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Thursday, November 8, 2018

ROBIN WILLIAMS: COMIC GENIUS -- DVD Review by Porfle




Having never been a fan of Robin Williams' stand-up act, talk show appearances, or hit ABC television series "Mork and Mindy", it might be surprising to find that I'm recommending ROBIN WILLIAMS: COMIC GENIUS (Time-Life), a 12-disc, two-volume chronicle of his astounding comedy and acting career and of his life which, despite moments of happiness, was the very personification of the proverbial "sad clown" character.

I recommend it mainly to his many, many fans, who should find this collection a treasure chest of joy and laughter along with a rollercoaster ride of other emotions.  And for those who, like me, never warmed up to his comedy style, it's a fascinating account of a man who gave happiness to others even though his lifelong struggle to find it for himself eventually proved too much for him to bear.

The first volume focuses mainly on his stand-up act, with him blazing into the public consciousness as a whirling dervish of comedy onstage and growing into a bonafide superstar appearing in numerous HBO specials, other TV appearances such as "The Dick Cavett Show", and, finally, glittering showcases such as the 1986 "Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met." 


Through it all, we see hours upon hours of him performing at a lightning-fast pace with comic improvisations pouring from his imagination, his frenetic style both profane and childlike, as his audiences respond with utter delight and affection.  It's here that we see him at his most happy and content, onstage and basking in the shared experience that only charged him to go farther, faster, and funnier.

An entire disc is devoted to his USO tours alone, with Robin and special guests traveling to such places as Afghanistan to perform at military bases where the shared love is almost overwhelming for both him and his admiring audiences.  There's an extra level of mutual fun, affection, and admiration in these appearances that exceeds even his most prestigious stateside shows. 

Volume two delves deeply into Robin the actor, from the initial starmaking success of "Mork and Mindy" to a burgeoning acting career that would lead to his winning an Academy Award. 


Never a fan of the TV show in the 70s, I now have a newfound appreciation after watching these seven episodes (including the two-part pilot) for this basically goodnatured show that allowed Robin free rein to perform stream-of-consciousness comedy in an ideal setting for audiences who can barely contain their enthusiasm.

Co-star Pam Dawber reminisces in a recent interview, as do friends such as Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Elaine Boozler, and Bob Goldthwaite.  The highlights of Robin's movie career are touched upon, as we see how his comedy genius translated into a deeply intuitive and emotionally resonant acting ability.  Several appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" highlight his great talent as a sought-after talk show guest. 

Each volume is also replete with various award show appearances, promo clips and bloopers, behind-the-scenes footage, personal videos, and other featurettes.  But for me, it's the second volume's final disc, with the deeply-moving 2018 documentary "Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind", that really makes this collection worthwhile.


It's an intensely interesting story of a singular individual who grew up a quiet only child, broke out of his shell as an actor and performer while in college, and went on to become one of the most amazingly outgoing and brilliantly creative comic minds of all time--even as his personal life suffered such turbulent ups and downs that he seemed destined for a sad and lonely end.

By the fadeout of this exhaustive journey through his life, I was in tears--and now have a whole new appreciation for Robin Williams, a greater understanding of who he was and why he ultimately took his own life, and a deep sympathy for the man whose beatific, childlike smile hid an unbearable sadness.

As I said, those of you who are already fans will no doubt cherish the staggering wealth of material in this set (an even larger, 22-disc collection is also available). For me, making my way through ROBIN WILLIAMS: COMIC GENIUS was an adventure of discovery, and an eventual realization that I was lucky to be there when this incredible person was with us.



Available at RobinWilliams.com

Type: DVD
Rating: N/A
Genre: TV DVD
Aspect Ratios: 1.33:1 (4:3) & 1.77:1 (16:9)
Audio: Stereo


CONTENTS:

Disc 1: Off The Wall
HBO On Location: Robin Williams—Off the Wall
Original Air Date: October 27, 1978
Featurette: Robin Williams—The Early Years
The Second Annual HBO Young Comedians Show
Original Air Date: September 24, 1977
The Great American Laugh-Off
Original Air Date: October 22, 1977
Robin Meets Mr. Sinatra
Original Air Date: November 2, 1977
The Dick Cavett Show
Original Air Dates: May 16 and 17, 1979

Interview with David Steinberg, Robin’s Manager

Disc 2: An Evening with Robin Williams
An Evening with Robin Williams
Original Air Date: March 12, 1983

Featurette: San Francisco—Where It All Began

Director Howard Storm Demo Taping with Robin
Taped 1982

Comedy Celebration Day
San Francisco: 1982, 1984, 1990
I Love Liberty
Original Air Date: March 21, 1982
Catch a Rising Star’s 10th Anniversary
Original Air Date: September 30, 1982
The Comedy Store 10th 11th Anniversary
Original Air Date: July 17, 1983

The Comedy Store 15th Year Class Reunion
Original Air Date: November 23, 1988
Robin Remembers the Comedy Store
Taped 2001

Disc 3: An Evening at the Met
Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met
With Introduction by Lewis Black
Original Air Date: October 11, 1986
HBO Press Interview

Promo Taping

“Beverly Hills Blues” with Bobby McFerrin
Taped March 4, 1986

The Young Comedians All-Star Reunion
Original Air Date: November 15, 1986

Superstars and Their Moms
Original Air Date: May 3, 1987

Interview with David Steinberg, Robin’s Manager

Interview with Lewis Black

Disc 4: Live on Broadway
Robin Williams: Live on Broadway
With Introduction by David Steinberg, Robin’s Manager
Original Air Date: July 14, 2002
Interview with Robin and Director Marty Callner

Noises

Explicit Language

HBO Promos

HBO Promos Rough Cuts

Robin’s Promo Riff

E! Press Room after Robin’s LIVE 2002 Grammy Win
Original Air Date: February 23, 2003

Disc 5: Weapons of Self Destruction
Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction
With Introduction by Lewis Black
Original Air Date: December 6, 2009

A Backstage Pass

A View from the Director’s Chair

Local Highlights

Mrs. Doubtfire Toasts Richard Pryor
Taped 1993

People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy Motion Picture
Original Air Date: March 8, 1994

People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Motion Picture
Original Air Date: March 8, 1994

E! Press Room after Robin’s People’s Choice Wins
Original Air Date: March 8, 1994

Shakespeare: The Animated Tales—HBO Promos
Taped August 25, 1995

Disc 6: Robin’s USO Christmas
Robin’s USO Christmas
With Introduction by Lewis Black
Taped December 2007

American Forces Network Interview: On Tour with Robin Williams
Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan
Taped October 2002
Bahrain USO Tour
Taped December 2004
Stand-Up in Al Asad, Iraq
Taped December 2004
Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan
Taped December 2007

People’s Choice Award for Favorite Funny Male Star
Original Air Date: January 8, 2008
Interview with Lewis Black


Disc 1: Mork & Mindy
Mork & Mindy
The Best of Season 1
The Mork & Mindy Special (2-Part Pilot)
With Introduction by Pam Dawber
Original Air Date: September 14, 1978

Mork Moves In
Original Air Date: September 21, 1978

Mork Runs Away
Original Air Date: September 28, 1978
Mork in Love
Original Air Date: October 5, 1978

Mork’s Seduction
With Introduction by Pam Dawber
Original Air Date: October 12, 1978

Mork Goes Public
Original Air Date: October 19, 1978

Interview with Pam Dawber

Disc 2: Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Original Air Date: February 11, 1984
Robin Williams

Original Air Date: November 22, 1986
Robin Williams, Paul Simon

Original Air Date: January 23, 1988
Robin Williams

Disc 3: The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Original Air Date: September 27, 1991
Oprah’s Memories of Robin
Featurette: Robin Williams—Comic Genius

Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor
Original Air Date: January 17, 2003

Disc 4: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Original Air Date: December 23, 1992
Robin Williams
With Introduction by Jay Leno

Original Air Date: November 13, 1995
Robin Williams, David Lee Roth

Original Air Date: May 6, 1997
Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Kevin Nealon, Barry Manilow
Original Air Date: October 14, 2004
Robin Williams

Featurette: Robin Williams—TV’s Best Guest

Interview with Jay Leno

Disc 5: Inside the Actors Studio
Robin Williams: Inside the Actors Studio
Original Air Date: June 10, 2001
Great Moments That Didn’t Make the Cut

Disc 6: Come Inside My Mind
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind
Original Air Date: July 16, 2018

Illustrated booklet "Robin Williams Uncensored"



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