StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment have made quite the name for themselves over the course of recent years. Releases of classic series such as The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, The Dean Martin Show, China Beach, and most recently The Wonder Years have taken a company that for years was the butt of many people’s jokes to a place in the upper echelons of home entertainment companies. For years, Time Life was known mainly for the not-so-well-known products that it pushed through extended advertisements on television. Now it has carved out even more of a comfortable place in that upper echelon with the release of The Midnight Special on DVD. The classic late night live concert series was released in a number of formats last month, resurrecting one more important piece of television and music history. The show’s six-disc collector’s edition is one of the best of the sets that any fan of classic television and music can add to their own home library. That is because it is one of the best examples of what made this series so great during its nine-year run on NBC. It presents ninety-six total performances from bands, artists and groups across the music industry’s spectrum. The acts that make appearances throughout the set’s six discs are the center of this box set’s enjoyment and success. Just as important to note is the quality of the footage. More than four decades have passed since the Midnight Special first debuted in 1972. In that time, the footage presented in these performances has stood the test of time quite well. And last but not least worth noting in the set’s success is its companion booklet. The booklet serves as an episode guide for viewers. That is the central point of its importance. It also features personal insight from the series’ creator Burt Sugarman. Sugarman’s retrospection on the series and its importance adds one more layer of appreciation for this series. Together with the acts that appear on each set and the quality of the footage, all three factors together make The Midnight Train another wonderful release from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment.
The Midnight Special was one of the most famed and beloved series on television during its day. Unlike so many other series of the time, acts that came on the series in its heydey actually sang instead of lip synching. What’s more, unlike American Bandstand, The Midnight Special focused on more than just the big pop acts of its day. The acts that came to perform on NBC’s live overnight concert series spanned the music world’s ranks. That is the most important aspect of this recently released classic series. The acts that performed on The Midnight Special included the likes of John Denver performing alongside Linda Rondstadt and Aerosmith performing alongside Barry White, The Stylistics, and ELO. It also featured acts the likes of: B.B. King, Frankie Vallie, Sammy Hagar, The O’Jays, BeeGees, and so many other greats that are still remembered today. Even the show’s host himself, radio host Wolfman Jack was a celebrity in his own right. Even today, he and those acts noted here are just as beloved as they were decades ago. In an era when so many musical acts are little more than flash-in-the-pan pop acts and rarely radio worthy rock bands, musicaians and audiences alike need to be reminded of what once made music great and could again–originality and real talent. That in mind, it makes sense that the list of performers that came on The Midnight Special is the central point of this series’ success whether in its six-disc box set or its other formats.
The list of artists, bands, and groups that graced The Midnight Special’s stage during its nine-year run on NBC is the most important aspect of this series’ recent re-issue. More than four decades have passed since it first debuted on NBC in 1972. That makes for plenty of reason to be concerned about the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer from tape to disc. Luckily for audiences of all ages, painstaking efforts were taken to present the performances as they appeared in their original broadcasts. Those efforts paid off in spades as both the audio and video of each performance have been well-balanced. Any impurities in the quality of the footage whether in the audio or video are so minute that they are unnoticable. The end result is a product that for the show’s original audiences will generate a much-welcomed sense of nostalgia. Both for those same audiences and the show’s much younger audiences, it also serves to show just how far music has come (both in a good and bad way) and how far recording technology has come, too. So in the end, the quality of the footage in these performances makes Time Life and StarVista’s new re-issue of The Midnight Special even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.
The efforts taken to transfter The Midnight Special’s master tapes to disc have definitely not been for nothing. The show looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original run all those years ago in its rencet re-issue. The acts that appeared on the show (and that are featured on the new six-disc compilation) are just as important to the overall presentation. Both aspects together more than make the series worth a watch or two in any of its three re-issue formats. The last aspect of the series’ re-issue (at least in its six-disc compilation format) that makes it a success and so enjoyable is the set’s companion booklet. The booklet serves primarily as an episode guide, pointing out disc-by-disc and episode-by-episode each artist, band, and group that appears. That listing even includes the songs performed by said acts. By itself, the episode listing more than helps the enjoyment of the series’ re-issue. The added insight from series creator Burt Sugarman adds one more layer of enjoyment to the series’ various presentations. In terms of the six-disc box set, Sugarman recalls how so few people had faith in the show and how great it felt to prove those naysayers wrong. That insight along with other comments from Sugarman make for even more interest and enjoyment in watching the performances culled for the show’s different re-issues. While being the last of the noteworthy factors that make The MIdnight Special so…well…special, it is hardly the least important of the factors that make the series’ sets such a joy. This aspect, along with the quality production values and the performances culled for the releases, makes The Midnight Special a truly special experience for viewers of all ages.
The Midnight Special is available online now. Its eleven-disc and sixteen disc sets can be ordered online direct from Time Life’s online store at http://timelife.com/products/the-midnight-special-collector-s-edition. The six-disc collector’s edition can be ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Special-6DVD-Amaray/dp/B00L9OPJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1414009549&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Midnight+Special. More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment is available online at:
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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.