Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I reviewed VCI Entertainment's first BURKE’S LAW DVD set on my blog back in May (Season 1, Volume 1). Now Volume 2 is on sale, with the second half of this 1964 detective series' first season.

This early-60's detective series was produced by Aaron Spelling, and like his later productions, it's slick, a little sleazy, and gimmicky. And man, Burke's Law may just be the most gimmick-laden detective series ever!

The first gimmick is that Amos Burke (Gene Barry), a L.A. homicide captain, is a multi-millionaire, spending his nights in an alcoholic haze, romancing starlets and debutantes and engaging in the other sordid pursuits of the insanely rich. But, when duty calls, Burke orders his Asian manservant Henry to bring around the Rolls Royce, and is chauffeured to the crime scene – usually still in his black tie and tux.

The second gimmick is that each episode is loaded with big name guest stars, both the young, fresh faces of 1964, and a whole lot of Hollywood legends and almost-legends – Dan Duryea, Ed Wynn, Carolyn Jones, William Shatner, Howard Duff, Michael Ansara, Dorothy Lamour, Spike Jones, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Backus, Barbara Eden, Tab Hunter, Fess Parker, Nancy Kovack, Jane Greer, Buster Keaton, John Cassavetes, Mako, Agnes Moorehead and Forrest Tucker are just some of the familiar faces who show up in these 16 episodes.

The third gimmick is "Burke's Laws," pithy little bits of wisdom that the suave homicide cop occasionally likes to pass along to his junior officers.

The witty, twisty scripts are superior to many other crime shows of the era, filled with eccentric suspects, red herrings, snappy dialogue and sly innuendoes. Among the writing staff were the acclaimed writer Harlan Ellison and Gold Medal paperback author Day Keene.

The full-frame, B&W picture quality is excellent, on a par with the previous set, and like that volume, VCI has included a bunch of 1964 vintage television commercials. In fact, my one complaint with the first set – its bulky packaging – has been remedied with this volume, as VCI has placed all 4 discs into a single, standard-sized DVD case.

Overall, it's a great presentation of a highly entertaining – and generally underrated – classic television series. If you collect old shows, like I do, you won't be disappointed in this set.

Highly recommended.

BUY: Burke's Law: Season One Volume Two