"I want to like you people. And I want you people to like me. But there can't be liking without respect. And until there is that respect, you will call me Mr. Tibbs."
Those are the words spoken by Howard E. Rollins, Jr. as Chief of Detectives Virgil Tibbs in NBC's In The Heat Of The Night, after being called "boy" by a subordinate in his new job with the Sparta, Mississippi police department. And if that doesn't set the tone for this classic television drama, released on DVD for the first time this past August, I don't know what does.
Fans of this popular crime drama have been calling-- begging, even-- for its DVD release for years. Now that the first season is available, its success will surely affect the likelihood of subsequent seasons hitting store shelves (**HINT, HINT**).
Based on the John Ball novel and Oscar-winning 1967 film of the same name (which starred Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, and was directed by Norman Jewison), TV's In The Heat Of The Night starred Rollins, as a Philadelphia cop who becomes Sparta's first black police officer; Carroll O'Connor, as veteran white police chief Bill Gillespie; and Anne-Marie Johnson, as Tibbs' tough and dutiful wife, Althea. Denise Nicholas and Carl Weathers would join the cast as regulars in the show's later seasons.
When it comes to any DVD release-- TV or film-- from years past, it's always been a gamble with regard to what you'll actually get, picture, audio, and extras-wise. This MGM Studios release, distributed by TGG Direct, does not disappoint. For a series that's nearly 25 years old, the only thing that gives away its age is the 80's fashion seen throughout. Well, that, and the Jheri curls sported down in The Bottoms.
What You Don't: Closed-Captions; DVD extras.
Why You Need It: Classic performances from the late greats Rollins and O'Connor, as well as from the supporting cast; believable top-notch writing and production, not easily found in current dramatic TV offerings; honest depictions of U.S. race-relations not seen on TV since this show went off the air.