The Rifleman: Boxed Sets 1 & 2 (1958)
Review by HTQ4

Series Created by Sam Peckinpah
Starring Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Paul Fix, Hope Summers, Bill Quinn, and five years worth of guest stars including Martin Landau, Dennis Hopper, Buddy Hackett, Michael Landon, and Sammy Davis, Jr.


Released by: MPI
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Rent them

Lucas McCain (Connors) is as good and fast with a his Winchester rifle as most men are with a six shooter. He and his son, Mark (Crawford), decide to put down roots in North Fork, New Mexico, but their lives there are not going to be easy. They are going to have to rely on Lucas' speed and accuracy with his rifle and a little help from the sheriff to maintain a peaceful life.

This television show ran from 1958 to 1963 on ABC. It was number one in ratings for most of that time. And it should come as no surprise that it's very well written and conceived show--not to mention superbly acted. Connors helped to create a wonderful character in Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford played a very believable son to Connors. All of the other cast members are equally up to their respective tasks. The dialogue feels very natural and everyone i nvolved seem to be avoiding the temptation to play their parts with too much melodrama. The first episode is the standard by which they should all be measured and that one is so simple, it's elegant. All it revolves around is the McCains moving into town and cleaning up a lot of the riff-raff after he enters a rigged shooting contest. After watching the rest of the series, it is this one that stands out as the finest of all the episodes.

However, as nice as it is to have these preserved in a digital format, the boxed sets do leave quite a bit to be desired in the special features department. Testament to the series itself that I crave features so badly. There are only two discs out of eight that contain bonus material. Disc one contains cast biographies and a still gallery. The cast bios consist only of one page each for Connors, Crawford, and Fix. The still gallery is a bit sparse, as it contains four small pictures of the cast--which look more like publicity shots than stills taken from the set. Disc two is where we find the outtakes from the series. This is a rather lengthy gag reel of deleted scenes and outtakes from the series, with quite a bit of Connors and the crew goofing around at the end of takes. As many of you know, I'm quite the connoisseur of these gag reels, and I think that this one is one of the better examples I've seen. It's quite funny to see a man using words that are still considered too extreme for television in a black and white format. I imagine this is what it would feel like to see Ozzie and Harriet in the same bed on black and white television. Anyway, it's the best thing about these two collections. The second boxed set has no features.

So, the show itself is definitely worth watching, but I'm afraid they would need a bit more in the features department before I could say you should pick them up permanently. Granted, a fan of the show will probably want to snag them--and more power to them. But for the rest of us, we certainly won't be disappointed with them as a rental.

Buy Boxed Set Volume 1 from Amazon!
Buy Boxed Set Volume 2 from Amazon!

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