The Good

I am a sucker for western TV shows from the 1960s.

The Bad

No special features showing how this show was put together.

Aside from the fact that I am a sucker for shows that look like Bonanza, I also happen to think that The Big Valley, while very much resembling it's western counterpart does happen to stand on it's own. With a cast featuring Barbara Stanwyck as Victoria Barkley, the "leader" of her family on the Barkley Ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley, we also get such notable players as Lee Majors and Linda Evans to add to this show's depth.

The Big Valley deals heavily in herding cattle, gold, logging camps and just about everything else that was important to people's lives in the 1870s. I feel that it shows a side of California that, while long since removed, has certainly managed to stay around in some ways. Whether we are seeing Audra (Linda Evans) get involved with someone she shouldn't, or Heath (Lee Majors) and Jarrod (Richard Long) or Nick (Peter Breck) pitted against one another for some reason, this show always reflects the problems that families face. And that type of subject matter is relevant no matter what time period we are living in.


No extras came with this five disc set.


Full Frame - 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio. I absolutely love the way that this show looks. It seems as if the images on the screen have been painted in very deliberate strokes. Yeah, there's parts of this 30 episode set that may not look that great (by today's action or acting standards), but I think placed in it's proper perspective The Big Valley: Season 1 really looks like something special.


Dolby Digital. English Mono. Close Captioned. Subtitled in English and Spanish. I could get very nitpicky about this show. Pointing out the obvious use of sound effects, and how sometimes it seems like the bullets get pushed out guns instead of shot out. That said, this show has that clean, TV-type, western audio where the characters and their surroundings don't feel dirty, but rather like they are simply passing through a time in America's history.


The main cast of The Big Valley are all present on this cover. The photo has obviously been put together from a bunch of other images, but it has the same pastel-type look that the show itself employs. The back features some surprisingly poorly rendered shots from various episodes in this show. There is also a description of what The Big Valley is about and some technical specs. Five discs are housed in three slim cases, with the images from the front cover broken up over the disc's three covers. The back lists out the episodes pertaining to each disc and also provides well written descriptions for each episode. Very economical packaging from our friends at Fox.

Final Word

It doesn't seem like we take western's that seriously on TV anymore. I am not saying that the networks or the people who produce the shows don't take them seriously, but it just seems like a majority of Americans only want to see their Westerns on the big screen. I am trying to think of the last really popular western show on free TV and I can't. Now by popular, I mean one that lasted five or more seasons. I know that Deadwood is quite popular, but that show is on cable and to my knowledge it hasn't even been on for four seasons, yet. We shall see...

I guess the westerns the US viewers want to see are more violent than what the current stations can give us. That said, The Big Valley: Season 1 certainly holds it's own and will remind viewers of how things were.

The Big Valley was released .