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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Crime Story - Season One
Crime Story - Season One
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // November 4, 2003
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted December 1, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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THE EPISODES

There are a lot of cult favorites in the history of television of which die-hard fans often claim "if that show had only been given more of a chance, it would have been a huge hit." In most cases (I won't name names…but Battlestar Galactica and Firefly immediately pop to mind) the memory of the show is far better than the actual show really was, and those lamenting the passing of such programs are often referring to the potential that the program had, rather than what was actually shown up on screen.

However Crime Story isn't one of those shows. It actually was a great television show from the outset, and those who missed it during its TV run back in 1986 (yours truly included) finally have a chance to see it thanks to the digital format.

Set in Chicago in 1963, Crime Story tells the tale of cop Mike Torello (Dennis Farina in a role he seems to have been born to play…quite literally, since Farina was a Chicago cop before he got into show business) who heads up the MCU (Major Crimes Unit) and is determined to bring local mob thug Ray Luca (played by Anthony Denison) to justice. While the quest to bring down Luca extends throughout the season, most episodes also contain a new case for Torello and his men, so that each show can be viewed as both a stand-alone episode as well as part of the overall ongoing story.

Although it seems somewhat mild now, Crime Story was actually criticized for both its violence and the fact that it portrayed cops more like vigilantes than law enforcement officers. Of course, this was 1986, long before NYPD Blue and The Shield, both of which owe a lot of their success to Crime Story.

Executive produced by Michael Mann, Crime Story is almost a tougher, grittier version of Miami Vice, replacing 1980's Miami with 1960's Chicago (and later in the series, 1960's Las Vegas) – and even including hit tunes from the 1960's, including a great rendition of Del Shannon's "Runaway", which is the theme song for the series.

Also of note are the various stars that pop up in the episodes, including appearances by Julia Roberts, David Caruso, Michael Madsen, Lorraine Bracco, and (in a recurring role) Andrew 'Dice' Clay!

THE DVD

Video:
The video here is disappointing, with a lot of grain to the picture and far from the best of transfers. The pilot looks better than the other episodes – most probably because only the pilot appears on Disc One of this five-disc set, while the other discs cram five episodes onto each DVD. The episodes are presented in the full-frame format.

Audio:
Given some of the great 50's and 60's tunes that appear in each episode, it's a shame we only get a 2.0 track here. It sounds okay – with no evidence of popping or scratchiness – but this fine show has really gotten short-changed by both the video and audio quality on these DVDs.

Extras:
Although there are no extras per-se on this DVD set, there actually is an extra that only die-hard fans will pick up on. The episode entitled "Crime Pays" was originally intended to be aired at the mid-point of Season One and provides a recap of the major events in the first-half of the season. This episode never aired on TV, but is included here on Disc Three, exactly where it was intended to be aired in the original run of shows. However, the episode itself really serves no purpose for those who own this boxed set, as it is totally made up of clips from previous episodes.

As for any other extras, there are none. There isn't even a chapter selection for any of the episodes other than the pilot. There is a nice insert which offers a few pages of info about the show…but it's really the kind of stuff that should have been put somewhere on the DVDs. One can only hope that if Season Two is ever released on disc, that Anchor Bay will make up for the lack of bonuses on this boxed set.

THE BOTTOM LINE

These episodes are really good, and should hold up to repeat viewings – but because the transfer is so average and due to the lack of bonus material, I'm only giving this a "Recommended" rating, rather than a "Highly Recommended" one, which is what I would have given with a better transfer and/or some notable bonus materials.

Still, for the quality of the episodes alone, Crime Story is worth adding to your permanent collection.
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