The hardest thing to do as a reviewer is to bas a television program or a movie that has become a classic staple of American pop-culture. For instance, I feel bad for the reviewers that honestly didn't like "Godfather Part II" despite the fact that everybody and their mothers consider it the greatest movie of all time. Well, now it's time to take a step in that direction and proclaim that I didn't like "The Lone Ranger."
In general, I hate westerns (save for the "Young Guns" movies). I hated "Back to the Future Part III" because it was a western. Despite my obvious bias, it is my job to report the facts, so you can make an informed decision as whether to purchase this DVD set or not. With that all out of the way, it's time for a little biography on "The Lone Ranger."
Originally airing in 1949, "The Lone Ranger" became an instant hit. It went on for many years, and is widely recognized as one of television's classic shows. The episodes presented in this package are from the 5th season (circa-1956). The theme of the episodes relies on good guys vs. bad guys, as each episode is it's own story (i.e. no running storylines between episodes). The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore) is one of six surviving Rangers. He wears a mask, and rides a horse named Silver. His right-hand man is Tonto (Jay Silverheels), a Mohawk Indian. In every episode, they look to help out people in need, and bring the bad guys to justice. A fairly simple process, right?
Besides disliking westerns, there is nothing about "The Lone Ranger" that appeals to me. The Tonto character comes off as a ridiculous stereotype, while the masked Ranger comes off as a total goody-too-shoes. Maybe I'm jaded by how great television is these days, or maybe I'm not. Either way, "The Lone Ranger" is an acquired taste.
"The Lone Ranger" features 19 episodes, each having a running time of approximately 23 minutes. Below are episode listings broken down per disc.
The Wooden Rifle
Sheriff of Smoke Tree
The Counterfeit Mask
The Cross of Santo Domingo
White Hawks Decision
The Return of Don Pedro O'Sullivan
Quarter Horse War
The Letter Bride
Hot Spell In Panamint
The Twisted Track
Decision For Chris McKeever
Trouble At Tylerville
The Courage of Tonto
"The Lone Ranger" is presented in color full frame 1.33:1. Shot in the days when the idea of television shows presented in 16x9 wasn't even considered (let alone in color); "The Lone Ranger" looks good for a television show almost 50 years old. Obviously, there are flaws in the print, including grain and specs of dirt. But I'm more than 99% sure that's because of the source material, not due to Rhino's incompetence (on a side note: their "Transformers" sets also retain the grain they had when they originally aired). "Lone Ranger" fans should be happy with Rhino's job here.
The audio is presented in Dolby 2.0. The incredibly recognizable theme from the show sounds good (although hollow) on my system. Character dialogue is audible, and there are no major audio dropouts to report. I didn't expect reference material here, but what I was given was more than adequate.
Every DVD has the same menu screen (TV theme plays while clips from the TV show play). On each disc, you can toggle between episodes, and specific scenes within the episodes as well. On the fourth disc, aside from the episodes, there are special features.
"The Lone Ranger" only has two extras, both of which are interviews. The first interview is with Silver's wrangler, Louise Thomas. Shot very recently, she talks about her days working on the TV show. A nice bonus for fans, but she bored me to tears.
The second interview is with Rand Brooks (friend of Clayton Moore) and Dawn Moore (Clayton Moore's daughter). Once again, shot recently, stories about Clayton, but I didn't care enough to really pay attention throughout the interview.
As if you don't know what my recommendation is… This DVD set is for fans of the television show and westerns only. Rhino did a good job with this set, even presenting it in a nifty foldout cardboard case, so I can't fault them for that. Good video and good audio makes me bump this to "Rent It."