The pilot film A Clear and Present Danger aired in March 1970. The TV series The Senator debuted the following September as part of the already established umbrella TV series The Bold Ones. During the 1970-71 season, The Bold Ones consisted of three separate TV series which rotated from week to week: The New Doctors, The Lawyers, and The Senator. As a result, only eight episodes of The Senator were produced.
|Hal Holbrook as Hays Stowe.|
|Sharon Acker as Erin/Ellen.|
When the regular series debuted several months after the pilot, several key changes occurred. Hays Stowe was now a junior senator, his wife's name had changed from Erin to Ellen (still played by Sharon Acker), and Michael Tolan took over the role of Jordan Boyle (since Campanella was a regular on the The Lawyers segment of The Bold Ones). The one-hour running time tightened the focus on the issues, several which seem as relevant today as they were in 1970. In an interview included in the new boxed set, Holbrook reflected: "(The Senator) was saying something important. I wasn't interested in politics. I was interested in America."
The highlight of the show's only season was a two-part episode called "A Continual Roar of Musketry." It's a fictional reworking of the May 1970 Kent State shootings, in which four college students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a campus protest. In the Senator episode, Stowe is appointed to head a commission tasked with looking into a campus shooting by National Guardsmen. This well-written episode captures all viewpoints (in Rashomon-like style) leading up to and including the shootings. The committee's deliberations and Stowe's report of its findings make for exceptional television drama. Not surprisingly, Universal Studios, which produced The Senator, and NBC considered pulling this hot-button episode. But after the real President's Commission on Campus Unrest issued its findings in September 1970, NBC broadcast "A Continual Roar of Musketry" the following November.
|Michael Tolan as Jordan Boyle.|
|Guest star Burgess Meredith.|
Timeless Media Group's 3-disk DVD set includes: the pilot film A Clear and Present Danger; all eight regular season episodes; a new 34-minute interview with Hal Holbrook on the series; a 3-minute interview with Holbrook from a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show; and an anti-drug PSA with Holbrook. Picture quality is acceptable for a 1970-71 TV series; the series has not been digitally remastered. For those of us who fondly remember this quality TV series, The Bold Ones: The Senator (The Complete Series) is a must-have. It is also strongly recommended for anyone who appreciates classic television that remains as timely today as it was 45 years ago.
Timeless Media provided a review copy of this DVD set.