I rejoice at our collective good fortune that Sony is releasing the all-too-short-lived 60's TV smash hit, "Here Come the Brides," on DVD. All 26 episodes that comprised the first season, including the pilot, are included in this six-disc boxed set. The only special feature listed to be included are "bonus previews." This release is even more amazing considering the show has never before been released to the public in ANY format since its initial run!!
The show, which aired for only two seasons from 1968-70 on ABC with a total of 52 episodes, launched the careers of teen heart-throbs Bobby Sherman and David Soul. Sherman, who was also a pop singer, became an international superstar predating David Cassidy's Partridge Family mass popularity. (Sherman made news in the 90s when he was certified as an Emergency Medical Technician in Los Angeles.) Soul went on to further TV fame co-starring in Starsky and Hutch (as well as for some later well-publicized legal troubles involving domestic violence charges, etc.)
Set in Seattle in the 1870's, the series focused on the travails of the logging Bolt brothers. To avoid losing their male crew, they were forced to agree to bring in 100 prospective brides from Massachusetts, using money they borrowed from sawmill owner, Aaron Stempel. Should any one of the women decide to go home, or should the camp fail to meet Stempel's timber quotas, the Bolts would forfeit their title to the mountain and the business that had been in their family for generations.
The core cast includes Robert Brown as eldest brother, Jason Bolt; Soul as middle brother, Joshua Bolt; Sherman as youngest brother, Jeremy Bolt; Mark Lenard as Stempel (and who went on into TV immortality as Sarek, Spock's father, in Star Trek: The Original Series and its later movies, most notably, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home); the incomparable movie actress Joan Blondell as saloon owner Lottie Hatfield; Bridget Hanley as Candy Pruitt, leader of the "brides" and Sherman's love interest in the show; Susan Tolsky as goofy Biddie Cloom; Henry Beckman as Capt. Roland Francis "Fish-Face" Clancey, Blondell's love interest in the show; and Bo Svenson as Big Swede.
In the pilot, to keep their logging crew, the Bolt brothers end up literally betting their mountain to that they can bring 100 marriageable women back to Seattle, which has almost no women in residence, and that those women will remain in Seattle for a year. In exchange, Stempel funds their expenses. Jason Bolt travels to New Bedford, Mass., a town that had a shortage of men at the time, and enlists 100 women for the return trip to the Pacific Northwest. (Ironically, the episode evolved from a script originally intended as a movie musical. Among the stars considered were Burt Lancaster and Shirley Jones, soon of the Partridge Family. According to the Classic TV Archive, the storyline is loosely based on Seattle's history when a resident went to Massachusetts to bring back women to help civilize the Washington Territory, and was NOT based on "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.")
In addition to the pilot, episodes that comprised the first season and that are collected in their entirety in this boxed are (thanks to another reviewer, I have corrected two titles I incorrectly reported): A Crying Need; And Jason Makes Five; The Man of the Family; A Hard Card to Play; Letter of the Law; Lover and Wanderers; A Jew Named Sullivan (not a politically-correct title); A Man and His Magic; A Christmas Place; After a Dream Comes Morning; The Log Jam; The Firemaker; Wives for Wakendo; A Kiss Just for You; Democracy Inaction; One Good Lie Deserves Another; One to a Customer: A Dream that Glitters; The Crimpers; Mrs. and Mrs. J. Bolt; A Man's Errand; Loggerheads; Marriage Chinese Style; and The Deadly Trade.
The series also boasted one of the best theme songs ever (which Sherman recorded on his debut album.) The following is the rousing chorus: "The bluest skies you've ever seen, in Seattle, and the hills the greenest green, in Seattle. Like a beautiful child, growing up, free and wild, full of hopes and full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears, full of dreams to last the years, in Seattle. When you find your own true love, you will know it, by her smile, by the look in her eyes...scent of pine trees in the air...look out everyone, Here Come the Brides!"
Let us hope that Sony does not keep us waiting too long for the second season DVD boxed set! I'm sure the popularity of this release, and the DVD releases of the Big Valley and the Wild, Wild, West are sending strong messages to studio execs that there is a huge, appreciative and paying audience for vintage TV westerns. Hopefully, The High Chaparral is next in line for DVD release in complete season boxed sets!