F-Troop - The Complete First Season
F Troop's arrival on DVD with a complete first-season package on six discs is a bit unexpected -- after all, the series, a Western parody that helped mark the end of a cycle of television oaters that began a decade earlier with Gunsmoke, only ran for two seasons. But it has done well in syndication across the decades and made an impression on popular culture, sufficient to leave phrases from its scripts ("It is balloon!") in the collective unconscious. And it is still funny, in large measure, owing to the presence of Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch, Frank DeKova, James Hampton, and Ken Berry. There's also a cheerful innocence about the series when seen today, and pre-politically correct humor in connection with popular notions of the Old West. The show looks and sounds sensational in these transfers. The contrasts are rich and the details are amazing, right down to the fabric in the uniforms of the troopers. The episodes get no chapter breakdowns, but the plotting is so brisk and straightforward that little is needed in the way of outlining. Each of the six platters opens automatically on a simple, easy-to-use menu that advances automatically as each episode concludes, and also includes a "play all" option. The volume is nice and loud and the audio is so clean that the lyrics to the opening theme -- which explain how Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry) went from private to captain and was given command of Fort Courage -- are even easier to understand than they were originally. The presence of such guest stars as Jack Elam, George Gobel (whose guest appearance is probably the best of the season and the second best in the run of the series, only slightly less entertaining than Lew Parker's episode in a second-season episode), Henry Gibson, and Edward Everett Horton only adds to the appeal of this season of the show.