For The Good Times: The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show

An In-Depth Analysis and Review of the new Dean Martin Show DVDs from Time-Life, by way of NBC

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IN THE COOL, COOL, COOL OF THE EVENING: From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, The Dean Martin Show held sway as the toniest spot on the television dial. In the final hour of prime-time each and every Thursday, the party was getting a glow on, and singing filled the air. In the shank of the night, they were doing it right, and much of America was there.
But the second major attempt to recapture the magic of this hippest-of-hip series and bottle it for home video has drawn lukewarm reviews at best and ignited a firestorm of fury among fans. In the piece that follows, we cover the heat, but also endeavor to shed additional light, on the subject at hand.

“Wonderful, Wonderful Television.”

It’s the title lyric of one of those catchy jingles that served to introduce an assortment of regular segments that appeared on The Dean Martin Show during the course of its 9-year run from 1965-74 — indeed, the refrain pops up several times on the new 6-DVD Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show: Collector’s Edition recently released by Time-Life — and it’s a phrase that aptly sums up the high levels of both esteem and affection with which Dean’s original landmark series is regarded by its millions of fans throughout the world.

But with a substantial portion of the sweet sounds that once emanated from this finely-tuned instrument muted in the new Time-Life treasury drawn from the vaults of the network that first brought us the series, NBC, many are left to wonder what happened to so much of what made the show so great in the first place — the musical content.

Now that Deana Martin, one of Dean’s daughters and a popular entertainer in her own right, has told columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith that a second installment of material from her father’s series is already in the planning stages (a fact that we have independently confirmed with officials at both Time-Life and NBCUniversal), we thought that this would be the ideal time to take a comprehensive look at the first collection that went on sale a few weeks ago, examining what’s good about it, what’s not, and how any possible future editions could be improved.

Then, in a Super Site exclusive, we provide a guide to how the musical selections found in Time-Life’s bundle of episodes stack up against both the musical components of those same episodes when they originally aired on NBC and what’s available in the earlier 29-volume Dean Martin Show anthology from Guthy-Renker.

For Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The play’s the thing.” When it comes to The Dean Martin Show, for us — and judging from comments left on our website and others, for most fans of Dean’s series — the music’s the thing; and so, that is the aspect of the new DVD set on which we’ve herein trained our attention.

A Blue, Blue Day

In our detailed preview posted here on the Super Site at the beginning of April, we reported that the framework of Time-Life’s new 6-DVD set would be formed around freestanding episodes from The Dean Martin Show’s original NBC broadcasts. But based on information that we received from sources connected with the project, we also conveyed the news that each of the episodes included would, in fact, run only 30 to 45 minutes in length. Inasmuch as those same episodes, when first broadcast on NBC, had running times of approximately 52 minutes, we predicted — all too accurately, as it turned out — that for DVD, the parts relegated to the chopping block would be musical in nature, due to the exorbitant cost of licensing DVD rights from composers and publishers.

In actuality, after screening all of the DVDs, we can attest to the fact that at least one episode clocks in at less than 20 minutes, with most averaging in the neighborhood of 25 to 35 minutes. What’s more, while we anticipated that many of the songs would face the executioner’s axe, we never imagined that such a huge proportion of them would be ones performed by the star of the show himself.


I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN: Despite our cautionary note last Spring that Time-Life’s new Dean Martin Show collection would be released minus a good deal of each featured episode’s original musical performances, even many of those who read our preview of the set were caught off-guard by the extent of the cuts — not unlike Dean’s surprise at seeing Ralph Edwards emerge from his closet in the scene above, from Disc 4 of the T-L compendium (though probably no one would be too taken aback if “This Is Your Life, Dean Martin” brought forth a parade of “friends” such as those pictured here).

You’re Breaking My Heart

Of the 20 episodes in the T-L package, only 5 retain Dean Martin‘s opening number, and not a single one of the ballads that he would perform in a relaxed mode, midway through the show — the segments that have been dubbed the “couch songs” — made their way onto this collection. Also absent are most of the song parodies that Dean would warble whilst sitting atop Ken Lane‘s piano. The banter from those segments remains — it’s simply the music that’s been extracted — as if no one familiar with the show’s format would notice.


LOOK WHAT THEY’VE DONE TO MY SONG, MA: Fans have been disheartened to see most of Dean’s opening numbers, as well as all of his couch songs, removed from episodes contained in the new T-L set.

I Can’t Help Remembering You

By contrast, even though the earlier Guthy-Renker compilation of Dean Martin Show highlights consisted of excerpts from different episodes and different seasons of the series’ run all mixed together, Greg Garrison, the Producer/Director of the program who oversaw assemblage of the G-R set, made sure that virtually all of its 29 volumes included one of Dean’s opening numbers near the beginning of the disc and one of his couch songs around the midway point — in keeping with the natural sequence and rhythm of the DM shows as they were originally telecast.

Almost all of the G-R volumes also included one of the Dean and Kenny piano vignettes, and every single one of those was left untouched, with the song parodies intact.

The employment of self-contained episodes in the new Time-Life collection was supposed to address one of the foremost complaints about the Guthy-Renker volumes — namely, that they took a scattershot approach to arranging footage from the series’ near-decade-long tenure. Ironically, with so many obvious gaps, choppy edits and abrupt transitions marring this newer outing, the end result seems like a pale, eviscerated abridgment of the original. Patchwork though they may have been, the G-R volumes at least sought to replicate the structure, if not the identical lineup, of the original series, and each one thus comes closer to succeeding as a more faithful facsimile of a whole Dean Martin Show episode than those found in the new T-L set.


THAT OLD TIME FEELIN’: Greg Garrison (above) and Lee Hale seemed to capture it on the Guthy-Renker volumes in a way that the new Time-Life set doesn’t.

All Or Nothing At All

In his running commentary on the Guthy-Renker discs, Greg Garrison notes that up until the time that he assumed the reins as Producer of Dean’s series a few weeks into its first season (after the first occupant of that job was fired by NBC because of the program’s initially low ratings), Dean’s role on the show was largely confined to that of being “a pointer”, à la Ed Sullivan — meaning, basically, an emcee who would introduce other acts.

Once fully in charge, Greg changed that situation by involving Dean to a much greater degree in the show’s comedy sketches and in song pairings with his guests. Lee Hale, The Dean Martin Show’s revered Music Director, avers this recollection of events in his own remarks on the new Time-Life set. And yet, by virtue of so many of Dean’s solos being excised from the latter collection, the role of “pointer” is precisely the status to which he frequently winds up being reduced on these new DVDs.

All Of Me, Why Not Take All Of Me?

However, it’s not just a lot of the host’s numbers that have gone missing in action on this front; many of his guest stars’ showpiece turns have suffered the same fate (while others not only survived, but sparkle; more on that below). Compounding the frustration of those who’ve purchased this set is the fact that the opening and closing credits of each episode have been left unexpurgated, teasing viewers with tantalizing glimpses of personalities and scenes from the original telecasts that they never have a chance to see on the edited DVDs.

Among those who work in the entertainment industry, there’s a common saying about how to save a production that’s gone awry during shooting, whether it be a feature film or a TV show: “We’ll fix it in post” (in other words, salvage it in post-production, or editing). In the case of The Dean Martin Show, though, it’s the other way around: The original footage is just fine — it’s “in post” that so much of the heart and soul of the program has been lost beyond repair.



IS THAT ALL THERE IS?:
With so many of Dean’s solo numbers cut from the T-L DVDs, those viewing them who are too young to remember the original telecasts (a demographic that the promoters of this fare seem eager to court) are liable to wonder what all the fuss is about. Meanwhile, those of ALL ages familiar with the series can be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu if they recognize, from not that long ago, segments such as Dean crooning with The Mills Brothers (above) and crooning and spooning with Lainie Kazan (below) — performances which, terrific as they are, were already part of the previously-distributed Guthy-Renker collection.
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On The Sunny Side Of The Street

Flaws aside (and we’ll try to pinpoint their root causes later in this piece), there are, to be sure, plenty of examples of “Wonderful, Wonderful Television” in the new 6-disc Time-Life collection that make it worthwhile to own — it’s just a shame that few of them appearing for the first time on DVD (that is, not already seen on the Guthy-Renker volumes) feature Dean.

Of those that do, we’re delighted to see the inclusion of:

• A cozy rendition of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Dean, Peggy Lee, and Jack Jones from the first year of the series; as well as a more modern variation on the same tune seven years later by Dean and The Dingaling Sisters.



LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING:
Especially when a standard like “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” is served up not just once, but twice in the new T-L set — first in 1965 (above), as sung by Dean, Peggy Lee and Jack Jones; and again (below) in a 1973 show opener by Dean and The Dingaling Sisters (l. to r.: Helen Funai, Michelle DellaFave, Jayne Kennedy, Lindsay Bloom).
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• A finale to the 9/29/66 episode that ended with Dean, The Andrews Sisters, Lainie Kazan, Tim Conway and Frank Gorshin, gathered ’round a piano — played by no less than Duke Ellington — to sing “Swingin‘ Down The Lane”.


• Dean opening the 2/11/71 show with a rousing “Somebody Stole My Gal”.


• Dean and Gene Kelly cheerfully harmonizing on a medley of “When You’re Smiling” and “I Want To Be Happy”.


• Dean wrapping up the last show of the series’ third season with a contemplative ”Look For The Silver Lining”, followed by his annual, complete “Everybody Loves Somebody” closer.


• Dean dueting with Kate Smith on “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”.


• Dean and Janet Leigh getting intimate with a short, but cute “Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey”.

In truth, much to the chagrin of Dean’s fan base, who bought this package hoping and expecting to see more of him, the real showstoppers in this compendium turn out to be the liberal helpings of solo performances by some of the guest stars on the show. Among the standouts in this category making their DVD debut are numbers by Joel Grey (as we had hoped), Peggy Lee, Jack Jones, Michael Landon, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, The Andrews Sisters, Debbie Reynolds, Florence Henderson, Ethel Merman, Roger Miller, Kate Smith, Janet Leigh, and Eddy Arnold (for a complete rundown of their song selections, see the chart at the end of this article).

C’EST MAGNIFIQUE: Even with much of the original series’ musical edifice torn away, among what’s left standing in the T-L collection are some real humdingers, including glittering production numbers by (above, from top) Joel Grey, Debbie Reynolds, Kate Smith, and Janet Leigh; as well as heartfelt vocal renderings by Roger Miller and Eddy Arnold (respectively, below).
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Have A Little Sympathy

Even among the non-musical portions of the shows are a few intriguing tidbits here and there — none more fascinating than a surprise moment at the close of the premiere episode of the series’ third season, when, before saying goodnight, Dean advises his audience to “Do Yourself a favor. Tune in to Jerry Lewis‘ new show Tuesday night…because I’m going to.”

Now, consider the circumstances: Dean had long since silenced the skeptics who believed after his break-up with Jerry that his career would sputter, while Jerry’s would thrive. Of course, just the opposite came true: By 1967, Dean was an international movie star, a hit recording artist, a leading draw in Las Vegas, and the highest-paid performer on television; and in its third season, his series would finish for the first time in the top ten. Although some of Jerry’s films made out well at the box office, his celebrity had undeniably faded from what it had been during the glory days of Martin and Lewis, as well as the heights that some had thought it might one day reach.

The team’s breakup had been marked by rancor, and the two hadn’t been on speaking terms for years. Yet here was Dean, taking the time on his own highly-successful show to give a gracious and generous plug to his erstwhile professional partner’s fledgling series. That effort by Jerry would struggle in the ratings and be off the air by the end of its second season (another regular series attempt by Jerry in 1963 lasted only 13 weeks), while Dean’s skein would continue for another 7 years. But to watch the magnanimous nod that Dean gave to his old colleague on that Thursday night in September 1967 affords some rare insight into the man’s character. It was pure Dean — that is to say, pure class.

 
(EX-) PARDNERS: Dean gave Jerry Lewis’ nascent Tuesday night series a sincere promotional push on his own popular show.

There Is Nothing Like A Dame

“Hey, where are the girls, pal?”

According to Greg Garrison, that’s what Dean told him the guys back in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio (and by extension, presumably all over the country) were wondering when they watched The Dean Martin Show. And, as Greg affirmed in his commentary on the Guthy-Renker reels, it was that thinking, along with Dean’s encouragement, that prompted him to keep the series’s regular cast well-stocked with a steady contingent of attractive female singers and dancers.

But the question of “Where are the girls, pal?” is also one that a lot of those (not only men, but women, too) who fondly recalled the programs’ sizable distaff presence found themselves asking when viewing the 29 volumes of the G-R collection. While various members of The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters, and their predecessors (usually referred to as “Dean’s Girls”) can be seen from time to time on those discs, in production numbers and comedy sketches, they generally appear in the background.

The new Time-Life set isn’t much better on this score, but does take a few steps in the right direction. Although, regrettably, there are no fresh restorations of those prized medleys in which Dean and his resident gals make beautiful music together, and no numbers at all featuring The Golddiggers, there are several first-time-on-DVD breakthroughs: 1) The first opening song performed not just by Dean alone, but accompanied by The Dingaling Sisters; 2) the first “Club Dingaling” intro by The Dings to Rodney Dangerfield‘s stand-up comedy segment during the 8th season; and 3) the first full-length solo spots by any of Dean’s female troupes, with one song by The Dingalings, and another by the original trio christened “Dean’s Girls”, that’s followed by Dean chatting with the ladies and giving each one a chance to tell a little bit about herself.

It’s likely not enough to sate the gang in Steubenville (or anywhere else, for that matter) — but it’s a start.


I’M LOOKING OVER A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER (THAT I OVERLOOKED BEFORE): The first set of Dingaling Sisters from the 1972-73 season of Dean’s series distinguish themselves both individually and as a quartet with their performance of “Four Of A Kind” (above, l. to r.: Helen Funai, Lynne Latham, Jayne Kennedy, Tara Leigh).
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LOVE FOR SALE: As Lee Hale recounts in his book Backstage At The Dean Martin Show, when the decision was made to let three of the gals in the chorus step into the spotlight with their own number, an impish Greg Garrison, who loved to push the envelope, dreamed up a name for the new trio that he knew would give NBC’s censors fits: The Hooker Sisters! Eventually, a tamer monicker was chosen — Dean’s Girls, comprising (above, l. to r.): Melissa Stafford, Julie Rinker, Diana Lee — and the group’s maiden performance, on the Nov. 23, 1967 episode, can be seen on Disc 6 of the Time-Life collection.

I Don’t Know Why

As disappointing as some of the Time-Life collection’s edits and omissions may be, the handling of the set’s “bonus features” is exponentially — and inexplicably — worse.

Constituting the extras are comments and reflections from a cadre of those who worked on Dean’s series, either regularly or as guest stars. In sections set apart from the original episodes, each of the notables invited to speak holds forth in individual turns that last anywhere from 9 to 18 minutes at a sitting, with three to four such extended soliloquies appended, back to back, to each of the six DVDs in the package. No interviewer is seen or heard on-screen during these segments; instead, the clunky and tedious device of title cards is used to pose questions, with long-winded answers then following.

A few of the interviewees supply some pointed observations and compelling tales, but one is hard-pressed to glean much that’s meaningful amid a mountain of folderol resulting from a lack of editorial judgment that allows these personalities to ramble on at length. At times, it begins to resemble an exercise in free association, with the participants going off on maundering, often incomprehensible tangents about whatever comes to mind. It could be Phyllis Diller talking about Fang (the fictitious husband she invented for her comedy routines)…Florence Henderson venting about Kate Smith…or Norm Crosby opining about the tendency of some contemporary comics to use profanity in their acts…among other excursions into off-topic arcana.

Say It Isn’t So

What’s worse is that we’re once again taunted by the specter of musical sequences that never materialize. In this case, the lure stems from several of the subjects relating stories about scenes in which they appeared on Dean’s show, but which aren’t part of this collection.

Hence, we hear Angie Dickinson going into elaborate detail about a production number that she did on the show revolving around then-husband Burt Bacharach‘s hit tune, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”  — but we’re never given the opportunity to see it. Dean’s daughter, Gail Martin, talks about being on the program on several occasions — yet not one of her performances is shown. In fact, neither Angie nor Gail is featured in ANY of the episodes in the Time-Life release.

Florence Henderson references a medley that she did with Dean in which the two of them took a pratfall, and while one of her solos from a different episode is included in this compilation, that duet with Dean that she mentioned is not (for the record, it does appear on Volume 2 of the Guthy-Renker set).

And so these talking head sessions unfold, one after another, with nary a video clip or even a still photo woven in to illustrate any of the points being made.


(HOW LITTLE IT MATTERS) HOW LITTLE WE KNOW: Some of the celebs taking part in the T-L set’s Bonus Interviews have some interesting things to say, but they’re ill-served by a static format and irrelevant queries, like the one above asked of Carol Lawrence, that prompt guests to dwell on non-germane topics.

My Favorite Things

Even with those shortcomings, however, some of these witnesses to history come off better than others. Lainie Kazan is animated and concentrates her remarks on her experiences with Dean and working on his show. At least Jonathan Winters injects a little levity to break up the monotony. And Susan Lund (now Susie Ewing) adds some entertaining anecdotes about Dean’s series and her group, The Golddiggers (despite the fact that, as previously noted, The Golddiggers are all but invisible on the original episodes in the T-L set).

The one genuinely invaluable contribution comes from the lone interviewee whose domain was behind the cameras rather than in front of them — The Dean Martin Show’s Music Director and all-around go-to guy, Lee Hale. The elder statesman of the collective providing commentary on these DVDs, he’s also far and away the sharpest, most focused, most articulate, and most interesting. It’s just a pity that his remarks (as well as those of some of the others) weren’t more skillfully massaged into the proceedings, as was done with Greg Garrison’s input on the Guthy-Renker volumes.

  SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY: Lainie Kazan and Lee Hale are among those who wax eloquent and nostalgic about Dean and his series.

As Time Goes By

Now, it may well be that those who assembled the Time-Life collection didn’t want to interrupt the continuity of the original episodes with commentary. Nonetheless, there are other, vastly more adroit and effective means by which these interviews could have been sewn into the fabric of the presentation. For instance, as is so often done with the DVD format, a separate audio track for commentary could have been included. Or if on-camera appearances, segregated from the original episodes, were desired, they could have at least been spliced together to achieve a brisker, livelier pace, and then interspersed with clips — or if that posed licensing (read: financial) difficulties, then, at a minimum, stills — to provide some stimulating visual accompaniment.

But let’s face it: The real purpose of these bonus interviews was padding — to fill in the gaping holes left by the chunks of original program footage that were discarded on the cutting room floor. Still and all, a more imaginative approach could have yielded much more satisfying results. As it is, the lazy, banal manner in which these commentaries were cobbled together gives new meaning to the old cliché “talk is cheap.”

The same cleaver that hacked away so much of the main attraction should have been wielded in equal measure on the extras. Indeed, it’s hard to envisage all but the most diehard Dean Martin fans having the patience to wade through the bulk of these ineptly-presented bonus segments. The show business pros who took part in these sessions deserve much better — and so does the audience.


LET’S PUT OUT THE LIGHTS (AND GO TO SLEEP): Watching some of these bonus interviews, you may doze off before you can hit the switch.

It’s The Talk Of The Town

As those hungry for the first new Dean Martin Show offerings in eight years have had a chance to digest T-L/NBC’s freshly-prepared bill of fare, many have turned dyspeptic over the meager servings of solo numbers by Dean. Indeed, the preponderance of reaction on websites such as Amazon has been scathing, with some of the headlines of reviews by purchasers exclaiming: “Where Is Dean?”…“Really Sad”…“Very Disappointing”…“Sliced ’N Diced”…“Death By A Thousand Cuts”…“Dino Disaster!” As if that weren’t enough, in many cases, the reviews themselves have been even more caustic.

People have described these shows as having been butchered — and they’re right in the sense that a lot of the programs’ musical meat has been stripped from the bone. Fans starving years for a feast and expecting fillet mignon have instead been served up a far more plebeian cut: chopped chuck (or ground round — take your pick).

We hope that the powers that be at Time-Life, NBC, and the Dean Martin Family Trust (whose imprimatur is also on these new releases) will heed these criticisms, as they are an important starting point for devising a better solution to the problem of satisfying consumer sentiment for the inclusion of more musical content.

At the same time, we recognize that this is a complex and thorny issue, and believe that the purveyors of this product need to do a better job of communicating that fact to the fans. In the current absence of such explanations, we’ll give it a shot here…

Let’s Face The Music And Dance

Time-Life’s liner notes — which commendably provide informative background on, and synopses of, each episode in the set — list Lee Hale, as “Chief Creative Consultant”. But while he doubtless was involved in making the determination about which episodes would be included in the new collection (he also culled all of the clips for the Guthy-Renker volumes), the ultimate decisions about what musical numbers would make the final cut and which had to be set aside were very likely the results of agreements negotiated by clearance specialists, attorneys, and executives with Time-Life on one side, and administrators of publishing companies and composers (or their estates) on the other.

And therein lies the crux of the problem with not just The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show, but indeed, ALL DVD reissues of vintage television programs that utilized a significant amount of copyrighted popular music as an integral part of their productions.

These Foolish Things

The real culprit here is the fact that unlike a CD release — for which the rights to record a particular musical composition can be obtained automatically, in one simple step, by paying a pre-set fee known as a “mechanical license” — the makers of a video production (or film) that incorporates a copyrighted musical work are not only required to secure what’s called a “synchronization license” from the work’s publisher, but before that can even happen, they must first receive permission to use the piece from its composer(s) or representative(s) of the composer(s).

Because this authorization may or may not be granted, and because there are no established rates for the inclusion of copyrighted music when it’s paired with a visual presentation, suppliers of video and film projects that want to employ copyrighted music are at the mercy of the copyright holder of each individual work, as to whether the work can be used at all, and if it can, how much it will cost to use it.

Moreover, each time that a film or TV show is given fresh exposure on a new medium (e.g., DVD), a new array of clearances must be procured and a new round of fees paid.


YOU BROUGHT A NEW KIND OF LOVE TO ME: DVDs have given a new lease on life to vintage television programs that fall outside the age range coveted by advertisers, but in the case of variety shows like Dean’s, music clearances have posed a stumbling block to their re-release. (above: The first group of 1972-73 Dingaling Sisters hang with Dean — or at least, hang onto his namesake — at the start of the 11/23/72 episode seen on Disc 2 of the T-L set)

Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

A formidable wall of secrecy shrouds the whole subject of how much publishers typically demand for the use of copyrighted musical compositions used on TV programs seeking new life on DVD; but some eye-opening revelations about the matter were provided a few years ago by one star so outraged by the prevailing system that she decided to go public regarding the kind of stratospheric — indeed, almost insane — costs that can be entailed in trying to clear the music for the DVD release of a vintage television series.

In 2008, actress Cybill Shepherd elected to take an active role in choosing episodes from her eponymous 1995-98 CBS sitcom for a “Best Of” reissue on DVD, and discovered to her amazement — and ours — just how high the license fee can run for the use of only one single song.

“Well, we couldn’t have any (episode) that I sing in,” Cybill told trade periodical Home Media Magazine. “One of my favorite episodes is when I sing ‘That’s Life’ on top of the sushi bar, but it would have cost $65,000. I thought about paying for it myself.”

In the end, she didn’t, and the number was deleted from the final package.


WITHOUT A SONG: Cybill Shepherd chose to forgo using her rendition of “That’s Life” in a DVD reissue of her TV series, after laying bare just how expensive music rights can be.

Crying Time

Now, couple that little tale with the fact that no television variety show ever used more copyrighted music than Dean’s, then multiply the figure that Ms. Shepherd quoted by the number of musical copyrights that, on average, each original episode of Dean’s series contained, and you can begin to see how costly a proposition it would be to clear ALL of the music on every Dean Martin Show.

That’s not to excuse some of the decisions that were made about what musical selections to cut from this first Time-Life release of DMS episodes. And even taking into account the cost factors cited, there is a certain unshakable aura of parsimony that hovers over the musical choices in the T-L collection — a cutting of corners when it comes to the trimming of medleys, a distinct chintziness in recurrently favoring the inclusion of public domain songs while eschewing copyrighted works for which fees would have to be paid — especially in contrast with the less frugal, more musically felicitous picks made by Greg Garrison and Lee Hale for the Guthy-Renker volumes.

LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU: Cost factors are, of course, the reason that skits, monologues, and the like remain largely untouched on the Dean Martin Show DVDs, even as so much of the music has been purged — and that situation has impacted not only songs by Dean and his guests, but also those by series regulars like The Golddiggers, whose appearances on the Time-Life discs are limited to the non-musical portions of the show. Thus, 1972-73 Golddigger Karen Cavenaugh’s few minutes on-screen come in a comedy sketch (above, with guest star Gene Kelly)…
…while not one, but two incarnations of Kitty, The Tiger Girl briefly scamper into view — the first played by 1969 Golddigger Joy Hawkins (below), and the second (further down) by Michelle DellaFave, a triple threat DMS regular who’s enjoyed stints with The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters and The Soul Sisters (in the latter instance, as part of the cast of Greg Garrison’s The Wacky World Of Jonathan Winters).
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They Can’t Take That Away From Me

So what would it take to bring The Dean Martin Show to DVD with more, most, or — dare we even say it — ALL of its original music intact? Indeed, is that even a possibility?

Well, as a practical matter, there were certain musical works used on the show at the time of the original telecasts which may now be off limits, either because the composers (or their estates) refuse to give consent for the music’s re-use or because the rights to a particular work are tied up in one or more legal disputes. Retention of those numbers, tragically, may well be a lost cause.

Money Makes The World Go Round

On the other hand, the goal of preserving the rest of the series’ repertoire may simply boil down to an issue of dollars and cents. Underscoring that point is a conversation that we had several months ago with sources involved in putting together this first Dean Martin Show collection for Time-Life. Upon learning that the sets would be organized by original episodes, we asked if that meant that all of the songs from those programs would be left as is.

“Unfortunately, no,” came the honest reply. “If we kept all of the music, we couldn’t charge only $59.95 for the whole thing (20 episodes)…It would have to be more like $59.95 PER episode.”

While that amount may be a bit of an exaggeration, it brings into sharp relief what may very well have been the biggest miscalculation of this whole enterprise — trying to squeeze in too many episodes at too low a price.

That figure of $59.95 is, of course, the suggested retail price for the 6-DVD DMS Collector’s Edition; in reality, most vendors are selling it for much less. But even the high-end price tag of just under $60 couldn’t possibly cover the rights fees for all of the music in 20 episodes of The Dean Martin Show. As a result, in making the decision to lowball the price, the producers of this venture underestimated not only the commercial appeal of their product but also the value that their customers place on the unadulterated integrity of that product.

Something’s Gotta Give

The other side of this coin is that consumers have to come to grips with what the manufacturer of this merchandise already knows — namely, the hard truth that if we Dean Martin fans want DVDs of his shows with more music, we’re going to have to shell out the big bucks to pay for them. It’s no accident that the Guthy-Renker volumes, which, by all accounts, offered more uncut musical segments than the T-L DVDs, and certainly more solo numbers by Dean, also cost more — to wit, $19.95 per disc (plus shipping and handling) for generally about one hour’s worth of material.

It’s quite conceivable that there’s a market — perhaps even a robust one — for those who mainly enjoy The Dean Martin Show’s comedy skits and/or those who aren’t that bothered by the exclusion of some musical numbers, as long as what’s left is available at a very affordable cost. But for others who are willing to pony up higher prices for more musical content, having that kind of of option has the potential to pry open the gates to their field of Dino dreams. And rest assured, Time-Life and NBC: if you build it, they will come.


I FOUND A MILLION DOLLAR BABY IN A FIVE AND TEN CENT STORE: But unlike the lucky fella who nabbed himself a sweet little bargain in that old Tin Pan Alley ditty, if you want more music flowing from your Dean Martin Show DVDs, you’re very likely going to have to part with more greenbacks to make it happen. (above: Dean discovers his own priceless babe in Juliet Prowse on Disc 1 of the T-L set)

S’posin’

In light of the news that plans are already under way for a second edition of The Best Of The Dean Martin Variety Show (with a release date aimed at perhaps as early as this fall, per Deana Martin), we thought that this might be an especially opportune juncture to take stock of some of the lessons to be learned from Time-Life’s inaugural batch of DMS DVDs. With that in mind, and in the spirit of constructive engagement, we humbly offer the following unsolicited, but well-meaning, pragmatic advice on ways that the next set of Dean Martin Show DVDs could be made better than those that have come before it:

1) Don’t Fence Me In: Abandon the idea of arranging the content of reissues by original episode air dates. Grouping the material in this fashion suggests to buyers of the DVDs that they’re acquiring whole, uncut shows; and since music licensing restrictions will almost always, to one degree or another, prevent that from happening, the practice of organizing a compilation around original episodes that have been conspicuously edited only serves to leave many of Dean’s most dedicated fans feeling angry, frustrated, deceived and cheated.

It’s also a formula that imposes an artificial limitation on the range of program riches that can be utilized, by straightjacketing the ability to cherry-pick what are truly the best selections from the series.

A return to showcasing a blend of highlights from various episodes, along the lines of the approach employed for the G-R volumes, would free up the process of choosing material, and at the same time, provide for smoother integration of interstitial elements, such as commentary. As an enhancement that would lend historical context, a caption could appear on the lower-third of the screen at the beginning of each segment to indicate the original air date of the episode from which the segment is taken.

An exception to all of the above could, and should, be made for certain outstanding episodes — such as the 1967 holiday treat commonly known as Christmas with The Martins and The Sinatras — which, if most or all of the accompanying music could be cleared, could be sold as single, standalone items and carry a premium price.

But for everything else, it’s doubtless best to follow that old rule of thumb: Don’t promise — or raise expectations about — what you can’t deliver.

2) (It Seems To Me) I’ve Heard That Song Before: Don’t recyle any more of the segments that have already been included in the Guthy-Renker volumes. Most of those who will purchase future Dean Martin Show DVDs either own the G-R discs or have seen much of what’s on them repeated ad infinitum in informercials and on clips uploaded to YouTube.

In point of fact, for those who don’t want to subscribe to the entire G-R series, individual volumes can generally be obtained through sites such as ebay and Amazon, so further duplication of Guthy-Renker content on future T-L releases would only be redundant.

3) Money Burns A Hole In My Pocket: As advocated above, in acknowledgment of the budgetary burdens of music licensing, give the legion of devoted Dino enthusiasts out there the chance to buy higher-priced collections consisting of fewer episodes, but more music.

4) The Second Time Around: Construct a subtler and more polished platform for Bonus Features. And if, during the course of these extras, a reference is made to a specific scene, then at least dissolve to a still image of it, if not a clip.

Deana Martin has told columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith that she is among those slated to take part in providing commentary on the next installment of Dean Martin Show DVDs, and we applaud her participation. She’s someone with the background, knowledge and verbal fluency to illuminate the subject at hand in a substantive and rewarding way that few others can match. We can only hope that this next time around, the presentation of the bonus features lives up to the worthiness of what she — and anyone else who might be called upon — has to say.


DOIN’ WHAT COMES NATUR’LLY: With not only hit records, sold-out concert engagements and a bestselling book to her credit, but also, as a compelling personality who’s done more than anyone else to keep Dean’s image fresh in the public mind, Dean’s daughter, Deana Martin, is a natural to talk about her father and his series on the next set of T-L DVDs (as she thankfully will).

5) (Remember Me) I’m The One Who Loves You: Put an ear to the ground and listen to the types of segments that rank-and-file fans have been pining for — quite vociferously, in fact — for years now: More medleys, and specifically, more spots with Dean and The Golddiggers, The Dingaling Sisters and Dean’s Girls. The songs incorporated into these medleys, and in vignettes like Musical Questions, might be costly to clear, but the on-screen results are endlessly charming and audiences love to watch them — meaning that they’ll be willing to fork over extra dough to see them.

By the way, we’re not touting this notion just because we’re The Golddiggers Super Site. Look at comments not only on this site, but on our sister site, Dean, Golds and Dings, as well as on Amazon, Facebook, and yes, even YouTube. Dean had a special rapport with the female singer-dancers on his show, and coupled with the melodious arrangements that Lee Hale penned for them, their collaborations were a joy for viewers to behold.

6) It’s Been A Long, Long Time: Speaking of those exquisite medleys, for goodness’ sake, how about finally giving us AT LEAST ONE of the “Welcome To My World” medleys from the 1970-71 season of the show! Fans have been clamoring for this since the early days of the Guthy-Renker releases, and here we are, 40 years after the last prime-time network broadcast of these coveted gems — and we’re STILL waiting. To the powers that be who may be reading this: Welcome to our woe.


MIRACLES, I GUESS, STILL HAPPEN NOW AND THEN: If a still frame from one of the Welcome To My World medleys symbolizes progress (it appears on the closing credits of one of the T-L episodes), then perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be given the chance to see an actual whole segment of this acclaimed regular feature of the 1970-71 season.

A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening

So, is this first 6-disc Collector’s Edition of Time-Life’s Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show worth buying? For hardcore Dinophiles, the answer is, of course, a resounding YES. As we’ve stated in the past, we true believers will gobble up whatever morsels of Dean’s series are doled out to us.

For those with a more casual interest in the star, the guests, and the music, it might be a somewhat more difficult call. But in the end, we feel that for admirers of this genre of entertainment, there is a sufficiently high quantity of crowd-pleasing production numbers, and enough differentiation in content from the earlier Guthy-Renker volumes, to warrant a purchase, especially given the reasonably low price (heavily discounted by online merchants like Amazon and Time-Life’s own website).

You Always Hurt The One You Love

While sales of these initial releases have thus far reportedly been strong, that’s no doubt due in large part to the years of built-up yearning for more material from the series. Whether unfavorable word-of-mouth will, over time, dampen demand is uncertain, but there is no disguising the widespread public disenchantment with the outcome of this maiden effort, born of dissatisfaction with the deletion of so many songs.

We realize — and hope that the buying public does, as well — that the good folks who molded the musical make-up of the Time-Life releases were not intentionally or willfully withholding segments from us. We understand that this is business, not a charity, and that to continue, this franchise needs to be able to turn a profit.

Marketing higher-priced packages for those willing to foot the additional expense in exchange for more musical content stands as one potentially viable compromise in this microcosm of the age-old struggle between art and commerce.

Try A Little Tenderness

But by the same token, as is almost always the case in any situation, money alone will not solve all of the problems involved. As proof, one need look no further than at some of the injudicious choices made with the already-considerable funds that must have been allocated for this first release — in terms of such matters as which musical numbers were deemed worth paying for and which weren’t, and how the bonus interviews were presented.

It’s almost as if the entities that have responsibility for this exemplar of “Wonderful, Wonderful Television” — Time-Life, NBCU and the Dean Martin Family Trust — are sitting on what they instinctively know is an incredibly valuable property, yet they can’t quite figure out how to give it its proper due in re-release.

To address that situation, we feel strongly that beyond just offering higher-priced DVDs with more music, the bottom-line mentality of the corporate bean counters must be better balanced with the intrinsic artistic assets of this one-of-a-kind creation— and to accomplish that objective, either more of those who have an innate feel, appreciation and respect for the material need to be engaged in planning these re-releases, or else, those currently working on the DVDs need to listen more closely to what the grassroots fans are saying. Otherwise, if future output of this series simply mimics the same blueprint used for this first effort, there’s a danger that this most passionate of fan bases could become permanently alienated, posing a risk of subsequent reissues playing to ever-diminishing returns.


YOU’VE EITHER GOT OR YOU HAVEN’T GOT ‘STYLE’: Dean had it…and so did his show…Shouldn’t its presentation on home video have it, as well? (above: Dean and Ken Lane, from Disc 6 of the T-L set)

High Hopes

With a second iteration of Dean Martin Show DVDs in the works comes an opportunity to fix what’s broken, as well as renewed hope that a better day for fans of the man and his music might be in the offing. Should all of that come to pass, then perhaps, in time, we may actually have the chance to see most of The Dean Martin Show’s musical moments that we cherish in as unspoiled a form as they once appeared on the medium from whence they came — Television.

Now THAT would be Wonderful.


A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY, most or all of Dean’s series will probably be in the public domain…but that’s a little longer than most of us who are around now can wait.
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An Apples-to-Apples Comparison of Musical Highlights from The Dean Martin Show

   

To give our readers the most complete picture available anywhere of what musical numbers are, and are not, on all of the DVDs of The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show collection from Time-Life, we’ve put together the first and only side-by-side chart comparing the differences between: a) the musical content of all the episodes that make up the T-L set; b) the music contained in those same episodes when they originally aired on NBC, and c) the music from those episodes that can be found on volumes of the Guthy-Renker series. The latter has been included to enable existing and prospective owners of the T-L and G-R sets to gauge instances of overlap, as well as help direct them to a means of filling in some of the missing pieces of this musical pie.

Rundowns of the 20 episodes shown below are arranged in the order in which they appear on Time-Life’s 6-DVD Best Of The Dean Martin Variety Show: Collector’s Edition:

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2/3/66 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin : “C’est Si Bon” That’s Amore*
Juliet Prowse: “Blue Prelude”
The Lively Set : “Try to Remember”
Dean Martin & The Lively Set : “Get Happy”
Joel Grey: “Shine On Your Shoes” / “Whipped Cream” Disc 1
Dean Martin & Juliet Prowse: Dance Medley: “Gotta Dance” / “I Won’t Dance” / “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” / “Ballin’ The Jack” / “Begin The Beguine” / “Ten Cents A Dance” / “The Varsity Drag” / “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” / “The Old Soft Shoe” / “Papa, Won’t You Dance With Me?”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 1
(song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “Home”
José Greco: Flamenco Dance Number
Donna Butterworth (8-year-old singer): “Hello Dolly”
Dean Martin: “Real Live Girl” (sung to Donna Butterworth while dancing with her)
Donna Butterworth: “It’s So Nice To Have A Man Around The House” (sung to Dean)
Dean Martin & Donna Butterworth: “We Always Will Be Together”
Pete Fountain: “Basin Street Blues”
Dean Martin, Juliet Prowse & Bob Hope: “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” Disc 1 Vol. 5
*“C’est Si Bon” is NOT part of the Guthy-Renker collection, but IS contained on That’s Amore, an earlier and now out-of-print single-DVD anthology of Dean’s musical performances excerpted from his TV series.
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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 9/23/65 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On”
The Krofft Puppets: “Tweedlee Dee”
Peggy Lee: “When A Woman Loves a Man”; “I’m Just Wild About Harry”; “Bill”; “Alright, Okay, You Win” Disc 1 (“Alright,
Okay, You Win” only)
Dean Martin & John Wayne: “Don’t Fence Me In” Disc 1
Dean Martin & The Krofft Puppets: “I’ve Got Your Number”
Shari Lewis: “The Name Game”
Jack Jones: The Sound of Music Medley: “The Sound of Music” / “My Favorite Things” / “Climb Every Mountain” Disc 1: (“Climb
Every Mountain” only)
Dean Martin, Peggy Lee & Jack Jones: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” Disc 1

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 9/14/67 (3rd Season Premiere) Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “The Birds and The Bees” Disc 1 Vol. 3
Juliet Prowse: “The Very Soft Shoes”
Dean Martin & Orson Welles: “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”
Dean Martin & Juliet Prowse: “Cheek To Cheek” Disc 1 Vol. 3
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 1
(song parodies cut)
Vol. 3
(unabridged)
Dean Martin: “Welcome To My World” Vol. 3
Dean Martin: “Real Live Girl” (sung in voiceover, while Dean romps with children of Dean Martin Show staffers) Vol. 4
Dean Martin & Jimmy Stewart: “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” Disc 1 Vol. 3
Dean Martin, Jimmy Stewart & Orson Welles: “Personality” Disc 1 Vol. 3

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 4/3/69 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “The Birds and The Bees”
The Kids Next Door: Medley: “Cotton Candy And A Toy Balloon” / “Love Makes The World Go ‘Round” / “Lydia” / “Be A Clown”
Dean Martin & The Kids Next Door: “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts” Vol. 20
Dean & Dean’s Girls: Musical Questions
Bobbi Martin: “I Walk the Line”
Dean Martin & Bobbi Martin – “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 1
(song parodies cut)
Vol. 18
(unabridged)
Dean Martin: “True Love” Vol. 18
Michael Landon: Dixieland Medley: “Old Folks at Home” (“Swanee River”) / “Swanee” / “Rock-a-bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” / “Waiting For The Robert E. Lee” Disc 1
Dean Martin & Michael Landon: Dixieland Medley: “Is It True What They Say About Dixie?” / “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans” / “Sweet Georgia Brown” / “Hard Hearted Hannah” Disc 1 Vol. 4
Dean Martin , Dom DeLuise & Dean’s Girls: “A – You’re Adorable” Disc 1
(comedy segment only; song deleted)
Vol. 20
Cast plus Dean’s Girls Chorus: “Wonderful, Wonderful Television” Finale Disc 1

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 11/23/72 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin & The Dingaling Sisters” “Then I’ll Be Happy”
Lynn Anderson: “Stand By Your Man”
Dean Martin & Lynn Anderson: Flowers Medley: “April Showers” / “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” / “Sweet Violets” / “Sweet and Lovely” / “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden”
Dean Martin & Kitty (Joy Hawkins): “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”
Dean & Kitty at The Piano Disc 2
(song parodies cut)
Dean Martin : “Non Dimenticar”
The Dingaling Sisters: “The Laziest Gal In Town”
Dean Martin & The Dingaling Sisters: Medley: “Love Is Just Around The Corner” / “My Ideal”
Dean Martin and Jack Benny hold a sing-off, each with their own set of Dingaling Sisters, performing: “Mr. Wonderful”, “Why Don’t We Do This More Often?”, “Anything You Can Do”, and “You” Disc 2 Special
Edition Volume
Dean Martin & Cast: “At The Movies” Finale pays tribute to the MGM musical Words and Music (1948)

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 10/13/66 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “If You Knew Susie” Disc 2
Dean Martin & Dinah Shore: Medley: “It’s Wonderful” / “Take It Easy” / “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” Vol. 28
Dinah Shore: “Bye Bye Blackbird” Disc 2 Vol. 28
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 2
(song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: I’m in the Mood for Love”  That’s Amore*
The Pair Extraordinaire: “Love”
Jonathan Winters & Wisa D’Orso: “Standing on the Corner”
Dinah Shore: “I Had Myself a True Love”
Vaudeville Finale: George Burns: “It Was A Very Good Year”… Dean Martin & George Burns: “I Ain’t Got Nobody”… Dean Martin & Dinah Shore: “Shine On Harvest Moon” Dean Martin, George Burns, Dinah Shore, Jonathan Winters & Wisa D’Orso: “Yankee Doodle Dandy” / “Give My Regards To Broadway” Disc 2
*As with “C’est Si Bon” above, “I’m In The Mood For Love” is available on the That’s Amore single-DVD compilation.
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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 1/15/70 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “(Open Up The Door) Let The Good Times In” Vol. 26
Sammy Davis Jr.: “Wichita Lineman” Disc 2
Andy Griffith: “Lydia, the Tatooed Lady” Vol. 26
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 2
(song parodies cut)
Vol. 26
(unabridged)
Dean Martin: “I Don’t Know Why” Vol. 26
Dean & Dean’s Girls: “Let’s Play” Musical Questions
Dean Martin  & Sammy Davis Jr.: Medley: “Sam’s Song” / “What Kind Of Fool Am I” / “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” / “I’ve Gotta Be Me” / “Pennies From Heaven” / “Stay Away From My Door” / “Back In You Own Backyard” / “The Birth Of The Blues” Disc 2
(truncated to include only “The Birth Of The Blues” and closing portion of “Sam’s Song”)
Dean Martin, Dean’s Girls & Cast: “Here We Go Again” Finale

Disc 2

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 3/21/68 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Here Comes My Baby”
Florence Henderson: Medley: “I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star” / “Beyond the Blue Horizon” / “The Continental” / “We’re In The Money”
Dean Martin & Florence Henderson: Dancing Medley: “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” / “Hernando’s Hideaway” / “Sway” / “Cheek To Cheek” / “Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry” / “Papa, Won’t You Dance With Me?” Vol. 2
Dino, Desi & Billy (Dean Paul Martin, Desi Arnaz, Jr. & Billy Hinsche): “My What A Shame”
Dean & Dean’s Girls: Station Break Tease: “Top Hat, White Tie And Tails”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 3
(song parodies cut)
Vol. 2
(unabridged)
Dean Martin: “Pennies From Heaven” Vol. 2
Dean Martin & Dean Paul Martin: “Small Fry” Disc 3 Vol. 2
Tony Bennett: “Fool of Fools”; “For Once in My Life” Disc 3 (“For
Once in My Life” only)
Dean Martin & Tony Bennett: Medley of songs with women’s names in their titles: “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” / “Delores” / “Sweet Lorraine” / “Mimi” / “Sweet Sue” / “If You Knew Susie” / “Mame” Vol. 2
Cast & Jack Halloran’s Choir: “Wonderful, Wonderful Television” Finale Disc 3 Vol. 2

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 4/5/73 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin & The Dingaling Sisters: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” Disc 3
Dean Martin & Phyllis McGuire: “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big”
The Dingaling Sisters: Club Dingaling Intro
Dean Martin: “Just Say I Love You”
Dean Martin & Cast: “At The Movies” Finale pays tribute to the MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Vol. 22

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 9/29/66 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “My Heart Cries for You”
The Andrews Sisters: “What Now, My Love?”; “That’s How Young I Feel” Disc 3 (“That’s
How Young I Feel” only)
Dean Martin & The Andrews Sisters: Medley: “Memories Are Made Of This” / “Manana” / “South America, Take It Away” / “Rum and Coca Cola” Vol. 28
Frank Gorshin (with dancers): “The Riddler”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 3 (song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
Duke Ellington Trio: Medley: “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” / “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” / “Mood Indigo” / “Caravan” / “Satin Doll” Disc 3 (“Caravan” & “Satin Doll” only) Vol. 20
Lainie Kazan: “Porgy, I Is Your Woman Now”; “I Loves You, Porgy”
Dean Martin & Lainie Kazan: Medley: “You’ve Got Possibilities” / “I Got Plenty Of Nothing” / “Teach Me Tonight” / “The Glory Of Love”
Full Cast: Around The Piano Finale: “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” / “Hold Tight” / “A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba (Dig You Later)” / “The Music Goes Round And Round” / “Swingin’ Down The Lane” Disc 3 (“Swingin’ Down The Lane” only)

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2/11/71 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Somebody Stole My Gal” Disc 3
Debbie Reynolds: Medley: “Carolina In The Mornin’” / “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” / “When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam” / “Sweet Georgia Brown” / “Me and My Shadow” Disc 3 (“When
the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam” / “Sweet Georgia Brown” / “Me and My Shadow”)
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 3 (1 song parody included, 1 deleted)
Dean Martin: “Together Again”
Dean Martin & Debbie Reynolds: “A Couple of Swells”
Dean Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde & The Golddiggers: “Everybody’s Got A Song” (singing impressions and parodies) Vol. 24
Dean Martin & The Golddiggers: “Welcome To My World” Medley: “It Happened In Monterey” / “South Of The Border” / “Red Sails In The Sunset”

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 9/14/72 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin, Gene Kelly & The Dingaling Sisters : “When You’re Smiling” / “I Want To Be Happy” Disc 4
Dean Martin: “Give Me Something To Remember You By” Vol. 23
Dean Martin & Kitty (Joy Hawkins): “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”
The Dingaling Sisters: Club Dingaling Intro Disc 4
Gilbert O’Sullivan: “Alone Again (Naturally)”
Dean Martin & Gilbert O’Sullivan: “Gentle On My Mind”
Gene Kelly recreates his song-and-dance performance of “Singin’ In The Rain” from the MGM movie musical of the same title. Disc 4 Vol. 15
Dean Martin & The Dingaling Sisters: Medley: “L-O-V-E” / “I Love The Way You Do Your Thing”
Dean Martin: “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”
The Dingaling Sisters: “Four Of A Kind” Disc 4
Dean Martin & Cast: “At The Movies” Finale pays tribute to the MGM musical An American in Paris (1951) Vol. 27

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 1/18/68 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Singin’ The Blues”
Florence Henderson: “Smarty” Disc 4
Dean Martin & Florence Henderson: Medley of 1930s-era Depression songs
George Burns & Lisa Miller: “Some Of These Days” Disc 4
Dean Martin & George Burns: “It’s A Well-Known Fact” Vol. 15 (tail end only)
Dean Martin & Janie Gee: “Sleepy Time Gal”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 4 (song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “S’Posin’”  Vol. 25
Eddie Albert & Dean’s Girls: “Live A Little” / “Did I Ever Really Live?”
Dean Martin & Eddie Albert: “Mighty Lak A Rose”
Entire Cast, plus Jack Halloran’s Choir: ”Love and Marriage” Finale Disc 4 (unabridged version) Vol. 20 (somewhat abbreviated version, but no songs are cut)

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 9/25/69 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Here Comes My Baby” Vol. 7
Elke Sommer (sung to Dean): “Just A Little Lovin’” Disc 4
Dean Martin & Dean’s Girls: “Let’s Play” Musical Questions and “Sing-on” of David Janssen Disc 4
(contains “Sing-on” only)
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 4
(song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”
Elke Sommer & Dean’s Girls: “Strip Polka” Disc 4
Entire Cast: “Here We Go Again” Finale Disc 4
(unabridged version)
Vol. 9
(abbreviated version, but no songs are cut)

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 11/10/66 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “A Million And One”
Diahann Carroll: “Falling in Love with Love”; “Am I Blue?”; “What Did I Have?”
Dean Martin & Diahann Carroll: “A Hundred Years from Today”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 5
(song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “What Can I Say After I Say I’m Sorry?”
Dean Martin, Sid Caesar & Phyllis Diller, plus Jack Halloran’s Choir: “Applause, Applause” Finale: “Strangers In The Night” / “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” Disc 5

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2/15/68 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Clinging Vine”
Ethel Merman: “I’ve Still Got My Health” Disc 5
Station Break Tease: Dean Martin, Dean’s Girls & male dancers dance the kazatzka to “Brahms Hungarian Dance” Disc 5
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 5
(song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “That Old Time Feeling”
Lainie Kazan: “Sunny”
Dean Martin & Lainie Kazan: Medley: “Cuddle Up A Little Closer” / “Put Your Arms Around Me Honey” / “Gimme A Little Kiss, Will Ya, Huh?” Disc 5 Vol. 9
Dean Martin & Roger Miller: “Dang Me” / “Chug-a-Lug” / “England Swings” / “You Can’t Roller-Skate In A Buffalo Herd” Disc 5
(“Dang Me” only)
Roger Miller: “Husbands And Wives” Disc 5
Dean Martin, Ethel Merman, Lainie Kazan: Finale Medley: “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy” / “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” / “(It’s Gonna Be) A Great Day” / “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” / “Whispering” / “Secret Love” / “Friendship” / “Love Is Sweeping The Country” / “Hooray For Hollywood” / “San Francisco” / “The Trolley Song” / “Swanee” Vol. 22

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 4/4/68 (Last Show of the 3rd Season) Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Nobody’s Baby Again”
Wisa D’Orso: “I’m the First Girl In The Second Row In The Third Scene Of The Fourth Number”
Dean Martin & Wisa D’Orso: “For Me And My Gal”
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 5 (1 song parody included, 1 deleted) Vol. 6 (unabridged)
Dean Martin: “It’s Easy To Remember” Vol. 6
Dean Martin, Jimmy Stewart, Shecky Greene, Wisa D’Orso & The Kids Next Door: “Wild Wild West” Finale Disc 5 (unabridged version) Vol. 27 (abbreviated version)
Dean Martin: “Look For The Silver Lining” Disc 5
Dean Martin: “Everybody Loves Somebody” (full-length version, which he sang at the end of every season finale for the first six years of the series) Disc 5

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 11/23/67 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “(Open Up The Door) Let The Good Times In”
Dean’s Girls: “Anything Goes” Disc 6
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 6 (song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “Home”
Kate Smith: “Anyone Can Move a Mountain”; “At the Moving Picture Ball” Disc 6
Dean Martin & Kate Smith: “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” Disc 6
Dean Martin & Kaye Stevens: “I Wish I Were in Love Again”
Dean Martin & Janie Gee: Medley: “Little Girl” / “You’re An Old Smoothie” / “You Make Me Feel So Young”
Dean Martin & Kate Smith: Medley of Travel Songs

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 10/5/67 Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me”
Janet Leigh: “Big Spender” Disc 6
Dean Martin & Janet Leigh: “Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey” Disc 6
The Mills Brothers: “Opus One”
Dean Martin & The Mills Brothers: “Paper Doll” Disc 6 Vol. 8
Station Break Tease: Dean Martin & Dean’s Girls: “Ten Little Indians” Disc 6
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 6 (song parodies cut)
Dean Martin: “Green Green Grass of Home”
Eddy Arnold: “Turn The World Around” Disc 6
Dean Martin & Eddy Arnold: Medley: “Lay Some Happiness On Me” / “Sometimes I’m Happy” / “Then I’ll Be Happy” / “Just a Little Lovin’” / “Let the Good Times In”
Dean Martin & Phil Silvers: Vaudeville Medley Finale: “Hello Hello” / “That Old Gang Of Mine” / “Sweet Adeline” / “My Buddy” / “Auld Lang Syne” Disc 6 (unabridged version) Vol. 1 (“My Buddy” only)

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ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 9/19/68 (4th Season Premiere) Time-Life Guthy-Renker
Dean Martin: “Gentle On My Mind” Vol. 25
Lena Horne: “Live For Life” Disc 6 (unabridged version) Vol. 25 (opening instrumental & dance cut)
Dean Martin & Lena Horne: “The Two Of Us” Disc 6 Vol. 25
Dean & Dean’s Girls: “Let’s Play” Musical Questions
Zero Mostel: “Show Me A Rose”
Dean Martin & Zero Mostel: “A Couple of Swells Disc 6 Vol. 28
Dean & Ken at The Piano Disc 6 (showcases the famous gag of Dean jumping on the piano, only to have it collapse beneath him — no song parodies included) Vol. 1 (the piano breaks when Dean jumps on it…but still no song parodies!)
Buddy Ebsen & Dean’s Girls: “Ballin’ the Jack” Disc 6 Vol. 25
Dean Martin & Buddy Ebsen: “Mr. Gallagher And Mr. Shean” Disc 6 Vol. 25
Dean Martin & Little Girls: “If I Was a Millionaire” Disc 6 Vol. 28
Dean Martin, Lena Horne, Buddy Ebsen, Zero Mostel, Shecky Greene & Dean’s Girls Chorus: “Sign of The Times” Finale Disc 6 (unabridged version) Vol. 25 (complete, minus only several interstitial choral jingles

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For the latest updates on these and all other matters pertaining to Dean Martin, be sure to click the Like button on the Facebook page of our sister website, Dean, Golds and Dings, where you’re cordially invited to join not only other fans of Dean Martin but many alumnae of The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters, as well. Participate in ongoing conversations, or just observe — the choice is yours. To get started, just click below:

24 Responses to For The Good Times: The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show

  1. Finn Tellefsen says:

    Thanks for an eloquent review of a very troublesome DVD release, and for filling me in on a couple of Time Life vs. Guthy Renker items I had overlooked…

    I also want to applaud your suggestions for future installments, and go so far as to say that I would be hesitant to purchase any collection that does NOT follow these collector friendly guidelines!

    I can’t help but wonder about how arbitrary some of these licensing fees appear to be though… while I certainly can see how the copyright holders to That’s Life would be hesitant to have the vocal stylings of Cybill Shepherd “grace” their work, I honestly don’t see them charging the Sinatra estate 65K for last year’s release of A Man and His Music part II.

    Much in the same way that non-cooperative reps for Chuck Berry stymied the initial home video release of Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii, and butchered the opening sequence of the recent DVD release of Elvis on Tour, there appears to be some sort of ill-will towards the Dean Martin Show. As referenced in an earlier comment, Time Life’s releases of both the Andy Williams Show and This Is Tom Jones has a far greater ratio of songs sung by the star than this package, not to mention (the criminally Oop) That’s Amore, which should have cost $60 by NBC reasoning, but that I recall buying for under $25. (A price I would GLADLY pay for complete individual episodes of the DM show btw.)

    A few observations and questions/notes on your grid:

    Disc 1: Personality from 9/14/67 can be found on Guthy Renker’s Vol. 3.

    On Disc 2, 10/13/66, the missing couch song – I’m In the Mood for Love – can be found on That’s Amore, Chapter 6.

    Disc 4, I believe Dean’s opening number on 1/18/68 was Singing the Blues, and that the couch song – S’posin – can be found on Guthy Renker’s Volume 25, Chapter 6.

    Disc 4: Guthy Renker Vol 23, Chapter 7, has Dean singing a parody of Give Me Something To Remember You By from the 9/14/72 show.

    Disc 6; Looks like Dean’s opener on 10/5/67 was Little Ole Wine Drinker Me and the couch song Green Green Grass of Home.

    The 11/23/67 opening number is by all accounts “(Open Up The Door) Let The Good Times In”, but Dean is wearing the same cowboy outfit as he does when he sang Houston on That’s Amore, Chapter 7!! What gives? I always thought that particular performance of Houston was from the 2/29/68 show?! I guess the answer lies in Greg Garrison’s Amore commentary, when he states that they taped two shows with Dean wearing that (Bandolero-)outfit.

    (I would be ambling in the dark had it not been for John Chintala’s book “Dean Martin – A Guide to the Complete Entertainer”, a must for any serious Dean fan.)

  2. Video Vision says:

    Finn, we are yet again deeply impressed with not only your thorough knowledge of Dean and his oeuvre, but also your familiarity with other artists and their collected works — especially with regard to the manner in which their past output has been reissued on home video.

    As far as there being any ill-will toward Dean among the representatives of composers and their publishers, we’re not sure that one can validly form a conclusion such as that based only on the number of songs that have been cleared for a particular release. As you’re doubtless aware, many factors are involved in determining the musical content of a DVD program, including the budget set aside for music licensing, as well as the revenues that a given title is projected to earn.

    While it may well be that some music publishers and administrators of composers’ catalogs are more partial to some performers than others, we think it would be a mistake to infer from that supposition that there is necessarily any kind of widespread bias against Dean.

    Indeed, one example of just the opposite being true can be found in a story that Lee Hale related in his commentary on the Time-Life DVDs about how Irving Berlin was so favorably disposed toward Dean and his show that his reps would regularly give the green light to every request that Lee made for the use of Berlin’s material — despite the famous tunesmith being notorious for turning down other entreaties, including refusing to grant permission for the use of his music even for MGM’s celebrated That’s Entertainment franchise. So, although you may be right about some entities not being inclined to give any breaks to Dean’s series, clearly that hasn’t universally been the case.

    But that’s not to take anything away from your sharp eye in reviewing our guide comparing the musical highlights of original DMS episodes to their edited counterparts in the Time-Life collection and what’s on the Guthy-Renker volumes. To go over your notes point by point:

    1) We actually had indicated that “Personality” was contained on Guthy-Renker Vol. 3 when the chart was drawn up, but upon uploading and adjusting the layout, the number ‘3’ was inadvertently deleted. We caught the error and corrected it within a few hours of the chart’s posting, so you must have initially viewed it within the first few hours of its publication if you didn’t see our linkage of “Personality” to G-R Vol. 3.

    2) At the time that we were assembling the guide, we had made a notation that “I’m In The Mood For Love” can, as with “C’est Si Bon”, be found on the That’s Amore single-disc compilation, but we had neglected to follow through and type it into the grid, so we thank you for bringing the omission to our attention.

    3) Since you mentioned John Chintala, whose book Dean Martin: A Complete Guide To The Total Entertainer stands as the definitive discography of Dean’s musical recordings, we assume that your information about the 10/5/67 and 1/18/68 episodes comes from Mr. Chintala’s publication, and therefore, as we’ve done based on your other corrections, we’ve amended our guide accordingly.

    4) We simply overlooked Dean’s rendition of “Give Me Something To Remember You By” from the 9/14/72 episode, and have now included it in our listings.

    We appreciate your input, Finn, and to further express our gratitude for it, we thought we’d offer a little nugget of trivia that might be of interest, and of which perhaps neither you nor our other readers are aware.

    That bit from the 9/14/72 episode referenced above — a comical piece in which Dean sang “Give Me Something To Remember You By”, as Golddigger/Dingaling Sister Tara Leigh sat across the table from him and slowly removed one article after another from her person to give to Dean as keepsakes, was originally done more than two years earlier on Dean’s 1970 summer replacement series, The Golddiggers In London. In that version, the face of the woman doffing her garments was never seen on camera, but the part of the gentleman receiving those items while singing “Give Me Something To Remember You By”, played by Dean on his series, was performed on The Golddiggers In London by none other than…Charles Nelson Reilly.

  3. J. Wood says:

    A superb and comprehensive appraisal of the situation regarding the Dean Martin show DVD presentations – very well done to all concerned for the article! Sadly it has highlighted the problems with all the video releases so far of this highly popular and well regarded television series. Thankfully I have one episode on 16mm b&w kinescope (I realise they were all in colour) that has all the original components of the show intact! It is very sad that the world continues to get this jigsaw puzzle presentation. I can appreciate the problems & costs tied up with clearances but I think most people by now would have preferred carefully selected episodes (with fewer in a set) that could have been entirely cleared. I know the DVD production costs would be higher and therefore the resulting price per episode would be higher but I feel customers would pay for a premium product. As has been mentioned, taking into account online discounts from the RRP price, I would have gladly paid a discounted charge of say $60 for about six episodes IF they were as originally broadcast. Got to have more of the Golddiggers after all!! Buyers of archive television want things to be complete and original otherwise they are reluctant to part with their money, something which I’m afraid I won’t be doing for this release.

  4. Video Vision says:

    J. Wood, we thank you for your kind words; and while we’re certainly in complete agreement with you about the desirability of being able to purchase smaller amounts of higher-priced but less abridged Dean Martin Show content, the one point that you made to which we would take slight exception is your decision not to purchase Time-Life’s inaugural 6-DVD DMS collection. Now, don’t get us wrong — we certainly recognize that it’s entirely your prerogative to choose whether or not to buy the set; and as is made plain in not only our review, but in the evaluations of many others, as well, there’s an awful lot about the T-L releases that could stand improvement.

    However, our impulse is to look at the situation from the somewhat more philosophical perspective that life is short and that in the absence of a much-wished-for whole loaf, half really is better than none. Our point of view on this is also informed by the hunch that the 20 episodes that make up this first effort may simply never be revisited (that is to say, never released in their complete form).

    But make no mistake about it: We understand and respect your position, and have no doubt that there are many others who feel the same way. What we all unquestionably have in common is a longing to see the next entry in this series be vastly better than the first. By letting your views on the subject be known, you’re doing your part toward helping our collective goal to become a reality, and we appreciate it.

  5. Dennis B says:

    Thanks for the impressive update. It confirms what we had been hearing about the lack of couch songs and too little in general of Dean.

    The ongoing problems over clearances for musical numbers has and will, I fear, be with us for the foreseeable future.

    That said, it still seems as if the potential money too be made from the issuance of entire episodes, or more of Dean’s solo ballad performances, would be enough to encourage some enterprising attorneys, union reps, estate attorneys and marketing execs to get together in a room and hammer out an agreement that would be good for all.

    Unlike many stars of his era, there continues to be a growing interest in Dean from younger folks not even born when his show was in it’s prime. His combination of personality, style and talent is simply timeless!

    Hope does spring eternal!

    DB

  6. Video Vision says:

    Dennis, you’re absolutely right about the increasingly expanding audience for Dean Martin deriving not just from those who were his fans during his lifetime, but more and more, from those of a younger generation who are only starting to discover what a dynamic performer he was. However, that popularity can be a double-edged sword when it comes to prospects for the reissue of more of Dean’s solo numbers from his TV series. On the one hand, the demand is clearly there; but on the other, representatives of composers and publishers are no doubt aware of this burgeoning interest, thus likely furthering their inclination to seek steep license fees for musical works sung by Dean on his show.

    All of which brings us back to one of the points that we made in our analysis — namely, that in order to savor a heartier helping of Dean’s songs from his program, it’s almost inevitable that we’re going to have to pay higher prices for the privilege, to cover the costs of additional clearances. But if that results in more musical moments from The Dean Martin Show being able to be released on DVD, then in our estimation, that’s a price that millions of dedicated fans would be willing to pay.

  7. Kylie says:

    Very well written and very informative.
    But knowing the author I knew this would be a great post and you have covered everything so well.
    Speaking for myself, I`m just an ordinary working girl and there are so many things I would love to have but can`t afford.
    However I would scrub floors on my knees to be able to afford to buy these shows at any price.
    Having the complete uncut shows would be a dream come true.
    But it looks unlikely.
    Still to be able to have Deans musical numbers and those of The Golddiggers, well price isn`t an issue.
    I think there are a lot of devoted fans who would be more than willing to pay more money to get what we want.
    As I`ve said the first collection was a dissappointment but it`s good to know Time Life will be releasing a second collection.
    I hope this time we`ll get more of Dean and The Goldiggers performing musical numbers and get to see some of the segments which made The Dean Martin Show great, the parody at the piano.
    The opening songs and the couch songs.
    Musical Questions and hopefully a few of the Welcome to my World medleys with The Golddiggers.
    Also great to know Deana Martin is going to be involved :)
    There are some things in this world we just have to have and for us, the fans, The Dean Martin Shows top the list.
    Hugs and Kisses
    from Kylie xxxoooxxx

  8. Video Vision says:

    Kylie, as someone too young to have witnessed Dean’s career accomplishments as they unfolded during his lifetime, but who is nonetheless as knowledgeable about them as anyone of any age, you are part of a younger generation that has in recent years newly discovered and embraced Dean and his series, thus helping to demonstrate the timelessness of his talent and persona.

    That’s something for which all we Dinophiles should be grateful, because it’s that kind of popularity — one that can span a wide range of age groups — that is a crucial determinant of the marketability of vintage entertainment fare. Indeed, such broad demographic appeal is a large part of why CDs, DVDs, and a host of other items featuring Dean continue to sell more than a decade-and-a-half after his passing, securing a place for him in the same firmament as such other showbiz legends of the past as Elvis, Marilyn, Lucy and Bogie.

    As with fans of those other immortal stars, Dean’s devotees have proven that they remain eager to purchase goods that bear his name and likeness. The challenge for the providers of material from his television series is to fashion a product that can live up to the quality of the original and hence, satisfy the fan base, while at the same time, adding up from a financial standpoint in order to turn a profit. We continue to believe that the six steps that we’ve laid out above provide some reasonable guidelines for achieving this equilibrium, and we hope that the powers that be will take them into consideration.

    In the meantime, Kylie, be assured that it’s enthusiasm like yours that can really have an impact on the future of this franchise, so we thank you for your input, and hope you’ll encourage others to contribute in a similar way. If it’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, then let’s try to build a ton of squeaks into a roar — one so loud that it cannot be ignored.

  9. Kimmy & Dover says:

    Thanks for the insightful review. I am one of those who would love to see the whole shows, in order – and especially the older ones that I missed as a kid.
    I can’t wait to see Deana in the next set. She is so wonderful – perhaps she can help make the series better too!!
    Kimmy and Dover

  10. Video Vision says:

    Kimmy, aware as we are of both how deep is your admiration of Dean and his work and how much time and effort you’ve devoted over the years to undertakings that celebrate his life and legacy, we know that you speak for a multitude of fans the world over who would love to see a greater level of output from Dean’s series.

    And while uncut episodes, in order, may be a tall order, a careful selection of excerpts, featuring more of Dean’s solos and more of his medleys with both series regulars and guest stars, would go a long way toward assuaging the desires of so many who found themselves somewhat let down by this first Time-Life reissue.

    Like you, we, too, are hopeful that Deana Martin‘s participation in the next round of DMS releases bodes well for the prospect of improvements in the presentation of not only the vintage program material, but the bonus features, as well. Clearly, it’s because the freshman releases sold well that a sophomore outing is planned. Now, what’s needed the next time around is a more sensitively-prepared package that does better justice to Dean, his show and the fans who support both.

  11. DeansPalley says:

    As a hard core Dean Martin fan I simply won’t buy the new set of TL discs due out in October unless they are much much better than the first set. Simply put: More Dean, More Piano Dean, More Couch Dean, More Golds, & Dingalings. !!!

  12. Video Vision says:

    DeansPalley, we, too, would love to see more — indeed, a lot more — of all of those wonderful facets of The Dean Martin Show that you mentioned. But let’s not be too hasty in prejudging the next release from Time-Life, which, as you rightly point out, is scheduled for October — October 4th, to be precise. Other than that date, and the fact that Deana Martin is slated to provide commentary, there’s little else that we know about the next outing as of this writing — even whether it will take the form of just a single DVD, which is all that’s surfaced in the information that’s leaked out thus far, or whether there will be additional, multiple-disc packages, as was the case the last time around.

    Despite the first set’s shortcomings, we still thought that there were enough entertaining elements in it to make it a worthwhile purchase. Based on the comments received by our site and others such as Amazon, most fans seem to be on the same page when it comes to suggestions for improving the next release. But admittedly, attempting to fulfill everyone’s wish list would be hard under any circumstances, let alone given all of the clearance requirements inherent in licensing sync rights to music in variety shows. Nevertheless, it’s quite possible that the second time at bat for this franchise will yield, if perhaps not a home run, then at least a few more base hits.

    So at this point, we’d simply counsel patience. As soon as we know more, we’ll report it.

  13. Mary Fusco says:

    Thank you for the very evenhanded review. I was skeptical about buying the dvds after I read so many negative comments about them, but after reading all the good things about them that you described and seeing the scenes that you posted pictures of, I decided to give them a try. I don’t why Time Life didn’t provide more information like this, then maybe more people would have been less hesitant to buy the dvds. I agree with all the criticisms of these shows, I especially wish there was more of Dean in them, but your explanation why so much music was cut out helped me understand it all better…and I’m still glad I bought the dvds.

  14. Video Vision says:

    Evenhanded is exactly what we attempted to be, Mary; and buying the Collector’s Edition is indeed what we ultimately recommended to our readers.

  15. Alan McDonald says:

    Whilst editing of the musical content was expected, nevertheless, the ruthlessness of the scissoring leads to only one word – ‘disappointment’. Producers of the dvd’s surely must understand that, primarily, the customer is seeking not only to see again the performances of the great guest stars but to experience again the unique musical talent that was Dean Martin. Like other correspondents, I, too, would be prepared to pay extra if it were to result in the inclusion of the great musical moments from the shows.

    Alan McDonald. Caergwrle, Wales, UK.

  16. Video Vision says:

    Based on the kind of feedback that we’ve received from readers like you, Alan, it would appear that a multiplicity of Dean’s fans the world over stand ready to open their wallets in order to obtain more musical moments from his series. What we’ll now have to wait to see is whether the gatekeepers of this material are prepared to open their minds to the possibility of there being a sufficient number of Dino devotees willing to pay higher prices for a product that more faithfully reflects the finer points of the program.

  17. Russell M. says:

    Magnificent dissection of the contents of the 6-DVD set. I find it alternately fun and frustrating, ultimately understating Dean’s charisma and vocal prowess criminally. By comparison, Infinity’s “The Jerry Lewis Show Collection” is brilliantly edited, and it’s a hatchet job in its own right.

    Whenever the next Dean DVD set comes out, I look forward to your analysis of it!

  18. Video Vision says:

    We appreciate the compliment, Russell. You can be sure that we’ll cover and assess the second release in as objective and detailed a fashion as we did the first one, and hopefully, the next round of The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show will yield a more satisfying result for all of us.

  19. sailerjerry says:

    Oh, I’m such a rat pack fan. Dean is amazing and this review has helped me out so much. I will wait for better quality editing of Deans shows. I want the best and I am willing to wait. I would pay more for full episodes any day over edited versions. Sometimes its those little things that are missed by others that makes something so great!

  20. Video Vision says:

    @sailerjerry: We sympathize with your desire to see Dean’s shows in their original unedited form; it’s an aspiration that we’re sure is harbored by just about every fan of his series. However, we feel we’d be remiss if we didn’t again emphasize a point that we made in our review — namely, that even under the most ideal circumstances, wherein the budget for these reissues were limitless, it would likely be impossible to clear every piece of music performed on every episode of The Dean Martin Show, due to a host of factors, ranging from the potential refusal of composers (or their estates) to give consent for the music’s re-use to the fact that rights to some works might be tied up in one or more legal disputes.

    So, sad as it may be to contemplate, entire uncut episodes are probably not in the cards anytime in the foreseeable future. But as the next best thing, what we have been advocating is the adoption of a smarter approach to selecting material from the series for reissue on DVD, as outlined in the proposals that we put forward above under the heading “S’posin” (the latter, by the way, being the title of one of Dean’s signature ballads, which he performed both on record and several times as a couch song on his show).

    When it comes to future editions of these Best Of compilations, there is definitely room for improvement. In the meantime, however, between the Guthy-Renker volumes and the Time-Life sets, there’s already quite a bit of good stuff out there, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that all true fans of The Dean Martin Show partake of it. Perfection is certainly something worth striving for; but to borrow an idea from no less of a thoughtful fellow than the French writer-philosopher Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  21. Marlene Conte says:

    The Dean Martin fans buy these products because we want to see
    “Dean” … and we want to see him with guests that he had a lot of
    fun with. Guests like Frank, George Gobel, Jimmy Stewart, Buddy
    Hackett etc. We want to hear him sing the famous songs with that
    beautiful voice. WE DON’T WANT MARTY FELDMAN AND MANY
    SKITS THAT DEAN ISN’T EVEN IN!!!! PLEASE IF YOU ARE GOING
    TO BRING OUT MORE OF THESE DVD’S GIVE US WHAT WE WANT ….. DEAN MARTIN …..

  22. Video Vision says:

    We appreciate your airing your views, Marlene, and urge others to continue to do so, too.

    As we reported a few days ago, there’s a new 6-DVD collection of material from Dean’s series due out this fall (see our item on it here), so we’ll know soon enough whether your wishes — as well as those of just about every other Dean Martin fan who’s weighed in on this subject — will come true. After all of the calls for a more Dino-centric focus, we can only hope that our pleas will at last be answered.

  23. Lance Streff says:

    I want to thank you for your long and detailed article on the last episodes of the Dean Martin show. I could not agree more on releasing the 1967 Martin & Sinatra Christmas show! I would bet that Frank Jr would love to get involved in it. This episode alone I would be willing to pay $25 for! I hope the word gets back to the Martin Estate. Keep up the great work and may I say from all of us fans, we wish you all the very best and we THANK YOU for keeping Dean around for us.

    Lance

    Chanhassen MN

  24. Video Vision says:

    With most of the release schedule for this years’ holiday fare already locked in, it doesn’t appear likely that Christmas with The Martins and The Sinatras will be placed beneath anyone’s tree this December, Lance. But as sports teams that don’t make the final competitive rounds of their season are fond of saying, “There’s always next year.”

    In the meantime, we appreciate your kind words; and though we are only one of many entities that work to keep memories of Dean and his legacy burning bright, we’re more than happy to play whatever small part that we can in that effort.

    In that spirit, we’ll continue to provide in-depth coverage of what material from The Dean Martin Show IS being reissued — including a comprehensive examination of the 6-DVD King of Cool: The Best of The Dean Martin Variety Show, coming this November.

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