I am just old enough to remember when my favorite childhood television channel, Nickelodeon, took on a new evening persona called Nick at Night. “What were they doing to my beloved cartoons?”, I pondered. I still remember those first few weeks of the new format, tuning in during the evening hours after my father had returned home from a long day at work. I was amazed to see that not only were my parents interested in what I was watching, but they actually knew what it was before I did! How was this possible!?
…p>Of course, I came to love the new nighttime format, and I began to pick out my favorites of these classic shows, just as my parents had done a generation before. One of the best new programs, I felt, was Mister Ed, the story of a man and his talking horse. Every child enjoys silliness and fantasy, and this show had both.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that these episodes are just as good today as they were back then, but it is still quite an entertaining little series. Well-crafted humor always stands the test of time, and this program was lucky enough to benefit from some great writers. Besides, I don’t care who you are, a talking horse is just plain funny.
This collection features the best episodes from the first three seasons, including guest appearances from Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Burns, and even tough guy Clint Eastwood (promoting his own show, Rawhide). The real star of the series, however, is Ed himself, as the equine motor mouth becomes an astronaut, a doctor and even a songwriter during the length of this DVD set. It may not be the Cosby’s, but the mix of family goodness and unabashed absurdity makes Mister Ed a show that is still funny forty years later.
Ah, the good ‘ol days of glorious English Mono. Thankfully, this was not re-mixed into 5.1, as so many classics are these days. There’s something comfortable about watching this show with a single, overtaxed channel of audio. Maybe it is the familiarity of a simpler time, or maybe it’s just because it reminds me of watching the show on our old single speaker television. Whatever the reason may be, it works well here. The sound has a compressed dynamic range, and everything sounds gloriously flat… jut as it did when it was first broadcast in the early 1960’s. Particularly fun is the voice of Ed himself, which echoes as if he were not even in the same room as the other actors. *wink, wink* OK, so this soundtrack has nothing on your new copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, but who cares. It’s fits the show perfectly.
The video quality of classic television shows should be judged with a grain of salt. No only was the equipment used at the time not nearly as high quality as what we use today, but the preservation processes were also quite inadequate. Nobody at the time considered the need for preserving these shows for consumer purchase years later, especially not on a format as flawlessly clear as DVD. With these facts in mind, I was pleased to see that these shows look surprisingly clean.
Initially, I was skeptical of how this show was going to look, as the first episode presented is the pilot. This episode is plagued with flaws throughout, including dust and scratches on the source negative. Subsequent episodes are much improved, however, with a sharpness and clarity that I have never seen on the television broadcast reruns. There are still some blemishes and the occasional jump cut, but any way you look at it, this show looks better than it ever has before. Fans will not be disappointed by the clarity present on the episodes included with this two disc set.
Nary an extra is to be found, however. It would have been nice to have seen some interviews with the cast and crew today, reminiscing about their times on the show, but I completely understand why this is not included. While I am sure they could have added some form of extras to this set, I also understand that this title is not going to be a big seller for MGM, and the addition of extras probably wouldn’t increase sales numbers by a single unit. Consumers will buy this one for the feature, not the extras.
I would have liked to have seen some special features included with this set, but there’s no question that this title is worth its low price point. Kudos go out to MGM for compressing this title down to two discs to keep the cost low. Over nine hours of Wilbur and his talking hose are included here, which is plenty to keep the casual viewer busy for weeks. This is a silly show with some good laughs that is fun for the whole family.