'Daniel Boone: The 50th Ann. Complete Series'
(Fess Parker, Patricia Blair, Darby Hinton, Dal McKennon, Ed Ames, et al / 36-Disc DVD / NR / 2014 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: Saddle up and head for the western wilderness, where America’s favorite frontier hero, Daniel Boone (Fess Parker), leaps from the pages of history in this iconic TV classic! Whether he’s surveying, clearing land, or helping negotiate a peace accord between Native and settler, Boone is the perfect embodiment of the pioneer spirit. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of this beloved family series, here are all 165 episodes from the entire six seasons!
DVD Verdict: Although I was not born when these very first episodes were broadcast,I have to admit Daniel Boone's TV legend has withstood the test of time, for sure. Indeed, Fess Parker presents a stoic, humble and admirable Daniel Boone, who fights for fair play. Blood and gore is kept to a minimum, but there is still plenty of adventure and suspense.
The acting by lesser characters is sometimes poor, especially in some of the middle and later episodes, but Parker, Ed Ames, Patricia Blair and Dallas McKennon keep things good. And lest we forget that the show is meant to be fun. While it often presents a moral, it doesn't have the dreary, preachy quality that so many shows from the 70's onwards have.
James Wainwright, as Cully, for my money was the most talented of the ensemble. He was also frustratingly underutilized. Particularly given that the most celebrated event in the real Daniel Boone's life was the rescue of his daughter and her two friends from Indian kidnappers. Cartwright was also bailed out after season two; Ames after season four; and Blair after season five. Budding sausage king Jimmy Dean was added as Josh Clements, a character in the tradition Chester and Festus from 'Gunsmoke'.
In fact, the line-up of guest stars is fantastic and include: Kurt Russell, Jim Davis, Cesar Romero, Fabian, Jay Silverheels, Burl Ives, James Doohan, Torin Tatcher, Michael Rennie, Forrest Tucker, John Davidson, Roger Miller, Kenneth Tobey, Vincent Price, George Gobel, Ricardo Montalban, Shelley Fabares, Jack Elam, Jack Kelly, George Kennedy, Jodie Foster, Victor Buono, Robert Lansing, John Russell, Ron Howard, Jeff York, and many others!
It's very striking how different 'Daniel Boone' is compared with current-day movies and TV shows. In 'Daniel Boone,' Daniel and his half-breed friend Mingo are definitely heroes. Mingo, who was taken to England as a boy and educated at Oxford, has a deep love for classical European literature, music and philosophy. The goodness of the American Revolutionary cause is assumed. While some of the enemy British soldiers and Indians are treacherous, several of them are also shown as being decent and honorable.
Daniel and many of his friends believe in and fight for freedom, private property, law and civilization. Some of the white frontiersmen are bad, but some are good, and many are just trying to find a better life in Kentucky for their families.
And sure, having sat down with friends to watch all these episodes back-to-back, glaring historical inaccuracies present themselves. Such as Eastern Woodland Indians living in teepees rather than wigwams; Whites not always wearing the costumes of the time; a mixed-up chronology; and even Daniel himself having the ability to quickly dash off from Kentucky to the eastern colonies almost at will!
And some episodes with historical figures such as Lafayette, Aaron Burr, Beaumarchais and Patrick Henry are fictionalized. On the other hand, the show preserves some of the spirit of the frontier and the period, which is not often seen these days. Also, the real Daniel Boone was a humane, honorable man who was highly respected by many Indians and Whites of his day, as he is portrayed in the series.
Funnily enough, if the real Daniel Boone ever saw this show from some heavenly perch, he would have been amazed to see just how much was attributed to him. Boone, in fact, did live a very long life (1734-1820) for his era. But he not only was on the scene for just about every event in American history from the French and Indian War to the Jefferson presidency, but he, his family, and friends, never aged!
Indeed, in 1778 Boone was captured by Shawnee Indians, but he escaped to warn Boonesborough of an impeding Shawnee attack. Later he moved on to Missouri, then part of the Spanish territory of Louisiana, but the purchase of 1803 by US deprived him of this land. He died aged eighty-six in his son's farmhouse in Missouri.
In closing, 'Daniel Boone: The 50th Anniversary Complete Series' is a classic example of mid-60's American action-drama TV and therefore is a show to watch with all your family! Even if it is 36 discs long! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but sadly they do not come with any Special Features.
Can YOU spot the 'Daniel Boone' "blooper" in this short footage?!