As a kid, I waited eagerly each week to see the next installment of The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show on Saturday morning. Then, after the short run of 16 episodes were shown and repeated perhaps once or twice, the show left the airwaves and left me high and dry. For more than three decades, it seemed as if virtually all memory of this show had vanished. The Hudson Brothers themselves also rapidly faded from the scene. Thus, it was indeed a delightful surprise to see these shows resurface again in any form.
When I put in the first DVD, I was quite worried that the quality of the video and audio might be abysmal, but was pleased to find them amazingly well preserved. As was noted in another review, there is one episode in particular that exhibits a few video faults early into the program, but these clear up relatively quickly. There are also some odd edits or issues in the final two or three episodes that make one wonder if something might be missing from them. My suspicion is that perhaps the network was just getting a bit slapdash in how these were assembled toward the end of the show's run.
I disagree with the comment in another review that there really isn't much here for adults to enjoy. The issue is just that such a show as this must be approached with the right perspective to enjoy it.
First of all, the DVD set presents us essentially with an artifact of 1970s kid's programming. We are given the show just as it was. Either the viewer will find this entertaining to witness again (as I certainly do) or may not be all that captivated.
Secondly, this is variety-show entertainment from a different era. This show, like other variety programs of the time, tends to aim at leaving the viewer with a pleasant experience, but the style of humor may seem simple (i.e. corny) to some modern viewers. Also, since this is a variety show aimed at kids, it is probably even a bit more gentle in its format that other variety shows of the era. However, the entire cast here is quite talented (e.g. Scott Fisher is an excellent child actor and does his bits like a pro), and the writers were good too, so there are some decent laughs in every episode.
Third, the show is indeed rigidly formulaic in the extreme. However, a strict formula worked very, very well for a kid audience who watched the program for exactly 30 minutes once a week with commercial breaks. As a kid, I looked forward to these different, predictable components of this show's formula as they came up after six days and 23.5 hours of time in between. I would have been rather disappointed if everything I had expected to see that week had not been there. (The highlight for me each week was definitely Rod Hull and Emu, and I also particularly enjoyed whenever there was a Chucky Margolis segment.) However, a formulaic program works less well for a modern adult audience who may attempt to watch several episodes in immediate succession from this DVD set. Again, the program was never intended to be seen in this way, so it doesn't seem entirely reasonable to fault it on those grounds. The fun of these episodes is lost if you overdose on them as modern DVD technology can allow you to do. Watch one episode a week every Saturday morning and you'll love them!
The bonus features from the Hudson Brothers' prime time show make me hope that the full episodes might also see separate release if the Razzle Dazzle set sells well enough. There were several segments that were quite good, including a funny twist on the Marx Brothers, Chucky Margolis, and another Rod Hull and Emu routine.
I also hope that the third show starring the Hudson Brothers -- Bonkers! -- will also see release on a DVD set. I know of this show, but have never seen it. I would certainly be intrigued to see these episodes as well.
The Hudson Brothers were an incredibly likable trio, especially when singing some silly 30-second song dressed in identical uniforms of one sort or another. Rod Hull could do more with what was essentially just his right sleeve than anyone in history. The entire supporting cast is also great with everyone contributing something good to the show. Lastly, I still find something really funny about how the Hudsons are treated like property in the opening and closing credits of the show (which make a sort of infinite loop out of their lives if you join up the end of each episode with the start of the next). It's a sort of surreal and slightly subversive humor that I really enjoy. Of course, the cleverness of it can easily be overlooked because of its slapstick execution.
In short, I'm so glad that this show has at long last been pulled out of oblivion and made its appearance on DVD! I hope others will give it a try too.