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MIKE DOUGLAS: MOMENTS AND MEMORIES

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Mike Douglas
Audio:  Dolby Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  SRO Entertainment
Features:  Bio, Bonus Interviews
Length:  115 Minutes
Release Date:  March 25, 2008

I LIKE MIKE.

Film ***1/2

Mike Douglas actually preceded the likes of Johnny Carson, Phil Donahue…even Jack Parr.  It was his show that really revolutionized the variety and talk format, bringing celebrities from all walks of life into our living room five days a week, giving us thought-provoking interviews, hilarious comedy, and memorable music.  But in the center of it all was always Mike.

Douglas was a humble Midwesterner with a tremendous voice…in fact, it was Mike who provided the singing for Prince Charming in Disney’s Cinderella.  He was comfortable on radio, and equally so on television.  His relaxed, everyman persona endeared him to fans everywhere, and his show, which ran from 1961 to 1982, became a daytime staple.  It would be hard for me to think of growing up without remembering seeing Mike day after day.

Mike Douglas: Moments and Memories attempts the impossible, which is to condense a twenty year career into under an hour.  Fans of the show may quibble about what memories of theirs weren’t included (for my own part, I missed seeing Mason Reece).  But few could argue with the quintessential cross-section of celebrities that ARE featured, which is more than enough to impress the uninitiated and give a taste of just how far reaching and varied Mike’s show was.

You’ll see clips of some of the best comics of all time, including Bob Newhart, Tim Conway and Bill Cosby in their prime (along with a very young Jay Leno and David Letterman).  You’ll listen in on interviews with some of Hollywood’s most prolific stars, including Marlon Brando, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Newman.  You’ll listen in on some bona fide musical legends, including the week long appearance by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but also including Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, and amusingly enough, Kiss.  You’ll even see sports legends like Billie Jean King, or future legends, including Tiger Woods as a child showing the stuff that would one day make him the most dominating player in golf!

But above and beyond the cache of the cultural who’s-who, what inspired me the most was Mike’s chats with individuals who defy categorization and who truly left an indelible mark on the world.  Listen to Mike sit down with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Theresa.  It will give you goose bumps.

See what I mean?  Twenty years is a long time, but I’ve only mentioned a handful of the guests that appear on this DVD.  This was a wonderful trip down memory lane…at the time, Mike Douglas’ show was musical, funny, entertaining and topical, but looking back on it some 26 years after the program ceased to be, it seems like a time capsule. 

So many of these people, including Mike, are no longer with us.  But these magical moments, when the brightest, funniest, most musical and most inspirational were relaxed enough just to be themselves in front of the camera, are the true testament to the enduring legacy of Mike Douglas.

Video **

The clips span twenty years, and the modern interview footage is presented on video, so there are some limitations to the transfer…nothing distracting or more than you might expect, though.

Audio **

Same with the mono audio…it’s not always clean, but a decent presentation given the age of the material, and certainly more than discernable.

Features ***

There is a bio on Mike Douglas, but even better, a collection of extended interviews with stars like John Lennon, Tim Conway, Ingrid Bergman and more.  There’s even a musical number from Johnny Cash, and a conversation with author Alex Haley, whose novel Roots continues to captivate generation after generation.

Summary:

I do indeed like Mike.  His show, and this DVD, freezes moments in time and history for all to view and contemplate first hand.  Recommended.

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