StarVista's Ed Sullivan Collection is a Really Big Shew!

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Ed Sullivan Show DVD

There’s a good portion of America these days that probably hasn’t heard of Ed Sullivan or his variety show and thus don't know just how popular and important it was to the people of the US and to the careers of the performers who now occupy the status of legend in the entertainment industry.

Then there’s a good portion of us who were too young to remember THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW when it was on because we were too young by the time it wound down in 1971.

But there is still a sizable number of Americans who remember the show because they tuned in every week to see it. Those, dear reader, are the luckiest of all… because they got to see Elvis, the Beatles and so many more before all the rest of us.

Now, thanks to StarVista Entertainment, the rest of us can count ourselves lucky too. This 6-DVD set spans the entire run of THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, showcasing many of the talents that performed on it through the years.

The trouble, though, with a show that was the show everyone wanted to be on, that spanned so many years, is that you have to make concessions on who and how long of a clip you can show to fit them on just 6 CDs--much the same way sets of THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, or THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW are.

What is done well on this set is that instead of 6 discs, each filled with a mélange of performances, each disc here is divided into a specialized section:

  1. Unforgettable Performance
  2. 50th Anniversary Special
  3. All-Star Comedy Special
  4. World’s Greatest Novelty Act
  5. Awesome Animal Acts
  6. Bonus Interviews

They do a great job of showing routines of almost all the great ones in entertainment history, as well as the obscure ones that may or may not have even been seen again on TV, but who for one moment in time found their way into America’s homes on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. And while each disc generally focuses on one thing, there is some slight overlapping of a few clips, but not much.

The discs are all introduced by someone, so they are not just collections of acts. It’s as if each disc was originally filmed to be its own TV special, which I am thinking some of the material was. The 50th Anniversary special for instance, which, if filmed for the shows actual 50th Anniversary, would mean it was made in 1998 as the show originally began in 1948. A fact also made clear in that many of the interviews that are interspersed on each disc, and those on the bonus interview disc had to been done several years ago as many of the actors giving the interviews have since past away.

Regardless, though, of when the interviews were filmed or if they had been seen before, what is for certain is that this show, like Ed’s show, is pure entertainment. I saw and heard people perform on this set that I had only heard about (Richard Kiley performing “The Impossible Dream”), and saw performers I grew up with looking so young they were almost unrecognizable (George Carlin comes to mind), and every one enjoyable.

Some of the performances are a little dated looking, as you would expect since some date back to the 40’s and 50’s. But that’s okay. In a set such as this, it is better to see them in any condition then never at all.

It’s also funny to see what was allowed back then on TV that wouldn’t be today. Some of the animal acts would be complained about by “rights” groups because dogs were made to wear costumes, or elephants and chimps performing on stage. Acts with people smoking cigarettes and such; back in the day, these were considered, well, mainstream.

My favorite disc though was the comedy disc. While I loved seeing and listening to them all, I got the humor in the delivery and the accent in the voices, my 14 year old daughter just didn’t get what I was laughing at. Those were the days when sometimes it wasn’t so much what was said that was funny, but how it was said and the timing of the delivery. I think of Jackie Mason, Alan King, and Red Skelton to name just a few (and I mean few), and I just bust out laughing to myself.

The interview disc also was very good, as I got a chance to see people interviewed that I had never before, like Gwen Verdon and Senior Wences, to name just two of the 24 interviews on the disc. They all gave insights to how it was to appear on Ed’s show, and on Ed himself.

It’s not difficult to lose track of time watching all 6 discs in this set. It’s made for binge watching, only you’re not tired after watching because it hits so many enjoyment points It makes you laugh, it makes you go “Wow I didn’t know they did that,” and it makes you go “Oh my gosh look how young they are,” and “Oh, I forgot about him/her,” and “Wow, that was neat to see!”

This is a collection that, if you a TV entertainment buff, you owe it to yourself to own. There are other Ed Sullivan compilations out there, for sure, and I can’t speak to them. But I can for this one, and it’s a must have, even If only to hear Ed introduce the Beatles and listen to the audience go berserk as they perform. Well done, StarVista!

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0