At one time his popularity rivaled that of the Lone Ranger, but today, the Cisco Kid is almost forgotten. Like the Ranger, the Cisco Kid rode through the old west with his faithful sidekick, Pancho, righting wrongs and protecting the innocent. Never staying around after his job was finished, he'd ride off into the sunset on his horse Diablo, off looking for more adventure. MPI has released a third set of shows from this classic TV show.
Starting out in a short story by O. Henry, the Cisco Kid was the star of several silent films, and first talked in the Raoul Walsh film In Old Arizona (1929.) Warner Baxter played the Kid in that film, and he earned an Oscar for his performance. There were a series of Cisco Kid movies after that, 23 in all, with Gilbert Roland, Cesar Romero and Duncan Renaldo playing the lead. When TV started invading the people's homes, it was natural to adapt this successful series to the small screen. Duncan Renaldo who had played Cisco in eight films since 1945 was chosen for the lead.
Though he was dubbed "Kid" in the movies and show, Renaldo was almost 50 when the television show started. But he still had a youthful look to him, and brought a feeling of energy and excitement to the character. His sidekick Pancho was played by Leo Carrillo, who was nearly 70 when the show went on the air, but still managed to do most of his stunts himself.
The show first aired in 1950 and lasted six seasons with over 150 episodes being broadcast. This was a children's show, as all TV westerns of that time were. As such, the shows were fairly standard, and the plots didn't vary much. Cisco and Pancho would ride into town, discover some injustice, and right it. The climax was when Cisco would confront the evil doer and best him in a fight. The shows all ended with the pair of adventurers laughing and saying "Oh Cisco!" "Oh Pancho!"
This is a very family friendly show. Cisco rarely shoots anyone, usually he just shoots the gun out of the villains hands or fights them with his fists. While the bad guys occasionally kill someone, it always happens off screen, and there is no blood shown.
The thing that sets this show apart from all the other juvenile kids shows of the time is the fact that there is a lot of humor in the show. Pancho is a bumbling sidekick/ comic relief most of the time, though he is fast and accurate with his gun when the situation calls for it. His broken English and frequent malaprops are a source of constant amusement.
One unusual thing about the show was that it was filmed in color, something that didn't happen often in the early 50's when just about all the TV sets were only black and white.
This show is still as enjoyable as when I watched it in syndication as a kid. It has a fun, light air to it, that takes you back to a more simple time. Duncan Renaldo does an excellent job as Cisco, making the character both charming and dashing but still tough (which is what all young boys want in their western stars.) Leo Carrillo is remarkably spry as Pancho. His role was even more difficult than the lead. Carrillo had to play Pancho for laughs, but still be convincing when he helped Cisco out of a jam with some fancy shooting or the accurate crack of a whip. Pancho was funny but also dangerous, unlike Sgt. Garcia in the Disney Zorro series who was just goofy and incompetent. To think the Leo turned 70 during the run of the show is even more amazing.
The twenty episodes in this set are taken from various season of the show. The first disc and a half have episodes from the end of the second season, followed by a single episode from the fourth season. Then the rest of the set is taken up with shows from the beginning and middle of the fifth season. The shows are presented in chronological order, though there are gaps between the shows were an episode or two are missing. Since the program has no continuity, this isn't a problem.
This four disc set contains 20 half hour episodes in a double width Amaray case. Inside the case are two 'pages' that the four discs are stored on.
The two channel mono English soundtrack was adequate, but not much more than that. The audio was very flat, with the music sounding particularly bad, and there was a good amount of hiss present. There was also some distortion in the louder areas which effects ever episode. I didn't have any problem understanding the dialog, but that's about the best you can say about the audio. There is also a Spanish language track, which didn't seem to be any better than the English track when I spot checked it. There are no subtitles.
The full frame color image was certainly showing its age. The picture is very soft and blurry. Everything was indistinct, with a fair amount of dirt and scratches. The color wasn't much better. There was a green push to the image, with the white areas and even the blacks having a green tint to them. The colors would also change from scene to scene. These defects are probably an artifact from the early color process that was used, but it still doesn't look very good. While this is probably the best the show will look without restoration, the picture on these DVDs are pretty poor.
There are no extras included with this set.
This is a fun show to watch, especially if you remember it from your childhood. Children today may find it a tad predictable and old fashioned, but I still found it fun. Having said that, the show did get old after watching a dozen episodes. It was still enjoyable, but they were just a little bit too similar. I would definitely recommend spreading these out when you view them.
I was disappointed in the quality of the discs. I realize that
a show this old isn't going to look perfect, but this program was hard
on the eyes. The image was blurry and the colors kept on chaging
from scene to scene. For the $49.98 retail price, I was expecting
a restored show, not just some copies transferred to DVD with no extras.
For that reason I recommend that fans of the show Rent It rather
than buying a copy.