Television’s Lost Classics returns with a second volume. We get to see TV pilots directed by horror meister Jacques Tourneur and featuring Lon Chaney Jr. Most of these pilots were lost for ages, but the kinescopes got rediscovered in the way that most get found. Some busy body in the middle of nowhere found them laying around their place. While it is fun to see early performances from William Shatner and Jackie Gleason, the material is incredibly dated.
The Life of Riley seems like it is meant to be the standout of the set. Lon Chaney, Jr. playing straight as a sitcom figure is so odd that it has to be seen. When the show went into production, Chaney was replaced by Jackie Gleason. Much like the first release, the material will find its biggest fans in those that want to see American entertainment history saved. Still, the entertainment value only exists in terms of satisfying curiosities.
VCI has been doing great work with these rediscoveries, but I’d like to see an outlet spend a little cash on restoration work. The pops and distortion points were so thick on the middle two pilots that it became annoying. Oh well, give it a shot.