Peter Gunn: Set 1

Peter Gunn: Set 1 (1958)
A&E Home Video
Cast: Craig Stevens, Lola Albright
Extras: Trivia Game

Following hot on the heels of their impressive second-wave of ’Secret Agent’ releases, A&E Home Video unveils another show which is sadly best remembered today for its classic theme song. When Generation X’ers hear the ’Peter Gunn’ theme, the videogame ’Spy Hunter’ immediately comes to mind. But, for those who love classic TV, the song conjures up images of the consumate cooler-than-cool private detective. (Incidentally, many may not realize that the ’Peter Gunn’ theme won several Grammy Awards.) The show ran from 1958-1961, first on NBC, and then on ABC. This introductory DVD set represents the first half of the show’s inaugral 1958 season. (A second DVD set, which contains the remainder of Season One, will arrive on the same date.)

’Peter Gunn’ was created and produced by Blake Edwards, who is known to today’s audiences for his comedies, but shows a totally different style here. Craig Stevens stars as Peter Gunn, a Los Angeles private investigator who is the epitome of hip. He is always calm under pressure, no matter how hairy the situation. And Gunn definitely gets in over his head at times, as he investigates murders and the mob. But, with the help of his girlfriend Edie (Lola Albright) and his police contact Lieutenant Jacoby (Herschel Bernard), Gunn always manages to come through. While the show was clearly influenced by the works of authors such as Mickey Spillane, ’Peter Gunn’ was a first for televsion and became a touchstone for many series to come. The show combines action, along with Edward’s trademark wit, along with its famous cool-jazz score by Henry Mancini. Some of the elements of ’Peter Gunn’ do come across as dated today, namely the constant smoking and the treatment of the female characters, but it is still entertaining.

’Peter Gunn’ shoots onto DVD courtesy of A&E in a 2-disc set. (Note: A&E has changed the style of these sets from a slip-case to an Amaray-style double-disc box.) The show is presented full-frame. Considering the fact that these episodes are over 40 years-old, they look pretty good, but there are some problems. There are nearly constant flaws from the source print evident on the image. These consist of scratches, lines, and white & black spots. Also, there is some flickering and darkening of the image at times. Otherwise the image is sharp and clear, showing only occasional softening. The Dolby Digital Mono audio track provides clear dialogue, with only a minor amount of distortion. Most importantly, the music sounds fine here. The only extra on this DVD set is an interactive trivia game, which asks questions based on various episodes.