70's Variety Shows On DVD--A Personal Review

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Brian Himes, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Brian Himes

    Brian Himes Screenwriter

    Dec 8, 2004
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    Ok, I decided to post a personal review of all of the 70’s Variety Shows that I have on DVD. These aren’t in any particular order. For myself, I love having these in my 70’s TV collection. There are three series that I don’t have yet. Those are Flipp Wilson, Hew Haw and The Richard Prior Show. I am planning on getting Richard Prior and Flipp Wilson, but I have to pass on Hew Haw. I never liked that show when I was a kid and I seriously doubt that I’d watch much of it on DVD. Anyway, on with my review.

    The Carol Burnett Show (Columbia House): 31 volumes and 62 complete uncut episodes from the Queen of the Variety Show. What can I say about the Carol Burnett Show that hasn’t already been said 100 times? This is a really good set and a must have for ANY 70’s TV collector. The only real draw back, in my opinion, is that there aren’t enough of the more familiar shows presented on this set. From what I understand, Carol and Columbia House worked really hard (and paid tons in music licensing rights) to release the shows that are on this set. Don’t get me wrong, there are some real gems in this set and there were several shows that I had never seen before. Sadly, the set just left me hungry for more. Unfortunatly, these are now out of print.

    Pink Lady & Jeff (Rhino): Yeah, yeah, I know. This was an 80’s show but it only lasted five weeks in the fall of 1980 so it was so close to the 70’s that I think of it as more 70’s than 80’s. This was the last dying gasp of a genre. Sure, the Muppets would continue for another year and in a couple of years Barbara Mandrell would sort of revive the variety show genre, but when this show hit the air, variety shows (like Disco) were dead. In all honesty, once Carol Burnett signed off in 78 variety shows should have left the air with her. They didn’t and someone at NBC green lighted this mess. Yes, this show is as bad as you’ve heard. This show is not for the faint of heart, believe me. This is not even a show that is so bad it’s good. It’s just bad, bad, bad. The really cool thing about the set is that you do get all six episodes complete and uncut.

    The Brady Bunch Hour (Rhino): Chalk up another real turkey of a show. It really bugs me that Rhino will release all six episodes of Pink Lady & Jeff but only two episodes of the Brady Bunch Hour. Come on! There were only eight episodes of this to begin with. Where are the rest? Anyway, even as bad as these are, I have a soft spot for this show. I love the Brady’s in just about anything and this show is kind of fun in a kitschy way. I mean, it’s really best viewed in a mild altering state. It’s like a train wreck. You just can’t help but stare at it. The costumes, the bad songs (mostly Disco) and Robert Read trying desperately not to look awkward. It didn’t work. I will admit that you have to watch this in small doses otherwise you might gauge your eyes out.

    The Tony Orlando & Dawn Show (R2 Entertainment): Ok, now R2 Entertainment really knows how to present 70’s Variety Shows on DVD. The box, the digipak and disc art are worth the price of the set. Then you get to the actual shows. All I can say is WOW! I haven’t seen any of this series since it was originally on CBS and I have to be honest, I loved it. I can’t praise R2 Entertainment enough for the work they put into their DVD sets. I know that they are paying through the nose in music licensing rights but they are also taking great care to restoring these shows. I truly enjoyed seeing Tony, Telma and Joyce again. If there were any drawbacks, for me it would be that unlike the Sonny & Cher set, I wasn’t left hungry for more of Tony Orlando & Dawn. There are some really great extras. R2 Entertainment has become known for really loading up their DVD sets, and this one is no exception.

    The Captain & Tennille (R2 Entertainment): R2 Entertainment does it again. I watched this show when it was on originally but it really didn’t hold my interest back then. Today, however, I was glued to the TV. Toni & Daryl will never be another Sonny & Cher, that’s for sure. Toni at times is so over the top bubbly that you want to smack her and Daryl is so dry you just want to slap him to wake him up. However, I found myself really listening to the music. Toni can certainly belt out the tunes. There are 11 shows on this set (including the first and the very last). On several of the shows, Toni tries her hand at something other than pop tunes and her voice really shines. Forget the comedy sketches, they aren’t very good to begin with, and just watch this for the singing. I was really quite impressed at times. R2 Entertainment really loaded this set with extras. I think of the 20 original episodes of this show, it seems like we get a piece from each one in the extras. Well, except for the 11 complete shows that are already on the set.

    The Muppet Show (Buena Vista & Time Life): Well, let’s start with the 15 volume Time Life set. You get 45 complete shows covering all five years of the series. There is little in the way of extras but this was a good introductory set for me. At the time that I purchased these, I didn’t think that the Muppets would be released on complete season sets. I was mistaken. Here comes Disney and The Muppet Show the complete first season. By and far better than the Time Life set. Loaded with fun extras and a picture quality that just blows the mind. The Muppets have never looked so good. I can’t wait for the rest of the series to come out. This set is well worth it. I can’t recommend it enough.

    The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour/The Sonny & Cher Show (R2 Entertainment): Hands down, this is my favorite 70’s variety show on DVD. Including the Christmas show set. I love, love, love Sonny & Cher. R2 Entertainment certainly didn’t disappoint. Well, almost. The only thing I can find to complain about is that (combined with the Christmas DVD set) there are only two episodes from the second season of the Comedy Hour. We get three episodes from the first season, two from the second season, three from the third season and four episodes from the Sonny & Cher show. This set really just made me hungry for a second Ultimate Collection set. I mean we didn’t get the very last episode of the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour nor did we get the first episode of the Sonny & Cher show. R2 Entertainment, I’m sure has enough material for a second release. I’d even be willing to pay the higher price to get complete uncut episodes. I believe that when I purchased this directly online from the Sonny & Cher website, with shipping it came to something like $90.00. I didn’t even blink, and I would pay that for a second set. It was well worth every penny. More, more, more Sonny & Cher on DVD.
  2. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

    Oct 12, 2005
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    What gets me is that they haven't put out season sets of Laugh-In. IIRC, there weren't many pop songs used on the show (it mostly had original songs), so that there can't be too many music-rights problems with a full release. I hate "best of" dvds and I'm sure most of you guys do, too. Same with Sonny & Cher, although in that case they definitely would have music rights problems. And Carol Burnett should bite the bullet and make those dvds available commercially.
  3. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 2000
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    Salinas, CA
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    Well, if the publishing companies would accept a reduced or deferred rate for licensing of these songs, we'd have these things.

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