18 Episodes From Two Never-Tiring TV Series!
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 08/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This budget-priced 2-Disc DVD collection from "Platinum Disc Corporation" gives the purchaser a goodly amount of video material without putting much of a dent at all in the ol' bank account -- 18 total half-hour episodes of two top-notch television programs (circa 1950s/1960s): "You Bet Your Life, Starring Groucho Marx" and "The Jack Benny Program" (aka: "The Jack Benny Show", which is the title used for this DVD release).
Each of the two featured TV series in this collection has its own disc (with separate Keep Case box). The "YBYL" disc, in fact, contains MORE episodes than what the packaging contends. There are 13 shows, even though the box claims just twelve, making this set even a bigger bargain.
Many of these "You Bet Your Life" installments are new to DVD. Well, they're "new" to me at any rate. I have several other DVD releases of "YBYL" and I'm sure that many of the thirteen shows included on this set are not among those included in other previous releases of this series. Which actually surprised me a bit; because I was pretty much expecting the exact same shows I've already collected via other DVDs. But, to my pleasant surprise, I got several heretofore unseen programs.
The "Jack Benny" disc has far less programming than its Groucho counterpart -- 5 episodes. But, even so, this set is a great value. And these Benny programs are just as funny as ever.
The five Jack Benny episodes included are:
1.) "Goldie, Fields, And Glide"
2.) "How Jack Met Mary"
3.) "Hong Kong Suit"
4.) "Jack Goes Christmas Shopping"
5.) "New Year's Show"
Video quality for this boxed set isn't too bad; but not exactly stellar either. The Groucho shows look a tad better than the Benny episodes, IMO. Aspect ratio is the original TV ratio of 1.33:1. Audio is a re-mixed Dolby Digital 5.1, but it sounds pretty much the same as the original Mono to my ears, which isn't surprising since neither one of these TV series would benefit the slightest bit from "enhanced 5.1 Surround Sound" audio.
It's actually kind of funny, speaking of the audio, to think that a company would even WANT to "soup-up" the audio of these old Mono programs to a full-bodied 5.1 soundtrack -- especially Groucho's show, which is 99% dialogue in every episode. There's no need whatsoever to add any additional "discrete" audio channels here, because no information is going to be sent to the "surrounds" anyway. In a program that features nothing but people talking, nearly all audio should stay rooted in the center (front) channel, with virtually nothing going to the rear channels. However, they re-mixed these DVDs into some type of "faux 5.1" anyhow (I guess). But you could never tell it.
To be quite honest, it's just plain silly (IMHO) to re-mix original Mono programming into Stereo or Surround formats, because this type of material was never recorded that way in the first place, nor was it intended to be heard via any Surround Sound formats. I, for one, am totally against this type of "fiddling around" with a program's original sound. It's similar, in my estimation, to monkeying around with the video aspect ratio of a movie or TV show, which I despise as well. Watching a 2.35:1 ratio movie on cable TV in hacked-up, butchered-all-to-heck "Pan-&-Scan" Full-Frame (1.33:1), just for the sake of "filling up the TV screen" with an image, is pure torture, and should never, EVER be attempted unless the movie-watcher is too drunk to even know which room the TV is in.
And altering the soundtrack of a movie or television show is nearly as bad. If the show was recorded in "Mono" in the first place -- I'm in favor of just leaving it that way for its DVD release!
There are no "Bonus Features" included on these discs. The package says there are "Scene Selections" for all these programs. But this is an error. No chapter stops are included at all. There is, however, a "Play All" feature on both discs.
For fans of old-time 1950s-era television comedy, this 2-Disc set of DVDs is a can't-miss purchase. And at only about 50 cents per episode, it's a deal that even the ultra-cheap Mr. Benny would appreciate. :-)"
Great shows, great bargain
Kimba W. Lion | the East Coast | 08/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although basically a public-domain type of release, this is really a very high-quality set. They used original 16mm films, NOT the badly doctored syndications films of You Bet Your Life that were on TV years ago. There is some dirt and wear in evidence, but I don't consider it objectionable. These are very crisp, honest transfers of the films (no evidence of harmful "noise reduction" techniques like on some PD releases). These are not kinescopes, either--both series were produced on film. Contrast and focus are perfect. Although the manufacturer touts the sound as being remastered into surround, there is no audible evidence of digital trickery there, either. On the whole, the technical presentation is very high quality.
The shows themselves are excellent, especially the Groucho Marx shows. My sons are constantly telling each other, "you gotta see this part". Everything here is definitely family-friendly, and very enjoyable by all. Groucho is still laugh-out-loud funny."