The Big Valley Season Two, Vol. 1 20th Century Fox; $39.98

bigvalleyThere are a lot of irked Big Valley fans out there, pissed at Fox for charging almost $40 for a half season of shows on three double-sided discs, when the previous release covered the entire first season on five discs for the same price. They are also justifiably chagrined at the absence of extras—no commentary, interviews, features. eems right; many of the original cast members of this mid-1960s series are still alive, and people who are loyal to these shows really hunger for additional material, more so I think than casual uyers or renters of newly-released features and the like.

The  Big  Valley was the matriarchal twin of Bonanza, though in any smackdown, Barbara Stanwyck (the widowed Barkley martriarch) could tie Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright) into tiny knots. he rest of the cast was, frankly, bland, as was the writing and direction. roduction values were good, and Lee Majors, who played the bastard of the Barkley bunch, did a passable version of the brooding, self-pitying Elvis that showed in several of the better Presley movies (minus the lip and the hip, of course). n some ways, Majors was the first Elvis impersonator.

The worst thing about the series, though, was the waste of “Miss Barbara Stanwyck,” as she is billed on the show. To see Stanwyck at her Western best, rent The Furies (1950) or Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957).

Still, this collection includes a half decent episode, “The Great Safe Robbery,” that teams a bemused Stanwyck with dumb-as-a-stump Warren Oates, playing the leader of a band of Ernest P. Worrell morons. hat a fine team these two would have made in a feature.

For those seeking a bit of self abuse, you’ll enjoy one of Majors’ worst identity crises episodes, in which he thinks that Buddy Hackett, with an appalling Irish brogue, is his real pappy. ven Bruce Dern doing his usual weasel can’t cut through these noxious fumes.

What do you think?