Come for Benny, Stay for Skelton!
Monty Moonlight | TX | 02/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"From the Jack Benny Program, we begin with "The Christmas Show," as Jack braves a busy department store during the holiday rush in an attempt to get Christmas gifts for his friends. While there, Jack bumps into Rochester, Dennis, and Nelson, and his legendary stinginess even drives salesman Mel Blanc to suicide! Yes, it's a grim touch for a holiday show, but the entire episode is downright hilarious and my favorite program on the disc! Dennis Day even performs "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" for children in the department store in what is one of the most "Christmassy" moments I've seen on television!
The second show on the disc is another episode of The Jack Benny Program. This episode is "The New Year's Show," and while it doesn't have the special magic a Christmas show is naturally endowed with, it is still entertaining and gets funnier as it goes along. The crew is getting together for a big New Year's party, but Jack is skipping out for a date with a girl named Gloria. When Gloria calls to cancel at the last minute, Jack is left alone with nothing to do on New Year's Eve (join the club). He wanders the streets for a while, then makes his way to a diner to warm up with a bowl of soup. What happens here is hilarious, but I won't ruin it for you! Luckily, Rochester saves the day. This episode features a great Irish tune from Dennis Day!
Our third program is an episode of The Red Skelton Show. In "Freddie and the Yuletide Doll," Freddie the Freeloader is spending Christmas Eve in the park feeling lonely watching the ice-skating couples and cheerful daters taking walks. When one young woman leaves behind a Raggedy Ann doll, Freddie takes it in his arms and begins to fantasize that the doll has come to life. The two enjoy a lovely and humorous date together, dancing, flirting, and ice-skating. It's a sweet and charming holiday pantomime story with great Christmas background music.
The fourth and final show on the disc is another Freddie the Freeloader tale from The Red Skelton Show. In O'Henry's story, "The Cop and the Anthem," Freddie vows that he will spend this Christmas in a nice, comfy jail with 3 square meals a day. He goes into a fancy restaurant, runs up a huge bill, and prepares to be taken away, but the manager's holiday spirit prevents him from calling the police. From then on, it only gets funnier as Freddie tries again and again to get arrested with absolutely zero luck!
These are four real holiday treats for fans of old-fashioned television comedy. I mainly purchased this as a Jack Benny fan who used to watch reruns of his show as a kid and loves anything related to Christmas. However, I enjoyed the Skelton shows quite a bit as well. As I mentioned, the first show on this disc is my favorite, and it also happens to be of the highest picture quality. The second is considerably worse and the sound is low, though the picture has less troubles after the first few minutes. The third program has a rather dark picture, and the fourth is better, but still not as good as the first. They are all watchable though, and this disc is well worth owning at its usually affordable price for the first episode alone! Though the picture quality varies and is mostly what you'd expect from a bargain DVD, the only major complaint I could give is that it doesn't play on my Samsung player (always have to watch it on my parents' Sony), but I have learned over the years not to buy Samsung players. They're not great with bargain DVDs and lots of other stuff. It HAS lasted me quite a while, being my first DVD player, but when it conks out, I'll get a Sony. Anyway, as for this DVD, I highly recommend it to all Benny and/or Skelton fans. I'd give it more stars if it weren't for the varying picture/sound quality."