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Disney's Zorro on DVD: Season 1Season 2

Zorro: The Complete First Season DVD Review - Page 2

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Zorro: Season 1 (1957-58)
Show & DVD Details

Directors: Norman Foster, Charles Barton, Lewis R. Foster, Charles Lamont, Robert Stevenson, John Meredyth Lucas, William Witney / Repeat Writers: Lowell S. Hawley, Bob Wehling, John Meredyth Lucas, Norman Foster, N.B. Stone, Jr., Antony Ellis, Jackson Gillis; Johnston McCulley (stories) / Producer: William H. Anderson

Regular Cast: Guy Williams (Zorro/Don Diego de la Vega), Henry Calvin (Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia), Gene Sheldon (Bernardo), Britt Lomond (Capitan Enrique Sanchez Monastario)

Recurring Characters: George J. Lewis (Don Alejandro de la Vega), Vinton Hayworth (Magistrado Carlos Galindo), Don Diamond (Corporal Reyes), Charles Korvin (Señor Jose Sebastian "The Eagle" Varga), Jan Arvan (Ignacio "Nacho" Torres), Suzanne Lloyd (Raquel Toledano), Jay Novello (Juan Greco), Romney Brent (Padre Felipe), Kent Taylor (Carlos Murietta), Peter Adams (Capitan Toledano), Myrna Fahey (Maria Crespo), Mary Wickes (Dolores Bastinado), Michael Pate (Salvador Quintana), Jack Elam (Gomez), Anthony Caruso (Don Juan Ortega), Than Wyenn (Licenciado Pina), Armand Alzamora (Figueroa), Peter Mamakos (Enrique Fuentes), Sandy Livingston (Rosarita Cortez), Tony Russo (Carlos Martinez), Rudolph Acosta (Perico, Carancho), Bobby Crawford (Pogo Bastinado), Gilbert Roland (El Cuchillo), Rita Moreno (Chulita), Henry Rowland (Count Kolinko), Paul Picerni (Pietro Murietta), Jack Kruschen (Jose Mordante)

Notable Guest Stars: Sebastian Cabot (Judge Vasca), Lisa Gaye (Constancia), John Dehner (Viceroy), Henry Willis (King's Messenger), John Doucette (Antonio Azuela), Julie Van Zandt (Magdalena Montes), Edward Colmans (Don Francisco Montes), Peter Brocco (Barca), Miguel Landa (Don Ramon Santil), Laurie Carroll (Marya Montoya), Steve Stevens (Don Rudolfo)

Running Time: 1099 Minutes (18 hours, 19 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated

Season 1 Airdates: October 10, 1957 - July 3, 1958; Specials: October 30 - November 6, 1960
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled and Captioned
DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
Six single-sided discs (5 DVD-9s & 1 DVD-5); Suggested Retail Price: $59.99

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Bernardo finds a way to get a note to Sergeant Garcia without Garcia knowing where it came from. A faux-blind beggar Figueroa is part of the Magistrado's (Vinton Hayworth) secret evil plans. Zorro gets Figueroa (Armand Alzamora) to come clean in arc-ending episode "Adios, Senor Magistrado."

Disc 4

24. The New Commandante (25:36) (Originally aired March 20, 1958)
The Magistrado tries to corrupt the newly-installed comandante by arranging a secret meeting between the comandante's wife and a smitten suitor.

25. The Fox and the Coyote (25:37) (Originally aired March 27, 1958)
After investigating how a blind beggar figures into a plot to rig a major horse race, Zorro enters himself.

26. Adios, Señor Magistrado (25:35) (Originally aired April 3, 1958)
Diego helps Garcia nab two escaping prisoners and Zorro uncovers the bigger conspiracy they're involved in and its mastermind.

27. The Eagle's Brood (25:36) (Originally aired April 10, 1958)
Reassigned to San Diego, Comandante Toledano hands power back to Garcia and assigns him to resolve a case of stolen gunpowder. When he does so a little too easily, Zorro steps in.

Corporal Reyes (Don Diamond) sees if anything about the soldiers' gunpowder tastes funny, before realizing he doesn't know what normal gunpowder tastes like. Zorro comes face to face with Raquel (Suzanne Lloyd) and her Eagle allegiance in "Zorro Lights a Fuse." Stranger Carlos Murietta (Kent Taylor) challenges young Don Rudolfo (Steve Stevens) to a duel to the death, with waitress Maria Crespo (Myrna Fahey) in the middle of the dispute.

28. Zorro By Proxy (25:36) (Originally aired April 17, 1958)
With suspicion of him being Zorro arising in private,
Don Diego is publicly framed as the bandit and arrested as a trap for the "real" Zorro.

29. Quintana Makes a Choice (25:36) (Originally aired April 24, 1958)
An incident with a bear reveals the soldiers' gunpowder has been replaced by charcoal. Questioning his cartel on the subject puts Garcia's life in jeopardy, requiring Zorro to once again be heroic.

30. Zorro Lights a Fuse (25:36) (Originally aired May 1, 1958)
As Diego warns Garcia of the danger that surrounds him, the conspirators grow increasingly concerned by Garcia's suspicions.

31. The Man With the Whip (25:36) (Originally aired May 8, 1958)
Tight-lipped stranger Carlos Murietta (Kent Taylor), whose arrival raises questions, challenges Don Rudolfo (Steve Stevens), a local young man defending a barmaid, to a deadly duel. Sounds like another job for Zorro.

Sergeant Garcia takes interest in an unimpressed Senorita Bastinado (Mary Wickes) in a three-episode storyline. For the first time, Zorro and Garcia team up to fight on the same side in "The Well of Death." Administrado Señor Varga (Charles Korvin, right) and his associate Juan Greco (Jay Novello) take over Don Diego's house and start calling the shots in "The Tightening Noose."

Disc 5

32. Cross of the Andes (25:36) (Originally aired May 15, 1958)
A wealthy visiting señorita (Mary Wickes) catches the eye of Garcia. Diego and Bernardo are more interested in the shady actions of Murietta and his new partner.

33. The Deadly Bolas (25:36) (Originally aired May 22, 1958)
While Garcia throws a party for Señorita Bastinado, Diego and Bernardo act on their suspicions that Murietta has stolen priceless church icons.

34. The Well of Death (25:36) (Originally aired May 29, 1958)
Prepared to put an end to Murietta and brother's jewel thefts, Diego encourages Garcia to investigate their headquarters, sending in Zorro as backup.

35. The Tightening Noose (25:35) (Originally aired June 5, 1958)
With Don Alejandro organizing resistance efforts in Monterey, the Administrado (a.k.a. The Eagle himself) takes over the de la Vega hacienda and looks for secrets.

A frightened Administrado and on-duty Corporal Reyes look out for the sources of nighttime disturbances, while Zorro sneaks up behind them. Bernardo and Zorro come awfully close to a fiery death in Season 1's penultimate episode. Don Alejandro partakes in a standoff shootout in season finale "The Eagle's Flight."

36. The Sergeant Regrets (25:35) (Originally aired June 12, 1958)
As pressure mounts, the Administrado lays a trap to know who has signed the secret oath against the King's enemies.

37. The Eagle Leaves the Nest (25:36) (Originally aired June 19, 1958)
Having identified his fear of being alone as the Administrado's vulnerability, Zorro and Bernardo exploit it with a night of hijinks.

38. Bernardo Faces Death (25:36) (Originally aired June 26, 1958)
A Russian count looking for the Administrado sets Zorro on the trail of the Eagle's violent plans.

39. The Eagle's Flight (25:35) (Originally aired July 3, 1958)
The Eagle and his followers make their move, arresting the de la Vegas and laying siege upon Los Angeles. Can Zorro emerge to save the day?

Bernardo (Gene Sheldon) waves to Sergeant Garcia (Henry Calvin) in an impromptu attempt to hide that he hears more than he lets on. Revealing his secret identity would probably make Diego's father Alejandro (George J. Lewis) much prouder of him.


Don't let the very grainy opening shot of the first (and every) episode scare you off. The black and white 1.33:1 fullscreen picture is satisfactorily clean and sharp on the whole. Certain zoom and stunt shots look a little beat-up or grainy.
Night scenes exhibit some light flicker and minor anomalies like slightly strange tones. Scattered episodes, like #'s 3 and 11, have minor troubles and some dirty sequences. The hour-long bonus episodes are darker than the Season 1 shows.

Beyond those mild concerns barely worth mentioning, the transfer is an absolute delight and all the more so when you remember you're watching over 50-year-old episodes of a weekly television series. You need only to have encountered dollar DVDs of public domain TV shows from the same era to appreciate the overwhelmingly consistent and excellent video quality of this set. Walt Disney spent more on these episodes than his contemporaries did on their TV dramas and whether the credit goes to the original filmings, preservation methods, or restoration efforts, this set deserves abundant praise for its great appearance.

The two-channel Dolby Mono soundtrack doesn't have quite the same effect of the video, but it too is unhindered in any serious way. The recordings are simple but not noticeably dated. All the dialogue is clear and intelligible. And yet, English subtitles are gladly offered everywhere as well. They're appropriately colored yellow to stand out from the show's gray tones.

Leonard Maltin turns on the fast talking and enthusiasm for his Disc One intro, his only one on this Season 1 set. Pre-"West Side Story" Rita Moreno stands by her Cuchillo (Gilbert Roland) as waitress Chulita in the two hour-long "Zorro" anthology episodes presented as bonus features. El Cuchillo's sketching of Diego on a bounty poster brings him close to Zorro's identity in second 1-hour episode, "Adios El Cuchillo."


Disc One opens with a standard introduction (5:21) from Treasures host/producer Leonard Maltin. He discusses the different incarnations of Zorro, all the things that made Disney's show so exciting and special,
the series' popularity, the contents of this DVD, and notable guest cast members seen here.

Four items on Disc 6 are all deemed bonus features. First and probably most important are two hour-long episodes from the weekly anthology series then called "Walt Disney Presents." Together with two other hour-long anthology installments (found on the Season 2 Treasures set), these made up what many consider the highly abbreviated third season of "Zorro." Walt Disney introduces each of them and follows up the first with a preview of the second.

In "El Bandido (Part 1)" (51:15; originally aired October 30, 1960), twelve bandits from Mexico ride into Los Angeles seeking opportunities for personal gain. Their tight-lipped leader El Cuchillo (Gilbert Roland) looks to use information gleamed in casual conversation with Sgt. Garcia and Diego, but a grossly outnumbered Zorro stands up to the threat.

"Adios El Cuchillo (Part 2)" (48:59; November 6, 1960) follows through on the storyline, as El Cuchillo grows suspicious of Don Diego, whose alter ego is effectively thwarting the bandits' attempted thefts.

Actors Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon, and Guy Williams have fun with director Charles Barton in this behind-the-scenes photo from "The Life and Legend of Zorro." Walt Disney gives into Moochie and other Mouseketeer's pleadings by saying a bit about Zorro in "The Fourth Anniversary Show." The disc number is about all that changes in this static silhouette main menu design.

The all-new featurette "The Life and Legend of Zorro" (12:25) begins with a brief background on the character's history in print and films starring Douglas Fairbanks and Tyrone Power. It then proceeds to celebrate Disney's TV series, discussing the actors, the high production values, the popular original music, and the legal wrangling that brought about its end after just two seasons. In addition to the many historians interviewed (whose expertise ranges from Disney to TV to Zorro to music) are Guy Williams Jr., the son of the late star, and actress Suzanne Lloyd, who played duplicitous comandante's wife Raquel Toledano in six Season 1 episodes. Though quite brisk, this is an informative retrospective.

Finally, we get an excerpt from "The Fourth Anniversary Show" (3:16), the anthology's Season 4 premiere first aired on September 11, 1957. In the clip, the Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers -- particularly Kevin "Moochie" Corcoran -- beg Walt Disney to talk about "Zorro." After a moment's reluctance, Walt gives in and shows the title theme montage. Then, Guy Williams appears in full character to discuss whether he really exists or not. Walt and the Mouseketeers look off to the side to create an illusion of interaction. It's a cool and welcome if insubstantial inclusion. The full 52-minute episode is found on Disc 1 of the Walt Disney Treasures' Your Host, Walt Disney set.


For the first time in this line, menus and extras are happily enhanced for 16:9 displays. Each disc uses the same static black & white menus which play music and sound effects.

The "Zorro" tins ditch the Walt Disney Treasures' signature silver, as only the golden Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has done before. This time, the tin is a stylish black with gold lettering. It's accompanied by a cardboard wraparound, a touch missing from the past five waves. Although the tin is still large enough to hold the double-width keepcases Treasures have always used, this one counterintuitively opts for a standard-sized black keepcase. It holds the six discs with both sides and two double-sided swinging trays. They're accompanied by a certificate of authenticity that assigns you a number in the record-low 30,000 print count. A sturdy 8-page booklet provides the customary overview of both the Treasures line and this particular subject, complete with episode titles and airdates.

Outside the keepcase but within the tin, three additional items of interest are found. The requisite litho card is a black & white publicity still of Guy Williams in Don Diego dress. A thin booklet supplies a Disney Movie Rewards code. And a pin features Zorro's mask and name over a pair of crossed swords. While pin traders will rush to add this to their lanyards, it looks pretty cool here with a red Z on black backing.

Zorro's signature Z slices up the reward offer for his capture dead or alive. Zorro comes straight at you in this final point-of-view shot.


Within the Disney canon, "Zorro" stands in a class of its own. More expansive and entertaining than the anthology miniseries, it holds up remarkably well. Though childhood memories will render this precious for Baby Boomers and younger folks who caught it in its many years in syndication, this isn't a show that needs nostalgia to be enjoyed today.
It may be tame and a bit silly by today's primetime standards, but it's a well-crafted and well-performed program that excels with a hero whose derring-do is impossible not to enjoy.

The higher price tag may be initially off-putting to those who have bought Walt Disney Treasures DVDs for years, but this six-disc set obviously delivers more than enough content to justify it. The bonus features complement the show and the nice packaging and presentation flourishes exemplify why this line is so tempting to collect. Based on the record-low print count, those who hesitate will be lost, or at least stuck paying more with less certainty in the second-hand market.

If you already bought the colorized "Zorro" box sets from the Disney Movie Club or Europe, you will want to unload and rebuy, as this season collection is superior in every way (even price). That the studio didn't think offer a rebate to ease the pain of repurchase that faithful fans have to endure may be the only way this release disappoints.

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Reviewed November 3, 2009 / Updated November 15, 2009.