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Case Number 15014: Small Claims Court

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History Of The New England Patriots

Warner Bros. // 2008 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 15th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson caught Bill Belichick spying on him.

The Charge

The Brady bunch.

The Case

Largely apathetic to the world of football growing up—despite the half-hearted rooting-for and eventual head-shaking-in-dismay during the Bills' four-year run of Superbowl futility—I jumped aboard the Patriots band wagon in 2001 when they were making their improbable championship run. Hey, I was a recent New Hampshire transplant and with my allegiances untethered anywhere else, might as well go with the regional team, right?! Good times watching that 2001 Superbowl in my friend's basement, my friend.

So fast-forward a bunch of years, through a couple more titles, the Tuck rule, the legendary Colt match-ups, the Spygate scandal, the 18-1 2007 season and the Patriots have become one of the most notorious and famous organizations in sports.

It wasn't always like that of course. For the majority of the Patriots' history, they were either a punchline or inconsequential. And I'm pretty sure the folks at NFL Films would agree with that. In this two-hour "complete history" (one has to wonder how long is the agreed-upon wait until the next complete history collection can be released), the first 40 years of the franchise are tackled in the first 70 minutes. The remainder of the runtime is devoted to the Brady years. I kind of had the feeling the filmmakers were just anxious to get to the good stuff. So was I. Aside from some amusing ineptitude from the pitiful Patriots in the early years and some bright spots here and there (that would end at best in crippling Superbowl losses) there wasn't a whole lot to write about in the pre-millennium history of the club.

Once Brady took over for Bledsoe in that fateful 2001 game and the team became such a dominant force does the real drama settle in and thankfully NFL films dwells on those successes. Of course the gut-busting loss to the Giants in the 2007 Superbowl that caps the feature serves as a painful reminder of What Could Have Been, but what are you going to do?

Among the franchise highlights to be found here: the vagabond years in the 1960s, the brutal 1976 Raiders game marred by questionable officiating, the 1981 team and their hijinks (set to zany sound effects), the crazy 1982 win over the Dolphins with that guy plowing a swath of snow to make the field goal possible, the blowout loss to the Bears in the 1986 Superbowl, the Doug Flutie honeymoon in 1988, the reappearance of the zany sound effects for the 1990 Patriots, the Parcells/Bledsoe years in the mid-90s, all leading to the start of the dominant years in 2001+.

The production values are top-notch, as is usually the case with the NFL films bunch. Dramatic music, slow-motion in-game replays, candid interviews, the whole shebang is on display. It's a nicely-done feature.

Disc Two is devoted to a slew of bonus featurettes:

"Inside the Mind of Bill Belichick": an interesting interview with the most hated coach in football.

"Tedy Bruschi—Comeback Warrior": a feature on the Patriots linebacker who made it back from a catastrophic medical setback.

"Foxboro—A Look Back": a nostalgic glance at the old stadium.

"The Snow Game": focusing on the classis 2001 Raiders playoff match-up.

"Rodney Harrison—Champion": a sit-down with the widely-considered dirtiest player in football.

"Gino Cappelletti—Patriot for Life": spotlighting the legendary player and broadcaster.

"Belichick and Lombardi": a half-baked comparison between the two coaches.

"The Inner Strength of Mike Woicik": the much-clamored-for featurette on the Patriots conditioning coach.

"Watson's Chase": a look at Ben Watson's 100-yard rundown of an intercepted ball against the Broncos. Hmmm.

"Patriots 2004 and 2005 Ring Ceremonies": self-explanatory

"Steve Grogan": the long-time Pats' QB gets his own documentary.

"1985 Patriots": a focused look on this successful year.

This is all well and good, but where's the Brady documentary? He's only the most important player to ever don the colors.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Interviews
• Ring Ceremonies


• Patriots.com

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