Sterling Silliphant, in the latter days of his career, gifted the world with the deliriously schlocky screenplays to the likes of The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and that apotheosis of the Expensive Badfilm, The Swarm. So it is sometimes hard to remember that he also penned the script of In the Heat of the Night and some 74 episodes of Route 66. I confess to a being a complete newcomer to the series, and though I was rather baffled at first, I was also struck by the quite beautiful prose being spoken. Anyone who thinks highly literate scripts are impossible (or just about) on network TV should cock an ear (and an eye) in the direction of this series.
At any rate, what we have is two friends (Martin Milner and George Maharis, who was replaced partway through this season by Glenn Corbett) travelling across the United States and, though the people they meet, being drawn into a different drama each episode. No end of topical issues are explored, and done so in a highly ambitious fashion. Sterling television work.
The prints are in good shape. The black-and-white tones are excellent, the blacks are profound, and the image is very sharp. There is some speckling going on, but it is very minor. All told, this is a fine-looking set of episodes.
The mono audio has aged a bit more than has the sound. Though the audio is good enough to get by on, there is some harshness to the dialogue. Anything very different with a 40+-year-old television series would be a bit much to ask for, however.
Some contextualizing features would have been a nice idea, but the series stands on its own merits just fine.