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Category:    Home > Reviews > Reality TV > Documentary > This Is Your Life - Volume One

This Is Your Life – Volume One


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



One of the early television classics that has endured and even appreciated is Ralph Edwards’ This Is Your Life, which is finally out on DVD, getting the deluxe treatment from R2 Entertainment.  Volume One has 18 shows over three DVDs, but they are exceptional choices and only the beginning of the amazing archive Edwards created in the course of one of the strongest, greatest runs in TV history.  Including a few from his 1980s revival and all with updates, the shows here are:


1)     Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy

2)     Lou Costello

3)     Bette Davis

4)     Jayne Mansfield

5)     Roy Rogers

6)     Johnny Cash

7)     Milton Berle

8)     Betty White

9)     Rear Admiral Samuel G. Fuqua (Pearl Harbor)

10)  Hanna Bloch Kohner (Holocaust survivor)

11)  Bobby Darin

12)  Dick Clark

13)  Richard & Karen Carpenter

14)  Shirley Jones

15)  Jesse Owens

16)  Duke Kahanamoko

17)  Boris Karloff

18)  Vincent Price



With a list like that, there has to be someone you want to see, and every show offers some classic moments in each case.  For Laurel & Hardy, it was their first live action TV appearance meant for the tube and is a great show.  The same goes for Lou Costello, caught off guard while doing TV.  Bette Davis is at her best, caught working on the telefilm Madame Sin including producer Robert Wagner, while we see a very human side of Jayne Mansfield in her show.  With recent biopics of Johnny Cash and Bobby Darin, you can see how close Joaquin Phoenix and Kevin Spacey came to doing it right.  There are important historical figures, a sports legend who made history and some of our greatest comic and music talent.


Milton Berle, Mr. Television himself, HAD to be the subject of one of these shows or Edwards would have come up short.  The Bette White segment is from the 1980s as Edwards interrupts a stills shoot for The Golden Girls.  In the cases of Darin and Karen Carpenter, it is sad to watch and know some great talents were gone long before they should have been.  Then there are the segments on Boris Karloff and Vincent Price that Horror fans will want to own, though I will not ruin any surprises.


Little did Edwards know what a vital record of some of the most important names of the 20th Century he was capturing and in the most natural way.  This is the real reality TV, capturing some great people whose contributions to society are key even beyond the pop culture many of them are celebrated for.  In a sea of massive TV on DVD releases for 2005, This Is Your Life - Volume One is one of the best releases of the year we are not hearing enough about, and that goes beyond TV.


The 1.33 X 1 image is varied in formats, from film to NTSC analog video, to early black & white film, to color and black and white videotape.  In all cases the best possible transfer has been made from all the available materials, making this more of a pleasure to watch than it would have been if handled with a lower budget.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is from mostly monophonic sources, but is as clean and clear as possible, with the sound better, the newer the show.  The only extra are stills of the shows behind the scenes and memorabilia on each DVD, plus a great 32-page booklet that comes with the set.  We can’t wait for Volume Two, but this gives us plenty to enjoy until then.  Don’t miss it!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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