Judge Christopher Kulik likes nothing better than to charge it.
I can't explain why I've become addicted to these NFL team visual histories. I'm not a hardcore football fan, seeing how I've been to few pro games and have never joined up with others to drink a gallon of beer during the game in front of a TV. I'm a Redskins fan, and I prefer to view the games at home; the only thing which sucks about it is the endless commercials. That being said, after viewing at least five of these DVD sets, it's fascinating to learn about the creation of a team, their victories, their losses, their comebacks and their famous players. The most recent one I had the pleasure of viewing was the NFL History Of The San Diego Chargers, which comes in a 2-disc set courtesy of Warner Bros.
The Chargers were founded in 1959, but not in San Diego. For their first year, they were actually an LA-based team, owned by the son of the founder of Hilton Hotels. One of their key players was none other than the late Jack Kemp, who made 49 pass interceptions in 1961, a huge NFL record. The other big player to emerge triumphantly from the Chargers' initial years was wide receiver Lance Alworth, who is now considered the finest WR in all of Professional Football during the 1960s. In 1963, the Chargers won their first AFL title (51-10 against the Boston Patriots), but they also got shot down for the next two years.
What distinguishes the Chargers from other NFL teams is, aside from a handful of setbacks, they've been consistently tough for 50 years. The early '70s and late '90s are really the only two eras in which Charger Power was virtually non-existent, resulting in poor seasons. Even drafting the famed Johnny Unitas in 1970 didn't seem to help matters, as the veteran seemed to have lost his passing mojo; the Chargers finished last in 1972 and 1973. Luckily, fresh QB Dan Fauts was just around the corner to put some lighting back in team. Then came coach Dan "Air" Coryell, a master in executing passing offense, and their partnership would be forged for almost a decade of successful game-playing.
Naturally, the documentary doesn't hesitate to discuss to the most famous games in Chargers' history. One was 1978's "The Holy Roller" in which the Oakland Raiders pulled off a stunning upset at the end of the game which sent the Chargers packing. In 1981, there was the "Epic In Miami," which is thought of by many as the greatest playoff game in NFL history. The Chargers were the underdogs going into the game against the tough Dolphins. The high temperatures were unbearable, yet the Chargers emerged from the first quarter with a 24-0 lead. Slowly, but surely, the Dolphins came back, leading to a tie game at 38. Overtime gave the Chargers the chance to win with a field goal. Another game which is mentioned in some detail is the Chargers' only Super Bowl appearance, where they lost 49-26 against the San Francisco 49ers. A valiant and respectable effort, to be sure.
As with all the other NFL Histories, Warner Bros. has collected archived featurettes to make up the rest of the 2-disc set. The main documentary itself crams 50 years of Chargers history into a tight, breezy 98 minutes. However, Disc One also has three featurettes (or "profiles," if you will). They present Dan Coryell ("Offensive Innovator"), Lance Alworth ("The Man Called Bambi") and Dickie Post ("The Age Of Aquarius"). All three run between 5-6 minutes, with the first two being from 1990, and the last from 1988.
The second disc begins with the 44-minute Documentary on the 1981 team, and the buildup to the "Epic In Miami." We also have five profiles, with "Junior Seau: In Their Own Words" as the longest, running slightly longer than the aforementioned documentary! The rest include "Luis Castillo: Chargers Warrior (13:24)," about the only NFL player to come from the Dominican Republic; "The Comeback of Roban Oben (8:00)"; "Charlie Joyner: The Hands of Time (3:51)"; and "Dan Fauts: Field Of General" (2:45). The profiles on Costello and Oben are from 2007 and are satisfactory. The latter two cover too little, particularly considering the players they are talking about. Another debit is they are both from the mid-80's, so the picture quality is lacking.
Otherwise, Warner Bros. and the NFL have provided a most worthy, 4-hour salute to the San Diego Chargers, the franchise, as well as the fans. As with the previous histories, all of the docs are presented in full-frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, with no subtitles.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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