• OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
As the popularity of DVD has given me the opportunity to catch up on sitcoms I remember from goring up, it has also given me the opportunity to catch up on the shows I haven't seen. Even though I do catch the occasional rerun on Nick at Nite or TV Land, it just isn't the same without the quality and commercialess shows I can see on DVD. The most recent program I've had the opportunity to look back on is the 70's drama, Emergency.

Prior to this, I had never seen an episode of Emergency. Though in the midst of working as a 911 operator during a desperate time in my life, I heard the other operators talking about old episodes of the show. Though I never pursued looking up an episode in TV Guide because the last thing an emergency worker wants to see in their time off is more emergency work.

Luckily, I've been able to take a gander at the new DVD of the first season from Universal.

Basically, this is what medical shows were all about before the popular world of ER. The show focuses on a staff of medical workers. There are the staff members at the local hospital, and then there are the paramedics John (Randolph Mantooth) and Roy (Kevin Tighe). A majority of the show follows these two heroes as they go from place to place working their life-saving techniques, and receiving radio expertise from the doctors.

Upon first viewing Emergency, it is somewhat laughable. When watching medical workers save lives in the 1970's, their gadgets and techniques seem a little medieval. Though when I reflect on the show, I realize I am taken by its simplicity. Perhaps I reacted strangely to the show at first because I am used to the sensationalism of medical shows today. Every week is a "special" episode of ER, just like every other episode. And as of lately the shows are rarely about medical procedures. Instead they focus on the soap opera aspect and present the drama of divorce, alcoholism, and other problems in the lives of the doctors. Emergency is quite different in the sense that it is actually about medical procedures. It rarely plunges into drama with the characters, though when it does, it shines nothing but a respectable light on the heroes.

However, the show is all about exploring the medical field. I can best explain it as a cross between old school instructional doc*mentaries and fiction. Although everything is staged, the show's aim is to educate us on the procedures of emergency workers. When John and Roy arrive on the scene, they spend a great deal of time helping the victims because the camera shows their actions in a sort of "step-by-step" method. As for the hospital action, there are not doctors screaming, "Live damnit" while blood spurts out of a thug's bullet wound. Instead these docs focus on more innocent cases, such as a hyperventilating young girl that simply needs to breathe into a paper bag. Jeepers, programs were so gosh jolly innocent back then!
THE EXTRAS
Unfortunately, the disc is bare with no extras. I notice that many of these Classic Television DVD's from Universal lack in the supplemental features. A piece looking back on the series would have been nice. I still see Kevin Tighe popping up in supporting roles on television and film, so I know he is still out there. I guess Tighe and the rest of the surviving cast didn't have a chance to pencil it into their busy schedules.
THE VIDEO
Fullscreen. The show is presented in its original television ratio. The quality of the picture seems to show some improvement. Compared to the quality I am accustomed to seeing while channel surfing through TV Land, I can tell the episodes went through a little polishing. Not a bad finish. In fact, it looks great!
THE AUDIO
Stereo Sound. You can probably guess that the show is not ready for 5.1 blasting, but old shows are better fit to be played on standard speakers. Once again, everything is solid here.
THE PACKAGE
The episodes come packed on two double-sided discs and each has their own standard keep case. The cases are sold in a larger sleeve. The front cover of the cases and sleeve show the cast members, and the backs of the cases show episode listings.
THE FINAL WORD
Emergency is a terrific blast from the past that is campy and fun for younger viewers, and an actual entertainment experience for those that can remember the program

My Recommendation: Television aficionados and fans of the program should look no further. Despite the lack of extras, I doubt these shows are going to get a "Super Sexy Edition" re-release. So if you dig the show, then knock yourself out. This is a cherry collection of episodes.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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