Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on February 3rd, 2011
My teenage years were set firmly in the 80’s and early 90’s. As a result, I watched my fair share of cheesy television shows and loved every minute of it. Shows like Sledge Hammer, Silk Stalkings, and Alf. But alas, some shows even escaped my cheese-dar until well into my adult years. One such show is Zorro, yes that Duncan Regehr vehicle where he wore a mask and carved Z into various objects while wooing the ladies. How could I ever miss that one?
Since, I’m dealing with a box set that covers a ton of episodes, I will do my best to break this down season by season with major changes between them. To be honest, from what I’ve seen, the show’s story is the same from start to finish. Even though some of the actors do change, it’s still Duncan Regehr running around in a mask with a sword. Too frank you say? Ha, ha (in best evil guy’s laughing voice)!
Don Diego de la Vega (played by Duncan Regehr) is a wealthy socialite in the early 19th century of Southern California. He and his father, Don Alejandro de la Vega (played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr) are frustrated with the criminal element in the small town. However, Don Diego decides to create a secret identity of Zorro, a master swordsman.
Along with his deaf mute servant, Felipe (played by Juan Diego Botto) to aid him and keep his secret hidden, they go up against the likes of Alcalde Luis Ramone (played by Michael Tylo) and his right hand, Sgt. Mendoza (played by James Victor). Zorro also captures the attention of the fair lady, Victoria (played by Patrice Camhi) who runs a local tavern.
The second season isn’t much different from the first. Henry Darrow takes over the duties of Don Diego’s father while Efrem moved on to other projects such as the voice of Alfred in Batman, The Animated Series. Interestingly enough, in the very first episode of the second season, Adam West (who of course also played Batman) is a guest star playing Doctor Wayne (Bruce Wayne…yeah…).
There are also other guest stars as the season rolls on including the likes of Roddy Piper, Andre the Giant, and Warwick Davis. The second season also gets more serious and leads to such harsh moments including Victoria being shot and a very interesting close to the season as the Alcalde meets some unfortunate circumstances.
The third season takes on the strongest tone yet as we gain a new Alcalde. His name is Ignacio De Soto (played by John Hertzler). Apparently, he used to have relations with Diego de la Vega as they went to school together. But this friendship is short lived when it is learned that Ignacio is going to rule Los Angeles with an iron fist. His first order of business is find Zorro and make sure he hangs.
Interestingly, Sgt. Mendoza is more of a friend to the people as he soon realizes that the Ignacio De Soto is not interested in fun and games but using the post of Alcalde as a stepping stone to personal gain. The Alcalde taxes the people beyond their means and even throws a few of them into prison for the offense. But Zorro is there at every turn to thwart Ignacio’s schemes at turning the town into a dictatorship.
The final season (which is abbreviated) is more of the same. Zorro still finds himself against the Alcalde but also turns his attention towards certain people that are close including Victoria. There is a love triangle developing but its between the likes of Victoria, Diego and his alter-ego, Zorro. Diego also finds out he has a brother but naturally that brother isn’t back to play nice with Diego and Don Alejandro. In this season, we also get Daniel Craig as a guest star as he plays the role of Lt. Hidalgo in two episodes.
Despite the changes from season to season, the episodes generally follow the same path. Whoever the Alcalde is for that season thinks up of a way to possibly trap Zorro or wrongs the people of Los Angeles in some way. Zorro comes to the rescue. He has a brilliant sword fight and rights the wrong. We tease some loving between Zorro and Victoria before Zorro has to run away back to the Vega house to play scientist with Felipe. It’s that simple.
For the first season, it was really hokey how they pulled it off. It was extremely blatant how they set up the scenarios to catch Zorro that one had to laugh at it rather than be interested in the action. But then an interesting thing happened as the series progressed, the writers got smarter. There was still some hokey pokey going on but it certainly got more serious and actually made the transition into an action show (with some family themes) from the comedy hour where they poked people with swords.
To be honest, after the first few episodes I was ready to call the show one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen. A quick look at the lead, Duncan Regehr looks and acts like the distant Spanish cousin of Bruce Campbell. Now, don’t get me wrong that’s not necessarily a bad thing but the role needed more than that. The supporting cast and the bevy of guest starts helped turn the show into a family favorite for almost one hundred episodes.
The video is in 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation. The video probably suffers the most in this restoration. Colors are okay when in a well light setting such as Diego’s home or the tavern. But since a lot of the show deals with outside locations and at night, it gets progressively worse until it hits nightfall. Then you are lucky if you can make out anything as somebody who you assume is Zorro jumps from rooftop to rooftop. It’s livable as long as you can live without much detail.
For the audio portion, we get a 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track. The audio fares a little better. Dialog is fairly clear with only a little bit of surface noise. The opening theme music will still inspire you to rip off your shirt and dance around your living room (okay, that’s just me) but perhaps not sign up for salsa lessons. Sound effects aren’t much and don’t move around in the 2.0 frame. It’s standard television fare but you can work through it and appreciate it for what it is.
- The Mark of Zorro 1:28:42: The entire 1920 Douglas Fairbanks movie in its silent glory. The picture and sound quality isn’t all that great but it is certainly watchable. Nice way to spend an afternoon.
- Zorro’s Fighting Legion 27:36: Chapter 1 of a 1939 Theatrical serial. The picture quality is a little better but then it’s not quite the story as Mark of Zorro is. It also involves a weird looking Indian god of some sort. That’s enough to not seek further episodes of this one.
- Pilot: Alternate Version 22:20: The never before released pilot for Zorro with Patrick James as Zorro and Val De Vargas as the Alcade. Picture quality is a bit of issue but its interesting how awful Patrick James would have been.
- Trailers 6:29: Zorro’s Black Whip (Female Zorro Theatrical Serial?), Zorro’s Fighting Legion, and Zorro Rides Again (Caucasian Zorro with a Gun?)
- Photo Gallery 7:17: Some great pictures from the series to finish off the extras.
The story of Zorro has been remade so many times that they were thinking of calling yours truly next to play the man behind the mask (the wife wouldn’t let me, she said something about never sleeping with me again). But Duncan Regehr and his supporting cast turned out a show that lasted a great time and can really be described as a family series. Well, except for the fact that they teased hanging somebody in every episode.
The sheer wealth of material in this set is staggering. There are fifteen discs to enjoy and this is something that could take a few months of marathon watching to get it all in. The video and audio is a bit of a disappointment and while the extras were about Zorro, they weren’t necessarily about this Zorro if that makes sense. I give the show a decent recommendation, at least from the second season on. Enjoy.
Season 1, Disc 1: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Deceptive Heart, Water, Double Entendre, The Best Man, The Sure Thing, Zorro’s Other Woman.
Season 1, Disc 2: The Legend Begins Part 1, The Legend Begins Part 2, The Legend Begins Part 3, The Legend Begins Part 4, Pride of the Pueblo, Honor Thy Father.
Season 1, Disc 3: The Magician, A Deal with the Devil, Whereabouts, All that Glitters, Child’s Play, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
Season 1, Disc 4: Ghost Story, The Bounty Hunters, The Unhappy Medium, An Explosive Situation, Family Business, Palomarez Returns.
Season 2, Disc 1: The Wizard, Master and Pupil, Kidnapped, The Tease, He Who Lives By the Sword, Freedom of the Press, Sanctuary.
Season 2, Disc 2: The Chase, Broken Heart, Broken Mask, The White Sheep of the Family, The Challenge, Rites of Passage, The Falcon.
Season 2, Disc 3: It’s a Wonderful Zorro, The Marked Man, Big Brother, To Be a Man, The Whistling Bandit, The Don’s Dilemma.
Season 2, Disc 4: The Jeweled Sword, The Newcomers, The Devil’s Fortress Part 1, The Devil’s Fortress Part 2, One for All Part 1, One for All Part 2.
Season 3, Disc 1: The New Broom, Rush to Judgment, A New Lease on Love, The Man Who Cried Wolf, Armed and Dangerous, The Buccaneers, A New Beginning.
Season 3, Disc 2: A Woman Scorned, Wicked, Wicked Zorro, Alejandro Rides Again, The Old Flame, Miracle of the Pueblo, A Love Remembered.
Season 3, Disc 3: Dirty Tricks, Mendoza the Malevolent, Test of Faith, Siege, They Call Her Annie, Silk Purses and Sow’s Ears.
Season 3, Disc 4: Turning the Tables, One Special Night, Balancing the Books, Blind Man’s Bluff, Heir Apparent, The Word.
Season 4, Disc 1: The Fox and the Rabbit, Ultimate Justice, Love Potion Number Nine, As Ye Sow, An Affair to Remember, The Reward, Like Father, Like Son.
Season 4, Disc 2: Symbol of Hope, My Word is My Bond, The Arrival, Death and Taxes, Conundrum, The Discovery.