Judge Clark Douglas thinks that you can go ahead and wait until tomorrow to watch Doris Day Today.
"I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile and I want to make people laugh. And that's all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy."—Doris Day
On the surface, a cheesy television special like Doris Day Today may just seem like a corny way that the networks decided to pass an hour in 1975. That's more or less what it is, but it's also a somewhat important landmark in the career of the much-loved actress. Day had a five-year contract with CBS at the time, and spent five long-suffering years working on the rather limp sitcom, The Doris Day Show. Two variety shows were also included as part of her contract, and Doris Day Today marked the end of Day's commitment to the network. Evidently Day was quite tired of working, because she didn't return to the screen for a full decade (her next project was the 1985 show Doris Day's Best Friends). Nonetheless, you'd never guess that she was ready to quit based on the enthusiasm she displays here.
Doris opens the show with a quick version of "Anything Goes," which is intercut with pictures of singers like Mick Jagger, Elton John, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper (along with posters for XXX movies, peep shows, and Last Tango in Paris). Anything goes, indeed. "That's today for you," says Doris. Next up is a less gimmicky number, a rather good cover of "Day by Day" (from the musical Godspell). The temptation to have an announcer say, "That was Day by Day by Day," was somehow suppressed. "That's today for you," says Doris. Hmmm, that line sounded familiar.
Taking a quick break from the musical moments for a bit, Tim Conway turns up as a cellist wearing a dress. He tells a couple of jokes, then exits. "That's today for you," Doris exclaims. Okay, really, let's find a new punch line, Doris. Better yet, why don't you go find John Denver? That's exactly what she does, and Denver joins Doris in a fun little take on "Exactly Like You." The two then flirt for a bit, and Doris gives John a playful smack on the behind as he is walking away. John responds by pulling out his acoustic guitar and singing "Follow Me," which is exactly what any normal person would do after being spanked by Doris Day. Then it's time for a quick PSA from Doris, who talks about the need to find homes for animals, "Particularly Burt Reynolds, Richard Burton, and Frank Sinatra," she purrs. Plus, Doris thinks there are just too many animals out there, and spaying and neutering needs to be done with more regularity.
Doris also thinks there are too many people, and this leads into another comedy sketch with Conway about a married couple that has a whole bunch of children. This is one of the least successful bits. Considerably more fun is the big musical medley Doris does with Rich Little. Doris sings some of the popular songs from her movies, and Little impersonates her co-stars from those movies. Some of Little's impersonations are a little weak (is that really supposed to be Kirk Douglas?), but it's nonetheless a fun part of this special. Besides, what Doris Day concert would be complete with a performance of "Que Sera, Sera"?
It's back to the simple and serious again when Doris does a melancholic cover of "The Way We Were," and this is followed by yet another duet with John Denver. They do something called a "Sunshine Medley," which basically means that they are singing a bunch of songs that include the word "sunshine." It's perfectly pleasant. Yet another weak comedy sketch with Conway is next, about a married couple going on a trip in a motor home. I think Conway is generally a funny guy, but he just isn't at the top of his game here. Sadly, this sketch seems to go on forever. Finally, Doris wraps things up by singing "Day by Day" again, then telling all the viewers at home "I love you" and blowing them a kiss.
There are a number of special features on the DVD, starting off with a 10-minute segment featuring Doris' 1974 guest appearance on The John Denver Show. Man, Denver just shows up everywhere on this thing! There's a fun sketch here demonstrating how Denver went from idolizing Marlon Brando and James Dean to idolizing Doris Day (something that oh-so-many young men of the 1950s undoubtedly experienced). This is followed by a three-minute short from the 1940s featuring Day. The longest bonus here is a full episode of The Doris Day Show called "Doris Goes to Hollywood," in which Doris Day (playing someone other than Doris Day) wins a Doris Day look-alike contest. Huh, so I guess that Julia Roberts bit in Oceans Twelve wasn't as clever as I thought. Other odds and ends like a filmography, posters, and promos are here, too.
The DVD packaging is a little bit misleading, saying that this special is "approximately 90 minutes." You'd have to do a whole lot of approximating to come to that conclusion, as it's actually only 51 minutes long. Surely the packaging is adding the bonus features into the running time? As far as the look and sound of everything, it's about what you would expect from a 1975 television special. Picture is clear and scratch-free, through quite flat and visually dull (despite a whole lot of bells and whistles courtesy of the production department). Sound is all right, though there is evidence of some minor damage during a few of the musical numbers.
Doris Day Today is certainly a cheesy little special, but that's to be expected. A good chunk of the comedy falls flat, a lot of the musical numbers will make you roll your eyes, and the whole thing mostly just serves as a reminder of better things Day has been involved in. Nonetheless, it's hard for me to condemn the thing, just because it has such a good-natured spirit of goofy cheerfulness. Plus, who can really dislike Doris Day all that much? Doris Day Today should only be purchased if you're a big fan of the lady, so the audience for this is a limited one. Still, I'm sure that it's something her fans will be very glad to have. Que sera, sera.
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• Doris on The John Denver Show
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