Setting up countless medical shows to follow, Emergency offers up a little of everything, and that's why it manages to hold up a few decades later. It's gripping, funny, and it always gives the viewer something new. It's a TV classic that doesn't get shown enough in syndication anymore, hence the necessity of TV DVD.
The trick to a show of this nature is to keep it believable. This is handled amazingly well for the era, with the now standard documentary-type feel to the action. Every episode puts the Emergency crew in wild situations without making them feel over-the-top.
Season 2 has its share of memorable calls, from the man stuck inside his couch, the woman desperately trying to make dinner for her boyfriend, and the insane bomber trapped inside his own explosive plot. The multiple calls per episode means there's no time for something to run long, keeping everything briskly paced and entertaining. It looks expensive, and the production values help make every scenario unique with little compromise (plenty of explosions to go around).
Emergency does a great job with its characters, providing a sense of conflict alongside camaraderie. Their personal stories intercept the medical action, and never once do you feel like you're being cheated out of some involving action to progress the episode's hook. There are those moments though where things can't be taken seriously. Some dialogue is abysmal, and it's impossible not to laugh.
It's tough to find a show that holds up this well (regardless of the dialogue), especially with the numerous medical dramas that have come afterwards. The unique spin of focusing on the first response instead of the hospital treatment offers a great glimpse of some nasty situations. Emergency is worthy of DVD shelf space. (**** out of *****)
Spread across three double-sided discs, this second season features 21 episodes. The prints are definitely in a varying degree of quality. Some are bursting with too much color, others horribly faded, and some have a blinding contrast level. The over-saturated episodes show the compression cleanly in spots, while the others fare well. These prints are in remarkable condition, with no noticeable degradation during the episodes themselves. It's within the acceptable range for a TV show this old, but the varying degree of quality is disappointing. (***)
There's not much in the audio department to discuss here. It's a straight mono mix. The soundtrack is fine, though the treble is a little too high. Dialogue remains clean with no noticeable popping. (***)
Extras include a few trailers on the first disc. Most of the cast has long since passed, but it couldn't hurt to bring back the surviving members like Robert Fuller for a short retrospective. Anything is better than being force-fed Leave it to Beaver. (No stars)
There's a glaring typo on the back of the outer sleeve. It lists the total running time at a little over seven hours. That's only the first disc. You'll be close to spending an entire day of your life watching every episode, so ignore the erroneous runtime. You're getting plenty for your money.