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Improved ratings, superior writing and prestigious guest stars make the third season of Have Gun--Will Travel the best in the series' six-year history. Here we see all of the show's popular elements reaching peak efficiency, with series star Richard Boone perfecting his role as Paladin, the high-class San Francisco-based "soldier of fortune" who, for $1,000, will take on any job, no matter how dangerous, with his trademark panache and impeccable skills as a gunslinger, wild west philosopher, and lightning rod for a wide variety of moral and ethical quandaries. Along with veteran series directors Andrew V. McLaglen and actress-turned-director Ida Lupino, Boone would also direct some of this season's finest episodes as he continued to use his star leverage to refine the show's already proven quality. Given the daunting challenge of a third consecutive season of 39 half-hour episodes (beginning with episode #79, the excellent "First, Catch a Tiger" on September 12, 1959, and concluding with episode #117, "The Search," on June 18, 1960), it's amazing how each episode retains a distinct identity in terms of plot, character, and overall tone. While cinematographer Stuart Thompson successfully maintained visual variety within standard limitations of budget, location, and recycled sets, Paladin's third-season exploits ranged from conventional mercenary assignments (like transporting prisoners) to more unusual outings like "The Ledge" (a somewhat surreal test-of-courage fable) and "The Lady on the Wall" (ep. #101), a haunting spin on the "The Picture of Dorian Gray" written by future Twilight Zone regulars Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson.

Ongoing connections between Have Gun and Star Trek can be found in several fine episodes written by Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (the best being "Les Girls," "Charley Red Dog," and "The Golden Toad") and/or featuring guest stars who would later appear in Roddenberry's sci-fi series. Other noteworthy talents appearing here include James Coburn, Strother Martin, Patrick Wayne, and Werner Klemperer (who would later star as Col. Klink in Hogan's Heroes, in addition to a wide variety of TV stalwarts from the '40s, '50s and '60s. (Vigilant credit-watchers will also notice veteran stunt coordinator Hal Needham, sometime credited as "Harold," appearing in a few of these episodes.) As with the first two Have Gun DVD sets, these episodes vary considerably in terms of sound and image quality, since many of the transfers were taken from 16-millimeter syndication prints that betray their age with scratches and soundtrack hiss. Overall, however, these DVDs revive a great show with adequate or (in some cases) near-pristine quality, and Boone's jovial, intelligent, and agelessly macho presence remains a major attraction, all these decades later.

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