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Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2 (1976) – DVD Review

Quincy: Seasons 1 and 2 DVD


Series Created by Glen A. Larson and Lou Shaw
Starring Jack Klugman, Robert Ito, John S. Ragin, Garry Walberg, Val Bisoglio


  • All sixteen first and second season episodes

Released by: Universal.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Watch it on cable.

They say dead men tell no tales. But Dr. Quincy (Klugman) is here to prove them wrong. Using forensic science, he gives the dead a voice. And by being pushy with witnesses and browbeating officials, he makes sure that voice is good and loud. Sometimes this drive for justice puts him in conflict his boss, Dr Astin (Ragin), Homicide detective Lt. Monahan (Walberg) and pretty much anybody else in his way. But with the help of his assistant Sam (Ito), Quincy is ready for the fight for truth, justice and…well, anyway, you get the point.

[ad#longpost]There is one thing this series has over CSI. On several occasions, the police question why Quincy is so involved in a criminal investigation. In CSI, an actual police detective is almost an appendix, not needed but too bothersome to remove. Still Quincy is as hip deep in cases as Grissom and company. That brings up another comparison. While CSI is a strong ensemble show, Quincy is pretty much Klugman’s baby.

It’s easy to make righteous indignation seem cartoonish but Klugman manages (most of the time) to keep his tirades against the system and its injustices from overchewing the scenery. And he can lay on a guilt trip on someone better than a Jewish grandmother. You do have to admire the courage this show had for dealing with subjects that are still touchy today like rape, child abuse, and mercy killing. And while it’s easy in our more cynical age to disparage Quincy’s crusading nature, who else would you want on your case when the chips are down?

With all these box sets of old television shows, you get to notice things by watching them back to back instead of weekly. For instance, with all the times Quincy has been right in a theory he had, you would think Astin and Monahan would say “It’s wild, but you’ve been right in the past. Let’s run with it.” This makes for a lazy way to set up conflict.

Jack Klugman as Quincy looking in a microscope Jack Klugman as Quincy pointing
From left to right: first Quincy investigates, then he gets pissed.

And I really hate when the main bad guy’s goons try to rough up or otherwise intimidate Quincy. Anybody with any criminal or law enforcement connections should be aware of Quincy’s stubbornness. The supporting characters themselves are really there to spur exposition or for Quincy to yell at in some fashion. Quincy is constantly getting the idea that will solve the case but doesn’t inform Sam or Astin. It’s always “I’ll tell you later” with him. Of course, since we know he has to save it for the climax of the final act. The ideas that the show had are good, but how they play out shows a lack of imagination.

I’m noticing that Universal is very skimpy on extras for the TV releases. This box set has nothing. Nothing. This has been popular in syndication and cable, so surely adding an interview with Klugman or one of the other actors couldn’t that big of a financial risk. And since Quincy is on TV somewhere right now, I might wait on getting the box set.

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