In many ways Barnaby Jones was seen as the Matlock of private Detectives. The title character’s age alone gave him a similar, elderly fan-base that sustained the program for eight seasons. As a spin-off from Cannon, producer Quinn Martin offered us yet another protagonist who is designed to be perpetually underestimated (Cannon because of his obesity, and Jones for his age). Buddy Ebsen (who most know best as Jed Clampett from the original Beverly Hillbillies) is Barnaby Jones, who is always accepting a cold glass of milk over a hard drink, and always asking “a lot of questions” to catch the bad guy.
The formula for sees each episode begin with the crime that Jones will investigate being committed right before our eyes, so we are always in the know as to who the guilty party is and can watch as both the villain(s) and Jones play to and from each other. Jones’ gut intuition tends to be correct and that propels his investigations, often long after his duties as a hired Private Eye expire or are canceled as he must always see justice served.
The series opens with a team-up episode as both Jones and Cannon investigate the murder of Jones’ son, the incident which sparked his return from retirement on a cozy ranch. Each of Jones’ adventures has a slew of guest stars such as Leslie Neilsen, Bill Bixby, Margot Kidder, a massively campy (read: entertaining) and often robotic performance by William Shatner, and the very lovely Lee Meriwether in a recurring role as Jones’ daughter-in-law turned assistant.
The stories are engrossing, the acting is charming, and the pacing si very nice, even as we are reminded after each break how far along we are as Act I through IV appears on the screen each time we return to the story.
Fullscreen 4:3. A very nice picture quality for such an aged series (yes, there is an “age” pun in there for reference to the star and its core audience…and I refuse to change it). No flaws to note, nor any lack of effort on the part of the DVD makers who certainly ensured this looks as clean as it can.
English Mono. I suppose not much else could have been done for the audio when transferring it, nor would it make a world of difference. The audio is clear enough for what you need. There was one episode that had a brief moments were the dialogue became faded, no doubt because of some irreparable error in the soundtrack. Aside from that one notable instance, things sound fine.
60-second Episodic Promos: Trailers that would act as either a bumper or hype for the upcoming episodes. Sometimes these would basically show the entire story right to the climax without any context, but how can I complain when it got me watching? You have the option of watching each episode with the promo, or watching them each separately from their own menus.
Jones’ has an almost Batman-like (circa Adam West) ability to make his deductions seemingly out of the blue, as if running purely on a hunch instead of rock-solid evidence, and most always gets a confession out of the suspect before being “taken down.” This is part of the campy fun that seems to be only had in the 60s or 70s television, even when its a part of a serious action-drama like Barnaby Jones (CSI and Law & Order could never have this much fun).