The entire first season of Cannon, another production from legendary television producer Quinn Martin, is now available on DVD with the release of Volume Two, which presents the remaining 13 hour-long episodes. These episodes aired from December 1971 through March 1972 and featured former Los Angeles police officer Frank Cannon as a private detective. The cases he took usually paid him well enough that they allowed him to work some jobs pro bono and live in a penthouse apartment on the Sunset Strip.
Cannon starred William Conrad, who was well known for his voice work and exhibited his comedic and dramatic talents narrating shows ranging from Rocky & Bullwinkle to The Fugitive. Conard was an overweight man and this was played up in the series. Even the DVD packaging plays off the fact with the line “Tipping The Scales of Justice One Case at a Time.” For his work this season, Conrad earned a Golden Globe nomination for “Best TV Actor – Drama.”
Most of the stories are a tad hokey and the episodes are not very engaging beyond Conrad’s charisma. They are plot-driven and don’t offer much in the way of character development. There is little mystery for the viewer, and Cannon always prevails. “A Deadly Quiet Town” was “ripped from the headlines” as its cult-leader villain was obviously influenced by Charles Manson.
Director Richard Donner directed two episodes and there are many familiar faces that appear, including Tab Hunter, Vera Miles, Keenan Wynn, and Anthony Zerbe. Future Hill Street Blues stars Daniel J. Travanti and James B. Sikking have a brief scene together in “Devil’s Playground,” which also features Martin Sheen, who makes two appearances this season as disabled ex-cop Jerry Warton.
Unfortunately, CBS DVD apparently didn’t think too much about the consumers because unlike some other titles, the video quality is terrible and looks like the DVDs were just rushed to market. The series should have been reprinted from the negatives because the colors have faded and the images lack clarity. The dark colors in particular blend poorly together, creating a single dark mass. The “Special Features” aren’t too special because they are just the episodic promos that aired before the shows.
Cannon – Season One Volume Two is best left for hardcore fans of the series because the stories aren’t likely to grab modern television viewers and the poor quality of the video is no different than what can be caught in reruns.