Friday, March 26, 2010

HONEY WEST: THE COMPLETE SERIES

Back in '08, VCI Entertainment released HONEY WEST: THE COMPLETE SERIES (1965) on DVD. The Late Show was on something of a hiatus at the time, so I reviewed it elsewhere. But I watched several episodes recently, and thought I'd revise and post that review here now, as the set is still available.

The 60s series chronicled the adventures of a beautiful, sophisticated female private eye and her hunky male partner, as they investigated unusual crimes - most frequently, bizarre murders.

HONEY WEST only lasted one season on ABC television, but it was remarkably influential. At the time, women on American TV were pretty much exclusively housewives and/or secretaries, but Honey – as portrayed by the lovely Anne Francis (FORBIDDEN PLANET) – was a fully liberated businesswoman and action heroine; a licensed private investigator with sublime martial arts skills, intelligence and a sharp wit. In fact, Honey predated THE AVENGERS gals Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg in her use of judo and karate, at least so far as U.S. audiences were aware.

Airing, as it did, during the first big Bond craze alongside THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and other secret agent series, Honey and her platonic (maybe) business partner Sam Bolt (John Ericsson) were rather gadget-mad, with an electronic arsenal that the CIA would envy. Aside from their fully-equipped surveillance van, they also employed a plethora of disguised radios, miniature TV cameras, exploding earrings, and other similar gizmos.

Loosely based on a series of somewhat racier paperback novels, the half-hour episodes move fast and are action-packed, with witty dialogue and clever, twisty plots. None of them stand out as particularly exceptional, but they're consistently enjoyable. As a crime show, it's lightweight, but as entertainment, it's solid gold.

VCI's 4-disc DVD set includes all 30 half-hour episodes in fine quality B&W, full-frame transfers. Picture quality is surprisingly solid, on a par with the company's previous BURKE'S LAW releases. The set is economically packaged, with all 4 discs tucked into a standard size case. For extras, the discs include two still galleries and a slew of vintage television commercials.

If you're into vintage television – or interested in strong female action characters – this DVD set is highly recommended.

BUY: Honey West: The Complete Series (4pc) (Full B&W)