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Season 1, Volume 1
Running Time: 693 minutes
Retail Price: $31.99
Features: Forming The Squad, Inside "The Teeth Of The Barracuda": 1968, Friends of The Mod Squad
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Mono, Chapter Selection (7 chapters per episode), Four-Disc Set
Released: December 18th, 2007
Believe it or not, after some shoddy transfer jobs Paramount has done on their older TV titles, the first 13 episodes of "The Mod Squad" are in more-than-decent shape. Yes, there is some noise to be had and dirt and blemishes are fluttered around the prints of the episodes. But color saturation and detail are pretty good, fleshtones look accurate and the grain isn't too bad or gets in the way. The episodes certainly look like they are a product of the 1960s, but it looks like they've been taken care of since then. The transfers are far from perfect, but I'm impressed they don't look like total trainwrecks.
English Mono tracks for the episodes are in pretty terrific shape: I
didn't detect any hiss or distortion from the episodes I checked out,
and everything sounded clear with decent fidelity. Of course, this is
how the series aired, so these tracks are limited. But all the dialogue
is very easy to hear, the variety of sound effects come out well and
the musical cues sounded strong too. I was pretty impressed: not bad
for a 40 year old series.
A classic TV title from Paramount that isn't "Star Trek" or "I Love Lucy" that has bonus features? Surprise, surprise! Hopefully this might be a trend Paramount continues with other titles.
For this first DVD of "The Mod Squad," there's a few featurettes. First up on disc one is Forming The Squad. Lasting 15 minutes, cast members Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole discuss how the series began, the inspirations for it, their lives in the 1960s and their recollections of the late Aaron Spelling. Of course, there's ample discussion of those not on camera: namely Tige Andrews and Clarence Williams III. Even The Woody gets some love. Those who grew up with the series will probably appreciate the decade-specific recollections more than those who didn't, but there's still a lot of anecdotes everyone can enjoy.
Inside "The Teeth Of The Barracuda": 1968 is a 9 minute, 33 second featurette also on the first disc. This piece also has Lipton and Cole getting very nostalgic about the 1960s, even moreso than the first one. The two mention the series, but this extra is really sort of an odd history lesson... namely when one of the actors mention something specific to the 1960s culture, a text still pops up on screen giving more background. (Can't the few members of Generation Y go to their local library to research this stuff if they're interested, or in their case, just use Wikipedia?) In all, this is just a summation of key events from 1968 brought to you by two actors from a cult TV show. Given how much "The Mod Squad" was steeped into the culture of the times, it makes sense... but it's all a little bizarre if you ask me. More than anything, I guess this is meant to appeal to the baby boomers buying this set.
Last but not least, on the third disc is Friends of The Mod Squad. This is the longest supplement, running a little past 16 minutes. This is a tribute to the show's numerous guest stars. Popping up to talk about their time on the series is Academy Award-winning actor Lou Gossett Jr., Lesley Ann Warren, Tyne "Lacey" Daly and the legendary Ed Asner. All four give some great anecdotes and recollections, while Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole give specific praise about the actors and how guest stars made their way through the tight-knit cast. Easily the most entertaining and accessible supplement on the disc.
"The Mod Squad" is another slice of old-school television hitting the DVD, and a series that is certainly steeped in the culture of the times (the 1960s). I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with this release: the episodes look and sound decent despite their age, and there are even a few supplements - ones that give the series its context in its relation to what was happening in America when it was made, as well as its origins and the actors on it. Fans who grew up with the series (and NOT the dreadful 1999 movie) should certainly give this a look.