Later this month, VCI Entertainment will be releasing Honey West: The Complete Series on DVD. They kindly sent me an advance copy for review.
This 1965-66 series only lasted one season on ABC television, but it was remarkably influential. At the time, women on TV were pretty much exclusively housewives and/or secretaries, but Honey – as portrayed by the lovely Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet) – was a fully liberated businesswoman and action heroine; a licensed private investigator with sublime martial arts skills, intelligence and a sharp wit. In fact, Honey predated The Avengers gals Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg in her use of judo and karate, at least so far as American audiences were aware.
Airing, as it did, during the first big Bond craze alongside The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and other secret agent series, Honey and her platonic business partner Sam Bolt (John Ericsson) were rather gadget-mad, with an electronic arsenal that the CIA would envy. Aside from their fully-equipped surveillance van, they also employed a plethora of disguised radios, miniature TV cameras, exploding earrings, and other similar gizmos.
Loosely based on a series of somewhat racier paperback novels, the half-hour episodes move fast and are action-packed, with witty dialogue and clever, twisty plots. None of them stand out as particularly exceptional, but they're consistently enjoyable. As a crime show, it's lightweight, but as entertainment, it's solid gold.
VCI's 4-disc DVD set includes all 30 half-hour episodes in fine quality B&W, full-frame transfers. Picture quality is surprisingly solid, on a par with the company's previous Burke's Law release, and this set is much more economically packaged, with all 4 discs tucked into a standard size case. The set also includes two still galleries and a slew of vintage television commercials.
If you're into vintage television – or interested in strong female action characters – this DVD set is highly recommended.