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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Journalism > Television > Reporting > The Edward R. Murrow Collection

Edward R. Murrow Collection (Docurama)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B+



Edward R. Murrow took the idea of news and journalism to so many new places that it was impossible for few people in the news field after him.  The recent myth is that he was a big name who invented tabloid journalism and happened to be a big name.  The new 4-DVD Edward R. Murrow Collection from Docurama with CBS News.  More than refuting and killing that sinister tidbit of revisionist history, it spells out what a great, innovator, and groundbreaker he was.  He took risks to get the story, often with his own life, and was the furthest thing from yellow journalism in his time as there was.


Serving as the original source of “fair and balanced” television, he began to present a side of World War II during his radio days like Walter Winchell, it looked more and more like the establishment was trying to silence, such as The Holocaust and the sacrifices the soldiers were making.  Unlike now, when an administration fighting a “war on terrorism” has managed to censor the names of the dead and injured, whittling it to a simple number with cheerleaders-as-new-journalists trivializing the number as if it did not mean much, Murrow put faces on those trying to do the right thing.


Until very recently, his high standards gave the United States a model of a free and unfettered press, but politics of the 1980s began to roll that back with censorship and a war on journalism.  This Reporter is a terrific 1990 production that tells of his spectacular rise and how he had to fight tooth and nail to maintain an integrity that CBS should have supported from day one.  It runs about two hours.  See It Now offers about two hours itself of the famed hit series, including its pilot, which shows off the then-latest in satellite broadcast technology.  Mike Wallace hosts this best of show from 1991.  Walter Cronkite hosts another nearly two hours special about The McCarthy Years and how the senator would find his downfall in tangling with Murrow, though Noam Chomsky notes McCarthy was actually the lesser of political gangsters when McCarthy went after the U.S. Army.  Finally, there is the brilliant coda to his career, Harvest Of Shame, which shows how the workers who make the American diet possible were barely surviving themselves.  It exposed truths about American labor exploited and CBS just could not handle the truth anymore.  The show is here in its entirety and remains one of TV’s all-time news journalism classics.  It was amazing the first time I saw it years ago, and has actually become more powerful and relevant since.


The 1.33 X 1 full frame image is a compilation on all four DVDs of film, videotape and kinescope footage.  Though some of this material has made it to DVD here and there, this is as good as it has ever looked and certainly sounded, as Docurama has boosted the original monophonic sound to simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.  All four DVDs have the same basic extras: a biography of Murrow and timeline of the events of his life and career.  Edward R. Murrow Collection is an amazing documentary set, especially at a time when TV journalism has sunk to the lows of 24-hour exploitation news channels and so far from its roots as to be embarrassing.  Murrow and Paddy Chayefsky’s Network have never been more right.  This is a must for any serious DVD library.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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