- Episodic promos
- Closed Captioned
Sad to say, this set of four discs covering the first half of Season One of Cannon is no better than a fair job, and parts of it are seriously disappointing. One realizes that the last thing that producer Quinn Martin or any of the other participants in Cannon ever expected, in the early 1970s, was that someone would be watching these programs in digital video on monitor screens that were bigger across than the size of those humongous "home entertainment centers" of the period (the ones that were long enough, in those wood cabinets, containing maybe a 25-inch TV screen, a "stereo," and maybe even a built-in slide projector [!] to fill up one wall of a good size living room); but even taking into account such exigencies, the early '70s television shooting on these programs just doesn't translate terribly well to the digital format. At least, one could conclude that, based on the materials they have to work with here -- this looks like a bump-up of an existing non-digital video master, rather than a fresh transfer, film-to-digital; and if the video is no better than fair, the audio is dire. The sound is uneven in volume and tone, and almost seems to drop out (or, at least, drop WAY down) at some points -- the dialogue is so indistinct in some spots where it shouldn't be, that the deficiency almost qualifies as a mastering defect. Coupled with a dark, grainy image, the results are no better than a barely adequate viewing experience. The pity is that the actual shows are generally quite good, the scripts filled with humor as well as a large amount of violence (enough that the series had to be toned down somewhat in subsequent seasons) amid their mystery elements; there are some aspects of the action, such as mistakes by the hero, Frank Cannon (William Conrad) that no writer would get away with today; but balancing that out are occasional interesting characterizations, with odd eccentricities, not least of which reside in William Conrad's portrayal of Frank Cannon.
It should also be pointed out here an odd frustration endemic to a collection such as this -- the presence of the pilot episode; not that one would think of ever doing a set like this without the pilot included. In this case, however, it's a two-part show with what amounted to an all-star supporting cast, including Vera Miles, Barry Sullivan, J. D. Cannon, Keenan Wynn, Murray Hamilton, John Fiedler, Lynda Day George, and Earl Holliman -- in other words, major TV actors and real movie actors, and some with actual theater experience; and they comprise a group of actors that no producer could ever get together for a regular episode of a series, because their budget would never allow it; and the two-part format allows the writers room for the kind of character development that a regular episode never would. And therein lies the rub -- after seeing this episode, which takes its time like a good feature film in telling its story, the actual series shows are a bit of a disappointment, threadbare in comparison to the opening show. It's a difficulty that presents itself most frequently with 1960's and early 1970's series pilots -- this writer suspects that it started when Leonard Freeman succeeded with the pilot for Hawaii Five-O -- in which the producers tended to overload the production with names and script elements that they knew they couldn't normally reach for, to ensure a high rating and good reviews.
As stated, the full-screen (1.33-to-1) image is only fair, and the audio is problematic at best. The four single-sided discs each open to simple menus that allow "play all" function and individual program access. The chapter-breaks all correspond to the original commercial and credit breaks. And the only "bonus" feature is the presence of coming-attraction episode promos for each show, which can be accessed separately. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Cast & Crew
William Conrad - Frank Cannon
James Wainwright - Sergeant Hartman
Barnard Hughes - Spicer
John McLiam - Sean Loomis
Brooke Bundy - Carole