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Release Date:
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

MPAA Rating:


Guy Williams, guest stars


"Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the horseman known as Zorro." Debuting October 10, 1957, Walt Disney's thrilling series about the masked avenger was so successful, it made Zorro a household name -- and quashed every series that went up against it.

Zorro | Review

The Complete First Season

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It's always disappointing when something we thought was so cool as a kid turns out to be lame and cheesy when you revisit it as an adult. Has that ever happened to you? With so many old TV shows being remastered on DVD and Blu-ray, it's actually becoming surprisingly common. Far too often I'm left trying to figure out why exactly I thought a show was so cool after seeing it again as an adult, and I was afraid that would happen all over again when I received the first season of Walt Disney's 1950s show Zorro. I remember really enjoying it as a kid, but just how enjoyable could a children's show from the 1950s really be? Well, what I forgot to factor in to my low expectations was that Walt Disney was personally involved with this project, and as he did with everything else, he made sure this show was well produced and most importantly, entertaining. That's something that hasn't changed in the past fifty years, and surprisingly enough, hasn't changed as I've grown older.

Any fan of Batman is probably a fan of Zorro. After all, many of the trappings of Batman were liberally borrowed from Zorro. In fact, some versions of Batman's origin have young Bruce Wayne and his family leaving a showing of the film Zorro on the fateful night when his parents are murdered. It's the relation between Batman and Zorro that drew me to this show in the first place. Knowing what a profound influence this character was on beloved hero, I wanted to learn more about this other masked crusader, and in doing, he become another beloved hero of my childhood. Better yet, revisiting his TV adventures all these years later he's still just as much fun.

One of the things I've really enjoyed about having this show on DVD is learning about the history of the show and the prominent place it holds in TV history. There really wasn't anything like this show when it debuted in October of 1957, and it immediately became a huge hit. There wasn't a single show during the 2008-2009 TV season that could match the ratings Zorro generated fifty years ago. Disney built their first permanent sets for Zorro, and Guy Williams ( the unknown actor who became an overnight sensation after Zorro hit the airwaves) did almost all of his own sword work, which while a bit silly at times is still actually pretty exciting. In fact, the biggest surprise for me viewing this show as an adult is what a great job it did at balancing humor, action, plot, and character development. This show is tightly paced and wastes little time in telling its story. Despite being just thirty minutes long, I find it more exciting and enjoyable than many of the shows we have on the air today not just because of the novelty value, but because it tells an entertaining and enthralling story that's genuinely exciting, funny, and even dramatic at times.

It's obvious that Disney studios understands what a prominent place this show holds in TV history, because everything about this DVD set is top quality. As a part of the Disney Treasures Collection, this is a limited edition set that comes with a certificate of authenticity, and a couple of rare collectors pins. Of more interest to me is the historical information included. Critic and film historian Leonard Maltin introduces the set with a brief history of the show's conception, start, success, and the impact it had on television as a whole. On the last disc there's a nice documentary that explores the impact of the show and the legend of Zorro himself. Also included are some bonus episodes that aired after the show itself had concluded, and some footage from The Fourth Anniversary Show. It's not a bad collection of bonus features, and I'm glad space isn't wasted with a bunch of pointless games.

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