What do you actually get for shelling out this much money?
Here are the good things to say about this set, and Rhino’s work on it:1. They actually released it, and it has all the episodes of the first season included in order, with the original songs, and in vibrant color. This earns it most of the points, and is the only real reason to buy this.
2. It includes commercials, and the pilot episode with Boyce & Hart singing the soundtrack, and text trivia screens about each episode.
Here is what I see wrong with this set in no particular order:The commercials and Boyce & Hart pilot are pretty bad quality copies. The box set video, while mostly vibrant throughout, still includes dust and hairs sometimes. The audio quality never gets above mediocre, and sometimes is either tinny and harsh, or muddy and mushy. The Rhino Monkee audio CDs sound terrific, as do most Rhino CDs. I have not been at all impressed with any Rhino audio on other DVDs so far, and these DVD 5.1 soundtracks are worthless–and the mono isn’t much better. Why couldn’t they have just done a decent plain stereo mix from the master tapes Rhino had access to for all the Monkee CDs?
I agree with a previous review comparing what was done with the old Beatles Anthology audio and video, and should have been done on this set. The volume levels are all over the place in this set too. The dialog is mostly quiet so you crank it up to hear, and then the romp music is too much louder. But what is really bad, the menu music level just blasts in comparison to the episodes. So, because you can’t just set it to play all the episodes at once, the menu comes back after each one and you turn it down while the menu plays, then turn it back up for the episodes, and so on, very annoying.
No commentary from Dolenz, but if he had as little to say as what is included from the others, we’re not missing much. This is some of the most boring and uninformative commentary you will ever sit through. As implied in other reviews, basically any of us could have given these commentaries (many of you much better)–and we weren’t even there! You may as well say there is no booklet either, something this small and uninformative in a set this big, at this cost, is unbelievable. The Monkee CD booklets put this to shame.
The most outragious aspect of this set, and the single reason Rhino so overpriced it for what little work they actually seemed to put into the episodes–the packaging. We are paying for AIR. The expensive (probably about a third of the cost at least) 3 inch deep box holding six discs and a booklet that are 3/4 inches deep. That’s 2 1/4 inches of premium wasted shelf space for air. The cute sleeves inside don’t protect the discs, they scuff them sliding in and out–so you have to supply your own safe way to store them yourself. Nice way to give people value for their money Rhino.
Yeah, I’ll still get season two reluctantly when it comes out–because I want all the episodes. But I hate rewarding Rhino anymore for lackluster work packaged in an over-sized, overpriced, impractical holder.
We deserve better, and I feel we have already paid for better, but didn’t get it.
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I picked up this set with great anticipation. I loved these shows as a kid, stayed up for the marathon in the 80′s to video tape them off MTV, and eventually got both seasons from Columbia House Home Video.
With all the recent technical advances these should have blown me away, like the Beatles Anthology set did. However, it appears Rhino didn’t do any restoration at all to these shows, and used the exact tapes they did with the Columbia House videos. While DVD technology does make the pictures clearer, they still have many spots and flaws throughout like copies of films shown on old movie projectors. Even the ending credits on the first episode skip several seconds, like a bad 45. Couldn’t they find better copies out there somewhere?
Yes, the special features are interesting. But why is the 16mm pilot black and purple? Same thing can be said about the commercials. I’ve seen better copies of these at the Monkees conventions BEFORE DVD’s even existed.
Restoration can be done – check out “Strawberry Fields” (or any other video clip) from the Beatles Anthology. That stuff is as old, or older than these shows. Hardly any flaws are on the Beatles Anthology.
The sound doesn’t blow me away either, especially how the volume fluctuates in “Last Train to Clarksville” in “The Monkees at the Movies”. The soundtrack still sounds better to me on the Columbia House videos.
They did put the set in an interesting box – probably spent their budget on it, rather than improving the video quality. While visually cute, it’s a bad design. It doesn’t fit in the shelf with all the rest of your DVD’ collection, and, even though the box is large, there’s no protection for the DVD’s. They slide out and stay in the cardboard holder when you pull out the ‘record’ cover, or you end up putting fingerprints on them trying to get them out if they do stay inside. The box itself will self-destruct if you aren’t careful because the upper lid is larger than the lower. You can’t open and close it very often before a corner will split (mine actually came damaged from delivery in the mail).
To say I’m very disappointed is an understatement. I hope they get their act together for Season Two (and re-do this one, too).
I’m giving it 4 stars since I really do love the shows. If I graded it on quality, it would get 2 stars.
Overall, I think Rhino’s Monkees First Season DVD box is very well done. But, there is one major aspect of the Monkees TV show that I wish Rhino considered when they compiled this collection:
As you may know, many of the songs played during the “Monkee-Romps ®” were changed when the show was rerun during the summer of 1967, and some were changed again when the show was shown on Saturday mornings. In many cases, it was these re-worked shows that were included when the show went into syndication in the 1970′s. Since many of us grew up with the syndicated versions, it would have been nice for Rhino to include them on this set. It gets a bit tedious to have to sit through “Last Train to Clarksville” or “I’m a Believer” for the umpteenth time. Since DVDs are capable of containing many soundtracks, it would have been fun to have “You Told Me”, “Forget That Girl”, “Shades of Gray”, “For Pete’s Sake” and “Steam Engine” available on this collection. (These songs only appeared in the syndicated episodes while the songs they replaced could be found on other episodes.) As a result of Rhino not including the alternate soundtracks, the wonderful Headquarters album doesn’t get much representation here at all…
Apart from this, the set boasts very handsome packaging. The record player design is just as novel as the TV set design the old VHS box had (but the booklet included in the video box was much better than the small pamphlet included here). As others have mentioned, the DVDs *do* fall out of the cases rather easily. To solve this problem, I placed the DVDs into some CD-ROM sleeves that were handy. This works well and keeps the DVDs from rolling across the floor when you take them out.
I also liked the commentaries, although Micky’s absence from the proceedings is unfortunate… I hope he turns up on the second season box, as it would be sad if he didn’t provide commentary on the episode he co-wrote & directed! (I also hope Peter provides commentary on the episode he directed!)
So, I think this is a very good collection, but with a little more thought on Rhino’s part, it could have been a bit better for those of us who grew up with the Monkees every day after school (when the show was in syndication).