A real rarity, a half-hour, black-and-white, musical-comedy variety show from the 1960s starring Edie Adams, is new to DVD this week, featuring an astonishing array of jazz talent from the era, along with other entertainers.
“Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection” (MVD, 1962-64, b/w, four discs, $49.95, 21 episodes, 19 songs from various Ernie Kovacs programs, promo films; 16-page booklet). The late Edie Adams was a popular performer over several decades in just about every show-biz medium, but she is perhaps best remembered for playing the comic foil to her husband Ernie Kovacs on his early TV shows, as Sid Caesar’s ditsy wife in the hit movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” for creating the role of Daisy Mae on Broadway in “Li’l Abner,” and for decades of sexy, come-hither commercials for Muriel Cigars.
And though her variety show features enjoyable comedy from Rowan & Martin (several years before “Laugh-In”), Spike Jones, Buddy Hackett, Soupy Sales and others, the emphasis is squarely on music — and what music! Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Charlie Barnet, Hoagy Carmichael, Al Hirt, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin and more.
The show’s all-too-brief run is like a history lesson in popular jazz from a certain era, and the casual interplay between performers in a relaxed format is ingratiating. One episode, taped live in Las Vegas, even offers a rare glimpse of nightclub entertainment from the period.
But besides all that, this set is especially a tribute to Edie Adams, whose talent was formidable. Her beautiful soprano voice, inviting stage presence and ability to transform herself with ease (her bit in a bonus clip as a breathy Marilyn Monroe singing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” is hysterical) will make you wonder why she never became a bigger star although she was pretty big in her day.
“Touched By an Angel: The Ninth and Final Season” (CBS/Paramount, 2002-03, six discs, $61.99, 22 episodes). The last couple of seasons of this popular faith-promoting dramatic series — starring Roma Downey as Monica, an angel supervised by Della Reese — were given a boost by the presence of Valerie Bertinelli in a semi-comic performance as a shy, perhaps ill-suited apprentice angel. She’s a delight.
Guests include Bill Cosby, Ossie Davis, Dennis Weaver, Gavin MacLeod, Lesley Ann Warren, Stacy Keach and Paul Winfield, and in the two-part series finale (in which Monica is evaluated by no less than Jesus), Patty Duke, Cloris Leachman, Marion Ross, Randy Travis and, as Satan, David Ogden Stiers.
“Treme: The Complete Third Season” (HBO/Blu-ray, 2012, four discs, $49.99, 10 episodes, featurettes, audio commentaries, music commentaries, previews/recaps). Season 3 of the series about interconnected lives of Hurricane Katrina survivors in New Orleans is set more than two years after the event as residents continue to struggle and lives continue to be rebuilt. Stars include Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Steve Zahn, Melissa Leo, David Morse and Jon Seda, among others.(Also on DVD, $39.99)
“Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet” (BBC, 1966, two discs, b/w, $34.98, four episodes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery; PDF materials). This is the final serial for the first doctor (William Hartnell), who, with Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze), lands at the South Pole in 1986 just as a robot race is about to attack the Earth. Episode four, long missing from BBC archives, is represented here by a new black-and-white animated version.
“Merry Christmas, Splat and more winter stories” (Scholastic, 2013, $14.95, four animated stories, featurette, read-along). The illustrated title story, along with “Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas,” “Snowflake Bentley” and “Owl Moon” are read by Sean Astin, Katherine Kellgren and others.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com