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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Emergency - Season Two
Emergency - Season Two
Universal // Unrated // February 7, 2006
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted February 13, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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The Series:

Allow me to be lazy and reuse my introduction from the review for the first season of the excellent paramedic drama, Emergency! as it is wholly appropriate for the second season as well...

Hot on the heels of his success with Adam-12, Jack Webb produced another show for NBC... Emergency! This time out, the focus wasn't on the police but on the firemen and hospital workers in Los Angeles. The two main characters were paramedics named Johnny Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe) who worked out of Station 51. In each hour long episode we'd see them involved in all manner of incidents, small and large, much like the format used in Adam-12. The show also had that fantastic attention to detail and sense of realism that gave Adam-12 its realistic and almost documentary like approach to storytelling.

Just like Webb's earlier series, Emergency! was based on real life incidents reported at through the Los Angeles paramedic program that started up in the late 1960s (the Los Angeles fire department gave their blessing to the series). As such, you get an interesting mix of high drama and very human emotions running through the adventures. But again, like Adam-12 a lot of the enjoyment that is to be had out of the series comes from watching the relationship between the two main protagonists develop over each episode. They've got a great sense of friendship and as their characters develop, the series gets stronger and more interesting. It's also interesting to see the paramedics deal with Dr. Early (Bobby Troup) and nurses Sally Lewis (Deirdre O'Connell) and Dixie MacCall (Julie London) at the hospital, as they very often see things differently than they do. That's not to say that this is a male bonding soap opera, however, as there's plenty of action and danger in each and every one of the hour long adventures presented in this set.

The second season stuck to the formula that made the first season work so well, by focusing on the action and drama that the job was associated with and letting us get to know the central characters a little bit better each week. This time around, the producers also managed to wrangle up a few interesting guest stars to appear in cameo/supporting roles as well.

The second season of Emergency! is made up of twenty-one regular episodes spread out over three double sided discs and it ran from September 16, 1972 through April 7, 1973. They're laid out as follows:

Decision Roy and John show up at a call to check out a man who was injured while he was working on his car. They find him in serious need of medical attention but their radio is broken so they can't call it in. Roy takes charge and treats him without authorization, breaking procedure, and suffers the repercussions. Kevin Dobson of Kojak shows up in this one.

Kids A young boy is brought into the hospital with some fairly heavy wounds. Dr. Early treats him and discovers that he is the victim of parental abuse and he confronts the parents on this face to face. While this is going on, Roy and John are trying to help a kid who somehow gets his head stuck in a window. John Travolta guest stars in this episode.

Show Biz John is stoked when he's asked to pose for some pictures as the embodiment of the firefighter and starts to get his hopes up about maybe moonlighting in show business. He's brought back to reality when he and Roy head out on a call accompanied by an older doctor who then has a coronary arrest while out in the field. Henry Jones, of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo plays the doctor.

Virus Speaking of vertigo, our heroes have to get a kid who suffers from it out of a tree in this episode. To make matters worse, John and Brackett have to be taken in when it's found out that they're carrying a deadly virus in hopes of containing it and keeping it from spreading.

Peace Pipe Chet makes a few off hand remarks about John coming from Native American descent and they have at it before John decides that they should settle things in a more traditional manner, hence the episode's title. Meanwhile, a girl gets hit by a drunk driver and John and Roy have to rush out to save her before it's too late.

Saddled When a bus full of school kids ends up in a sticky situation, John has to use his horse riding skills to save them all. Once they take care of that, they head on out to a site where a gas main has blown up to save a cranky old man who ends up becoming a thorn in the side of the doctors back at the hospital.

Fuzz Lady This episode gets its title from a sub-plot in which John falls head over heels for a female cop working under cover. He tries his best to get her attention while the station is having to deal with a theft problem and the dog they adopted a few weeks earlier returns once more. Look for Sharon Gless of Cagney And Lacey in this one.

Trainee John and Roy take on a trainee who just got back from serving in Viet Nam. Things are going alright until his ego gets in the way and he starts to think that he knows everything he needs to know and conflicts arise. Jackie Coogan from The Addams Family shows up here.

Women John and Roy are happy as can be when a foxy journalist rides shotgun with them for a day to do a report on what it's like to live a life in the day or a paramedic. She sees the good and the bad and witnesses them trying to save a rather strange man who gets trapped in a pull-out couch. Dick Van Patten shows up here as well.

Dinner Date A lot happens in this one as Roy sets John up on a blind date. Things don't go nearly as well as he'd planned and they're almost relieved to be back at work even though they've got to save a man who was shot by his wife's father and deal with some drug dealers. Look for a young Melissa Gilbert from Little House On The Prairie in a cameo role.

Musical Mania Chet's been ribbing John a fair bit and to prove him wrong he decides to brush up on his music skills just to show him that he can. Once that's out of the way with, the guys have to go help out a man who has managed to get trapped underneath his house and is in some pretty serious danger of dying because of it.

Helpful While John and Roy spring a kid who has been trapped in a sewer, drama arises at the hospital when Nurse McCall has to cover for a co-worker who is working two jobs at the same time.

Drivers The sub-plot this time out follows John's growing disdain for the drivers that he has to share the road with as they go from call to call, rescuing an injured football star, getting another kid out of a tree, and finally saving a man trapped in a fire.

School Days Tasked with training yet another new recruit, John and Roy run into problems with him when his first attempts don't work out as well as he'd hoped and his confidence gets rocked.

The Professor A very important foreign government official has come down with an unknown sickness and it's up to Dr. Brackett to diagnose and treat him with discretion.

Syndrome When a famous movie star shows up at the hospital, John and Roy are impressed with how well he seems to know Nurse McCall, inferring that they may have been old flames at one point. Robert Alda has a guest spot in this episode.

Honest While out on the job, going from call to call and even during their downtime, John and Roy conduct intense discussions on how honesty is the best policy and whether or not it is okay to lie sometimes.

Seance A few superstitious types hold a séance after which many of the participants get into bad situations. One woman assumes that is her late sister's ghost who has come back from the grave to torture them. Bruno Kirby of When Harry Met Sally guest stars here.

Boot Boot, the mascot dog at the fire station, has stopped eating and the guys are growing concerned about him. Meanwhile, a strange woman manages to mess herself while preparing for a hot date and makes things difficult for Roy and John when they show up to help.

Rip-Off John and Roy are out on the job and save a man who then turns around and accuses them of stealing from him while he was out of it. They're not too happy about this but they don't have time to dwell on it when they're called out to help a plane that has sprung a deadly leak.

Audit In the final episode of the season, John and Roy are called out to an emergency at a nearby construction site where they save a man who has been trapped underneath a building. Meanwhile, a special patient arrives at the hospital where he suffers from numerous odd conditions.

Emergency! holds up really well even now, over thirty years since it originally aired. Sure the technology has changed and the vehicles and fashions date the series somewhat but the storytelling and attention to detail remain of the highest quality and the writing is sharp and intelligent enough to keep us coming back for more. This collection is an improvement over the already strong first season in that the lead and supporting characters have been developed more and because we know them better, we've got more invested in the series which makes for more riveting and suspenseful viewing at times, and more dramatic viewing as well.

The DVD

Video:

Each of the episodes in this set are presented in fullframe, which is how it should be seeing as that's their original aspect ratio. In terms of overall quality, wow, Emergency looks really nice. The image isn't perfect, there's some heavy shimmering and mild grain present throughout but the overall level of detail is surprisingly high and the colors come through looking almost perfect. The black levels stay strong and stable and the nighttime scenes look quite good. Flesh tones look lifelike and natural, not too pink, and there really aren't any issues in terms of print damage or distracting or noticeable debris on the picture.

Sound:

Each of the episodes is presented in its original Dolby Digital Mono sound mix. An alternate Spanish language dub is also supplied, again in Dolby Digital Mono, and there are English closed captions available as well. As far as the quality goes, while the mix is a little flat in some spots, overall the quality is actually pretty good. You can't expect the range that you'd hear in a newer mix but for an older show there aren't really any unexpected problems with Emergency. The dialogue sounds clean and clear and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion. The soundtrack and opening theme music sound pretty lively and the sound effects are clear and audible without being too over bearing or drowning out the performers. The quality on the Spanish mix is about the same and for the most part, it's on par with the English mix in terms of how it sounds.

Extras:

There is a montage of clips for other 'classic television' releases available from Universal that plays at the beginning of the first disc, though you can skip past this straight to the menu if you want. Once you get to the menu, you'll find chapter selection options and a play all feature. That's it.

Final Thoughts:

Despite the barebones presentation, Emergency! The Complete Second Season comes highly recommended for the great performances, interesting characters, and strong writing.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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