DVD Review: The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (Season Two)

People today talk about shows being canceled too soon as if it was a current phenomenon. But the history of television is scattered with iconic shows that didn’t last that long on the air, but seemed like they must have rivaled Gunsmoke. The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams falls into that category. Dan Haggerty’s portrayal of the wrongly accused mountain man hiding out in the wilderness began with the massively popular The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams movie in 1974. The movie was adapted into TV series that joined the NBC schedule as a winter replacement in 1977. Haggerty immediately became a hit with his warm smile, bushy beard and magic touch with animals. Yet even with everything going right for the show, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Season Two is the only full season it aired.

“Hot Air Hero” brings another guest to Grizzly’s remote cabin by an unusual mode of transportation. A hot air balloon piloted by Gino Conforti (Here’s Lucy) crashes. The man dreams of setting up the air mail version of the Pony Express. “A Bear’s Life” has Mad Jack (Dukes of Hazzard‘s Denver Pyle) and Grizzly working around the cabin. Ben the bear decides to goof of and be a bear for the day. A young Indian is up for his manhood ritual in “The Trial.” He must prove his manhood by catching fish except an otter ruins his day. He cheats in a last ditch move. “Gold Is Where You Find It” brings Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker back to the wilderness. The F Troop stars are suckered into buying a worthless gold map. Can they find an honest living off the land?

“Track of the Cougar” puts Grizzly against his Indian pal Nokoma (Don Shanks). A village has been attacked by a cougar that might have been raised by Grizzly. Can he let his pal snuff his former pet? “The Spoilers” has settlers near Hoot Owl Creek fear their water source is being poisoned. Not to spoil the episode, but Ken Lynch (Mr. Haney on Green Acres) is the guest star. “Marvin the Magnificent” brings a guest bear to the cabin. Can two men with two bears get along without killing each other? “The Seekers” find the great Keenan Wynn (Dr. Strangelove) arrive before a storm.

Roger E. Mosley” (Magnum P.I.) arrives in chains for “The Runaway.” Where is he coming from? Mad Jack doesn’t think it’s smart for Grizzly to be near the guy mainly cause he might attract people who would be delight to grab Roger and Grizzly for their bounties. “The Renewal” is an Easter special featuring Patrick Wayne (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger). “The Skyrider” brings the ’70s fad of hang gliding to Grizzly’s mountain. Russ Tamblyn (Twin Peaks) takes flight. “The World’s Greatest Bounty Hunter” turns Mad Jack mad enough to think he needs to snag Grizzly for the reward.

“Once Upon a Starry Night” is a Christmas special that aired the season after the show was canceled. This 70 minute movie of the week features wolves and an avalanche. Ken Curtis (Festus on Gunsmoke) and Don Galloway (Ironside) are part of the holiday celebration in the mountains. So maybe this is part of why it felt like Grizzly Adams was on the TV longer than less than two seasons. What ended Grizzly Adams run? NBC hired Burt Silverman. The executive was eager to air more adult oriented sitcoms than family oriented dramas which was his key to running CBS and ABC. It didn’t work that well at NBC. Luckily Grizzly Adams remained in the heart of America. Fans still request Dan Haggerty marry them at Dennis Hof’s Bunny Ranch.

The Episodes
“The Trial,” “Survival,” “A Bear’s Life,” “The Choice,” “Hot Air Hero,” “Track of the Cougar,” “The Search,” “Marvin the Magnificent,” “Woman in the Wilderness,” “The Orphans,” “Gold Is Where You Find It,” “A Time of Thirsting,” “The Seekers,” “The Spoilers,” “The Stranger,” “The Runaway,” “A Gentleman Tinker,” “The World’s Greatest Bounty Hunter,” “The Littlest Greenhorn,” “The Great Burro Race,” “The Quest,” “The Skyrider,” “The Renewal” and “Once Upon a Starry Night.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer quality isn’t so great for some of the episodes. But I’d heard the show was shot on 16mm which is why the resolution isn’t quite up to snuff. The audio is mono. The mix varies on the episodes.

A Conversation with Dan Haggerty (13:15) lets Grizzly Adams tell how he was discovered for the role. He gives Denver Pyle’s tips for not squinting on camera. Turns out they shot in three locations depending on the snow. This is an unexpected bonus feature since he didn’t seem eager to record anything when I met Haggerty last October.

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Season Two brings back a time when a network nature program didn’t involve people being voted off the island. Grizzly was a calming influence in the wilderness with his pet bear. The show still maintains the charms of when it ran in the ’70s.

Timeless Media Group presents The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Season Two. Starring: Dan Haggerty, Denver Pyle and Don Shanks. Boxset Contents: 24 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: February 19, 2013. Available at Amazon.com

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