errors are introduced and the material is compromised.

Criterion apparently thought that the soundtrack on "Requiem" was too noisy, so they applied a noise-gate. The result is that when a character stops talking, low-level sounds like background conversations or the music score are abruptly cut off or, worse, sputter in and out, sounding like someone jiggling a loose speaker wire. Sometimes even the dialogue is affected. This is too bad, especially since it was unnecessary.

Criterion's source for the kinescopes was the early-'eighties program "The Golden Age of Television". Rhino Records released some of these same episodes ("Requiem", "Patterns", and "The Comedian") on VHS in 1993. I did a direct comparison between Rhino's VHS and Criterion's DVD, and saw that they appeared to derive from the same source: Both pictures are slightly dark on the left-hand side and lack contrast on the right-hand side, for example. But Criterion apparently tried to boost the contrast, which aggravated the left-to-right disparity. So, although Rhino's version has the inherent characteristics of VHS, their picture is more consistent.

But the real problem with Criterion's "Requiem", as I said, is the soundtrack: The sound on the Rhino release is fine, but that on the Criterion version is painful to listen to. It's bad. It would be acceptable if there were no other choice, but, judging by the far-superior sound on Rhino's tape, there was no reason to tamper with it. I had them playing side by side for this comparison; every time I heard a particularly bad passage on the Criterion disk, I listened to the same passage on the Rhino tape, and Rhino's sound was always clear, with no drop-outs.

What a shame! Rod Serling's first-produced television plays, "Patterns" and "Requiem for a Heavyweight", are two of the greatest live TV dramas ever, and to have the first and only DVD release of "Requiem" mishandled so badly is a grave disappointment.
177 of 229 people found the following review helpful
A huge "lost opportunity" from Criterion... Nov. 24 2009
By Kevin Segura - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This set is an enormous disappointment, and an affront to fans of classic television. What is presented in the set is a direct copy of material originally released on laserdisc, using the same kinescope film transfers that were originally done back in the 1980s.

"Requiem For a Heavyweight", for instance, has had minimal corrections made (a slight tint to the original transfer was removed, and the sound was re-synched, that sort of thing.) No serious effort was made to stabilize the image, or to remove considerable dirt and moire artifacts in the old transfer.

Not only would the above-mentioned corrections be fairly trivial to accomplish, there is now a process that has been developed called LiveFeed Video Imaging that restores the "live broadcast" look to programs that were preserved as kinescope films. And since these programs were originally aired as live performances, they're **exactly** the sort of material that the process was invented for! Why on earth would Criterion think people would rather have these shows look like jittery old movies?

When one considers the source of this release, the only words that come to mind are "travesty" and "lost opportunity". While a release of this quality might have been passable in say, 1985, this is the year 2009-- it's inexcusable for a company that heavily trades on its customer's passion for quality presentation to essentially ignore 25 years of advances in restoration technology. (And this from a set that lists 8 different restoration technicians **and** a QC Manager!)

For those who have the original laserdisc sets.. take heart-- there's no need to buy this. For everyone else, please keep in mind that (just as with "The Fugitive" and "My Three Sons"), there's nothing to be gained by encouraging companies to release substandard product, when they're fully capable of providing something vastly superior.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful examples of a time we will never see again... Jan. 30 2010
By Admit One - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
These Golden age of television shows originally aired on PBS many many years ago. I have copies of a few of these on scratchy old VHS tapes. I have been waiting for the release of these gems for a long time. I am not disappointed in the quality or the content of this release.

The introductions by "of that era actors" like Jack Klugman are fantastic. The behind the scenes interviews with directors and actors are fascinating. The quality of images are not horrible by any means, and are much better than in previous collections that I have purchased. Five minutes into each show, and you are there, marveling at what an accomplishment these creations really were.

As for the content, in many ways it does not get any better than what you will see here. This is the pick of the of the litter. Personally I prefer the "Marty" that is in this collection to the filmed version. "Requiem for a Heavyweight" is superb in every way. "The Comedian" is incomparable, and "Patterns" sublime.

A negative review for this collection is unwarranted in my opinion. These are shows which you will again and again and again return to, because there is simply nothing like them. Put this one on your must have Christmas list.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Collection of Classic TV Jan. 15 2010
By R. Gilmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This is a wonderful collection.
Really.

Yes -- the kinescope images are a little rough, but apparently Criterion chose not to deal with 'LiveFeed Video Imaging' and its enthusiastic creator; regardless, they look fine in comparison with other public-domain discs.
Yes -- the shows can be a little downbeat (brilliant, but downbeat).
Yes -- trust Criterion, dear review-reader, they have done a bang-up job on bringing these rarities to DVD.

This is a great set for those interested in classic television anthologies. Every one of these episodes is a gem, and I can't wait to see more. This was truly the Golden Age of Television -- it was an age when experimentation and vigor was rewarded with tribute and applause.

This is a fun set -- perfect for weekend viewing with a bottle of wine and an open mind.

Enjoy!


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