"The Magnificent Seven - The Complete Series" DVD Review
June 20, 2008 by Zach Demeter
A spin-off of the film series of the same name, The Magnificent Seven debuted on CBS in 1998 and aired through 2000. The series had a strong debut, but was eventually trashed by the time the final episode of the first season aired. Fans rallied online (they seem to do this a lot with CBS shows [i.e., Jericho]) and a second season premiered, but didnít produce high enough ratings for CBS to keep it around (ÖJericho). Fortunately fans were able to relive the show on DVD, where itís since been released by Fox, with the first season arriving for winter of 2005 and summer of 2007 seeing the release of the second season.
Based on the John Sturges classic 1960 film, The Magnificent Seven starred Michael Biehn, Ron Perlman and Eric Close as three of the Magnificent Seven, men who came together to defend an innocent group of ex-slaves and Indians whose lives are threatened by ex-confederates and the heads of the group ride into town to find someone to hire to protect them. They donít offer much, but itís enough for the Magnificent Seven to band together and save the day. The two seasons, comprised of twenty-two episodes total, have been collected in a single box set by Fox titled The Magnificent Seven: The Complete Series.
For television shows I attempt to watch the extras on the discs before writing the review as after binge-watching a show for days on end, I feel like I may have missed some key elements in-between episodes that I might have glossed over from the rush to watch the series. Unfortunately my research was cut short for this show as there isnít a single extra on this entire five-disc set, so I had nothing to really re-acquaint myself with the overall series. What little I was able to turn up online surprised me as this series really was the first Jericho of its time, only Jericho seemed a bit more publicized with its giant ďNuts!Ē campaign.
Not surprisingly the show sputtered and faltered by the time it returned to airwaves, as cancellation often does to a series creative streak, but the show still maintained that level of quality that it began way back in its pilot from 1998. I was surprised by just how good the series was and despite some amateur camera work, the pilot really astounded me with how strong of series it really was. In a few ways it reminded me of Adventures of Brisco County Jr., only without the science fiction element, which isnít a bad thing. This series was definitely a lot more serious than Brisco, but Seven wasnít without its own brand of humor.
Something that kept the show fresh was the fact that the main cast was made up of seven gentleman who each got their share of screen time over the course of the series (although as a Ron Perlman fan I found that he could have gotten more focus overall). With a large cast number comes numerous chances to pair them up with each other and get different results each time and thatís really where the series excelled, I think, because it was always something new. Anyone who is a fan of the comic book Justice League get a similar feeling, as seven different personalities can often clash against one another in humorous, violent and dramatic ways.
The series itself focuses on the town they first assembled in, which they stay in to protect. Somehow every one of the members remains consistent, which is slightly out-of-character for the lone-wolf mentality most of the Seven have, but it works for the most part. The stories presented throughout are far from original for the western genre, but you know what to expect from the series regardless so itís not much of a surprise when it comes down to horseback chases, meetings at high-noon and wagon trains.
Regardless of how generic of a series it may have been, The Magnificent Seven was a fun series and thatís really all that matters in the end. There werenít a whole lot of stand-out performances or plots that really grabbed me during my viewing of the two seasons, but I will say that I was entertained regardless. Iíve always enjoyed westernís and The Magnificent Seven is no different; itís fun to watch and easy to get into. Recommended.
Those hoping for something new from this ďComplete SeriesĒ will be sorely disappointed; theyíre complete clones of the individual season set releases from 2005 and 2007, with the only difference here being the slipcase that houses the four thin-paks. Everything else about the sets remain the same, so if you already own the previous two thereís absolutely no reason to even look at this set.
I know that the DVD format has been home to some of the ugliest and most beautiful video transfers seen to man, but Iím genuinely shocked by the video quality of these episodes. They arenít absolutely horrendous, but the amount of grain that gets mixed with the digital transfer ends up creating some overly soft and smooth transfers. The transfer looks fine from about 12 feet back but any closer than that and its imperfections immediately start popping up. Iím really surprised by how poor this picture looks and itís the same issue for both seasons, which makes it even more confusing. Thankfully the audio is clean and clear; although it is an unremarkable 2.0 track, so donít expect much except some standard stereo play.
Extras? We donít need no stinkiní extras! Well actually we do, but that seems to be the mentality of Fox, as theyíve released both seasons in barebones sets and had the opportunity to thrown in a bonus disc of something on this Complete Series set and instead we were given nothing. I would have enjoyed a retrospective or even something about the fan campaign for the series, but insteadÖwe get nada. Except some trailers for some MGM westerns, but thatís completely unremarkable.
Overall The Magnificent Seven is a fine series with a dull release that we wonít likely be seeing get any better treatment in the future. Fans will be glad to have the series on DVD, but unless you love Westernís Iíd recommend just Renting this set. Itís a quick viewing and this isnít a series that will have a lot of people coming back for seconds.
The Magnificent Seven - The Complete Series is now available on DVD.