Judge Patrick Naugle likes jumping on couches, proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes.
We've seen her weather around two dozen different hairstyles, half a dozen weight ups and downs, some really gaudy looking sets, excited guests, confused guests, crying guests, angry guests, a courtroom battle with the cattle industry, a massive car giveaway, the behemoth of pop psychology that is Dr. Phil, and one long-standing feud with one of late night's biggest hosts. I can only be talking about one woman: Oprah Winfrey.
To celebrate Oprah's twenty years in broadcast television, she's releasing a massive box set of, well, everything Oprah.
Facts of the Case
Twenty years ago (circa 1986) Oprah sat down with Roger Ebert and he suggested she go into syndication. Thus, The Oprah Winfrey Show phenomenon was born and to this day her train of influence shows no signs of slowing down. To celebrate Oprah's twentieth year in the business (covering just about every topic known to man, and maybe a few we don't even know about), Paramount Home Entertainment and Harpo Productions have released The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary DVD Collection. This six-disc set includes more than 17 hours of material about Oprah's guests, her life, her early days in broadcasting, the big news stories of the year, and anything else Oprah could get her microphone in front of.
Here is a brief rundown of what's been included on this set:
"Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Uma." And with those four little words, David Letterman forever sealed his fate as one of the worst hosts of the Academy Awards. Though this particular reviewer found him droll and funny, the rest of the viewing audience thought Letterman needed to stick to his day (err, night) job. Not only did Letterman's stint as host of the 1995 Academy Awards bomb, he also solidified a celebrity feud with Oprah Winfrey. Talk about a double whammy! As of this review Oprah has, for the first time, agreed to appear on Letterman's late night talk show. Will their clash finally end with hugs and kisses? The Oprah saga wages on.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an enormous fan of something I've dubbed "The Church of Oprah," Not a dinner, holiday, or family get-together goes by without my mother uttering the infamous phrase, "You know, I was watching Oprah the other day…" As soon as those words slip from her mouth you can hear the audible groans from the rest of the family, money exchanging hands from the wages on how long it would take her to say those words. Needless to say, she runs like clockwork.
While I'm the first to admit that Oprah has done some awesome things over the years—advanced awareness on important hot-button topics and donated millions to various charities—I also must say that I often find her show…annoying. There are times when it seems like she's on the air only to parade around her dozens of A-list buddies for the whole world to see. That kind of self-congratulatory showmanship doesn't sit well with me. But I digress; considering the good she's done over the years, I'm going to let bygones be bygones and review this DVD set with a fresh perspective.
All that brings us to the fact that Ms. Winfrey has been on the air for twenty years! Can you believe it!?! Oh, how the time flies. It seems like only yesterday we were surrounded by the likes of Phil Donahue and Morton Downey, Jr., and now all that's left standing is Oprah (and Jerry Springer, whom some might consider her polar opposite, and quite possible Lucifer himself). To memorialize Oprah's two decade run she's released The Oprah Winfrey Show: 20th Anniversary DVD Collection, a massive six-disc box set of Oprah's favorite, greatest and most important moments from her career. Middle-aged housewives, rejoice! For those of you who faithfully watch Oprah's show day in and day out, this is the DVD set you've been waiting for—you all have permission to die happy.
For those looking for interviews with A-list celebrities—and we're talking only A-list here, folks—you've come to the right place. Superstar Canadian crooner Celine Dion gabs about her love for her hubby, Rene (who is approximately 137 years older than her) and her long (and for some, audibly painful) life in music. Comedians Chris Rock and Jim Carrey discuss what it's like to be funny guys, and to grow up in a lower-class family. Actor Michael J. Fox (a personal favorite) opens up about having Parkinson's disease and its impact on his family and career. Talk show legend Barbara Walters has a seat on Oprah's couch and both her and Oprah begin to cry, causing a massive flood that tragically wipes out fifty-eight audience members (just kidding). All in all, it's a look back at some of Oprah's most memorable guests, as well as a bit of dishing on her most difficult interview subjects (her #1 toughie: Elizabeth Taylor).
A DVD set of this magnitude this is difficult to review: if you're a fan of Oprah you'll want to own this warm, hug-inducing nugget of reality TV. There's no denying that over the years Oprah's guests and interviews have been compelling: look at all the brouhaha stirred up by Tom Cruise's leap of love for actress Katie Holmes on Oprah's couch. I admit that I enjoyed watching the clips from her show, even if I've never been much of a day-to-day fan of the talk show maven. For fans, the good news is that there is a lot of content to wade through here: not only do you get interviews, you also get rare glimpses of Oprah's life, including a peek behind the scenes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, a tour of what must be only one of her many dozen houses (I understand she may actually own the entire state of Utah, but that's only speculation and rumor), as well as a peek at early footage from her show (ah, the early 1980s. God love 'em). This set is filled to the brim with everything Winfrey, and then some.
Is this six-disc set worth picking up? Definitely, if you're an Oprah Winfrey mega-fan. Six discs is a lot of material, which means it comes with a hefty price tag; more than $50 dollars is a lot of money to spend on a DVD box set that is essentially a retrospective on someone's career. While many of the bits and interviews are compelling television, this set is not something I'd feel the need to sit through again. Here's the litmus test: if you watch The Oprah Winfrey Show, and feel like you need more, more, more after the credits roll, run out and pick this set up. If, however, you flip over to The Young and the Restless during the commercials and sometimes forget to flip back, well, you know who you are, and this set isn't for you.
The clips and interviews on this DVD box set are presented in 1.33:1 full frame. Most of this show was produced before the advent of widescreen TV shows, so you're getting the original aspect ratio. Not surprisingly, some of the clips (the newer ones) look better than others (the older ones). As you move forward in time past the 1980s the show's look is more refined and polished, but oh how those early shows appeared so darned goofy! The tape materials used for this set are apt—it isn't a fantastic looking transfer, but it does the job needed to make the fans happy.
The soundtrack for each disc is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. There isn't much to report here—since The Oprah Winfrey Show is a television talk show, the sound is fairly limited. That being said, all aspects of the show—including some musical numbers by the likes of Tina Turner and others—are clearly heard and well recorded. I don't think you'd need much more than that. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this set.
Since this six-disc set is essentially one big bonus feature for the twenty year run of The Oprah Winfrey Show, you can look at it in one of two ways: you get a ton of bonus features—six discs worth!—or, when it comes to supplemental materials, you've received squat.
She may be the butt of Letterman's jokes, but there's no denying Oprah's show and the woman herself are an enormous success (so much so that she's one of the richest—if not the richest—black women on the planet and possibly beyond our star system). Should you go out and buy this set? If you've read this far, you're already a converted "Oprah-Head."
FYI: The proceeds of this box set are going to Oprah's Angel Network charity, so picking up this set will not only make you all fuzzy inside but also give you an opportunity to make a donation to those in need. I wonder if that means we can deduct this set come tax season?
I said I wouldn't cry. I promised I wouldn't cry…oh, crap, I'm crying.
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