Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More 50's Crime -- Lee Marvin's M SQUAD

After ordering the 50's Mike Hammer show the other night, I didn't plan to buy any more DVDs for at least a week or two. That was before going household shopping with Brandi last night and finding the complete, 3-season, 117-episode Lee Marvin series M Squad (1957-60) on sale new for only twenty bucks ($100 off the SRP) at our local warehouse store.

From long and sad experience, I knew that if I passed it up then, I would never find it that cheap again, so... yep, I bought it - with Brandi's blessing. I'm a lucky guy that way.

So far, I've watched a half-dozen episodes, and while I'm really enjoying the show, with its jazzy musical score and Marvin's tough-as-nails portrayal of Chicago Police Detective Lt. Frank Ballinger, it is a little distracting how obvious it is that M Squad was the template that the 70's spoof Police Squad was based on. In fact, the opening scenes of the first episode are nigh-identical to the beginning of the first episode of Police Squad. Marvin's character (and voice-over narration) are also very clearly the model for Leslie Nielsen's Lieutenant Frank Drebin.

Picture and audio quality aren't that great (another reason to be grateful for the low price I paid) and vary from episode to episode, but frankly, I think we're lucky that the show survives at all. 

Apparently, while Universal licensed the show out for DVD to Timeless Media, they didn't provide the company with any source prints, so the company had to use beat-up 16mm syndication prints that had been in circulation since the 50s. And even then, they were only able to get their hands on 100 of the 117 episodes, so they actually put a call out to private collectors in order to get copies of the 17 remaining shows.

It's great stuff. When my Mike Hammer discs show up, I'll have to start alternating between shows for some serious 50s crime overload!


BrittReid said...

Was the warehouse club Costco or Sam's Club...or one I'm not a member of?

Christopher Mills said...

Sam's Club.