Courtesy: Timeless Media/Shout! Factory
Television has come a long way since its heyday. That’s not necessarily a good thing, though. Between the advent of mobile video and the seemingly endless stream of overly violent and sexualized dramas and comedies available to audiences today, it has come a long way in the wrong direction. Television used to be something that would bring families together. Now it has become an increasingly divisive medium aimed at specific audiences from one time slot to another. Whether it be those series aimed more at younger audiences or those geared more towards older audiences, they all seem to be equally violent and sexualized. The result is that families rarely ever sit down together to sit down together to watch television. The advent of mobile video hasn’t helped with this, either. Thanks to Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory though, audiences have been given plenty of alternatives to that programming in recent years. They have released titles such as I Spy: The Complete Series, The Gene Autry Show: The Complete Series, Highway 66 and others in recent years, much to the pleasure of classic television lovers such as this critic. Earlier this year, Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory even went so far as to release The Red Skelton Show: the Lost Episodes. Now they have followed up that release with the brand new release of another great classic in the form of The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years–1951 – 1955. This new box set from Timeless Video and Shout! Factory is another excellent addition to the home library of any true fan of classic television. The primary reason that classic TV fans will love this latest box set is for the show itself. To be more exact, audiences will appreciate the largely family friendly nature of the episodes that span these episodes. Another reason that audiences will enjoy this latest collection of Red Skelton Show episodes is the quality of the footage. The footage in these episodes has truly stood the test of time. It looks just as it did in the episodes’ original broadcasts decades ago on NBC. Last but hardly least worth noting about this set is its packaging. The set is comprised of eleven discs, the eleventh being a disc loaded with bonus features. There’s no easy way to package so many discs in one set. But Timeless Video and Shout! Factory pulled it off. All three aspects taken collectively into consideration, they make The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years–1951 – 1955 a set that any true lover of television’s golden era will want to add to their personal DVD library.
The Red Skelton Show is one of the great comedy sketch shows to ever grace television screens across the country during its two decade-long run. The brand of comedy presented by Skelton and his cast mates has influenced countless comedians and actors throughout the decades since its original broadcast from 1951 – 1971. By comparison to the brand of comedy being offered to audiences today, the comedy presented in The Red Skelton Show is an example of what once made comedy great. It serves as an example of everything that comedy has lost since shows such as this ended. That is the central reason that audiences will enjoy this latest collection of episodes from Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory. As audiences will see in these episodes, Skelton and his cast mates needed only rely on its physical comedy and family friendly writing to entertain audiences. That same physical comedy and family friendly writing is just as entertaining today as it was decades ago. Audiences will love watching Skelton’s prat falls and his monologues that start every episode. It’s so easy to see just how many of today’s comedians have been influenced by Skelton’s physical comedy alone. The various characters that he portrays are just as funny. And even when his cast mates join in the fun, things never get too blue for audiences. Though, older audiences will probably appreciate some of the sketches more than younger audiences. From some not-so-lightly veiled political commentary to a skit about the reality of married life to Skelton taking on the role of a male ballet dancer and more, the skits within each episode will have audiences laughing uproariously. Some might even be surprised at how much they will laugh. The constant show-ending bit of Skelton being pulled under the curtain will have audiences laughing just as much no matter how many times it happens. The fact that these episodes can entertain audiences of all ages so much even today with its older brand of comedy is a true testament to the work of the show’s writers and its cast, Skelton included.
The brand of comedy presented across the episodes in The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years–1951 - 1955 is a big part of what makes this set well worth the purchase by any true classic TV connoisseur. The brand of comedy presented in this series can be seen in the likes of The Carol Burnett Show, The Sonny & Cher Show and other variety shows of the ilk. It’s just one part of why audiences will appreciate this latest release. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this box set is the footage itself. Almost sixty-five years have passed since the show’s debut in 1951. And nearly sixty years have passed since 1955. The footage presented in this box set has stood the test of time quite well since then. The footage looks just as it did in the show’s original broadcast so many decades ago. That is a testament to the work of those charged with resurrecting these only reels that remain from the series. While television in the 1950s was not exactly on the level of today’s television in terms of its resolution, there’s still something special about seeing this old footage. It’s like finding an original 45 rpm record and hearing that static from days gone by once the needle drops. It’s just a special feeling that can’t fully be explained in words. The best way to understand it is for viewers to see these episodes for themselves. Audiences will understand and appreciate the look of the footage when they pick up this box set for themselves. That understanding and appreciation will in turn lead viewers to be in agreement as to why the episodes’ footage is just as important as the episodes themselves to the episodes’ enjoyment.
The quality of the episodes’ footage, the writing for each episode and the acting on the part of the show’s cast (I.E. the episodes overall) collectively does so much to make The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years—1951 – 1955 a wonderful addition to the personal collection of any classic television connoisseur. The packaging of the set is just as important as the set’s content and the look of the episodes in their presentation. Its final count is eleven discs. There’s no easy way to package that many discs into a single box set without a certain amount of space being taken up on a DVD rack. So taking that into account, the means of packaging in this set is itself worth noting. The set’s primary ten discs are placed inside their own slim cases inside the bigger box. Each slim case holds two discs. The eleventh and final disc contains the set’s bonus material in its own slim case. Again, it’s not the smallest box. But considering the fact that the people at Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory took the high road makes it impressive in its own right. There are companies out there even today that package multi-disc sets by overlapping discs within the boxes. That is hardly smart. It means the potential of scratching the set’s discs. Such a practice greatly reduces the life of discs in said boxes and eventually wasted money on the part of the consumer. So while the packaging for The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years—1951 – 1955 may come across as slightly bulky, the reality of the packaging is that it is actually quite smart. Even if the companies had packaged the set with two boxes holding five discs in one and six in the other, the end result would still have been about the same. Again, the conclusion is that Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory have taken the smart route with the set’s packaging. That smart packaging along with the quality of the footage and the episodes themselves collectively makes The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years—1951 – 1955 that much more of a must have for any true fan of classic television and for anyone looking for a way to bring the family back together every now and then for some quality time together.
The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years—1951 – 1955 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from the Timeless Video store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/the-red-skelton-show-the-early-years-1951-1955. More information on this and other releases from Timeless Media Group and Shout! Factory is available online at:
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