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The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
Actors: Bob Smith, Bob Keeshan, Judy Tyler, Dayton Allen, Eddie Kean
Director: Various
Genres: Kids & Family, Television
NR     2008     21hr 0min

The Howdy Doody Show made its debut on television in 1947. When The Howdy Doody Show first aired, there were only 20,000 American homes with television sets and NBC only had stations in six television markets. The show was...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bob Smith, Bob Keeshan, Judy Tyler, Dayton Allen, Eddie Kean
Director: Various
Genres: Kids & Family, Television
Sub-Genres: Kids & Family, Kids & Family
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 11/04/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 21hr 0min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaDVD Credits: 5
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Say Kids, What Time Is It?
Robert Huggins | Suburban Philadelphia, PA United States | 11/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's time to sit back, get nostalgic, and let Buffalo Bob Smith, Howdy Doody, Clarabell and the entire gang entertain you once again in this delightful DVD set from Mill Creek Entertainment. Mill Creek you ask? Aren't they the company that releases all of those box collections of public domain movies and television episodes? Yes, it's the very same Mill Creek but with a difference . . . . the 40 episodes included in this reasonably priced collection are all licensed directly from NBC Universal, and Mill Creek has really delivered a first-class DVD release. Somewhat surprisingly, Mill Creek sweetens the deal with a nice array of bonus items in this release, including a scrapbook-like booklet chock full of pictures, a historic timeline, interviews, and three bonus episodes, including the series' farewell episode broadcast in 1960.

The range of the episodes contained in this set run from 1949 through 1954, and the bonus disc includes the show's very last episode in 1960, broadcast in color, which included Clarabell speaking for the first (and last) time on the show. I like the earliest shows the best when the show was originally titled "Puppet Playhouse" since they represent the dawn of television. They're technically crude and some of the missteps become apparent when a camera occasionally catches Buffalo Bob mouthing Howdy's lines (Smith would later tape Howdy's lines). But there's an energy in these earliest shows that makes "Howdy Doody" succeed despite the technical and budgetary limitations; you can sense that the performers and behind-the-scenes technical crew are really giving it their all.

The audio/visual presentation is about what one might expect for one of television's oldest series, particularly as these live shows were recorded using the kinescope process. While kinescopes simply do not look as good as modern videotape or film, the episodes contained in this collection are very watchable. Audio is generally solid, but occasionally the microphone placement misses some of the performers' lines. Considering that some of these episodes are nearly 60 years old, most viewers will recognize the technical limitations of the era.

The only nit that I have to pick with this collection, and it's a small one, is that it begins with a show from 1949. It would have been nice to see some earlier examples. While I have no idea as to whether or not the December 27, 1947 debut show still exists, some of the shows produced in 1948 are still in existence. If Mill Creek releases additional episode collections of "The Howdy Doody Show," it would be interesting, from a historical perspective, to see the earliest surviving episode from the series.

For those of a certain age, the mention of "Howdy Doody" instantly takes one back to the simpler times of their youth. "The Howdy Doody Show" remains not only a landmark series in children's television, but also a landmark series in live television production. Thank you, Mill Creek Entertainment, for releasing a fascinating and entertaining glimpse back in television time.
What to expect of this DVD set
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 11/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I want to say up front that this fine DVD set is best suited for the people who originally watched Howdy Doody and not for today's kids. To test this theory, I showed some episodes to a half-dozen kids of appropriate age (one at a time at different times so they would not influence one another) and, to a soul they universally said it was "dumb". It's difficult to market Howdy Doody to today's children against contemporary, more sophisticated productions.

Here you will get FOUR DVDs plus a BONUS DISC, nicely packaged. The discs contain 40 of the NBC show's favorite episodes (of the thousands of episodes, most were in black and white), including sponsor commercials, (these were chiefly conducted by the stars of the show). The Bonus Disc contains three "anniversary shows," the last one (in color) being the final episode where Clarabell the Clown finally speaks! The quality and sound of all the prints are quite good.

Also on the bonus disc are interviews with Buffalo Bob Smith, "Clarabell," and the producers as to how the program emerged and evolved from radio in 1949, a time when most of daytime television was nothing more than a test pattern. The set additionally includes a 32-page "Howdy Doody Memories Book" (softcover booklet) which features black-and-white photos, many of which were from behind the scenes such as a view of Clarabell applying his clown made up.

I have to confess that my favorite character on this beloved program was Chief Thunderthud ("Cowabunga!" -- now politically incorrect!) but you'll also see Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Mayor Phineas T. Bluster, and all the other Howdy Doody regulars. For the uninitiated, this western flavor program was a pairing of real people alongside marionette puppets, all portrayed before a live audience of children which was called "The Peanut Gallery". The program was incredibly primitive by today's standards but reached an astonishing level of both educational and slapstick entertainment for children.

In all, Howdy Doody ran for 13 years over 2,543 episodes. Programs sometimes included guest stars such as western movie sidekick Gabby Hayes. The total time of these discs runs for about 21 hours and the set is distributed by Mill Creek Entertainment.

I much enjoyed this terrific and nostalgic DVD set a great deal more than I had anticipated that I would. I hope you do too."
I Was Born in 1990: I Still Enjoyed This Release
Retro_Saiyan | Australia | 01/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The fast snappy pacing and clever dialog do help, but what also kept me watching was the little historic moments in each episode. Some examples include:
In the first episode of disc one, they announce what cities the show is telecast live, and also note that some markets recieve the show "on film" (kinescope film to be exact, in fact the only reason these episodes exist is because the cable which connected the NBC-TV network stations together could only reach so far, so ''kinescope films'' were made for stations across the USA. Many other programs of the time were simply broadcast live and never recorded like "The Oscar Levant Show").
In other episode on the first disc, they also announce that, just a few weeks later, the program is now being shown in many more parts of the USA, an example of just how fast TV was growing.
The first 3 episodes or so episodes on disc one are complete and unedited, yet, they contain no commercials, which I find to be quite remarkable (29 minutes of show with no commercials? Could you imagine NBC-TV doing that today?).
Along with that, the commercials are for products which range from Three Musketeers Chocolate Bars (The jingle: "Three Three Three/Big Big Big/Let's Give Three Cheers/For the Three Big Musketeers"), Rice Crispies (complete with snap, crackle and pop puppets), Colgate Dental Cream (a lot more interesting than it sounds), and yes, those giveaway offers for Howdy Doody toys.
Closing logo fans will be glad to hear that many episodes feature the original opening and closing logos, including the famous "NBC Chimes" on several episodes, and the "NBC Presents" kinescope ID occasionally.
Picture quality is quite good, considering how these shows were recorded. Since video tape wasn't invented until 1956, these shows were recorded via "kinescope" or "kinephoto", which basically meant literally filming the TV monitor with a 16mm cinematic camera!"
The Howdy Doody Show
Mark Kausler | Glendale, Ca. USA | 01/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here's a rarity, almost an impossibility. The Howdy Doody show, FORTY episodes of late 1940s and early 1950s childrens's television, restored for all to enjoy! The quality is very good throughout, judging that most of the five discs are kinescopes, some with wavering sound. Some of the earliest memories I have of the show were not so much the puppets, but the clips from old time movies that showed up on Howdy's program. A Ton of Fun, referred to by Bob Smith as "The Three Tons of Fun", introduced me to silent comedy. The Smith Family with little Mary Ann Jackson, later to star in the Our Gang comedies for Hal Roach, really stands out in these 1920s Sennett reels. Buffalo Bob makes it tough to find out who REALLY starred in some of the comedies by making up names for the actors, like "Bullets" and "Mary Schnikelfritz",and sometimes throwing in names of his old friends and crew members in place of the real names of the actors. It's a rare treat to see the show through from it's very early days when Howdy was so polite that he always called Buffalo Bob "Mr. Smith", the Dayton Allen era of Ugly Sam and his hilarious version of the Flub-A-Dub narrating an old time movie, to the remarkable use of Allen Swift's voice as Phineas T. Bluster and others after Dayton was fired. We can see the evolution of Clarabelle from Bob Keeshan through Lew Anderson and witness how the clown changed from a child-clown who squirted seltzer at the Peanut Gallery and Bob Smith to the skilled trombone player and juggler who STILL squirted seltzer on all and sundry. There is a remarkable show with Milt Neil the cartoonist on the Howdy Doody comic strip doing team-up drawings with a fellow artist where Milt does one side of a character's head at the same time the other artist does the other side of the head, resulting in a perfectly balanced drawing that looks like the work of one artist! Disc 5 is my favorite. It contains the 5th, 8th and last (the 13th) anniversary programs. Fred Allen actually takes a seat in the Peanut Gallery on the 5th anniversary show, making fun of Buffalo Bob not being able to appear on-camera with the Howdy puppet (Bob Smith did Howdy's voice in the early shows) and "helping" Bob Smith narrate the old-time movie. Although not in the best of health, Fred Allen is a lot of fun to watch in this program. Gabby Hayes is featured on the 8th anniversary program in a funny suitcase packing routine with Clarabelle, and of course the last program from 1960 in color ends with Clarabelle's famous "Goodbye, Kids" in a pretty decent looking color copy. There is a half-hour of oral history provided by the television Academy on Disc 5 as well, with Bob Smith, Ed Kean the writer of the show, Bob Keeshan and others giving interviews. Keeshan betrays not a shred of bitterness at his poor treatment on the show, but speaks well of his role as Clarabelle and working with Bob Smith. It's still a great comfort to spend time with "Mr. Smith" after all these years, his charisma and love of the Peanuts still comes through after more than 50 years, especially when he pitches products. The growth of advertising to children in these early programs is especially revealing, starting with almost no sponsors and ending with too many. It's interesting that the Kellogg's cereal and Halo shampoo commercials are the only ones to use full cel animation in this pioneering era. It's so rare and remarkable to see this much early "kidvid" on home video, an era when there was little regulation and no knowledge of television's impact on children. Yet, there is a cozy spirit of friendliness and hospitality in these Howdy Doody shows that is largely missing from the kid's video scene today. Mr. Rogers is one of the few "live" kid's hosts whose show is still running today that has some of the "Smith" charisma with children, and he's dead! So pick this up, buy two or three and send them to your friends. Maybe NBC-Universal will release a 40 episoder of "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" someday, or the Bob Clampett estate will release a big set of "Beany and Cecil" puppet shows on DVD! Let's show them that there is a demand for this kind of show on home video!"