DVD Review: Have Gun – Will Travel (The Final Season, Volume One & Two)

There comes a point where a gun for hire has to turn down gigs. Too much work causes fatigue that slows down the trigger finger. After five seasons with each having nearly 40 episodes, Paladin (Richard Boone) was approaching the end of his mercenary days. Who was left in the Old West that didn’t already use his service? Have Gun – Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume One and Volume Two wraps up the career of illustrious man in black whose business card might read, “Have Gun – Will Travel,” but he brought more than a weapon to help his clients. Six seasons would be enough for this part of his career.

There’s no obvious evidence that Richard Boone knew this season would be the last, but he seems to be winding down the show. “Genesis” has him unveiling one of the show’s big secrets: how did he get started in the business? Paladin tells his origins to a young man who attempts to kill him. The would be assassin did such a foolhardy act as a desperate move to cancel a gambling debt. Turns out Paladin once owed William Conrad (Cannon) a large amount of cash. He was offered a chance to erase the debt by killing a man in a duel. The intended victim dresses in black and has a certain chess piece on his holster. “The Fifth Bullet” has Paladin feeling bad for telling a guy he brought to the law that he’d have a fair trial. Turns out the guy was railroaded. There’s vengeance coming for him. “A Place For Abel Hix” is more dangerous in retrospect as he tangles with Robert Blake (Lost Highway).

“Beau Geste” starts off nice enough with a lawman announcing he’s hanging up his badge. Trouble is a lot of gunmen are eager to shoot the guy down while he’s still on the job. Paladin has to keep someone from shooting the sheriff and getting Eric Clapton to make him famous. “Shoot Out at Hogtooth” features Doodles Weaver. A group of gunmen are hired to clean up the crime in the town of Hogtooth. After they get rid of the bad guys, the gunmen decide to shakedown the town. Now they have to hire Paladin to get rid of their solution. “Be Not Forgetful of Strangers” is the Christmas special. Paladin has to deliver a baby when the town doctor is sloshed for the holidays. Legendary rocker Duanne Eddy plays a cowpoke. “The Treasure” wraps up Volume One with a tale of non-loot. A man gets out of prison on a robbery charge he swears his bogus. He hires Paladin to protect him from hoodlums who think he’s stashed the cash. Among those that might be after him are Lee Van Cleef (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and DeForest Kelley (Star Trek).

Volume Two starts with massive star power in the form of Charles Bronson (Death Wish). “The Brotherhood” has a sibling rivalry spill over when one the siblings gets elected sheriff. Can Paladin unite the brothers? “Debutante” makes Paladin prove a girl is a rich woman’s long lost relative. L.Q. Jones (director of A Boy And His Dog) might be in on a scam. “Cage At McNabb” locks up Lon Chaney Jr. He’s on death row and wants Paladin to prove he’s innocent. Their visit has a twist of perspective. “The Eve of St. Elmo” features Brett Somers (Match Game) amongst the townspeople along with George Kennedy. “Face if the Shadow” has a bank hire Paladin to retrieve $10,000 from a rancher. When he arrives, the guy is dead and the cash is gone. Seems that Lee Van Cleef has something to do with it.

Have Gun – Will Travel went out as a highly entertaining 30 minute Western. Paladin’s freelance gigs kept him from being stale when it came to work. Boone brought such life to the mercenary character who was more than the two dimensional hired goons that cluttered up the bad guy’s posse in Westerns. When he left his fancy hotel in San Francisco, he was all about the business. There’s a rumor that David Mamet is remaking the show, but why? Nobody can replace the understanding nature of Richard Boone who also quick draw is a sensible solution couldn’t be reached.

The Episodes
Volume One

“Genesis,” “Taylor’s Woman,” “The Fifth Bullet,” “A Place For Abel Hix,” “Beau Geste,” “Bird of Time,” “Memories of Monica,” “The Predators,” “Shootout at Hogtooth,” “Miracle for St. Francis,” “Marshal of Sweetwater,” “Man in an Hourglass,” “Penelope,” “Trial at Tablerock,” “Be Not Forgetful of Strangers” and “The Treasure.”

Volume Two
“Brotherhood,” “Bob Wire,” “The Debutante,” “Unforgiving Minute,” “American Primitive,” “The Burning Tree,” “Cage at McNaab,” “Caravan,” “The Walking Years,” “Sweet Lady of the Moon,” “The Savages,” “The Eve of St. Elmo,” “Lady of the Fifth Moon,” “Two Plus One,” “The Black Bull” and “Face of a Shadow.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers bring out the richness in Paladin’s work attire. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The gun shots crack out of the speakers. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Have Gun – Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume One and Volume 2 brings to an end the saga of the great cowboy mercenary. We finally get the story that started him in this line of work. Paladin goes out on a high note.

CBS DVD presents Have Gun – Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume One. Starring: Richard Boone. Boxset Content: 16 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: May 7, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

CBS DVD presents Have Gun – Will Travel: The Final Season, Volume Two. Starring: Richard Boone. Boxset Content: 16 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: May 7, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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