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Ernie Kovacs: The ABC Specials
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In the early 1950s an article was written called, "Kovacs Hates TV". This doesn't surprise me in the least. Radicals are seldom satisfied with things as they are - and Ernie was about as radical as they come. He changed everything. At a time when no one knew what to do with the new invention of videotape, Ernie Kovacs made it sing and dance. He was no mere, run-of-the-mill, fifties television comedian. He was in fact the world's very first video artist - incredible when you consider the fact that the term "video art" did not come into existence until 1966, four years after his passing. Even now, despite a half-century of video's technological evolution, Ernie's work still astounds.
Late on the rainy night of January 13, 1962, Ernie Kovacs was returning home from a party when he lost control of the Corvair station wagon he was driving and crashed it, wrapping the driver's side of the vehicle around the concrete base of a utility pole. He was killed instantly. Ten days later, on what would have been his forty-third birthday, ABC Television aired Ernie's last program which he had been working on right up until the night he died. Of the entire series of monthly half-hour specials he had been doing in the last year of his life, this final program was one of the best. At the end of the broadcast, the reverend who presided over Ernie's funeral was quoted:
"We loved this man. He brought joy, gaiety and laughter to the world. He was a rugged individualist and a creative genius. But he was always ready to listen, and slow to judge.Read more ›
I also recommend the biography by Diana Rico, Kovacsland. Read it during the same time period you watch the DVDs, and get a deep, real understanding of the revolutionary and visionary Ernie Kovacs.
Sid Caesar would arrive on national television at about the same time circa 1950. In time Sid Caesar would amass one of the most amazing comedy writing teams before or since. Okay there really was no before. Besides his own comedic skills said Caesar would have the likes of Imogene Coca Neil Simon, Woody Allen and Carl Reiner plus he had the ability to draw many of the top performing acts and stars of his time. Ernie Kovacs had a small resident comedic team and a willingness to take huge risks.
Among his many invented semi regular characters was Eugene. Eugene sketches were one half hour without talking and a few sound effects. One of these half hours is included on this disc. Imagine no talking. It is almost impossible to imagine a more outrageous indeed anti-television sketch. One of Ernie Kovacs' regular bita was a series of short visual jokes strung together between bursts of a German (?) rendition of Mac the knife song into an oscillator. That is to say Ernie Kovacs believed his audience was intelligent and sophisticated. A particular visual joke was based around the concept of books that produced sounds appropriate to the content of that book. You need not know War and Peace to expect a book with that name to produce cannon fire. Not many could be expected to understand why a book named Camille should produce female coughing sounds. For myself, the sketches built around his Nairobi Trio remains some of my favorite television gags.Read more ›
UPDATE 12/13/2013: Apparently rights to the first three Kovacs ABC-TV Specials are not controlled by Ediad Productions, which explains why they're missing from this DVD and Shout Factory's more extensive Kovacs collections.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Content is, of course, fantastic! The ease of menu selection is wonky. But I suppose we can chalk that up to Ernie.Published 11 months ago by jek-a-go-go
Actually I remember a different talent of Ernie Kovacs...this is a bit disappointing. Felt almost that the advertiser somehow coerced Ernice to do this schtick. Read morePublished 11 months ago by david ross
Ernie Kovacs was before my time but my Mother used to rave about his shows and how modernistic he was for the times. Read morePublished 17 months ago by seywhut
Great product as far as it went. Nowhere in the product literature did it tell us that this was the fifth disc of five for this series. Read morePublished on December 27, 2012 by Kitty Duggan
This gift is for my husband who adored Ernie Kovacs and when he sees this DVD I hope he responds to it as he did when he used to watch him.Published on December 12, 2012 by Linda Rosner