Jack Webb’s empire was running strong as Emergency entered its third year. What is interesting is that the series never racked up great numbers, but it had some strong staying power. Fans who did watch the show were loyal, and it along with Webb’s police shows were affecting the pop culture. It’s no secret that the contributions to society were high for Emergency. The modern paramedic system owes more than a little bit to the legacy of the series. The actors are still approached by folks who credit them with their decision to go into the life-saving business. More than a few cities around the country were inspired into creating such units because of the show. What’s even better is that it could create such great social change and still be one hell of an entertaining series.
The premise is the same: Roy DeSoto (Tighe) and John Gage (Mantooth) were pioneers in the paramedic field. They would be stationed out of L.A.’s real station 51. With each new episode we were treated to a standard formula that would include some kind of daring rescue. The hospital scenes usually played out more like a soap opera and, for me at least, tended to slow things down. We young boys wanted to see more high risk rescues. Season three was a very comfortable year for the show. The interplay was about as smooth as any show on the air. Gage’s foils with the IRS and others provide a ton more meat this season than it had in the first 2. That makes for entertaining drama and comedy beyond the rescues.
Each episode of Emergency is presented in its full frame original broadcast format. Keep in mind this was a 1970’s television drama, and the less than perfect transfer will not disappoint too much. You should expect the considerable grain and an overall dirty look to the prints. Colors are typically soft, common with the 1970’s broadcast quality. Black levels are neither deep nor detailed.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is pretty much on par with the video. The sound is neither dynamic nor clean. You’ll notice some high-end distortion, particularly on the blaring sirens. The musical cues are often harsh. Dialogue is usually clear, but there are times that ambient sounds such as sirens and traffic noises cause you to miss a word here and there.
Thank you Universal, again, for moving to the better quality single sided discs.
You would think that after nearly three seasons this predictable formula would have begun to wear thin. I think the answer to why it hadn’t can be found in the camaraderie of the leads: Mantooth and Tighe. Certainly the entire idea shows its age but is still worth a notable spot on your DVD shelf. You might not want to watch it often, but I guarantee every so often you’re going to want to hear that annoying siren that calls out “Rescue 51, Rescue 51!”