Koch Vision // 2004 // 79 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // March 23rd, 2005
"Courage is realizing you're afraid and still acting."
In 2004, Barbara Walters retired as co-host of the primetime news program 20/20. Since 1979, Walters has had the opportunity to interview hundreds of people spanning all walks of life, from the newsworthy to the famous to the infamous. To celebrate her move into another phase of her career, a special two-hour broadcast was prepared that highlighted some of the 740 interviews that Walters has done during her time on the show. This DVD is that show.
It is impressive to look back at her extraordinary résumé and see whom she been able to interview. This special does a nice job of showing her skills, her access to people, and her style in getting them to open up. For the most part, it's a well-crafted special that smartly steers away from doling too much congratulatory praise upon Walters. We are all quite aware of her contribution to the medium, so instead the special gives us a very quick taste of whom she has spoken to. (The only time things linger a bit too long is during the Elton John segment, when we have to endure far too much of the serenade.) I did enjoy this quick flyby on her career, reminding me that she has had unprecedented access to history. I had forgotten that she has spoken to every President since Nixon, to Fidel Castro twice, and to Mohammar Qaddafi, not to mention the innumerable list of celebrities. The quick snippets actually made me sad that I have never been a regular viewer of 20/20. Fortunately, the special also offers three other wise things: First, it starts off with a brief history on Walters -- where she started and how she ended up co-hosting the show with Hugh Downs. Second, it addresses some of Walters more notorious interview quirks, such as tossing softball questions and trying to make everyone cry. (It doesn't necessarily answer the questions, but it does discuss them.) Lastly, it pokes fun at Walters with special emphasis from Saturday Night Live and Gilda Radner's "Bawa Wawa."
The disc itself looks and sounds just like a television program, with no special tweaking to make it better for DVD. A few special features are included on the disc. First is "The Art of Conversation" (15 minutes), which appears to have been another 20/20 segment in which Walters was interviewed about herself. It's not that interesting and repeats a bunch of the main material from the special. Next is "Colleague Tributes" (4.5 minutes), which is exactly as it sounds. And rounding the extras out are extended interviews with Christopher Reeve (5 minutes), Michael J. Fox (6 minutes), Senator Hillary Clinton (9.5 minutes), and Bob and Michelle Smithdas (5 minutes). These still are not the complete interviews Walters did, and it's a shame that Walters's (and my) favorite interview, the Smithdases, isn't included in its entirety.
The best part of the disc is the inspirational interviews, those that Walters did with the likes of Christopher Reeve and Bob and Michelle Smithdas. After so many interviews with Hollywood actors explaining their popularity, watching such amazing people was heartwarming. In spite of the good words I've given this disc, though, I am not going to recommend it. It's something you'll probably never crave to watch, and the quick snippets of all the interviews don't tell you the entire story. The entire "ABC News Presents" line of DVDs is questionable to me, for while they may have some interesting content, I can't imagine wanting to buy one, especially at $20.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "The Art of Conversation"
* Colleague Tributes
* Extended Interviews: Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Bob and Michelle Smithdas
* Official Site