DVD Reviews: Daniel Boone, Baa Baa Black Sheep & The Facts of Life

A trio of recent TV DVD releases from Shout! Factory wrap up two series and start up a legendary show. Daniel Boone: Season One, Collector’s Edition contains the adventures of one of America’s legendary figures. Baa Baa Black Sheep, Black Sleep Squadron: The Final Season contains the sudden end to a valiant flying force. The Facts of Life: The Final Season shuts down the most family friendly all-girls boarding school.

Daniel Boone: Season One, Collector’s Edition gave Fess Parker a second iconic role wearing the same headgear as his break out role. In the mid-50s, Parker became huge playing the frontier real-life legend Davey Crockett in five episode of The Wonderful World of Disney. For several years, Parker couldn’t get a movie or TV role that resonated with the public. He wanted to bring back Davey Crockett as a regular TV series, but Disney refused to budge on the rights. This turned out to be a blessing since Crockett wasn’t the only frontier giant who wore a coonskin cap. Parker didn’t have to deal with Walt when the series began airing on Fall of 1964 on NBC. He was able to come up with another great theme song for the new show. The first season plays rather fast and loose with the truth about Boone. The show centers on Boone and the citizens of the tiny town of Boonesborough, Kentucky. He’s a family man with a wife Rebecca (Patricia Blair), son Israel (Darby Hinton) and daughter Jemima (Alien‘s Veronica Cartwright). In reality Boone had 10 kids. The series is placed during the Revolutionary War era so Boone has to deal with attacks from local Indians including the Shawnee and imported English troops. “Ken-Tuck-E” has Boone sent to Kentucky by George Washington to construct a fort. This is dangerous construction. But he gets help from Mingo, an Indian who went to Oxford that the locals don’t completely trust. Among the familiar faces is George Lindsey (Goober on The Andy Griffith Show). This first season was the only season out of six filmed in black and white. Parker makes more than just playing Crockett with a different name. He’s not going down with the Alamo or running for public office.

Baa Baa Black Sheep, Black Sleep Squadron: The Final Season wraps up a show that felt like it was on for five years, but had only lasted a season and a half. Fans of the series have been frustrated for close to a decade when Universal put out the first season in two boxsets. Now they can celebrate the arrival of the final 13 episodes that aired during 1977-78. The show was based on Greg “Pappy” Boyington (Robert Conrad) and his flying Marines that were misfits in other units. Together they were known as the Black Sheep Squadron. He used a bit of tough love and understanding to get the best from his men that included Jerry Bragg (Dirk Blocker son of the guy who played Hoss on Bonanza) and Bob Anderson (Night Court‘s John Larroquette). Keeping these personalities under control included the oversight of General Thomas Moore (Kolchak‘s Simon Oakwood) and Chief Mechanic Andy Micklin (Red West of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia). Among the guest bad guys was Soon-Tek Oh (Missing In Action 2: The Beginning. The episodes are more fun than gritty as each week personality crisis events must be averted in order to fight back against the Japanese. Pappy must make his Black Sheep the heroes of battles by becoming a team once more in the air. This was Robert Conrad’s biggest role after The Wild Wild West. As a kid viewer of TV in the late ’70s, what really hurt when Black Sheep Squadrom was canceled was NBC losing Robert Conrad as the team captain for Battle of the Network Stars. He could hold his own against Telly Savalas and Gabe Kaplan. Now all of his World War II heroics are out on DVD for fans to enjoy.

The Facts of Life: The Final Season wraps up the ninth season of Blair (Lisa Whelchel), Tootie (Kim Fields), Natalie (Mindy Cohn) and Jo (Nancy McKeon) at Eastland. Things have changed since they finally had graduated and Beverly Ann Stickle (Cloris Leachman). “Down and Out in Malibu” starts off the season with a two-parter about the dangers of housesitting for Richard Moll (Night Court). “Rumor Has It” puts out the word that Blair might be stripping the legal briefs off her law professor. “Up from Down Under” brings on Pippa McKenna (Sherrie Krenn) as an Australian transplant. This was a great way to cash in on Paul Hogan-mania that hit around 1987. She was a regular for the rest of the season. “Golden Oldies” imagines the girls 50 years later. We’re at the 30 year mark. “The First Time” is the most talked about episode when Natalie debates going all the way with her boyfriend named Snake. Why would anyone date a guy named Snake and want to save it for marriage? “Less Than Perfect” is serious as Blair drifts asleep while driving. She wakes up needing plastic surgery. NBC wanted to bring back the series for a 10th season except Mindy and Nancy were done. “The Beginning of the End” and “The Beginning of the Beginning” wraps up the series with Blair considering buying Eastland Academy at a bargain price. She becomes pals with a new student played by Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers). Strange to thing that the show that started off with Molly Ringwald (Pretty in Pink) would wrap up with a short visit from the future Oscar nominee from Cape Fear. The series doesn’t quite come to an end. NBC wanted to bring it back for a 10th season except Nancy and Mindy wanted out. When a show doesn’t completely wrap up, it feels natural to break out season one and act like things just kept going at Eastland.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame for all three shows. The transfers look fine for all three shows. Baa Baa Black Sheep varies since they mix in old World War II battle footage to save on special effects. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono for all three shows. The Facts of Life is Closed Captioned.

No bonus features for Baa Baa Black Sheep and The Facts of Life.

Cast Interviews include Fess Parker, Darby Hinton, Veronica Cartwright and other cast member remembering their time in the frontier on Daniel Boone. Fess Parker discusses his life after the show ended. He was able to use the money from the show to get into the wine business.

Shout! Factory presents Daniel Boone: Season One, Collector’s Edition. Starring: Fess Parker, Ed Ames, Darby Hinton and Veronica Cartwright. Boxset Contents: 29 Episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: April 19, 2016.

Shout! Factory presents Baa Baa Black Sheep, Black Sleep Squadron: The Final Season. Starring: Robert Conrad, Simon Oakwood and Red West. Boxset Contents: 13 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: March 8, 2016.

Shout! Factory presents The Facts of Life: The Final Season. Starring: Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields and Nancy McKeon. Boxset Contents: 24 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: May 17, 2016.

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