Friday, 11 November 2011

The only law a gun, the only shelter wild bush…

So, my Whiplash box set has come (happy me). Contrary to often stated opinions, Chris Cobb (Peter Graves) does not defend himself only with his whip. He more often uses a rifle, and occasionally a pistol. The Harvard-educated American has come to Australia in the mid nineteenth century to operate a stage line, and he does pretty well, tackling outlaws, ex-convicts, and belligerent settlers and struggling to keep up good relations with the Aborigines along the way.

The Network DVD box set of this low-demand title (only available until October 2012) is an excellent production, with high standards all through. The really expensive things – subtitling and remastering – aren’t there – but that’s not unexpected. What they do provide is two sets of photographs on two of the discs, three pdfs of original production data and promotional material, and some cracking graphics on the menus, very befitting of a 1960s production. The pdfs are of particular interest, revealing fun facts about the actors. One gets the feel that the actor bios were written in a more innocent time, when there weren’t people like me around who obsessively internet-stalk people for facts, articles and photos.

The Very Sixties Menu

The series itself (I think) is excellent. My husband thinks it unoriginal. I don’t agree – but then I am lured in by Peter Graves. It’s true that a lot of the elements of the sets and story lines are lifted from traditional American West-centred television, but there is also a lot of very Australian material, up to and including some of the first (apparently) featuring of Aborigines in a television series. The series also seems far more sensitive to Aboriginal issues than American television of that era ever does to Native Americans. (Feel free to correct me. I’m coming from a position of general ignorance, typing with a baby on my lap who is contriving to stop me do much at all.)

A few of the bonus photos. Some are in colour. I may try to take some more screenshots when the baby allows it.

It’s also fun actor and talent-spotting. A lot of the actors seem to appear in this and nothing else ever again, at least according to the vast resources of imdb, but a couple pop up in British television later. Most noticeable for me is Annette Andre , who is in two episodes, Storm River and Dark Runs the Sea, but is more well known from Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), as Jeannie Hopkirk. There's also a man who is later in UFO, although I don't remember his name at the moment. Familiar names from the world of Star Trek crop up too – Gene Roddenberry writes four (very good) episodes, and John Meredyth Lucas directs thirteen.

And then, for the Peter Graves fan in me, every episode is full of wet-Peter-Graves, dashing-Peter-Graves, sexy-Victorian-dinner-wear-Peter-Graves, and a lot of Peter Graves having fist fights, whip or gun fights, leaping onto horses and riding them across the outback, and generally being dashing, handsome and very, very watchable. So, as I say. Happy me. Screenshots may come when the baby allows it.