I had never seen the Quincy, M.E. television series before I received the Seasons 1 & 2 box set review copy, and boy was I missing out, because this is a great series. Long before C.S.I. and all of its spinoffs hit the air, Quincy, M.E. was solving crimes using the latest in forensic science. The tag line on the DVD box set is "The Original Crime Scene Investigator", which I'm sure they're using to get the attention of all those C.S.I. fans out there. And in my opinion, that's a smart move. I know that I never would have given this series a second look if it hadn't been for that tag line. It sure peaked my curiosity, wondering how all these shows got started, what influenced them, and would the original still hold up today.
Today's shows use a lot of special effects, especially involving computer graphics, but Quincy didn't have any of this. To keep viewers interested, this show had to rely on witty dialog, engaging stories, and a character that was consumed with passion about his work. Instead of zooming a virtual camera deep inside the human body to what nastiness is taking place by means of some highly detailed 3D computer construct, we are treated to Quincy intensely describing exactly what is going on, trying his absolute best to convince the non-believers that the death was more than seemed.
And that brings me to a minor point... why do the higher-ups always fight him on his assumptions? After the first few times of being right-on-the-money, you'd think they start to actually start to take what he says seriously. Of course, one might point out that he may have also been wrong many times, but if that were the case, I'm pretty sure they would be throwing those times back in Quincy's face whenever he's trying to convince them that what's truly going on isn't what they initially thought. No, I'm sure the only reason they aren't made to just jump on his bandwagon is that the arguments are an integral part of keeping the show interesting, and providing our main character with more obstacles to overcome, which makes for more excitement.
After watching this series, I now feel a bit disappointed in the current shows that I watch. Sure, they look great, and have some strange mysteries at times, but compared to Quincy the dialog just seems flat. And I'm not just talking about the dialog between main characters, even the back-and-forth between people Quincy interviews is interesting. Sometimes witty, sometimes sarcastic, and almost always filled with emotion, Jack Klugman does a great job bringing across all the engaging dialog that the writers come up with. Today's shows could really take some notes from the Quincy team. Then again, if they made time for clever conversations, they might not have enough time for those fancy special effects shots that we've all become addicted to for some reason.
The DVD box set presentation is pretty nice too. You get seasons one and two in a three disc set, with each disc being double-sided. The first disc contains season one, which is only four episodes long. Can you believe that? The first three episodes are on Side A, and the fourth is on Side B. The second and third discs contain the twelve episodes of season two, with four on the second disc (two on each side), and the remaining eight on the third disc (four on each side). There was a slight formatting screw-up on the back of the case for disc two, where the title for episode 6 was accidentally indented the same amount as the episode's description. I guess whoever was supposed to proof these before they went to the printers must have had a rough night.
There isn't any extra features here, but that's not too terribly disappointing since the show is so good. If you like the current forensic crime drama shows on TV nowadays, then you'll want to pick this one up, especially since the price point isn't that bad, just under $30 for what amounts to something like 16 hours of TV time. For comparison, Dragnet 1967 is the same price for only about 7 hours of entertainment.