Chuck Connors in Branded: The Complete Series on DVD
by, 01-15-2011 at 02:24 PM (2167 Views)
I love a good western, including this series, Branded, which was highly successful for two seasons, 1965-1966. The show starred Chuck Connors of The Rifleman as Jason McCord, a captain in the Army who was branded a coward after the Battle of Bitter Creek. As the only survivor of the conflict, he had no one to support his claim that he hadn't run. In fact, it was his commanding officer who had blown it, but McCord refused to brand the officer for the miscues that led to the massacre.
The Complete Series: Branded on DVD is nicely done. The release comes from Timeless Media Group. What this means is that they've done the best job possible in putting together this collection. It's not perfect in quality, but quite honestly, it looked great to me. Whatever image and sound imperfections may exist are minimal considering the technology of the day when these shows were produced.
There are six disks, two in each slim pack case. The first three disks have some nice artwork of the desert, presumably in Utah where Branded did some location shooting. The final three have a photo of Connors on them. All six contain the disk contents, which is unusual and also appreciated.
There is no 'play all' feature unfortunately, though some of them advance forward automatically while others do not.
The weirdest aspect of the DVDs for me is that there isn't really a rhyme or reason to the order of the presentation. The disks do not go in true chronological order of episode air dates. My best guess on why this was done is that there are several multi-part episodes (not just two-parters, but three-part tales). I'm thinking that to keep all of those together, they did some shifting in the order.
Each disk has a special feature on it. One has an episode of The Rifleman and another has Connor's appearance in an outing of Four Star Playhouse. Creator Larry Cohen provides much of the other bonus segments, talking about Connors, how it was filming the show, and his own career.
What intrigued me was his commentary about Connors and Cohen's relationship with him. Connors was apparently a tough cookie, and the two didn't hit it off. Cohen gives insight to this show that I'd never heard before, and it did have my full attention.
What really touched me, though, was at the end of the final special feature. Cohen had discussed his career, which personally went on a bit too long for me, when he wrapped it up by getting back to Branded and Connors. He had a somewhat emotional last line, spoken to Connors and not the camera, about their relationship, or lack of one. I thought it was quite poignant.
Branded was popular when canceled. According to Cohen, it went off the air because the show's sponsor was frustrated by Connors' refusal to promote its products and go to events.
Though the series had changed by the end of the second season and even seemed to be getting away from its core uniqueness of McCord fighting for respect, it still had life in it. At least we have two good seasons of dramatic episodes.
I learned a lot from Cohen, the shows were solid (some were wonderful, others so-so, and there were average ones, too, as is the case for most series), and the extras were decent. I wish the cardboard jacket that the three slim packs slide into was better quality, though.
The long and short of it, however, is that I do recommend this DVD set.