Universal Home Video
Cast: Rip Torn, Jessica Tandy, Vic Morrow, Hume Cronyn
It's been a long time since Universal Home Entertainment has release season 1 of the classic television series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" but finally the studio is offering up a box set, containing all episodes from the show's second season.
On 5 discs this DVD set you will find all 39 episodes of the second season, each running roughly 25 minutes each, and coming with the bookend-introductions by Alfred Hitchcock himself. Though typically only less than a minute in length, these short introductions are always funny and full of charm using wordplay and British black humor to set the mood for the episode to come.
The episodes themselves are usually very well written and entertain viewers on different levels. Some are stories of murder, others stories of crime, others again stories in which nothing is what it seems, and so forth, creating a large diversity among the different episodes. An ensemble cast performs throughout the series so you do see familiar faces over and over again – which is not necessarily a bad thing because some of the cast members are very, very good.
Being a 50 year old television production one has to inevitably wonder if a show like this will live up to expectation on both a technical and an emotional level. While many TV shows of the era look and feel horribly dated and out of place in today's world, the episodes that make up "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" are somehow more "connected," I found. The issues and topics the show covers are as valid and interesting as they were then. Of course their execution would be different in this day and age, but the sentiments themselves remain timeless.
On a technical level, the transfer that Universal Home Entertainment is dishing out on this DVD is pretty good. There are some signs of age, some broken splices, some scratches in the presentation, but for the most part I was very pleasantly surprised by the high standard of the transfer. Keeping with the show's original full frame aspect ratio, the black and white picture shows good black levels that firmly root the picture. The overall contrast is very good making sure whites are properly white and the picture displays all gray fall-offs properly using the entire gamut. As a result the image never looks harsh or unnatural. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts are evident anywhere.
The original mono audio track accompanies the episodes, though it has seemingly been cleaned up as no pops or hiss are evident at all. The frequency response is a bit limited, giving the presentation a somewhat harsh sounding quality at times, but that's just as well, adding to the appeal of the show as a whole.
No extras are included on the release but with a running length of 1012 minutes and a $39.95 suggested retail price, you are getting a whole lot of entertainment for your money's worth. The quality of the DVD is solid and Hitchcock's little anecdotes are always worth a closer look.