Friday, February 10, 2006


In the late Nineties, CBS attempted to adapt a classic Hollywood Western into a weekly television series. The attempt ran for two short seasons, but did attract a loyal fanbase. Now, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (1998) is available on DVD from Sony/MGM.

The show starred Michael Biehn (THE TERMINATOR, NAVY SEALS) as the unofficial leader of seven hired guns fighting injustice in the Old West. The titular septet included familiar faces like Ron Perlman (HELLBOY), Eric Close (WITHOUT A TRACE) and Dale Midkiff (anybody else remember TIME TRAX?). The only surviving star of the legendary 1960 movie version, Robert Vaughn (BULLITT), even shows up in a recurring guest role as the territorial circuit judge that hires the Seven to enforce the law in a town without a sheriff.

The episodes are okay, the writers quickly running through all the standard Western plots, while adding in a little annoying political correctness. No stereotyped Mexican banditos here, folks, and every whore is really a liberated lady making her way the best she can in a man's world. Despite that unfortunate 90's lapse, the show is still worth watching. The cast is uniformly good, and the Seven have a great chemistry. Clearly, they're having a good time playing cowboy, and that enthusiasm comes across. Ron Perlman is particularly interesting as the spiritually conflicted gunman who constantly attempts to reconcile his violent nature with his faith, while Michael Biehn is a suitably stoic and hard-bitten leader.

MGM has released the ten episodes of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN's first season on two double-sided DVDs, packaged in a pair of slim cases that fit snugly inside a cardboard box. The episodes are presented full-frame, with Dolby Stereo Surround sound. Picture quality is mostly good, although some shots are inexplicably grainy. There are no extras on the set, aside from a few trailers for other MGM/Sony/Columbia/Tristar Western titles.

If you're a fan of the show or a TV Western fan needing a fix, the set's worth picking up.

BUY: The Magnificent Seven - The Complete First Season