Beginning in 1948 and boasting a nine year run – and over four hundred and fifty episodes – Studio One was the premiere anthology series in a time when live television drama was brand new. Every week, brought a new story – and the multitude of other anthology series that followed were equally productive. To stay the best, a network had to have an imaginative writing and production staff producing its shows – and they had to let them work with an absolute minimum of interference. The series accumulated eighteen Emmy Award nominations and five wins during its run.
The Studio One Anthology DVD set features seventeen of the series best and most influential episodes – beginning with an opera called The Medium and an adaptation of Wuthering Heights. In between are works by writers like Gore Vidal and Rod Serling, and performances by stars like Art Carney, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Charlton Heston, Jack Lemmon and Sal Mineo.
The Medium is the tale of a phoney medium who comes unravelled when a real spirit appears at one of her séances – a spirit that we actually see, as well. Although I’ve never enjoyed the opera, this one is pretty involving.
Several episodes included here went on to becomes award-winning movies: 12 Angry Men [here starring Robert Cummings and Franchot Tone], Julius Caesar [here starring Theodore Bikel as the ill-fated emperor], and Dino [starring Sal Mineo as the title character]. Each of these productions stand out as quality entertainment, especially when you consider that each had a mere two weeks of prep time – and that included writing the scripts! The four episodes mentioned are among my personal favorites, along with: The Death and Life of Larry Benson [a soldier seemingly returns home to his family and featuring one of Lee Remick’s earliest appearances]; June Moon [an adaptation of the Ring Lardner satire, starring Jack Lemmon and Eva Marie Saint], and Wuthering Heights [starring Charlton Heston and Lloyd Bochner].
Because these dramas were broadcast live, with no chance of a rerun, they were filmed from an actual TV screen to be broadcast to the west later the same day. This produced what are called kinescopes, and it is from those kinescopes that this anthology was produced. Needless to say, the quality isn’t as high as it could be. The episodes are still among the best and most memorable work ever produced for television.
Features include: Paley Center Panel Discussion ; Studio One Historical Overview; Paul Nickell Interview Excerpts, Voices from the Archive: Studio One, and a fifty-two page booklet with production details, casts and synopses.
Grade: Studio One: Anthology – A
Grade: Features – B-
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Final Grade: A-