Great Material with your standard Public Domain DVD Presenta
Monty Moonlight | TX | 11/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're not familiar with DVDs of Public Domain material, which I'm pretty sure is what we're dealing with here (though, I don't really know the details of why certain episodes of certain shows, like The Beverly Hillbillies, manage to fall into Public Domain), then you probably won't be ready for the variety of picture and sound quality one gets from such releases. Generally at great prices but sometimes with pretty shoddy visuals, public domain DVDs have their ups and downs. They're never what one wants from DVD quality, but sometimes you are just happy to get the material in any form. With public domain DVDs, you basically pay your nickel and take your chances (sometimes they won't even play on your player, or at least certain sections or episodes won't; luckily in my case, PS3's play almost anything well). In this set, everything is basically watchable, though the quality varies and visuals can get pretty dark in some episodes. On the cool side though, these charming holiday episodes of classic television shows sometimes even come with their commercials intact (and a few have those goofy in-show commercials too).
In this set are 20 Christmas episodes of classic television shows as follows:
The Burns & Allen Show: Holiday Show (George's inlaws drop in for the holidays)
Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion: The Boy Who Found Christmas (Captain Gallant's nephew runs away into the desert to save Christmas and the troops must find him)
Date With Angels: Santa's Helper (The Angels help an elderly neighbor get a job as a store Santa, then quickly regret it)
The Jack Benny Program: New Year Variety Show (Jack showcases some offbeat talent), Christmas With Jack (Jack goes Christmas shopping), and Reminiscing About Last New Year's Eve (Jack's date cancels on the big night, and he must celebrate alone)
Meet Corliss Archer: Christmas Show (Archies-esque cutie Corliss and her family celebrate Christmas with presents on their mind)
Racket Squad: The Christmas Caper (An old man gets suckered into playing a street-corner Santa for a donation racket)
Robin Hood: The Christmas Goose (Robin Hood helps a young boy whose best-friend, a goose, is set to be a noble's Christmas dinner)
The Ray Bolger Show (Where's Raymond?): Christmas Show (Ray entertains his niece with a Christmas toyland fantasy)
The Beverly Hillbillies: Beverly Hillbillies Christmas (The Clampetts are befuddled by their new Christmas presents from the Drysdales) and Home for the Holidays (The Clampetts travel by jet to their home in the hills to visit Jethro's mom for Christmas)
The Bob Cummings Show (Love That Bob): Grandpa's Christmas Visit (Photographer Bob has trouble reigning in his vivacious, visiting grandpa, and keeping him off his smokin' hot model)
Dragnet: The Big Little Jesus (A baby Jesus statue has been swiped from a church's Nativity scene)
The Adventures of Long John Silver: The Orphan's Christmas (A cruel woman who owns the local orphanage is keeping the kids from enjoying Christmas, until Jim Hawkins, Long John, and their friends step in)
Ozzie & Harriet: Busy Christmas (originally reluctant Ozzie takes on too many activities on Christmas Eve) and The Late Christmas Gift (The Nelsons decide to share their gifts with a needy family when a lost present for Ricky brings them together; and the show is capped off with one of Ricky's great singing performances: The Christmas Song)
The Red Skelton Show: Freddie and the Yuletide Doll (A musical fantasy in the park with Freddy the Freeloader and Raggedy Ann) and The Cop and the Anthem (Freddy decides to spend the holidays in a nice, warm jail, but he can't seem to get arrested)
The Ruggles: Christmas Eve 1952 (The Ruggles decide to spread Christmas cheer to a lonely young lady, but she continuously surprises them)
Every one of these shows is a nice viewing experience during the Christmas season, and the Play All feature is certainly appreciated. Of course, I do have my favorites. As a little kid in the 1980s, I loved watching late-night reruns of Jack Benny and Burns and Allen, and I enjoyed Ozzie and Harriet very much on the Disney Channel. As a huge Disney fan, Robert Newton still blows me away when he plays Long John Silver like he really IS Long John Silver, so discovering more post-Treasure Island adventures from him is always a delight (gotta get that whole series some time). Particular highlights for me on this disc would have to be the Jack Benny Program "Christmas with Jack" and "Reminiscing About Last New Year's Eve" episodes and the Long John Silver series episode, the Ozzie and Harriet episodes, Red Skelton's "The Cop and the Anthem", and the Bob Cummings episode (with the bonus of a very lovely model character). And, of course, the Beverly Hillbillies are always a delight, as well as Betty White, star of Date with Angels, and the legendary George Burns. I'm not big on cop shows to this day, but I must say that the Christmas theme can probably make anything good, as even the episodes of Raquet Squad and Dragnet were fun to watch. Now, The Ruggles seemed a little pretentious, Captain Gallant was too military, serious, and not Christmassy enough for my tastes, and Ray Bolger was a little creepy at times (though I have loved him in other stuff, and the niece character was lovely and very sweet, as was the episode itself in its way), but they were all still fascinating to watch as holiday time capsules. Corliss Archer was cute and funny, if a bit silly. Overall, this is well worth owning if you love classic television, especially any episodes here (don't ask me why Skelton gets to be the only one on the cover), but don't pay too much for it considering I'm pretty sure this is public domain material and the technical quality varies from fairly good to occasionally poor from episode to episode. I haven't looked into it though, so maybe for some of these shows this is as good as it gets. I mean, they are from the 50's. Anyway, great stuff, really, just don't pay through the teeth for it. I know some of this material can be found in other sets, though it's nice to have 20 all together (I have another DVD myself, of poorer quality, that just has 2 of the Benny programs and the 2 Skelton programs, so this was a definite upgrade).
So, just knocking one star off because public domain quality is what it is, but must be acknowledged. The content, however, has enough joy that it ranks all stars.