DVD Review “Gene Roddenberry’s The Lieutenant: The Complete Series”

Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Starring: Gary Lockwood, Robert Vaughn, James Gregory, Richard Anderson
Distributed by: Warner Archive
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: August 14, 2012
8 Discs / 29 Episdoes
Running Time: 1555 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I am a big fan of Gene Roddenberry’s work for “Star Trek” but I have to admit I was not aware of this fantastic series. This complete series is split into a Part 1 and Part 2 DVD sets. The show follows a young Marine Corp lieutenant (Gary Lockwood) as he struggles to carry out his duties while under the guidance of a by-the-book captain (Robert Vaughn) during cold war peacetime. The show only last 29 episodes airing between 1963-1963, which is quite sad since it was a really great series. Once I got started watching I complete all 29 episodes in just two days, my eye hurt but I was locked in. Thanks to WB Archive, who beautifully restored this series and finally we are able to own Roddenberry’s pre-Star Trek series on DVD for the first time!  Highly recommended.

The TV series looks sharp on DVD in black and white 4X3 full frame presentation and its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1.  The audio included on the DVD is the original Dolby Mono track, which sounds great as well.  Part 1 of the complete series includes 16-episodes spread out over a 4-disc collection.  Richard Donner (“Superman”, “Lethal Weapon”) even lended his early directing skills to the series.  “Star Trek” fans keep an ear out since Roddenberry naming Lockwood’s character William Tiberius Rice. Also included are re-occuring roles from TV legend’s James Gregory and Richard Anderson.  Part 2 of the complete series includes the remaining 13-episodes also spread out over a 4-disc collection.  The second half of the season is extremely jam-packed with guest stars including Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Woody Strode.  There is also a bunch of future “Star Trek” alums like Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and Ricardo Montalban. There is even a great bonus episode “To Kill aMan”, the feature film version of the series’ final episode, unseen since its original international theatrical release in 1964!  This is a real treat sure to please any fan of Roddenbery.

Part 1: A man of war. A time of fragile peace. This is the set-up for Gene Roddenberry’s The Lieutenant, the tale of a brash and charming Marine lieutenant (2001: A Space Odyssey’s Gary Lockwood) serving at Camp Pendleton under a steely, button-down captain (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’s Robert Vaughn). The Lieutenant is packed full of themes, tropes, and quirks that Roddenberry would further explore in his next series, Star Trek. Lockwood’s William Tiberius Rice (yes, Tiberius!) is every bit the charming devil, but that’s just the glossy veneer that covers his firm commitment to Corps and Country. While Vaughn’s Captain Rambridge has the reasoning and the seasoning to keeps Rice in line when his passions overflow. TV greats James Gregory (Barney Miller) and Richard Anderson (The Six Million Dollar Man) enjoy recurring roles and a young Richard Donner (Superman, Lethal Weapon) directs many an episode. 16-Episodes, 4-Disc Collection.

Part 2: Lt. Rice and Capt. Rambridge continue their mission to train new recruits and explore the nature of honor and duty in this 4-Disc, 13-Episode Collection. The simmering background of the brewing conflict in Asia heats up and takes center stage as the series builds up to its ultimate away mission, and Lt. Rice finds himself serving as a military advisor in Vietnam. Rice’s other missions include investigating film, fame, race relations, faith and loyalty with the aid of hi-caliber guests like Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Woody Strode and future Trek alums Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and Ricardo Montalban. Rarely seen since its original airing, The Lieutenant proves to be an unheralded harbinger of TV yet-to-come, “light years” ahead of its time. Special Bonus: To Kill a Man – the feature film version of the series’ final episode, unseen since its original international theatrical release in 1964!

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