THE SCREENING ROOM
By Bill Kallay"Zorro" is one of those few Walt Disney Studio shows I never sat down to watch. My dad once told me it was a great TV show and he used to watch it when he was a kid. Like "Davy Crockett," Disney's other hugely successful '50 show, "Zorro" clicked with audiences of the day. Now that I'm grown up, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
"Zorro" is now available on DVD featuring the complete first and second seasons of the show.
Maybe it's the generational gap between my dad and I, because frankly, I don't understand what the fuss was about over "Zorro." It's a well produced show with high quality and plenty of adventure. Guy Williams, who plays the masked man, is full of energy. The show harkens back to the innocent serials of the 1930s and 1940s where the good guy brandishes a sword. This may have been entertaining to families in the late 1950s with a limited channel selection, but how does the show hold up now?
The cynic in me wants to pick apart the show, but I won't let that happen too much. I know this show has a special place in the hearts of my parent's generation. Just like the original "Mickey Mouse Club," I have a hard time getting into some of these shows Disney produced. They are very well done. But I suppose it's like getting my kid to watch the original "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" or the good episodes (if there was such a thing) of "Happy Days." What's special to one generation may not be special to another.
After watching the "Zorro" episodes, I found the plot lines and action repetitive. How many times will Zorro fight the bad guys in the same tiny village without anyone realizing his true identity? How much overacting can some of the actors do? Why does Guy Williams slip into his New York accent numerous times? (Maybe he was priming Dick Van Dyke for his role as Bert in "Mary Poppins." I kid.) And yes, I did notice the fact that most, if not all, of the Spanish and Mexican characters are played by Caucasians. It should be noted that many shows of the day did the same thing.
None of that really matters. The show's core is good natured. The violence isn't really violent. I think it's funny to see that Disney wasn't a total prude when it came to his shows. There are plenty of scenes showing the characters drinking and having a good time. See, not all in Disney's kingdom was squeaky clean after all.
It's commendable that Disney, no doubt due to Leonard Maltin's input, did a lovely job in bringing "Zorro" to DVD through its Walt Disney Treasures series. I sincerely hope that Disney continues mining their vast film and video archives and releases more material in this series. "Zorro" might not have been my first choice for this wave, but I can see why it was chosen. The show had plenty of action to keep kids entertained. Those kids are now grandparents and will probably enjoy "Zorro" once again.
Special thanks to Click Communications
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