An Outstanding Example of TV’s Golden Age
There are so many old, quality television shows that seem to have been forgotten, either because they were performed live and never recorded or because they only had a limited run and have too few episodes for later-run syndication. Some are pushed aside because they are in black & white rather than color or because the types of drama or comedy have fallen out of favor.
This series has both the black & white and limited run strikes going against it, but the quality of the show and the importance of the star should be enough to bring it to the attention of those who enjoy and appreciate fine writing and strong performances presented in an anthology format rather than a continuing series.
Barbara Stanwyck was one of the top stars in Hollywood and at one time was the highest paid female actor. Like many of her contemporaries in the movie business, she saw the possibilities of extending her career in the relatively new medium of television. Her first attempt to break into television with a series of her own was this series which consisted of an anthology of shows, each with different characters and stories (with the exception of two installments that featured the same character and setting), often featuring other Hollywood guest stars and up-and-coming new actors on their way to stardom.
This DVD set includes half of the episodes of the show on three DVDs along with a booklet of background information and episode outlines. The second half of the season’s episodes are currently available on a Volume 2 set of DVDs, but are not covered in this review.
All but one of the shows in this set stars Stanwyck in the lead. The quality of each individual episode varies slightly based on the writing and story type, but overall is of a high standard. Stanwyck is at her best in the stories that feature a strong-willed woman similar to her role of Victoria Barkley in her iconic television show The Big Valley, as in the first episode on the DVD The Key to the Killer, but she is also believable in the more soapy, romantic stories as well such as in The Sisters.
Although her first series only lasted one season, it won Stanwyck an Emmy® Award as Best Actress. Her acceptance of the award is included as a bonus feature as is the never-aired pilot episode for the series.
Recommended, especially if you enjoy playing Spot the Stars and Future Stars during classic movies and television shows.