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Lost? They never were.,
This review is from: The Jack Benny Program: The Lost Episodes (DVD)
The Jack Benny Program-The Lost Episodes produced by the Shout Factory is a misnomer.The 18 eps included in this set from the 1950s are from Jack Benny's personal cache of Kinescopes(a tv camera pointed at an off stage TV set screen)donated to and preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive way back when.They have never been"lost".This is just a marketing ploy.The set includes an interview,bonus footage from some later Benny specials and newsreel footage.Great and historical stuff here.
TV programming from the 40s and 50s is much like silent films.Much of it was under appreciated(no one thought of any future potential of these shows),destroyed for financial gain(tape erased to be re-used for other shows) and done by all the major and minor studios themselves.Most of the intact TV shows that exist from this time period like I Love Lucy or the Jackie Gleason Show were preserved in toto due to the clout and foresight of its stars.But the majority of shows are gone,like silent film,and only exist in bits and pieces,if at all.What an absolute cultural crime both are.
It is because of this that it is an absolute pleasure to see that these shows are getting a new/renewed audience some 50+ years since their original air dates.Of course these kines needed some work and the enclosed brochure with this set explains the restoration that went into bringing them to DVD.We also know that there are plenty more where this group came from,so the public's support for this collection is essential if more are to come to DVD.
I might also ask the question that if these are"lost"shows,where are the"known" shows? Although the booklet enclosed refers to "known" shows already out on DVD,I do not know of any official release of Benny's syndicated shows onto DVD.There are plenty of low grade copies out there,but I have never seen a release by CBS,or who ever now owns the rights to them.And one would expect to get to see the "known" shows,before one sees the "lost" ones,wouldn't they?
Nitpicking aside,this three disc set is a must have for Benny fans,or for anyone interested in TV history and the plethora of talent that populated the TV airwaves during the halcyon years from the 40s to the 60s.Benny's coven of co stars like the funny and talented announcer Don Wilson,to the equally talented and long time showman Eddie"Rochester"Anderson,to the mellifluous warblings of songster Dennis Day,all aide in defining Benny's comedy style.It also testifies to the top heavy talent on hand.Multiply the talent here times the number of other great shows on the air at any given time back then and you can see why this period is called TV's "golden age".I remember it so well,and have missed it a LOT.When talent was just that,and humour didn't come at the cost of losing one's gray matter,i.e. when a joke didn't have to involve a four letter word or sexually explicit material.I KNOW it,but I hope this set provides a newer generation with a fresh reassessment of what has been passing for "talent" and "humour" for the last 20 or more years.