Oddly enough, McMillan & Wife is one of those shows from the 1970s that I had never heard of. Well, I probably shouldn’t be that surprised, I am sure that there are many shows from that era that I don’t know about, but this one just seems like one that I should. This show focuses on a husband and wife team. Rock Hudson plays Stuart McMillan, a new police commissioner in San Francisco. Susan Saint James play his curious wife, Sally. The gist of this show is that while McMillan runs the police force, it is his wife who is also adept at solving crimes too. I guess this show took the saying, “Behind every good man is woman” and ran with it.
There’s a lot to like about the show. The setting is rich and I love the way the city looks from that time. Hudson and Saint James have chemistry as a married couple, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that he seems to be a little old for her. Sally McMillan, while smart and able to put things together, has a helplessness that this age disparity encourages. I just couldn’t get passed Hudson’s look. Granted, this is the 1970s and that was the look of the time, this relationship was sometimes hard to take. In fact, seeing them on-screen together, they look more like a father/daughter team then they do a married couple.
Sleuths on TV have always played well. There is something about seeing people given a bunch of obstacles or clues, and then watching them scurry about for an hour until they find the answers to their questions. While I don’t know if McMillan & Wife is a great show, it does stand up well alongside the other crime shows of it’s time.
No extras came with this DVD. You would think they might include a retrospective on the career of Rock Hudson, but maybe they are saving something like that for future releases of this show? Either way, with over 10 hours of content on these two, double sided DVDs, there is more than enough here to whet people’s appetites for future releases.
Full Frame. 1.33:1. I really wish that the director’s of today’s crime shows would step back for a moment and view the DVDs of these shows from the 1970s. I think that there was something about their pacing and how they were cut that really added something to the story. I also can appreciate how some of the episodes on this disc seem to go over the 30 minute mark, before the story in question really gets going. When you consider the pressures of doing TV, a medium driven by ad revenues and such, these shows seemed to go out of their way to experiment not only with the characters but with the stories themselves. The picture quality on these DVDs is quite good. In fact, I noticed very few “hits” on the picture overall.
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. Another thing I like about the shows from the 1970s is the crispness with with the audio was captured on the set. Due to this, when these DVDs come out, I have no problems hearing anything that is being said. While the background sound design is minimal, I love how the dialogue seems to carry the episodes. In fact, this is probably the main thing that directors of today’s shows should probably focus their attention on. The shows today just seem acted. Everyone delivers their lines like it’s the last line that their character is ever going to say. The characters don’t just act. Things like this get in the way of their performances, whereas on a show like McMillan & Wife, there really is a freewheeling “realness” that truly adds something to the material.
This two disk set is housed in two regular sized DVD cases, which are also encased in a vinyl, cardboard outer layer. The front has a picture of Hudson and Saint James in a posed picture, with the city of San Francisco as their backdrop. The back features a larger picture of Hudson by himself, with some other shots taken from the show. There is a tiny description of the show and a technical specs list. The back cover of the DVDs inside the box, give us a listing and description of each episode. Overall, the packaging is as economical as it can be, but I think I would appreciate it more if the DVDs were housed in slimmer plastic cases. As far as the artwork is concerned, there is nothing too special about it but it certainly gets the point of the show across.
My favorite part of this show was Susan Saint James. She seems like she was born to play this role. There is a sweetness and charm to her character, but you can readily tell that she has a great deal of brains. In the various situations she is put in, whether she is being questioned, held at gun point, or seeking out clues to a case, she always keeps her perspective about herself. There is a determination that she brings to this role that also bolsters her character. While I think Rock Hudson is certainly good on this show (this is actually one of the few things that I have ever seen him in), Susan Saint James clearly steals almost every scene they share together.
McMillan and Wife, while not the best of the recent Universal releases from their “Mystery Movie Collection,” is certain worthy of being in the lineup.
McMillan was released .