Customer Reviews: The Ernie Kovacs Collection, Vol. 2
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 27, 2012
In 2011 there was great joy among fans of the late comedian/actor/writer Ernie Kovacs when the first volume of ultra rare Kovacs material was released by Shout Factory. The volume garnered many five-star reviews (including mine here on Amazon) and introduced a whole new generation (actually TWO generations, since Kovacs died in 1962 and his name had all but been forgotten - except by those of us who grew up watching him on TV.)

We were told that there was more material "in the vaults" - meaning that it was held by Kovacs widow - Edie Adams - who bought all the original video tapes and kinescopes from the networks when they were ready to erase the tapes and re-use them. The time has come and we now have Volume Two, a somewhat smaller set (just three DVDs this time) but there is still a lot of VERY funny material.

But for those new to Kovacs, let me provide some background:

Long before Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, and David Letterman's late night TV shows, there was Ernie Kovacs. It's almost certain that the creators of these sketch comedy and host-behind-the desk shows watched Kovacs during his all too brief career. (He died in a car crash in 1962, at age 47, barely 12 years since first appeared on local TV in Philadelphia). As irony would have it, Comedy Central host Jon Stewart was born in Trenton, New Jersey - Kovacs birthplace as well - the same year that Kovacs died. And Stewart (real name: Jonathan Stuart Liebowitz) would not be the success he is if Kovacs hadn't paved the way. (I, too, was born in Trenton and remember as a young kid, when Kovacs made the move from radio in Trenton to television in Philly.)

For the last four decades Kovacs was an "underground" celebrity. He was often overlooked in the history of TV and comedy. That was, until that first collection was released. . MAJOR credit for these releases (with, hopefully MORE to come!) needs to go to two people and a company. First is Edie Adams, Kovacs wife and co-star of his show. After Ernie's death, when the major TV networks (Kovacs shows were on NBC, ABC and Dumont) were erasing the video tapes of show to re-use them, Adams bought - at great personal expense - as many as she could - thus saving them from oblivion. She created an archive, now managed by her son - from her second marriage - Josh Mills. Mills is the "keeper of the Kovacs flame" and the Producer of this set. The third party we need to thank is Shout Factory, the LA video reissue company, who is making this available for home viewing in such a deluxe package. And, they pay even more of a tribute by offering a FOURTH "bonus DVD" with a few more of the "Take a Good Look" shows - but only if you order direct from them. (I haven't seen the bonus disc so I can't commemnt on it.)

I won't go into too much more detail about Kovacs because you probably found this review after reading about the set and want to know how good it is. (again, especially if you have the first set.)Well. It's better than good: It's Great. The first shows (1950), sadly, no longer exist. While his early Philly shows were on the first collection, this one starts with the daytime show done in New York.The prints (from the kinescopes) are not super sharp but more than passable, while the later ones (including Kovacs' game shows) look superb.And, There is a booklet with details of the shows but it's not as thick as the one that came with the first set.

There were some Kovacs VHS tapes released years ago and a few of those clips are here too (though in better quality, if that exists). But MOST of the contents on the set have not been seen in over 50 years! I'm told that there are still more shows "in the vault" so hopefully large sales will encourage Mills and Shout Factory to follow up with another sequel. The large sales of the first collection seemed to have shown SF that there is a market for Kovacs.

If you remember Kovacs you need to see this collection. (and if you have the first one, you know what to expect.) If you are too young to remember him, you need to see this as well. This is where those TV comedy icons YOU know got their ideas!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on March 29, 2013
This is the 3rd Ernie Kovacs release from Shout Factory the others being the first lengthy set and a single dvd containing 5 of his ABC specials. This set is less enjoyable than the first because the scope of Kovacs' work is limited. The first set chronologically covers his afternoon show filmed in Philadelphia to his ABC Specials shot in California. That set offers a little of everything that led to where Ernie was going within the TV medium.

This set, while enjoyable feels more like a collection of material omitted from the first set so to keep the price down for the consumer. This isn't a complaint, I definitely recommend purchasing this set AFTER getting the first set, but does feel like the case.

I first became aware of these half hour morning shows via Comdey Central reruns back when the channel didn't have the budget to run their own programs. I became an immediate fan of his offbeat humor and even the liberal amount of interaction he has with his studio audience. You'd think decades of television later would dull the viewers senses of a tv show and its host gleefully shattering the fourth wall. These shows are pioneering and still refreshing.

Take a Good Look game shows are for me the weakest part of this set. This show bridges the gap between his variety type of sketch humor and the ABC Specials. Bobby Lauher and Jolene Brand do much of the acting with Ernie in the skits which vaguely offered the hints of the identity of the mystery guests. Some of the mystery guests were fun to see. Mack Sennett, Clarence Nash, Daniel Inouye, and Carl Reiner. The format is something I didn't enjoy as much as the morning shows.

Bonus features are excellent again with this set. The interview with Ernie speaking about his ABC shows, the Percy Dovetonsils LP (only just recently unearthed and released) and plans to bring back Eugene and to work with Alec Guiness is great to see and hear. You definitely get your money's worth with this set.

I wouldn't start with this one because some people prefer the visual ABC specials and others prefer the live audience shows which are both contained in the first set. This is a good set to continue watching and enjoying classic Kovacs.
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on February 26, 2013
It you are younger than 50 this DVD may not seem like such a big deal, but those of us who remember how "stiff" TV used to be can appreciate Kovac's attempts to rattle the networks cages. Not every bit is hilarious but it does serve as a reminder of how things were and how much they have changed, for better or worse
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on March 15, 2013
Once again, an excellent package, though containing less material than the 1st collection. Helping immensely is the fact that it was obviously a labor of love (literally, for the late Edie Adams), and the actual content is of course just as zany and brilliant. Make a present of these collections soon and spread the laughter!!
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on October 4, 2013
Lots yet to watch, but so far, so good. The programs are from kinescopes, so not what we are used to seeing today in terms of quality. Recollection might be incorrect, but think that Kovacs was one of a very few who used them to record his programs. Glad he did. Just have to keep in mind that his sense of humor was unique, and it's a shame he died so young.
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on August 9, 2013
This is a goldmine for true Kovacs' fans. I've been watching everything I could find on Kovacs, and there was quite a lot of new material that I had never seen. Check out his spoof of Rock Hudson....Ernie calls himself 'Rock Mississippi' and is a comically effeminate leading man, replete with false eyelashes. So basically, Kovacs 'outed' Hudson back in 1956 on NBC!
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on August 17, 2013
Thanks again for the release of Volume 2 of the Collection. I have purchased copies of the complete sets to give as gifts to those who appreciate superior, inspired comedy, and the gifts have been happily received.
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on February 4, 2013
Natural dry sense of humor, he couls crack you up reading the phone book out loud! Pure genius inventive comic mind!
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on January 21, 2015
I used to watch Ernie Kovacs when younger and I loved his programs on TV. The closest you can get to the original.
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on September 2, 2015
The funniest man of the 50s. His show was groundbreaking. Nairobi Trio forever!
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