Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Route 66,' the complete series, now on DVD

Ed here: My friend Jack O'Connell sent me this link because he "suspected" I was a Route 66 guy. He's right. This was a dramatic series that not only got its own moment down but presaged what was to come in five years or so. As with any series some episodes were stronger than others but if you want to know what it was like to be in your Twenties in the America of the late Fifties and early Sixties, and didn't go right into college or the service, this is where to look. This America top to bottom with many points never covered by movies or TV in between. Some of the strongest writing and acting of the decade can be found here. Thanks. Jack.

Martin Milner, George Maharis star in 'Route 66,' the complete series, now on DVD

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 12:50 PM Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 12:55 PM
Chris Ball, The Plain Dealer
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"Route 66," the complete series

Two clean-cut young men drift across the country in a Corvette convertible, looking for odd jobs and finding adventure in this classic CBS drama.

You can feel the influence of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" in the 1960-64 series, but its heroes certainly aren't bongo-playing beatniks. The decent, capable characters are quick to lend a hand to a stranger in need as they journey from town to town and coast to coast.

Martin Milner, who later starred in "Adam-12," is on board as Tod Stiles for all 116 episodes. His traveling companion for the first 82 episodes is George Maharis as Buz Murdock. When an illness sidelines Maharis, he is replaced for the final 32 episodes by Glenn Corbett as Lincoln Case.

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Part of the show's appeal lies in its constantly changing setting. One of the associate producers, Sam Manners, was born in Cleveland, and thus a number of episodes take place in prominent Northeast Ohio locations. They include Edgewater Park, the Flats, the port, the East Ninth Street pier, Public Square, a Bratenahl mansion, Euclid Beach Amusement Park and the construction of the freeway interchange at Mayfield Road and I-271.

Most of the episodes were penned by writer-producer Stirling Silliphant, an Oscar winner for his screenplay for "In the Heat of the Night."

Nelson Riddle composed and performed the show's instrumental theme song, which became a pop hit. Arthur Hiller ("Love Story") directed 12 episodes.

Guest stars include Lee Marvin, Inger Stevens, Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Rod Steiger, Jack Warden, Ed Asner, Michael Rennie, Julie Newmar, Tammy Grimes, Herschel Bernardi, Barbara Eden, Tom Bosley, DeForest Kelley, John Astin, Harvey Korman, Sylvia Miles, Leslie Nielsen, Burt Reynolds, Ron Howard, Gene Hackman, Martin Sheen, James Caan, Buster Keaton, Peter Lorre, Anne Francis and Suzanne Pleshette.

Unlike many TV shows that eventually just fade out, "Route 66" had a definite concluding episode, where one character gets married and another makes plans to return home to his family.

"Route 66" first arrived on DVD with season one, volume one in 2007, followed little by little by the remainder of the first three seasons. Season four has not been released separately and is only now making its DVD debut in this complete series, prompting complaints from fans who already own the first three seasons and only need the fourth.

The complete series is 24 discs, covering 100 hours. DVD extras consist of vintage commercials, a historical featurette on the Corvette, and the only new bonus item, a 1990 panel discussion at the William S. Paley Television Festival, with Maharis, Hiller, writer-producer Herbert B. Leonard and casting director Marion Dougherty.

From Shout Factory. Released May 22.



RJR said...

I have 2 seasons of this, 2 seasons of Mannix, a half a season of Burke's Law, and I decided to stop buying and wait for the COMPLETE seasons to come out. So this is good news.


Ron Scheer said...

This is great news; thanks. I'd been under the impression that the series was totally unavailable. Though the years 1960-64 were my college years, there were many miles covered "on the road." There was a similar series about the same time with a guy on a motorcycle that I can never remember. Maybe you do.

Rick said...

Then came Bronson.