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Torrent downloaded from Demonoid.com.txt
Terrific! I'm fairly certain I haven't seen Emergency!, Jack Webb's, Harold Jack Bloom's, and Robert A. Cinader's seminal paramedic/firefighting/hospital procedure drama since its original run back in the 1970s, but I always had good memories of the series. A solid go-to Saturday night favorite for kids and parents (right before the NBC Saturday Night Movie), Emergency! was the perfect kind of family adventure show that the networks were under increasing pressure to produce, particularly after critics and activist groups complained about the escalating levels of TV violence on late 60s, early 70s network offerings. Utilizing producer Webb's signature docudrama format, along with hyper-realistic location work and production design, Emergency!: Season Four still delivers the goods, over thirty years later.
If you're not familiar with the series, Emergency! detailed the daily adventures of Firefighters/Paramedics Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe) and John Gage (Randolph Mantooth), who worked for Los Angeles County Fire and Rescue. DeSoto was one of the first graduates of the newly formed paramedic unit, and senior to Gage. Operating out of Station 51 ("Station 51, KMG 365."), DeSoto and Gage were dispatched in their Squad 51 Dodge D300 1 Ton to various locations around L.A. County, responding to calls as mundane as a cat caught up a tree, to as dangerous as an exploding chemical plant. On hand at the fire station were the remaining members of Engine 51 Company (who accompanied Johnny and Roy on the bigger calls), including solid Firefighter Captain Hank Stanley (Michael Norell), jokester Firefighter Chet Kelly (Tim Donnelly), who usually handled the heavy equipment, and Firefighters Marco Lopez and Mike Stoker (same named).
Seeing as both Gage and DeSoto were paramedics, and not licensed doctors, they were in constant radio communication with nearby Rampart General Hospital, where the dedicated staff gave the paramedics vital information necessary to stabilize the patient before they were transported to Rampart. Dr. Kelly Brackett, M.D., F.A.C.S. (Robert Fuller) was the dreamy head of the emergency room; laid-back Dr. Joe Early, M.D., F.A.C.S. (Bobby Troup) was a senior neurosurgeon, and sexy Dixie McCall, R.N. (Julie London), was Rampart's head nurse. Frequently on hand was cool, competent resident Dr. Mike Morton (Ron Pinkard), who assisted Drs. Brackett and Early in their duties.
Prior to Emergency!'s debut midseason in 1972, executive producer, writer, director and actor Jack Webb had a solid ratings hit with his revamped Dragnet, and a long-running, bona fide smash with Adam-12, so he was on a hot streak with long-time network, NBC. Emergency! may never have been a Top Ten performer in the Nielsen's (it's highest rank was 30th, this fourth season), but it won the advertisers' coveted younger demographics year-in and year-out, reliably performing for five-and-a-half seasons against tough competition, including what many think was one of the greatest nights of TV ever: CBS's mid-70s Saturday night line-up, which included over the years All in the Family, M*A*S*H and The Jeffersons, all three of which competed directly across from Emergency! at one time (this 1974-1975 fourth season's high Nielsen rating may have been boosted by the overwhelming success of Irwin Allen's The Towering Inferno, which heightened the public's awareness of firefighters and their dangerous duties). That reliability was a hallmark of Webb's TV productions. Having helped pioneer practices that streamlined television production (the extensive use of teleprompters, utilizing a small, core group of supporting players for numerous character roles, even limiting wardrobe choices for continuity between disparate episodes), Webb's characteristic reliance on absolute (or as close as he could get) authenticity when it came to police procedures and story content, along with a straight-ahead, dramatic framework that eschewed histrionics, had created a stylistic approach that was wholly his own. His aesthetic imprint is unmistakably on every one of his productions.
That being said, Emergency!, whose main, day-to-day production was supervised by Webb's Adam-12 producer, Robert A. Cinader, certainly has Webb's almost obsessive need to be as nearly accurate as possible in its depiction of the firefighter/paramedic procedures. But it's also much lighter in tone than Dragnet and Adam-12. Certainly, the fact that Emergency! usually doesn't deal with cops and criminals eases up Webb's authoritarian tone. That's not to say Emergency! isn't serious; it frequently is, particularly when the action takes place back at Rampart. Victims of drunk drivers, sick children, and a myriad of complicated medical emergencies keep those scenes quietly intense. It's important to note that at this time, the medical/hospital drama genre was enjoying its last hurrah, with hits like Marcus Welby, M.D. and Medical Center pulling in big numbers, until the 90s and E.R. revitalized it. And Emergency! has a fair number of scenes back at Rampart that play very much like those "doctor shows" we all grew up on.
The complicated, intricate action sequences, with the big blockbuster stunts and gags always anchoring the episodes' third acts, are what make Emergency! stand out from other Webb productions. As any kid who grew up on Emergency! will tell you, the series was fascinating just from a "big machines, bit thrills, bit explosions" aspect. Watching Emergency! again, I was more than surprised at how well the production elements of these final big rescues come off after more than thirty years of ever-increasing sophistication in filming such sequences. There's a reality to these staged rescues, enhanced by the flawless So-Cal location work, that you just don't feel in today's CGI-enhanced TV world.
Where Emergency! is really smart, though - just like Webb's other procedural shows - is that it never just depends on those big action sequences, ingenious and varied though they are. Equal time is also devoted the rather mundane aspects of firefighting (cleaning up the station house, inventorying the equipment), as well as humorous calls that, while they may seem silly at times (this season has a guy landing on a cactus after trying his kid's skateboard), still have a strong sense of reality to them (true to Webb form, that cactus scene isn't exploitive: the man refuses treatment, and Johnny and Roy leave - with no crude references or one-liners that would inevitably show up in a similar scene today). Adventure rigidly planted in reality and authenticity is the hallmark of Emergency!; that's probably why it works so well to this day.
The cast is perfectly suited to the stylized, low-key Webb aesthetic. Kevin Tighe is the easy-going Everyman, the soft-spoken kind of profession who excels at his job day-in and day-out with a metronome predictability. Randolph Mantooth is given the flashier part, with Johnny Gage set up a humorous Lothario - who usually totally fails to impress the ladies. Slightly goofy-acting back at the station house, he, like DeSoto, is a total pro on the job. It's tough for actors to set up believable characters when so much of a show is dominated by business involving equipment, vehicles, stunts and gags, but Tighe and Mantooth have an easygoing, natural chemistry together that holds the series intact. I happen to remember that the original "Dr. McDreamy," Robert Fuller, was a hit with women viewers (my mother once said she wouldn't mind getting hit by a bus if Dr. "Kel" Brackett was on duty). And real-life husband and wife team Bobby Fuller and Julie London embodied that laid-back, California cool that seemed so distinctive back then (particularly to this Midwestern boy). The rest of the cast doesn't have much to do (Donnelly's Chet is deliberately designed to be annoying and silly back at the station house), but that's about par for Webb's schematic. The leads drive the show, and the realistic details overwhelm the viewer with a sense of gritty authenticity.
Here are the 22, one hour episodes of the five-disc box set Emergency!: Season Four, as described on their slimcases. PLEASE NOTE: there is a small disclaimer at the back of the DVD slimcases that states, "Music may differ from television version." There is no further explanation of what cuts, if any, were made. I don't have a photographic memory of the series, but I'm suspicious that more than just music was cut from episodes in this collection. Some of the endings just feel abrupt, as if the final 30-second "codas" that so many series had at the time, after the final commercial break, are missing. Again, I can't be sure, but the sub-par quality of some of the prints used for Emergency!: Season Four (see the "Video" section below) also points towards syndicated versions used for this release - most of which were edited for time. Edited TV shows are one of the hottest topics concerning DVD releases, and as a reviewer, I've taken both sides of the issue, depending on what title I'm reviewing. As always, the final decision should stay with the consumer, and what he or she is willing to put up with as far as refusing to buy cut series, or enjoying what's out there. It's usually a case-by-case basis.
The Video:?I was rather surprised at the less-than-stellar quality of many of the prints used for Emergency!: Season Four. I suspect these were taken from old video masters used during syndication, and as such, they're frequently beat up, with really horrible splices, dirt, and at times washed out, faded color. But overall, I'd have to say that Emergency!: Season Four's transfers are a big disappointment.
The Audio:?The Dolby Digital English 2.0 mono audio track accurately recreates the original broadcast presentation. All dialogue is clearly heard, but warbling is noticeable on some of the nastier prints.
The Extras:?Unfortunately, there are no extras for Emergency!: Season Four.
Final Thoughts:?Jack Webb floats around my head like that ship in Zardoz; he and his shows were a big influence on me early in my career (and by "early in my career," I mean watching TV in my jammies when I was eight). Emergency!: Season Four is another brilliant Webb combination of copious detail and authentic procedural elements, married to straight-ahead, no-frills dramatics that emphasized professionals doing their jobs day-in and day-out, with mundane and exciting results. The production aspects of Emergency!: Season Four are top-notch; my CGI-spoiled rotten kids loved the reality of those convincingly mocked-up spectaculars at the end of each episode, so Webb and hands-on producer Robert A. Cinader were obviously on to something classic and timeless. The transfers were a big let-down, however, but kids who grew up on syndicated versions of the show (known briefly as Emergency One!) probably saw them the same way. I highly recommend Emergency!: Season Four.