Saturday, January 2, 2016

On DVD: Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts---Hall of Fame edition (1974-6)

While Time-Life and their mail order division, StarVista, insist that their DVD compilations are not sold in stores, eventually, there are little bits and pieces that find their way into places like Walmart and CVS Pharmacy.

Case in point is a 3-episode compilation of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, with an emphasis on sports figures, and shown in reverse order.

The set starts with a 1976 episode saluting baseball player-turned-game show host-turned NBC sportscaster Joe Garagiola, feted by best bud Yogi Berra and some of their contemporaries, including Berra's former Yankee teammate, Mickey Mantle, and Stan Musial, who played with Garagiola with the St. Louis Cardinals. Anyone that followed Garagiola's Monday night baseball pre-game show knew he could give as good as he got, and he delivered.

Next is another 1976 entry, this one with motorcycle stunt rider Evel Knievel.

Finally, a 1974 show, when it was part of the Dean Martin Show, saluting Hank Aaron, right before he broke Babe Ruth's home run record. Unfortunately, the Aaron show was heavily edited, moreso than the others. Also included as extras are skits from The Dean Martin Show, featuring Joey Bishop, and commentaries from roasters, including Norm Crosby, who admitted that the roasts were not rehearsed, keeping in line with Dean's preference to avoid rehearsing. Unfortunately, to borrow a line from Jackie Gleason, it seemed as though Dean was trying to copy Foster Brooks' act, which would suggest they were on more floors than Johnson's Wax.

StarVista offers a disclaimer, noting that some of the footage may just have been lost to the mists of time, which would explain some of the jump cuts. This volume isn't quite as good or funny as the Bob Hope/Johnny Carson package, though. In the case of these three shows, maybe Dean should've just stepped aside.....!

Rating: B-.

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