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DVD Review: Rawhide Season 5 Volume 1

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Ready for another big steaming shot of retro television action? Because that’s exactly what we’re in for thanks to our friends out at CBS Video, who sent over a copy of Rawhide Season 5 Volume 1 for us to review.

Rawhide Season 5 Volume 1 rejoins rough-riding trail boss Gil Favor, backed up by his ever-present (and oddly familiar because he’s played by Clint Eastwood) foreman Rowdy Yates and comic relief cook Wishbone as they take 3,000 head of cattle and 25 drovers off to market somewhere. Along the way, there will be plenty of surprises and more than a little danger as the cattle train heads off and carries on towards its eventual destination.

Leave aside the confusion over how, exactly, a cattle drive lasts for five years or more unless one is attempting to circumnavigate the globe on horseback–it’s actually a fair bet this is more than one cattle drive, or is at the very least a particularly eventful one–there’s simply no denying that this is classic fare at its best. How classic? Well, it spawned Clint Eastwood’s career, for one. The theme song was actually a plot element in The Blues Brothers. Of course, the fact that it’s in black and white doesn’t distract from the classical nature of what we’re looking at either, but there’s just no doubt that this is, indeed, classic fare.

Better yet, the remastering process that the previous retro releases from CBS Video have undergone looks to have carried on just nicely with this one. It’s looking almost disturbingly good for a show that was shot in the late fifties and early sixties, and sounds pretty good too. There are even some things in here that might have been controversial for a show of the era like dealing with blindness.

The thing to remember most about the “Rawhide” package is that, basically, this is unlike any other show currently on the air or released up until now. I find myself hard-pressed to name even one other television show about an extended cattle drive. There might well have been another one out there, but for the life of me I can’t name it. Westerns are rare enough already, but bring in a full-fledged Western television show that ran as long as “Rawhide” did, and it’s hard to turn that down.

Thus, the end result; take a show that’s pretty much unlike anything else that’s out there coupled with the fact that it’s aged remarkably well and add on the fact that it’s a modern American classic, and, well, you’ve got a recipe for something that’s certainly worth the time to watch. Naturally, you may not want to start at the fifth season, but from the look of things segueing right into the fifth season isn’t going to do any real damage in terms of screwing up the continuity.

Rawhide Season 5 Volume 1 is a solid piece of work that’s surprisingly well done, and the fact that it’s remained a classic as long as it has certainly recommends it to anyone who wants a shot of Western in their television fare.

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