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Featured TV on DVD Review: Have Gun - Will Travel: Season Four, Volume Two

July 3rd, 2010

Have Gun - Will Travel: Season Four, Volume Two - Buy from Amazon

Have Gun - Will Travel starred Richard Boone, who also directed a number of episodes. The show ran on TV for six seasons starting in 1957 and it is considered part of the Golden Age of TV Westerns. (In 1959, there were 26 Westerns on TV with 8 of them placing in the top 10 in the ratings.) While this show was able to survive the competition, will it still work nearly 50 years later? And is the 3-disc DVD release for Season Four, Volume Two worth picking up?

Have Gun - Will Travel starred Richard Boone as Paladin, which is not his real name. He got that name, as we learned in the pilot episode, after he was tricked into gunning down a noble man who was protecting a town. Now he works as a hired gun that is more determined to fight for the side of justice, although that's not always easy.

This 3-disc set includes the final 19 episodes of season four starting with Shadow of a Man where Paladin is hired by a wife whose husband, a southern cotton farmer, is being harassed by a norther rancher. The situation becomes a lot more complicated when Paladin arrives and the wife hits on him. It's an average episode for this DVD. One of the better episodes is Long Way Home, which has Paladin hired by Hamilton Burger, a.k.a., William Talman, to pick up on a $5,000 bounty for a former slave, but he'll have to compete with four other hired guns working together. The Taxgatherer has Paladin acting as a tax collector for a town of reluctant citizens. Paladin as tax collector; it's a occupation you don't often see done by the hero of a show.

Disc two starts with Everyman. Here Paladin rides into town to meet an old friend, only to learn the leader of the town has sworn to kill the first gunslinger that arrives. One of the better episodes on this DVD, as the bad guy, who is clearly nuts, is also a more complex villain than the murderous brothers in The Siege. The Long Weekend has Paladin protecting a town from the exploits of Shep Montrose, a silver miner who comes into town to blow off steam and tends to cause an awful lot of damage in the process. The townsfolk like his business, but just want Paladin to limit the damage without killing him. His solution: get into fist fight with him to wear him out. It works, for a time. Paladin travels to the small town of Bracketville in El Paso Stage. It seems about a month before the business leaders there hired a gunslinger, Jed Clampett, a.k.a. Buddy Ebsen, to be the new marshall, but his methods of maintaining law and order are worse than just letting the criminals run free. Now they've hired Paladin to fix their mistake, but how do you take care of a killer when he wears a badge? The disc wraps up with Broken Image. In the episode a hero who once captured the Stoner Gang single-handed, Tim Decker, refuses to help when another gang threatens then town. Paladin is hired to help him stop this new gang, but the reason Tim Decker is reluctant to repeat his heroics could prove fatal to both men.

In Brother's Keeper Paladin is attacked by a puma in the desert but luckily two men stumble across him. Unluckily, they rob him and leave him to die. When he gets into town, the townsfolk are less than helpful in trying to track them down. Paladin gets into a fight with a trio of hoods in Bear Bait and when one winds up dead, he has to deal with their boss, who has a special arrangement with the law of the town. Calamity Jane shows up in The Cure, but she's a shell of her former self and has become an alcoholic. Paladin agrees to help her get back her career and even help her crawl out from inside the bottle. The season ends with Soledad Crossing. Here Paladin must bring in the McPhater brothers, but as luck would have it, one is already dead. On the other hand, when he tries to return the other to town, he's forced to wait out a diphtheria outbreak.

Overall most episodes have strong replay value and the few misses are rare enough that they don't hurt the value of the DVD. On the other hand, there's no reason to split the season into two volumes, as 6-disc releases are common for TV on DVD. Also, there are no extras and no subtitles, but there are play all buttons and proper chapter placements.

The Verdict

Have Gun - Will Travel is a good show, but Season Four, Volume Two is a weak DVD. The price per minute is high and there are no extras. If you purchased the previous releases, there's little reason to stop now, but I can't be very enthusiastic in my recommendation.

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