The FBI season 5 on DVD: Erskine enters the ’70s

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as FBI Inspector Erskine

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as FBI Inspector Erskine

Warner Archive, part of Warner Bros., this week made season 5 of the Quinn Martin-produced The FBI available on home video.

Here’s part of the promo:

As the Sixties come to an end and a new decade begins, it’s business as usual for Inspector Lewis Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) and the men and women of the FBI as they continue to protect America from enemies within, in this hard-hitting fifth season collection. Inspired by actual cases and produced with the personal support of J. Edgar Hoover…
(snip)
A showcase for veteran actors as well as the up-and-coming, Season Five of The FBI shines the spotlight on an arresting lineup of guest stars including Oscar® winners Robert Duvall and Jeff Bridges, Hitchcock femmes Vera Miles and Laraine Day, Anne Francis, Sam Elliott, Jack Klugman, David Cassidy, Joe Don Baker, Cicely Tyson and Harrison Ford.

The 1969-70 season saw a major change behind the camera. Charles Larson, producer of the first four seasons, had departed. He was replaced by Philip Saltzman, who would end up as the top producer for QM Productions after founder Quinn Martin sold his production company in the late 1970s. Saltzman had big shoes to fill. Larson did many uncredited rewrites of FBI scripts and often penned a few of his own each season. Saltzman would oversee The FBI through its eighth season.

There was one other change. In the first four seasons, star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. had driven a Ford Mustang in the end titles. Starting with the fifth season, Ford had other models it wanted to promote and Inspector Erskine’s Mustang was no more.

The FBI is part of Warner Archive’s “manufacturing on demand” program, meaning the DVDs are made as they’re ordered. The price is $49.95 and it’s only available in the U.S. For more information on ordering, CLICK HERE.

Season Two of The FBI coming to DVD

Season Two (1966-67) of Quinn Martin’s The FBI series starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is coming out this spring, according to the TV Shows on DVD Web site.

Some details:

Efrem Zimbalist Jr., star of The FBI

Last May the folks at the Warner Archive released an MOD (manufacture on demand) DVD set for The F.B.I. – The 1st Season, Part 1, and then followed it up quickly in August with their The F.B.I. – The 1st Season, Part 2 MOD set. Both titles, like many Warner Archive releases, were also made available from Amazon’s CreateSpace program, too.

The Warner Archive Collection team hasn’t announced this themselves, as it’s a bit earlier than they normally would do so. However, two new pre-order listings at Amazon.com show that MOD versions of “The F.B.I. – The 2nd Season, Part 1” and “The F.B.I. – The 2nd Season, Part 2” are in the works, with an availability date on both of them marked there for April 3rd.

Assuming this is all true (and the Web site has a good record of accuracy), that means a treasure trove of espionage-related episodes of the 1965-74 series will become available. They include Vendetta, where John Van Dreelan plays an ex-Nazi now spying for the Eastern Bloc; List For a Firing Squad, where The FBI and Eastern Bloc agents are after the same operative who has obtained a list of underground leaders in an unnamed Communist country; and The Assassin, where a very ordinary looking man turns out to be an assassin working for an Eastern country (and there’s a brief dig at James Bond).

Other highlights of the season include a two-part story, The Executioners, which was released by Warner Bros as a movie outside the U.S., with a guest cast that includes Walter Pidgeon, Robert Duvall, Susan Strasberg and Celeste Holm. (The FBI was a co-production of QM Productions and Warner Bros.)

UPDATE: On Feb. 7 Warner Archive made THIS TWEET about this post. It reads:

Rumors of Season Two of The FBI appearing at places like The HMSS Weblog – Oh Internet! http://bit.ly/xZOwa8

Not clear whether that’s a denial or a confirmation.

Season 1 (well, part of it) of The FBI coming out on DVD

The first half of season one of The FBI is coming out on DVD, according to the TV Shows on DVD Web site.

TV Shows on DVD says the set is a “manufacture on demand,” or MOD, release. So don’t expect to see it on stores. For information on pre-ordering YOU CAN CLICK HERE. Warner Bros. will start shipping in May.

The show ran from 1965 to 1974 and was producer Quinn Martin’s longest-running series. Some time back, on our parent HMSS site, we ran an article about some of the espionage themed stories from the series.

This first DVD release only has one spy-themed episode, The Problem of the Honorable Wife.

But it does have other highlights, including one of the rare “personal” episodes for Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s FBI Inspector Lewis Erskine (Slow March Up a Steep Hill), Jeffrey Hunter as a killer with sexual identity problems, a subject not that common for 1965 television (The Monster) and Robert Duvall as a mentally unbalanced man out to sabotage a U.S. missile launch (The Giant Killer).

To read brief descriptions of all 31 season 1 episodes, YOU CAN CLICK HERE.

UPDATE: No telling hard long it’ll stay up, but here’s the start of the first episode on YouTube: