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An original component of NBC's Mystery Movie lineup, McMillan and Wife features Rock Hudson (Ice Station Zebra, Giant) as San Francisco Police Commissioner Stuart `Mac' McMillan, and Susan Saint James (Kate And Allie), as his wife and crime-solving partner, Sally. This DVD contains the first two episodes from the fourth season (1974-75), where due to the real life pregnancy of Susan Saint James, Sally is also pregnant.
Each episode runs about 98 minutes, and while this release was perhaps intended as a way to "sample" the series, why these particular episodes were chosen, out of the 40 that were produced in the entire series' run, is a bit of a mystery, as Sally's pregnancy was certainly unusual. It does not however, prevent her from taking an active role, as Mac continues to rely on her, as well as the slightly goofy sergeant Charles Enright (John Schuck), and his crusty housekeeper Mildred (Nancy Walker), who is never shy about offering her opinions.
Downshift to Danger (Rating: 3 stars)
Mac and Sally are members of a car club, and when the club president dies, his last wishes are that a cross country road rally event be held, to determine what will happen to his collection of valuable antique cars. The McMillan's are one of five couples participating in the rally and vying for the prize, but unfortunately misfortune visits a number of the teams, as Mac's car is sabotaged, forcing a switch to Sally's yellow MG convertible. As the event proceeds, more mishaps occur, culminating with the death of one of the racers.
The previous year, the McMillan's journeyed to Scotland in what was a memorable season premiere. This season opener also has an unusual premise, where the emphasis is more on action sequences featuring the various vehicles, concluding with a wild chase, with Sally in the back of a pickup truck.
The Game of Survival (Rating: 4 stars)
This is a complicated whodunit, where the mauled remains of newspaper tycoon Ewing Webley (Andrew Duggan) are found in the cage of his pet lions. Astrov, a tennis player who is the prime suspect has disappeared. Webley's young wife Rachel (Stefanie Powers), and son Walter (George Maharis), don't appear overcome by grief. The McMillan's are smack in the middle of things, having just played mixed doubles with Rachel and Astrov. With some assistance from Enright, and a visibly pregnant Sally, Mac cleverly puts the pieces together. Guest stars Powers and Maharis, deliver some strong performances, and for comic relief, former tennis pro Bobby Riggs makes a brief appearance at the very end.
With two episodes featuring a pregnant Sally, this release is a good representative of the fourth season of McMillan and Wife, but perhaps not the best sampling of the entire series. The differences are not major, as the style of the program remains basically the same, but a little more diversity would seem to have made more sense.
Mixing romance, intrigue, humor, and action, McMillan and Wife was an entertaining series, which appealed to old style mystery lovers. For the uninitiated, this release is a decent introduction to the series, but might not be the most economical buy. The season sets which were once in the $25 range, have come down in price, and if your timing is good, you might be able to get an entire season, with six or seven episodes, for just a little more than this single DVD release. The episodes are not subtitled, and there are some instances where image quality is not the best, due to issues with the source material.