Wooden monologues, bad jokes, revolting fashions and way, way too much hair. I wish I could say that this means one thing… but it means a lot of things. In this case, however, I am talking about Tony Orlando and Dawn. Now, the quality of Orlando’s rich voice is undeniable. My bone to pick is with virtually every other aspect of this cheese fest. At the time in the 70’s, it seemed like everybody had their own variety show. Such a thing could be a big boon to a performer’s career, so you certainly can’t fault …rlando for signing on for such deal. Part music show, part comedy sketch show, marginal celebrity guests… it’s like the Smothers Brothers show without actually being any good.
If you like the songs, the majority of the musical numbers are actually pretty good. The real disappointment is the simply horrid skits. Two to three minutes of buildup to one lame punchline? Really? Nobody thought this was a bad idea?
The audio on this set is probably just as great as it was on the original broadcast. (By the way, have you ever heard a backhanded compliment before?) Actually, it’s really not that bad. There is very little dynamic range, and it is not mastered in Dolby or DTS, but it certainly gets the job done. Plus, it is much better than the quality of the video, so I can’t complain too much. Again, the musical numbers, while lacking the wide dynamic range that we have come to expect and enjoy in the 21st century, actually sound pretty clean.
Pitiful. Simply pitiful. If I hadn’t put the disc in the DVD player myself, I would swear that I was watching an old Betamax. This show has so many video problems that it would take forever to list them all. The very first shot of the very first show is interrupted by static caused by a tracking problem. Yes, you read that right… a tracking problem. Remember when we all used to have VHS players, and you would occasionally have to adjust the tracking, because waves of snow and static would roll across the screen? This is what I am saying. I don’t know, maybe the producers were trying to place the viewer in the correct frame of mind for the times. Whatever the excuse might be, it is simply not good enough.
There is actually a pretty decent selection of extras included on this set. The Tony Orlando and Dawn Video Jukebox allows viewers to jump directly to a song, which is really handy when you just have to have that disco fix, but you can’t remember what episode the song you want to hear is on. This way, you can just browse by song title, locate your tune, and get down with The Theme from Shaft in no time. There are even some extra songs hidden away here from episodes not included in this set. You damn right.
Next up is a selection of clips form other shows that featured Tony and the gang. Tony on The Tonight Show, a segment from the show Fridays and a clip from The Carol Burnett Show are all exactly what they sound like they are.
Finally, there is an additional segment included titled Domino Effect, which shows what happens when Bob “The Domino Wizard” Spector appears on the stage with Tony. Now, this may not look like a lot of extras, but for a “best of” TV product from the 70’s, this is a pretty nice assortment of special features. It would be hard to find much in the way of outtakes from this live show, or behind-the-scenes footage, so short of an interview segment with Tony himself, this offering is about as good as it could possibly be.
And I just thought the 70’s was tacky. This show has gone and proven it. I found myself shocked that prime time television used to actually be this bad. Of course, thirty years from now the compete Wife Swap series will probably be issued on whatever new shiny home entertainment format is out there, and people will make the same comments. The sad fact is, there is bad TV from every era. Networks seem to get better, but they never totally learn the lessons of history. In fact, Nick and Jessica had a variety show last year, so what does that tell you?
This would be a great set for a 70’s party, or for those with a twisted sense of curiosity, but I don’t see how anybody could ever really take this show seriously. Sure, it’s fun to see some of the guest stars, and some of the musical numbers are enjoyable enough, but I can think of thousands of better discs on which to spend your hard earned cash.
Anybody who buys this set must be a real jive turkey. Can you dig it?
Special Features List
- Tony on The Tonight Show
- Segment from the show Fridays
- Clip from The Carol Burnett Show
- Tony Orlando and Dawn Video Jukebox
- Domino Effect
- Bonus Musical Performances