THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: THE BOB HOPE SPECIALS REVIEWED
“Thanks for the Memories” brings together a ton of Bob Hope specials at Time Life. “Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops” is a fantastic look at Bob Hope’s televised history with the USO. We get three specials from the Korean War and Vietnam War eras. The Vietnam stuff gets the main focus, as we get to watch Neil Armstrong and Johnny Bench offer up inspirational chats with the troops. Plus, Dean Martin’s Gold Diggers to get shake their junk in a TV friendly way at men starved for sexual attention. Bob Hope knew how to give troops what they wanted, but only from an old man’s sensibilities.
The humor was kinda flat, but Hope was a man out of a time. He wanted to keep serving his country, but he never adapted his act. I guess that’s why he seemed increasingly out of place with his USO tour mates. For film fans, some of the Connie Stevens music from the first special was reused for “Forrest Gump”. So, there’s that. I know that some of our older readers will appreciate this set, I just hope that the target audience doesn’t pass it up.
“Thanks for the Memories” allows the world to rediscover Bob Hope. While you know that he hosted Holiday Specials and supported the troops, he also had a hand at variety specials. Everyone loved to work with him and he wasn’t afraid of musical numbers. But, he also pushed for the cutesy. Not in the Donnie & Marie sense, but in the very dated even for the 60s and 70s sense.
There’s also the reliance on sponsors to carry the content. While that rings true to what Bob Hope did way back when, it still feels odd. Sure, we’re slicing apart elements of his career from a 30 year span. But, it’s not when the man was at his peak. That last point has been argued between me and site friends for the last week. It’s just when do you say a comedian is at his peak? When he’s new, when he’s trusted and familiar or when he’s old? There’s something to age bringing legendary status. But, comedy thrives in its timeliness. Oh well, I still enjoyed it.
“Hope for the Holidays” is a weird compilation, but much appreciated for TV historians. The first special on the disc is about the only Hope TV special I remember seeing air live. It was from 1993 and it was basically Hope’s last time on TV. Joey Lawrence, Barbara Eden and Loni Anderson drop by to spend time with the Hollywood legend before he slips off this mortal coil. The extra special on the disc is the 16mm film of his 1950 Comedy Hour Christmas Special. It’s fun seeing old TV, but Eleanor Roosevelt showed up as a special guest and that was quite stunning.
Redd Foxx and the Judds also show up to help dole out the Christmas cheer. While Hope is out of the age range of most of my readers, take a chance on this one. American TV is part of our pop culture heritage and we need to understand our shared history.
“Bob Hope Salutes the Troops” is a collection of USO stops that Bob Hope made to Vietnam and beyond. These specials are edited into a way that makes them breeze around with great care. If you’re a completist that wants the original broadcasts, you might be out of luck. Still, that’s not why you watch these specials. You watch them for Hope to crack wise with Rosie Greer and then Marie Osmond. These specials are the pinnacle of American TV sentimentality without ever truly acknowledging military sacrifice. Still, a free show is a free show.
- Vintage bloopers
- Vintage highlights
- The 1967 USO Tour
- Historic clips
- 1.33:1 standard definition transfer
- Dolby 2.0 / MONO