HERE WE GO AGAIN: Following a near-decade-long drought, the spigot has been reopened and footage derived The Dean Martin Show is once again flowing through the pipeline — this time supplied by NBC and distributed by Time-Life Video — with a new stream slated to hit the retail channel this coming May.
Some eight years after the release of the final edition of Greg Garrison‘s 29-volume collection of highlights from The Dean Martin Show, something big — and new — will, at last, soon be coming up on the screens of fans who have patiently (and in numerous cases, impatiently) waited for more.
When David Lambert of the website TVShowsOnDVD.com broke the news on February 3rd that Time-Life Video would be issuing a fresh bundle of material culled from Dean’s television series, it stirred a good deal of excitement among Dino devotees. It was revealed that the new offering would be aimed at the retail sector (as opposed to the aforesaid earlier Dean Martin Show DVDs, which were sold via mail-order subscription), and rolled out on May 24th in three configurations — as a 6-disc treasury, as well as 1- and 2-disc lower-priced subsets of the larger collection. Bonus material, in the form of interviews with some of those who worked on the show, both on-camera and behind-the-scenes, would also be included.
But with specific details about the main content of the programs still a question mark, many were left wondering exactly what parts of The Dean Martin Show this new package would feature, and how that footage would differ from what was seen on Guthy-Renker‘s multi-volume iteration of The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show (the same title, incidentally, that the new Time-Life collection will employ).
About two weeks ago, NBC Universal TV Consumer Products Group issued a press release, announcing its involvement in the new venture and providing additional information about guest stars who appear in the new sets. Around the same time, a five-minute promotional trailer for the package began playing on YouTube. [Note: Time-Life has since pulled that original promo piece, and it's been replaced with a raft of clips showcasing individual scenes from the DVDs, such as the one below with Dean and Lainie Kazan.]
Although issuance of the news release and YouTube video shone a bit more light on what we can expect from the upcoming DVD entries, they still left us in the dark about much of the lineup and many of the particulars. So we at The Golddiggers Super Site dug a little deeper, and are happy to be able to present herewith the first comprehensive overview of the new Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show, with a level of specificity and detail that has yet to appear anywhere else.
That said, bear in mind that this is not a definitive rundown of the entire content of the discs — that will have to wait until review copies are circulated in advance of the official release — but it is far and away the most complete and accurate picture to date of what this new compendium has to offer.
Singin’ The Blues
First, the not-such-good-news…
For starters, one of the key differences between this new collection and the older one marketed by Guthy-Renker is that while each volume of the latter comprised an assortment of clips drawn from various episodes and seasons of The Dean Martin Show, the new sets are organized by individual episodes. At first blush, that may sound like precisely what those critical of the G-R set’s piecemeal approach have been craving. However, the episode-by-episode strategy, at least as implemented in this instance, comes with a big caveat: It should NOT (regrettably) be taken to mean that these are whole, uncut shows that we’ll be getting.
Sources involved in the project have told us that episodes included on these DVDs run anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, with virtually all of the comedy sketches left intact. When the same shows were originally broadcast on NBC, they had running times of approximately 52 minutes. Reading between the lines, you’ve probably already guessed which portions of the programs had to be deleted for the new sets…
And yes, we’re sorry to affirm that the casualties that wound up on the cutting room floor were the usual victims — some of the musical numbers (though by no means all of them). The cost, difficulty and/or impossibility of clearing the rights simply forced their excision. In fairness, this is the same dilemma that confronts every entity that attempts to release vintage variety shows, and even a few other types of series, such as The Wonder Years (which has still never seen the light of day on DVD) that incorporated large amounts of music.
It should also be pointed out that the original trailer that Time-Life assembled for YouTube to tout the new collection (since withdrawn) contained a couple of misplaced clips. As we learned, neither the sequence in which The Dingaling Sisters performed “A Whole Lotta Lovin'” from the 7th season opening of the series, nor the segment featuring Ginger Rogers with Dean, are included on the new DVDs. Both, however, are featured on the Guthy-Renker set — Ginger on Vol. 9 and The Dings at the start of Vols. 5 through 28.
Look For The Silver Lining
On the other hand, although the rest of the scenes depicted in the trailer are all contained in the new 6-DVD Time-Life set, they don’t do it justice. Not shown are a number of real gems that didn’t make it onto the G-R volumes, but which appear to be, or are likely to be, encompassed within the T-L collection. We’ve called attention to some of them in the passages that follow.
Moreover, NBCU’s press handout about the new set vows that the 6-DVD treasury boasts a whopping 80 musical performances — no small sum by any count, and truly encouraging if a good number of them don’t duplicate what was on the G-R discs.
What we are able to deliver at this point is a marquee listing, obtained by the Super Site from sources connected with the project, of all of the Dean Martin Show episodes utilized for the new Time-Life releases. Included are the shows’ original air dates, guest stars, and bonus features that round out each disc.
Then, to illustrate the potential wealth of material that this new collection could add to the existing DMS oeuvre, we’ve supplemented the information about the first two DVDs with our own notes, offering context and perspective in comparing the new discs with the prior G-R volumes and the original telecasts. For our purposes, we have chosen to focus on the programs’ musical content, since that’s the aspect of The Dean Martin Show that visitors to our site have repeatedly indicated to us is nearest and dearest to their hearts…
THE BEST OF THE DEAN MARTIN VARIETY SHOW
Release Dates: 1- & 2-DVD sets: May 24, 2011; 6-DVD set: June 14, 2011
DVD 1 (to be sold as a single volume, and as part of both the 2- and 6-vol. sets)
1) Original Air Date: 2/3/66
Guests: Bob Hope, Joel Grey, Juliet Prowse
Super Site Annotation: Right off the bat, we can state categorically that even if only some of the musical numbers originally shown on this episode are included on this disc, it would be a worthwhile purchase. To name but one that would make it so: An outstanding, exuberant song-and-dance mélange performed by Joel Grey that blends the standard, “Shine On Your Shoes”, with an excerpt from Herb Alpert‘s “Whipped Cream”. Since Grey is listed by T-L as a guest on this episode, it’s a good bet that the number will be on here (it was not on the Guthy-Renker reels).
Another song from this episode that has never appeared on a commercial DVD is Dean’s warm and cozy rendition of “Home”, which was actually co-written in the 1930s by one of the musical arrangers on Dean’s series, Geoff Clarkson, at the tender age of 16.
Dean opened this episode with “C’est Si Bon” and joined Bob Hope and Juliet Prowse for “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”. Both were on the G-R set (Vols. 3 & 5, respectively), and so, will probably wind up on this new set, too.
REFLECTIONS ON SOME FANCY FOOTWORK: Joel Grey (above, with Dean, and below, with dancers) shows off energetic vocal and terpsichorean chops with “Shine On Your Shoes”, topped off by a dollop of “Whipped Cream”, in a number from the 2/3/66 episode of The Dean Martin Show that might be included on Disc 1 of the new Best Of The Dean Martin Variety Show collection from Time-Life.
2) Original Air Date: 9/23/65
Guests: Peggy Lee, John Wayne, Jack Jones, Krofft Puppets
Super Site Annotation: This is the second episode of The Dean Martin Show ever broadcast and the earliest featured in this collection. Since Dean’s opening number, “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On”, is his only solo performance on this particular episode, it seems reasonable to assume that it will turn up here, along with his cute duet with The Kroftt Puppets on “I’ve Got Your Number”. He also managed to wrangle John Wayne into pairing with him on “Don’t Fence Me In”. If any of those numbers are included on this DVD, it would be a first; none was featured on the G-R set.
What almost assuredly won’t make the cut here are solos by Peggy Lee, Jack Jones and Shari Lewis (sadly, none of those performances made it onto the Guthy-Renker reels either). What hopefully will survive is a fabulous closing rendition of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” with Dean, Peggy, and Jack.
3) Original Air Date: 9/14/67:
Guests: Jimmy Stewart, Orson Welles
Super Site Annotation: This was the premiere episode of the series’ third season. Musical numbers included Dean opening with “The Birds and the Bees”, singing “Welcome to My World” from the couch, clowning with Orson Welles on yet another rendition of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, and moseying along with Jimmy Stewart on “Ragtime Cowboy Joe”. All were included on the G-R volumes.
4) Original Air Date: 4/3/69
Guests: Don Rickles, Don Adams, Dom DeLuise, Michael Landon
Super Site Annotation: The listing of Don Rickles and Don Adams as guests on this episode is somewhat disingenuous: They simply did a walk-on, coming out of Dean’s closet. Besides, it was already on one of the G-R DVDs, as was Michael Landon‘s Dixieland medleys (first solo and then with Dean), and Dean and Dom DeLuise‘s comical recitation of the alphabet with Dean’s Girls, wrapped up with a truncated, but melodious version of “A – You’re Adorable”.
BONUS FEATURE INTERVIEWS ON DISC 1: Florence Henderson, Jonathan Winters, Gail Martin Downey, and Angie Dickinson
DVD 2 (to be sold as part of both the 2- and 6-vol. sets)
1) Original Air Date: 11/23/72:
Guests: Jack Benny, Lou Jacobi, Nipsey Russell, Rodney Dangerfield
Super Site Annotation: This could be a real winner if it includes one or more of the following segments from the original broadcast: Dean’s opening number with The Dingaling Sisters (“Then I’ll Be Happy”); his mid-show solo (“Non Dimenticar”); his medley with The Dings (“Love Is Just Around The Corner” and “My Ideal” ); The Dings’ standalone song-and-dance number (“The Laziest Gal In Town”); the closing tribute to the 1948 MGM musical Words and Music (don’t hold your breath for those last two). None of the above showed up in the G-R collection; but what did was nonetheless both musically and comedically delightful — a “sing-off” between Dean and Jack Benny, with each joined by his own set of Dingaling Sisters — and it may well make it into this release, too.
DING-DONG: Could Dean and The Dingaling Sisters be calling on viewers of Disc 2 in T-L’s new series?
2) Original Air Date: 10/13/66 (Time-Life incorrectly listed the date as 9/13/66)
Guests: George Burns, Dinah Shore, Jonathan Winters
Super Site Annotation: Dean’s opening number on this episode — “If You Knew Susie” — and his duet with Dinah on “Shine on Harvest Moon” graced the G-R discs, and although his on-the-couch rendering of “I’m in the Mood for Love” didn’t, it was featured on the 2001 single-DVD compilation, Dean Martin: That’s Amoré (now out-of-print), so it might pop up anew here.
3) Original Air Date: 1/15/70:
Guests: Sammy Davis, Jr. Paul Lynde, Andy Griffith
Super Site Annotation: Both Dean’s opening and couch songs (“Let the Good Times In” and “I Don’t Know Why”, respectively), as well as Andy Griffith‘s “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” (definitely an acquired taste), had spots on the G-R platters; but that was not the case with either Sammy‘s solo, “Wichita Lineman”, or his medley with Dean, so if included here, either one would be making its official DVD debut (though the medley incorporates so many songs that it’s hard to see an economically viable way that they could all be cleared).
BONUS FEATURE INTERVIEWS ON DISC 2: Jonathan Winters, Phyllis Diller, Norm Crosby, and Lee Hale
SAM’S SONG: That’s one of the tunes on which Dean harmonized with Sammy Davis, Jr. on the original Jan. 15, 1970 telecast of The Dean Martin Show. But the sizable number of compositions mixed into the medley that they performed may well make it too expensive to clear all of the musical rights involved for inclusion on DVD 2 of Time-Life’s set.
DVD 3 (available solely as part of the 6-vol. set)
1) Original Air Date: 3/21/68
Guests: Bob Newhart, Tony Bennett, Florence Henderson
2) Original Air Date: 4/5/73
Guests: Peter Sellers, Rodney Dangerfield, Dom DeLuise, Nipsey Russell, Lou Jacobi
3) Original Air Date: 9/29/66
Guests: Duke Ellington, Andrews Sisters, Tim Conway, Frank Gorshin, Lainie Kazan
4) Original Air Date: 2/11/71
Guests: Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde, Marty Feldman, Pat Cooper
BONUS FEATURE INTERVIEWS ON DISC 3: Florence Henderson, Lainie Kazan, and Gail Martin Downey
DVD 4 (available solely as part of the 6-vol. set)
1) Original Air Date: 9/14/72
Guests: Gene Kelly, Dom DeLuise, Rodney Dangerfield, Kay Medford
2) Original Air Date: 1/18/68
Guests: Florence Henderson, George Burns, Eddie Albert
3) Original Air Date: 9/25/69
Guests: Elke Sommer, David Janssen, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ralph Edwards
BONUS FEATURE INTERVIEWS ON DISC 4: Carol Lawrence, Angie Dickinson, and Lee Hale
DVD 5 (available solely as part of the 6-vol. set)
1) Original Air Date: 11/10/66
Guests: Phyllis Diller, Sid Caesar
2) Original Air Date: 2/15/68
Guests: Ethel Merman, Lainie Kazan, Roger Miller
3) Original Air Date: 4/4/68
Guests: George Gobel, Robert Mitchum, Jimmy Stewart, Shecky Greene
BONUS FEATURE INTERVIEWS ON DISC 5: Phyllis Diller, Lainie Kazan, and Susie Ewing (née Susie Lund of The Golddiggers)
DVD 6 (available solely as part of the 6-vol. set)
1) Original Air Date: 11/23/67
Guests: Woody Allen, Kate Smith
2) Original Air Date: 10/5/67
Guests: Phil Silvers, Eddie Arnold, Janet Leigh, Mills Brothers
3) Original Air Date: 9/19/68
Guests: Lena Horne, Zero Mostel, Shecky Greene, Buddy Ebsen
BONUS FEATURE INTERVIEWS ON DISC 6: Norm Crosby, Carol Lawrence, and Susie Ewing (née Susie Lund of The Golddiggers)
We’ve been told to anticipate the arrival of screeners and/or liner notes within the next two weeks or so, and as soon as we have them at our disposal and had a chance to review them, we will post not only complete, verified content listings for all 6 DVDs, but also, the same type of comparative analyses for all of the discs that we applied above to the first two.
Even as Time-Life readies this new collection of material from The Dean Martin Show produced in conjunction with NBC Universal, the 29 volumes of Guthy-Renker’s own The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show remain on the market. And sources close to the Time-Life venture have confirmed to us that neither Guthy-Renker nor Greg Garrison Productions have any involvement with the new Time-Life sets.
It was The Golddiggers Super Site that was the first to report back in 2007 on the filing of a lawsuit brought by NBCU against Guthy-Renker, Greg Garrison Productions and several other defendants over home video rights to The Dean Martin Show. We also broke the news in 2008 that an out-of-court settlement had been reached by the parties in the case; and while terms of that settlement were never publicly disclosed, and the major litigants have declined to comment on them, it would seem within reason to infer that the current availability of Dean Martin Show product from two different companies may be a direct upshot of the settlement, with Guthy-Renker and Garrison Productions apparently being allowed to continue selling via mail order the 29 volumes that they already have in the can, while NBCU was evidently granted the right to create new Dean Martin Show DVDs targeted to the retail market.
Indeed, what both Time-Life and NBC spokespersons have been able to confirm to us is that they have the right to produce future installments of The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show. So with a number of rare, previously-unreleased segments promised in the upcoming set, and the potential for more down the road in future sets (should this new one be well-received), we think it’s important that Dinophiles lend their support to this latest release…and we’ll furnish even more reasons for doing so in our next report.
For ongoing alerts, announcements and developments relating to the new Dean Martin Show DVDs, as well as all aspects of Dean, The Golddiggers, and The Dingaling Sisters, we invite you to visit our sister site — Dean, Golds and Dings — and its Facebook page, where clicking the Like button at the top of the page will automatically deliver important updates to your Facebook news feed: