THE PLOT THUS FAR
Before his untimely death at the age of 42, television pioneer Ernie Kovacs left us with a sublime body of comedy work whose influence can be seen on everything from Monty Python to SNL and David Letterman. He made eight TV specials for ABC in 1961, the final year of his life, and these show Kovacs at the peak of his creative experimentation with the medium, featuring many of his comic masterpieces and iconic set pieces. Five of these programs are presented here in complete uncut form, along with many of his celebrated, and delightfully offbeat, commercials for Dutch Masters cigars.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Ernie Kovacs really relied on a lot of surreal imagery in these early specials. The kicker being that ABC let the guy get away with murder back in the Kennedy Years, it just leaves a lot of people to wonder…why? Well, the guy was a hit on television and he could bank on almost bi-annual offerings to litter the nearly vacant television landscape. The guy used to tinker with story setups, the use of makeup and conceits that would normally be associated with later groups like “The Kids on the Hall”. Why doesn’t he get more credit?
The five specials assembled are reflective of where television was at that point, so some of the usual tropes will put younger fans off the material. I’m just asking to look past the heavy jokes on westerns and related melodrama and see what’s going on. The material is dense due to the 50 year gap between the pop culture of the day and now, but take a chance on something new. If you like it, you can always pick up the larger set. We had a review of it at one point, but it seems like it’s been lost in the last move.
The DVD comes with the same features as the 5th disc of the larger Ernie Kovacs released a few months ago by Shout Factory. You only get the old Dutch Masters Cigar Commercials for special features. However, the A/V Quality is exceptionally clean for a show of its age. Especially when some of the transfers look like they started out on kinescope. In the end, I’d only recommend a purchase to Kovacs fans.
RELEASE DATE: 04/17/2012