The original Highlander, starring Christopher Lambert, is one of my favorite films, deftly mixing science-fiction and action with a great premise – immortal warriors fighting for 'the prize.' Though the film had a definite conclusion, two rather poor sequels were released that rendered the ending of the first inconsequential. However, two years before the second sequel came out, the first season of the Highlander television series debuted in 1992. Starring Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod, Conner's cousin, the series ran for six seasons before ending in 1998.
As an Immortal, Duncan McLeod is forced to wander the Earth forever, always trying to keep himself hidden from the evil Immortals that would seek to take his power via decapitation in an effort to attain the ultimate power that being 'The One' grants. Fortunately, he is not alone, as both mortals and Immortals have befriended and aided him on his numerous adventures, which take place both in the past and present.
While Highlander: Season One is fairly entertaining, its not without some problems. The season wanders about aimlessly for the first half, and doesn't really feel sure of itself in terms of foundation or themes until the season finale. With a few notable exceptions (such as Werner Stocker, who appeared as Darius), the acting is rather poor and some of the storylines are relatively far-fetched, even considering the premise of the series. I found the highlights of the season to be The Gathering, Band of Brothers, Lady and the Tiger, and The Hunters.
Season One is comprised of twenty-two episodes that are spread across eight DVDs. The first seven DVDs contain three episodes apiece, with the last disc containing the season finale and a few extras. Each episode runs a few minutes longer than they originally did when they aired in the U.S., as these are the uncut, 'European' versions. Episode titles are: The Gathering, Family Tree, The Road Not Taken, Innocent Man, Free Fall, Bad Day at Building 'A,' Mountain Men, Deadly Medicine, The Sea Witch, Revenge is Sweet, See No Evil, Eyewitness, Band of Brothers, For Evil's Sake, For Tomorrow We Die, The Beast Below, Saving Grace, The Lady and the Tiger, Eye of the Beholder, Avenging Angel, Nowhere to Run, and The Hunters.
Highlander is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. Overall, the episodes look great, even appearing slightly better than they did originally on TV. Print flaws, such as marks and specks, are rare throughout, and while grain is visible on occasion, it is slight. While the image appears sharper, the picture seems too soft more often than not. Colors are rich and vibrant throughout, with accurate flesh tones and well-balanced blacks.
Highlander is presented in newly remixed 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks and the original Dolby 2.0 Stereo tracks. The new 5.1 tracks are definitely the way to go, providing greater separation, some instances of surrounds, and an improved dynamic range. However, the music tends to be overly loud and the dialogue is occasionally tinny and hard to understand. No optional subtitles are included.
With a nine-disc set, you would think the amount of extras would be overwhelming. Not so in the case of Highlander: Season One. Disc Eight is home to most of the extras, which include character profiles, the original series promo, a few interviews with Bill Panzer (Producer), and a brief blooper reel. The first seven discs also contain character profiles and scenes from all the Quickenings. Disc Nine is a CD-ROM entirely devoted to containing scripts for every episode of Season One. An eight-page booklet with production notes is also included.
The first season of Highlander certainly won't appeal to everyone, especially considering it launched without any sort of consistent story line or approach. Fans of the series, though, should consider a purchase, as the set is finally available at most vendors with a reasonable discount.