Shout! Factory // 1962 // 780 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 21st, 2010
"Hello. I'm Mister Ed."
And so it begins, with a barn door opening and a talking horse addressing the audience that, yes, he is indeed Mr. F -- -- -- -- Ed; if you have a problem with that, you can go screw yourself. (Granted, he doesn't explicitly say all that, but read between the lines.)
Wilbur Post (Alan Young) is a successful architect who lives in a picturesque rural setting with a lovely wife (Connie Hines). That's at least what people on the outside see. What lurks within Wilbur's inner sanctum -- the barn where he does most of his architecture despite the obvious, aggressive stench of livestock -- is the bizarre relationship with his horse, Mister Ed, a handsome stallion who wears glasses and talks.
Ah, nostalgia...you are a powerful, hypnotic mistress. Once the goggles go on -- their memory-tinted lenses obscuring the truth -- cold reality is replaced by the warmth of fond reminiscence. Since I never grew up watching Mister Ed, I am immune to its retro charms and can safely report that...wow, this show is weird and not very funny.
Yes, I know. "It's Mister Ed!" you scream and I understand the popularity. Wilbur. Ed. The neighbors. The hullabaloo. But let's face it, we're not dealing with gut-busting hilarity. At best, Mister Ed is a surreal, amusing relic, which did a lot for the sitcom genre and emblazoned itself upon the American pop culture consciousness. But I defy you to derive more than a few genuine laughs from the any of these 26 episodes.
Enough of my (neigh)-saying. If you love Mister Ed -- and it is charming, harmless, and goofy enough to appeal to younger audiences -- Shout! Factory has pulled together a nice set of discs for the Third Season. A season, by the way, which includes such shenanigans as Wilbur's quest to find a horse groomer a job as a hair stylist, a competitive horse race, continued hijinks with Wilbur's nosy neighbors, a night on the town that goes horribly awry, and a bounty of other wacky scenarios revolving around a talking horse.
As I think about it, I have to credit the writers for even coming up with plots that involve a talking horse. That can't be easy to write for. They indeed earned their paychecks.
The episodes look about as good as they're going to, transferred in their native (black and white) full frame and supplemented with a standard-issue stereo mix. One extra: a radio interview with star Alan Young.
Not growing up with the Ed, I didn't get a whole lot out of its antiquated humor, but fans are welcome to tell me to go take a leap and snatch up this set regardless. Shout! Factory did a good job with it.
I don't have the heart to send Ed to the glue factory.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 780 Minutes
Release Year: 1962
MPAA Rating: Not Rated