Best Of Ernie Kovacs 2 DVD set

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matt Everett, Jun 4, 2002.

  1. Matt Everett

    Matt Everett Stunt Coordinator

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    Does anyone have this? How is the transfer? I don't mind if the source elements aren't great; I just don't want to see big chunky artifacts all over the place.

    Any opinions?
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I am awakening this thread from its deep slumber because....

    I am interested to know the very same thing! Anyone?
     
  3. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    I have it; no real artifacts that I could notice on my 32" set. This set actually collects all the half-hour episodes the mid-1970s PBS series that featured highlights of Kovacs' inspired lunacy, with opening narration by Jack Lemmon (a "Best Of" series, not a career documentary). The material shot on videotape (from the latter portion of Kovacs' TV career) looks great, while material from his mid-1950s morning show (with a live audience), are from kinescope, which are grainier, but watchable and not bad. A few skits (the Nairobi Trio, a sequence of a nutty family eating in time to a piece of classical music), are repeated in the set, but that seems to be a fault of the original PBS series, and not this DVD set. The famous no-talking "Eugene" special is shown in its entirety (including the silent ads for sponsor Dutch Masters cigars, featuring Kovacs), as is the last half-hour show Kovacs made, which premiered shortly after his death in 1962.

    Lots of skits are chaptered, but since there are so many comedy bits (some very brief) in the set, not everything is so marked (an insert, included in the DVD case, makes note of this). There are a few minor extras, the best being a kinescope clip of Kovacs' wife Edie Adams, doing a spot-on, hilarious impression of Marilyn Monroe, singing "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", on one of Kovacs' mid-1950s shows. There's also a brief, murky-looking bit from Kovacs' game show, TAKE A GOOD LOOK, and some short, shot-on-color-film interviews with Edie Adams and an old drama teacher of Kovacs', which appear to have been filmed sometime in the 1970s.

    Two unintentional extras are also in this set, due to the source of the main material: a promo for a mid-1950s network TV rebroadcast of PETER PAN, starring Mary Martin (in the middle of the Kovacs morning show with a live audience), and the 1970s-style PBS logo (with its signature electronic theme music) at the end of the last show on disc #2.

    Anyway, though the collection could certainly be put together better than it is here on this rather rudimentarily-designed DVD (and there's a bunch more Kovacs TV comedy that can be collected on the format -- what's here isn't the sole surviving remnants of his TV work), it's still good stuff, and I'd highly recommend the DVD set to Kovacs fans and those interested in discovering his surreal, influential brand of video comedy (Kovacs paved the way for Steve Allen, LAUGH-IN, David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, SCTV, Conan O'Brien, and others).

    Hope this was of help.

    -Pete Fitzgerald
     
  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Peter:

    Excellent answer! Thanks for all the info and the mini-review. I remember quite a lot about the 1970's PBS shows. I enjoyed them immensely. Even though they have been my only exposure to Kovacs, they made quite an impression on me and I think I will pick up the DVD set.

    I recently picked up a CD of music compiled from the Kovacs show--which I would heartily recommend to any Kovacs afficionado. The tunes--which include Ernie's theme, the Nairobi Trio tune and the surreal version of Mack The Knife--make me want to see the comedy bits which go with them. I'd also like my children--age 12 & 16--to see them.
     

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