DVD REVIEW: Zorro - The Complete 1st & 2nd Season
'Z' marks the spot...
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“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the horseman known as Zorro. The bold renegade carves a ‘Z’ with his blade, a ‘Z’ that stands for Zorro.”
Those were the lyrics that began every episode of Walt Disney Studio’s production of ZORRO, which made its debut on ABC on October 10, 1957 and earned record viewership from families young and old for two solid seasons. These two seasons can finally be owned in their entirety on Disney DVD in a limited edition Walt Disney Treasures Tin set, limited to 30,000 sets each. Each season, sold separately, comes with Certificate of Authenticity, Zorro pin, reproduction photo from the show, and some neat bonus features.
Zorro himself was a fictional character created by Johnston McCulley in 1919 about a nobleman named Don Diego de la Vega who dons a mask by night to defend the people of Spanish colonial California. A 1920 film, The Mark of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks, had caught Walt Disney’s attention in his youth. Though there have been many other Zorro films in the 30's and 40's, popularity of the character seemed to have waned, but of course, that didn't stop Walt Disney from purchasing the rights to the foxy character.
In the late 50's, following the success of Walt Disney’s Disneyland and Mickey Mouse Club programs, ABC was eager for another hit much like Davy Crockett. CBS and NBC didn’t fully believe in the project without seeing a pilot first but ABC took a chance and ordered 39 episodes. A model and actor who was ready to retire won the lead role of Zorro. Guy Williams performed the role of Don Diego de la Vega as well as Zorro, and even performed much of the sword work himself. If you’ve never seen Guy Williams as Zorro, you owe yourself a favor to see the best Zorro on screen. Much credit goes to the high production values but it's also the charming personality of Guy Williams that made the show such a success.
The series was a smash success and it's not hard to see why. Even for a show from 1957, each 25 minute episode feels like a mini theatrical film. Walt Disney believed in quality and it clearly shows in the terrific stunts, matte paintings, and fully detailed sets. The entire Pueblo La Reina de Los Angeles, aka Zorro City, was built on the southeast corner of the Disney Studio lot (the parking garage that now sits in that location is appropriately named: Zorro).
The second season also included 39 episodes and was even more successful with its viewers. Even with its success, a third season never happened due to a legal scuffle between Disney and ABC. Zorro was cancelled but episodes already filmed were combined into longer specials under the "Walt Disney Presents" banner. There are four total one hour specials that followed the two season run that kept the spirit of Zorro alive and you’ll need to own both Season 1 and Season 2 to see them all.
Other bonus features include a look at Zorro's literary beginnings as well as a closer look at Guy Williams the man, and also a trip to the Walt Disney Archives to see the costumes and many merchandise created to support Zorro, including Zorro roller skates!
The Walt Disney Treasures DVDs are hosted by film historian Leonard Maltin, offering even more historical insight behind the series and gives the audience an even greater appreciation for the risks Walt Disney took throughout his career. Watching the fully restored series, I couldn't help but get caught up in how fun this series still is. The supporting cast is top notch and Guy Williams, who was born to play the part, is inspiring to watch. I can’t recommend this series enough for fans of Zorro or fans of great entertainment.
Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro – The Complete First Season 6-DVD set and Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro – The Complete Second Season 6-DVD set are now available to own on DVD. Limited edition 30,000 per set, includes exclusive Zorro pin and publicity still.
Review by David Yeh
Review Sample Courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment