Courtesy: Entertainment One/Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc./Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation
The art of dance is something that has been traditionally associated more with women than with men. Any man that has ever openly admitted to being a dancer or even a fan of the dance arts has been stigmatized. Terms such as “sissy” and worse have been commonly used for said men. It’s a sad reality even now into the 21st Century. Thanks to Entertainment One’s brand new re-issue of Omnibus: Gene Kelly—Dance: A Man’s Game though, one can hope that the fight to make dancing socially acceptable among men. This is the biggest and most important of the positives in this new re-issue from E1. Just as important to the documentary is its historical aspect. This is just one episode from one of television’s most revered series. It’s also an example of what once made NBC a powerhouse among television’s very limited options during its day. In watching the near hour-long presentation, one must also take into account the actual presentation of the episode. Considering the age of this episode’s footage and its quality, one can’t help but be impressed. That along with the bonus booklet brings everything full circle and makes Omnibus: Gene Kelly—Dance: A Man’s Game a piece of entertainment history that any viewer will appreciate for one reason or another.
Omnibus: Gene Kelly—Dance: A Man’s Game is an important piece of entertainment history. It’s important first and foremost because it touches on a topic that still is very pertinent to society even today. Simply put, it transcends generations. It also crosses the lines in terms of its key viewer base. It manages to reach not just one but many different audience groups by having a famous actor discuss said topic. So whether audiences are fans of Gene Kelly the actor, Gene Kelly the dancer, dancers themselves, fans of the dance arts, or even athletes, this episode of one of television’s groundbreaking series reaches so many audiences without even trying. Kelly makes an argument in support of dance that has been used countless times since this episode. It had even been used at the time of this episode, obviously, and before. The argument in question ties together the movements of athletes into the world of dance. The argument in question is used in hopes to dispel the long-held stereotypes centered around men that dance. Unlike all of the other times that this argument has been used, Kelly enlists some rather famous friends to help illustrate how the two separate worlds are in fact more closely related than one might otherwise think. The value of this episode of Omnibus is crystal clear from this factor alone. But there is even more to appreciate in this near hour-long episode of NBC’s landmark series. The historical value of this episode is just as important as the episode’s content.
The content of this episode of Omnibus reveals that it is timeless to say the very least. It covers a topic that is still very relevant even now in the 21st Century. That is just the beginning of this re-issue’s value to viewers. Looking at this episode from a larger historical side, its value is increased even more. Viewers today are offered so many channels thanks to cable and satellite. Yet despite the massive number of channels, viewing options are actually quite limited. Television today is limited largely to crime and medical dramas, reality (voyeur) TV, countless awful rip-offs of Star Search, and just as many news magazine shows that are front loaded with real life crime stories. PBS is television’s only network today that offers any programming even remotely near the level of Omnibus. That’s because even the once powerhouse Discovery Communications networks (Discovery Channel, TLC) and History Channel have fallen victim to the reality show virus. To that extent, it goes without saying that any television history buff will appreciate this episode of Omnibus if only for the fact that it serves as a reminder of what once made television great.
Any television history buff will appreciate this episode of Omnibus first and foremost because it serves as a reminder of what once made television great. On a deeper level, television history buffs will appreciate this episode because of the quality of the footage. Gene Kelly’s episode of Omnibus was originally broadcast on December 21st, 1958. That is a span of nearly fifty-five years. Audiences see in this episode the original footage from that broadcast. There are some audio jumps throughout the course of the episode’s near sixty-minute run time. And the footage itself is quite grainy. But all of this is a good thing. It’s a good thing because it means viewers today are seeing this episode almost exactly as it was in its original broadcast. For some, that will certainly generate a warm and happy feeling of nostalgia. For others, it will be appreciated as that audio and video mix shows just how far television has come since its infancy. Regardless of the effect of the footage on viewers, the general positive emotional and historical appreciation felt by viewers pushes this episode of Omnibus even higher.
Everything that went into resurrecting Gene Kelly’s episode of Omnibus makes it a wonderful watch. But one would be remiss to note, too the bonus booklet included with the DVD. The booklet included with this DVD is a bonus in every sense of the word. It offers an in-depth look at Kelly’s own career, as well as everything that went into bringing this episode to life. There is even a copy of the episode’s script included as a visual aid for viewers among so much more. That much more includes photos taken from the set of this episode, publicity photos, newspaper reviews of the original broadcast, and even Kelly’s own words in which he explains his view of society’s stereotype of men and dancing. That mass of information brings everything full circle in this brand new release from Entertainment One and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. It will be available on DVD Tuesday, December 17th, just in time for Christmas. Audiences can get even more information on this release and all things Gene Kelly on the official Gene Kelly website, http://www.GeneKelly.com and the official Gene Kelly Legacy Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/GeneKellyTheLegacy. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.