Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 - The First Adventures of the Black Sheep Squadron is a very engaging look at a rag tag bunch of Marine fighter pilots. Sure they may be crass, loud and insubordinate but when it comes time to get the job done, there is nobody better to tackle the job. Robert Conrad leads the charge playing Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. Like Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) of “Hawaii Five-O” fame or even Theo Kojak (Telly Savalas) of Kojak, Robert Conrad is the man on this show. He may not do everything by the book and he might go out of his way to defy conventions, but he is never risky or careless without good reason. In fact, he exudes a quiet confidence and seems to understand that during World War II, the objective above everything else, is to survive.
This show reminded me a great deal of the other shows from the 1970s that I like. However, it also seemed to be inspired by such movies as King Rat and Stalag 17. In fact, Conrad seems to be channeling both George Segal and William Holden in his portrayal of “Pappy” Boyington. This is the kind of show that can be watched over and over again. Bolstered by a top notch supporting cast featuring among others John Larroquette, Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 - The First Adventures of the Black Sheep Squadron conveys a real mindset of what it must be like being at war. Never being able to really relax. Sleeping but not really sleeping. Finishing a mission only to have another one to tackle. In today’s times, the release of this two disk DVD set could not be more timely.
From the NBC News Archives: Interviews with Major Gregory Boyington
The first interview seemed to coincide with the airing of the TV show. This is actually a really cool piece of archival footage. Seeing Pappy Boyington with Robert Conrad is almost surreal. Conrad, while he doesn’t look exactly like Major Boyington, is a similar personality type. I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment that Robert Conrad was really the only person who could play this part. It’s really weird seeing actors on a TV show smoking as that would never happen today. These interviews play like a typical back and forth fare but they really do add something to this box set. I can best describe it as a sense of timeliness and place.
Full Frame 1.33:1. The way the shows from the 1970s are compressed really does add something to how they look on the finished DVDs. I don’t know if these shows are cleaned up frame by frame, or if there is any work done to them other then the initial transfer process. Truthfully, something has to have been done to these DVDs because they really do look sharp. The colors aren’t too bright or hard on our eyes, but there really is a look of the film from that time that adds something to this piece. Movies about war today seem to take events from the past, and make them more accessible to today’s viewing audience. While I don’t know how much this does or does not help the box office, I will say that I think it hinders people’s ability to really get into a lot of the stories. My feeling is that if something worked in the past, why wouldn’t it work in the present? Isn’t the whole goal of these movies to transport us to another time? Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 - The First Adventures of the Black Sheep Squadron is a show that had no trouble putting me in the WW II mindset.
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The sound on these disks is decent. It isn’t too great and it isn’t really bad. It is just typical. I never had a moment where I wasn’t able to make out what any of the characters were saying, but I have to admit, there was something about the sound. The best way I can describe it is that it sounded like there was something between the words and the delivery. Okay, I know that that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to anybody, but at present that’s the best way I can describe it. I only had the volume levels on my TV at about the 1/2 way point, so that might have had something to do with it. These shows are only in 2.0 mono, but I have seen plenty of shows from the 1970s, and plenty of shows in 2.0 mono and I have never noticed a real sound problem. In fact, I am not sure I would even call what this was a sound problem, so much as just the way the sound was recorded. I am going to stop now.
I found this cover to be misleading. Robert Conrad hovers over the cover looking too serious. Below him is a picture of Conrad with his men and while they are all smiling, this show has a bit of a lighter edge then the packaging would indicate. It does however have the green colors and the overall look of those older WW II movies, so I guess that accounts for something, right? The back cover continues this motif with some more pictures from the show, a description of the show, the extras listing and some technical specifications. I love the 3D feel of the box as far as the titles are concerned. Each of double sided DVDs is housed in it’s own case with similar covers and backgrounds. In fact, the picture of the squadron on the box cover is the same picture on both DVDs. The back covers feature episode listings and a few lines about each episode. All in all solid packaging, even if it could have been a tad lighter in tone.
Ahh the good ole days... when America knew it’s enemies. It’s enemies were far away and you could have a War and that War could actually end. Okay, lets be honest, I feel all Wars are bad regardless of if they are for a good cause. Yet at the same time, they are one of those necessary evils it seems. At least that is where I come out on the subject.
Enough of the politics. Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 - The First Adventures of the Black Sheep Squadron is a good show. It’s not really that different then any of the other war shows and movies that we are used to, yet I am coming to this show having seen a bunch of other shows before it. What I mean is, I might think Baa Baa Black Sheep: Volume 1 - The First Adventures of the Black Sheep Squadron was the most groundbreaking piece of TV, had I seen it sooner. Whatever the case may be, WW II buffs, fans of the show and fans of military styled TV will be happy that this show has been resurrected on DVD.
Baa Baa Black Sheep was released .