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The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection

The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection

The Howdy Doody Show made its debut on television in 1947. When The Howdy Doody Show first aired, there were only 20,000 American homes with television sets and NBC only had stations in six television markets. The show was credited as a major factor

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5 Responses to “The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection”

  1. Robert Huggins says:

    Review by Robert Huggins for The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
    It’s time to sit back, get nostalgic, and let Buffalo Bob Smith, Howdy Doody, Clarabell and the entire gang entertain you once again in this delightful DVD set from Mill Creek Entertainment. Mill Creek you ask? Aren’t they the company that releases all of those box collections of public domain movies and television episodes? Yes, it’s the very same Mill Creek but with a difference . . . . the 40 episodes included in this reasonably priced collection are all licensed directly from NBC Universal, and Mill Creek has really delivered a first-class DVD release. Somewhat surprisingly, Mill Creek sweetens the deal with a nice array of bonus items in this release, including a scrapbook-like booklet chock full of pictures, a historic timeline, interviews, and three bonus episodes, including the series’ farewell episode broadcast in 1960.

    The range of the episodes contained in this set run from 1949 through 1954, and the bonus disc includes the show’s very last episode in 1960, broadcast in color, which included Clarabell speaking for the first (and last) time on the show. I like the earliest shows the best when the show was originally titled “Puppet Playhouse” since they represent the dawn of television. They’re technically crude and some of the missteps become apparent when a camera occasionally catches Buffalo Bob mouthing Howdy’s lines (Smith would later tape Howdy’s lines). But there’s an energy in these earliest shows that makes “Howdy Doody” succeed despite the technical and budgetary limitations; you can sense that the performers and behind-the-scenes technical crew are really giving it their all.

    The audio/visual presentation is about what one might expect for one of television’s oldest series, particularly as these live shows were recorded using the kinescope process. While kinescopes simply do not look as good as modern videotape or film, the episodes contained in this collection are very watchable. Audio is generally solid, but occasionally the microphone placement misses some of the performers’ lines. Considering that some of these episodes are nearly 60 years old, most viewers will recognize the technical limitations of the era.

    The only nit that I have to pick with this collection, and it’s a small one, is that it begins with a show from 1949. It would have been nice to see some earlier examples. While I have no idea as to whether or not the December 27, 1947 debut show still exists, some of the shows produced in 1948 are still in existence. If Mill Creek releases additional episode collections of “The Howdy Doody Show,” it would be interesting, from a historical perspective, to see the earliest surviving episode from the series.

    For those of a certain age, the mention of “Howdy Doody” instantly takes one back to the simpler times of their youth. “The Howdy Doody Show” remains not only a landmark series in children’s television, but also a landmark series in live television production. Thank you, Mill Creek Entertainment, for releasing a fascinating and entertaining glimpse back in television time.

  2. Patrick W. Crabtree says:

    Review by Patrick W. Crabtree for The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
    I want to say up front that this fine DVD set is best suited for the people who originally watched Howdy Doody and not for today’s kids. To test this theory, I showed some episodes to a half-dozen kids of appropriate age (one at a time at different times so they would not influence one another) and, to a soul they universally said it was “dumb”. It’s difficult to market Howdy Doody to today’s children against contemporary, more sophisticated productions.

    Here you will get FOUR DVDs plus a BONUS DISC, nicely packaged. The discs contain 40 of the NBC show’s favorite episodes (of the thousands of episodes, most were in black and white), including sponsor commercials, (these were chiefly conducted by the stars of the show). The Bonus Disc contains three “anniversary shows,” the last one (in color) being the final episode where Clarabell the Clown finally speaks! The quality and sound of all the prints are quite good.

    Also on the bonus disc are interviews with Buffalo Bob Smith, “Clarabell,” and the producers as to how the program emerged and evolved from radio in 1949, a time when most of daytime television was nothing more than a test pattern. The set additionally includes a 32-page “Howdy Doody Memories Book” (softcover booklet) which features black-and-white photos, many of which were from behind the scenes such as a view of Clarabell applying his clown made up.

    I have to confess that my favorite character on this beloved program was Chief Thunderthud (“Cowabunga!” — now politically incorrect!) but you’ll also see Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Mayor Phineas T. Bluster, and all the other Howdy Doody regulars. For the uninitiated, this western flavor program was a pairing of real people alongside marionette puppets, all portrayed before a live audience of children which was called “The Peanut Gallery”. The program was incredibly primitive by today’s standards but reached an astonishing level of both educational and slapstick entertainment for children.

    In all, Howdy Doody ran for 13 years over 2,543 episodes. Programs sometimes included guest stars such as western movie sidekick Gabby Hayes. The total time of these discs runs for about 21 hours and the set is distributed by Mill Creek Entertainment.

    I much enjoyed this terrific and nostalgic DVD set a great deal more than I had anticipated that I would. I hope you do too.

  3. Retro_Saiyan says:

    Review by Retro_Saiyan for The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
    The fast snappy pacing and clever dialog do help, but what also kept me watching was the little historic moments in each episode. Some examples include:

    In the first episode of disc one, they announce what cities the show is telecast live, and also note that some markets recieve the show “on film” (kinescope film to be exact, in fact the only reason these episodes exist is because the cable which connected the NBC-TV network stations together could only reach so far, so ”kinescope films” were made for stations across the USA. Many other programs of the time were simply broadcast live and never recorded like “The Oscar Levant Show”).

    In other episode on the first disc, they also announce that, just a few weeks later, the program is now being shown in many more parts of the USA, an example of just how fast TV was growing.

    The first 3 episodes or so episodes on disc one are complete and unedited, yet, they contain no commercials, which I find to be quite remarkable (29 minutes of show with no commercials? Could you imagine NBC-TV doing that today?).

    Along with that, the commercials are for products which range from Three Musketeers Chocolate Bars (The jingle: “Three Three Three/Big Big Big/Let’s Give Three Cheers/For the Three Big Musketeers”), Rice Crispies (complete with snap, crackle and pop puppets), Colgate Dental Cream (a lot more interesting than it sounds), and yes, those giveaway offers for Howdy Doody toys.

    Closing logo fans will be glad to hear that many episodes feature the original opening and closing logos, including the famous “NBC Chimes” on several episodes, and the “NBC Presents” kinescope ID occasionally.

    Picture quality is quite good, considering how these shows were recorded. Since video tape wasn’t invented until 1956, these shows were recorded via “kinescope” or “kinephoto”, which basically meant literally filming the TV monitor with a 16mm cinematic camera!

  4. Mark Kausler says:

    Review by Mark Kausler for The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
    Here’s a rarity, almost an impossibility. The Howdy Doody show, FORTY episodes of late 1940s and early 1950s childrens’s television, restored for all to enjoy! The quality is very good throughout, judging that most of the five discs are kinescopes, some with wavering sound. Some of the earliest memories I have of the show were not so much the puppets, but the clips from old time movies that showed up on Howdy’s program. A Ton of Fun, referred to by Bob Smith as “The Three Tons of Fun”, introduced me to silent comedy. The Smith Family with little Mary Ann Jackson, later to star in the Our Gang comedies for Hal Roach, really stands out in these 1920s Sennett reels. Buffalo Bob makes it tough to find out who REALLY starred in some of the comedies by making up names for the actors, like “Bullets” and “Mary Schnikelfritz”,and sometimes throwing in names of his old friends and crew members in place of the real names of the actors. It’s a rare treat to see the show through from it’s very early days when Howdy was so polite that he always called Buffalo Bob “Mr. Smith”, the Dayton Allen era of Ugly Sam and his hilarious version of the Flub-A-Dub narrating an old time movie, to the remarkable use of Allen Swift’s voice as Phineas T. Bluster and others after Dayton was fired. We can see the evolution of Clarabelle from Bob Keeshan through Lew Anderson and witness how the clown changed from a child-clown who squirted seltzer at the Peanut Gallery and Bob Smith to the skilled trombone player and juggler who STILL squirted seltzer on all and sundry. There is a remarkable show with Milt Neil the cartoonist on the Howdy Doody comic strip doing team-up drawings with a fellow artist where Milt does one side of a character’s head at the same time the other artist does the other side of the head, resulting in a perfectly balanced drawing that looks like the work of one artist! Disc 5 is my favorite. It contains the 5th, 8th and last (the 13th) anniversary programs. Fred Allen actually takes a seat in the Peanut Gallery on the 5th anniversary show, making fun of Buffalo Bob not being able to appear on-camera with the Howdy puppet (Bob Smith did Howdy’s voice in the early shows) and “helping” Bob Smith narrate the old-time movie. Although not in the best of health, Fred Allen is a lot of fun to watch in this program. Gabby Hayes is featured on the 8th anniversary program in a funny suitcase packing routine with Clarabelle, and of course the last program from 1960 in color ends with Clarabelle’s famous “Goodbye, Kids” in a pretty decent looking color copy. There is a half-hour of oral history provided by the television Academy on Disc 5 as well, with Bob Smith, Ed Kean the writer of the show, Bob Keeshan and others giving interviews. Keeshan betrays not a shred of bitterness at his poor treatment on the show, but speaks well of his role as Clarabelle and working with Bob Smith. It’s still a great comfort to spend time with “Mr. Smith” after all these years, his charisma and love of the Peanuts still comes through after more than 50 years, especially when he pitches products. The growth of advertising to children in these early programs is especially revealing, starting with almost no sponsors and ending with too many. It’s interesting that the Kellogg’s cereal and Halo shampoo commercials are the only ones to use full cel animation in this pioneering era. It’s so rare and remarkable to see this much early “kidvid” on home video, an era when there was little regulation and no knowledge of television’s impact on children. Yet, there is a cozy spirit of friendliness and hospitality in these Howdy Doody shows that is largely missing from the kid’s video scene today. Mr. Rogers is one of the few “live” kid’s hosts whose show is still running today that has some of the “Smith” charisma with children, and he’s dead! So pick this up, buy two or three and send them to your friends. Maybe NBC-Universal will release a 40 episoder of “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” someday, or the Bob Clampett estate will release a big set of “Beany and Cecil” puppet shows on DVD! Let’s show them that there is a demand for this kind of show on home video!

  5. Mr. says:

    Review by Mr. for The Howdy Doody Show- 40 Episode Collection
    Howdy Doody, one of the most beloved and cherished icons of all time, entertained children of all ages for 13 glorious years on television, beginning back in 1947 and ending in 1960. This special 5 disc collection highlights 40 memorable episodes from this beloved series, including a bonus disc with 3 additional episodes, including the final show in color. Join Howdy and the gang, along with Buffalo Bob Smith, Chief Thunderhud, Princess Winterspring Summerfall, and the always funny and mischievous Clarabell the Clown, as they take us on a wonderful journey back to a more innocent time when commercials were a part of the show, everything was in black & white, and children everywhere believe in a cute little wooden guy named Howdy.

    The video and audio quality is pretty good, considering how old the material is. Not perfectly clear and crisp, of course, but certainly not so bad that it really detracts from the enjoyment of the show. You get 10 episodes on each of the first 4 discs, with each episode running nearly 30 minutes each. Three additional episodes are included on the 5th Bonus disc, including the memorable final episode, along with additional extras.

    Perhaps the only real criticism is that all 5 discs are stored in paper sleeves inside the box set, which may cause the discs to fall out or be scratched if handled too harshly. The box and bonus photo album booklet is a very nice touch though. Truly an enjoyable set, even with the paper sleeves.

    As a bonus, this review includes the original “episode descriptions” found inside the first 4 DVDs in this box set, along with additional descriptions of the bonus disc that were not originally provided. Again, these episode descriptions are taken from the first 4 DVDs of this Box Set and were provided by the makers of this DVD Box Set. They are offered here strictly as a way for fans to see which episodes are available in this collection.

    Disc One:

    02/01/49 – Howdy & the gang talk about greeting friends and working together. In addition, Howdy sings songs and shows one of his Olde Time Movies. (29:32)

    03/08/49 – Howdy Doody has a big surprise in store for the Peanut Gallery in the form of Ask Howdy Doody. Howdy answers questions in letters from the viewers, sings some songs & plays one of his Howdy Doody Olde Time Movies. (29:30)

    03/16/49 – Clarabell’s clock trick forces Howdy & Bob to teach Clarabell a lesson. A visit from some bunnies and a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie are also included.(29:30)

    08/03/49 – With Bob Smith gone, Rodeo Ray is on hand to help Howdy with the show. Howdy sings a song about looking before crossing the street. Ray hosts a contest with a sight theme and a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie is also found in this show. (29:44)

    03/27/50 – Buffalo Bob, Clarabell, Howdy Doody & Flub-a-Dub are all in Arizona searching for a Native American tribe that will prove Buffalo Bob is truly Buffalo Bob: otherwise Mr. Bluster will become President of the Peanut Gallery. (29:41)

    05/01/50 – With Flub-a-Dub hosting the show while Bob Smith & Howdy are searching for clues to the mysterious 5 L’s, he gets a visit from Ray Forrest (Rodeo Ray). You also see Clarabell, Dilly Dally, Done Jose Bluster and a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie, (26:03)

    06/19/50 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy & the gang are waiting for the return of Mr. Bluster for an answer to all the bad luck that has occurred at the circus lately. Fun songs and a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie are included. (29:29)

    07/04/50 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy & the Peanut Gallery celebrate Independence Day and must also deal with Mr. Bluster’s mysterious secret code. A Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie caps off all the fun proceedings. (29:40)

    07/10/50 – Buffalo Bob, Clarabell, & Howdy Doody try to learn the meaning behind the strange word Mr. Bluster has been speaking around the circus. Fun galore is found in this episode plus, a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie. (29:35)

    08/03/50 – This nautical-themed show features a visit by `Captain’ Ugly Sam, who gets drenched by Clarabell and his seltzer bottle. Songs, games, and a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie complete this episode. (29:35)

    Total Running Time: 292 Minutes

    Disc Two:

    10/02/50 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody and the gang get a visit from the illustrators for the new Howdy Doody newspaper comic strip. (29:33)

    11/01/50 – Howdy Doody sings a few of his songs and Buffalo Bob looks to find out which tribe Chief Chickapaw & Chigoochie tribe will help: the Siga Foose or the Tinka Tonka? (27:42)

    03/06/51 – This show was hosted by Dr. Singasong since Buffalo Bob was in Canada with Chief Thunderhud. Exciting things in this show include Dilly Dally finally remembering something important and Clarabell finding a special feather mixed in with the one’s he’s collecting to get his 5,001 feathers. (29:40)

    04/02/51 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, Mr. Bluster, and Princess Summerfall Winterspring look to teach Clarabell a lesson for all of the tricks he’s been playing on everyone at the circus. (29:36)

    04/06/51 – Everyone at the Howdy Doody Circus is excited to find out which of them is the owner of the oil & seltzer wells Dilly Dally and Oil Well Willy discovered in Arizona. (29:35)

    05/02/51 – Now that Princess Summerfall Winterspring is the owner of the oil well, her plans to share it with the gang at the Circus look to get derailed by Mr. Bluster. Mr. Bluster says there will be no oil for the Princess and everything can be confirmed by the mysterious Lanky Lou. (29:38)

    10/01/51 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and Clarabell are trying to solve the mystery of Chief Thunderhud’s Tententotube. (29:40)

    10/17/51 – Buffalo Bob & Howdy Doody hope to help Ugly Sam convince `Chief’ Bluster that he is Chief Drippingwet in order to discover Mr. Bluster’s plans. (29:34)

    11/01/51 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and Princess Summerfall Winterspring discover the truth behind Mr. Bluster’s picture of his grandmother and look to turn the tables on him. (29:35)

    04/01/52 – Besides some April Fool’s Day jokes, Howdy Doody and the Circus Gang celebrate the first Wing Ding of the year. The Wing Ding celebrates the states of Nebraska & Wisconsin, and the Peanut Gallery must decide if Howdy Doody or Flub-a-Dub did a better job in honoring the states. (29:12)

    Total Running Time: 294 Minutes

    Disc Three:

    06/02/52 – Sheriff Lanky Lou hosts the show while B.B. is out in South Dekota for the “Howdy Doody For President” campaign. Meanwhile, the Circus Gang is trying to discover the true identity of Mister X and they discover their suspect, Chief Thunderhud, is not the mysterious candidate. (29:28)

    07/01/52 – Buffalo Bob & Howdy Doody are disappointed to see Clarabell is campaigning for Mr. X, pulling all sorts of pranks on Buffalo Bob on behalf of the mysterious candidate. (29:31)

    10/01/52 – Buffalo Bob & Howdy Doody are trying to help Mister X and his Fadoozler by using Howdy’s latest invention, the Switcheroo. (28:39)

    11/03/52 – While Buffalo Bob is trying to bring back the missing votes for Howdy Doody from Rinklemyer’s Rest, Oil Well Willy is hosting the show with Howdy Doody, Clarabell, and Flub-a-Dub. (28:42)

    12/01/52 – Clarabell tries to convince Buffalo Bob and Mr. Cobb he saw a mysterious bird with no feathers in Doodyville Park. A pair of penguins show up in the part and they visit the Peanut Gallery after the Olde Time Movie. (29:35)

    12/31/52 – Doodyville is celebrating a special kids New Years Eve for all the Peanut Gallery. In Big Ben, the traveling circus ringmaster, arrives to help ring in the New Year with the kids and some New Years resolutions are made. (29:29)

    01/05/53 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and the Circus Gang welcome back Inspector Fadoozle, who ran against Howdy Doody for President for Kids. They also welcome back Flub-a-Dub from his visit to the mysterious Changing Island. (29:30)

    01/06/53 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody try to help out J. Cornelius Cobb from being cheated out of his general store by Inspector Fadoozle and his partner, Moose Marberry. In the meantime, the Bluster brothers are still stranded on the Mysterious Changing Island, which has day & night at the same time. (29:32)

    02/02/53 – Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, and Chief Kongamucha set out for their search for the Jabbawa horn. (29:28)

    04/01/53 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and Princess Summerfall Winterspring are trying to figure out the mysterious actions of Chief Thunderhud. Meanwhile, Clarabell’s practical jokes result in Buffalo Bob getting knocked out. (29:14)

    Total Running Time: 293 Minutes

    Disc Four:

    05/01/53 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and the Circus Gang are suspicious of Mr. Bluster’s contest. After Mr. Bluster provides the contest rules and the address, Buffalo Bob considers calling off the contest. (29:32)

    05/26/53 – Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, and Howdy Doody are tying to find out the secret behind Mr. Bluster & Chief Thunderhud’s Finnygurgle. Howdy Doody comes up with an idea to use his chattering chimpanzee plan in order to find out all the secrets about the mysterious secrets of the Finnygurgle. (29:29)

    06/01/53 – Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob, and the rest of the gang are helping are hoping to get some word on what the big announcement is that Mr. Bluster has promised to make. (29:36)

    07/02/53 – With Buffalo Bob in India searching for Miguel the Mexican, Oil Well Willy & Princess Summerfall Winterspring are hosting the show. The Circus Gang is hoping to wake up Miguel’s twin brother, Michael, so they show Buffalo Bob what he looks like to help find Miguel. (29:32)

    08/03/53 – In order to protect the Quasher Squasher, Clarabell has come up with an alarm system that will catch the culprit red-handed. Chumley P. Grumley, the detective hired by Mr. Bluster to find the Quasher Squasher, shows up at the clubhouse hoping to find the device. (29:31)

    12/24/53 – The Circus Gang is curious to see who the mystery guest Howdy Doody has for the Peanut Gallery. Everyone is wondering who the Super 75er surprise is that Howdy is bringing to the clubhouse. If it doesn’t snow before 6:00PM, the mystery guest will not appear in the clubhouse and Mr. Bluster will win the contest. (29:41)

    12/29/53 – It looks like Mr. Bluster had driven off Grandpa Doody from his visit to Doodyville and the Circus Gang is sad to see him gone. After the Olde Time Movie, Buffalo Bob & Clarabell use the Whatadoodle to show the Peanut Gallery highlights from 1953 and who they might see in 1954. (29:35)

    02/04/54 – Everyone in Doodyville is excited about the Doody Musicana contest and all the singing performances at this big event. After the dancing contest performance of Howdy Doody, Dilly Dally, & the Inspector, the Doody Musicana contest looks to be pretty close. (29:38)

    04/13/54 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and the citizens of Doodyville put on a play to earn marbles to get a new Doodyville Fire Engine. After the Olde Time Movie, Buffalo Bob collects the marbles from the Peanut Gallery for the play and learns they are three marbles ahead of Mr. Bluster and Chief Thunderhud. (29:32)

    06/07/54 – Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, and the Circus Gang are searching for Captain Skuttlebutt’s dog, Windy, who Mr. Bluster wants to sign up to perform in his own circus. Mr. Bluster hires a magician to help locate Windy before Howdy Doody and the rest of the gang can. Will the mysterious mage be able to bring back Windy before Howdy and the gang can find him? (29:34)

    Total Running Time: 296 Minutes

    Slideshow (120 Images)

    Bonus Disc:

    01/02/53 – 5th Anniversary Episode – Fred Allen shows up to help Howdy & the gang celebrate 5 years on the air as well as comment on a Howdy Doody Olde Time Movie. Mr. Cobb also drops by to join in the fun by playing an amusing prank on Buffalo Bob. (29:39)

    12/31/54 – 8th Anniversary Episode – Bison Bill hosts this special episode as 8 years on the air is celebrated. Special guest star, Gabby Hays, prepares to leave for California to visit Grandpa Doody…but Clarabell has other ideas. Chief Thunderhud and the Flub-a-Dub get into an argument over what is actually being celebrated. The gang also wishes everyone a Happy New Year. (29:33)

    09/24/60 – Final Episode in Color – This is it! The one every Howdy Doody fan has been waiting for! It’s the very last episode (#2,343) of this truly remarkable and forever remembered series. Buffalo Bob, Howdy Doody, Chief Thunderhud, and the rest of the gang are all packing up their things, after 13 years, and saying “Good-bye.” In the process, highlights from past episodes are discussed and even re-enacted (such as the time Howdy Doody ran for President) and Clarabell the Clown promises a very special big surprise at the end of the show…but what could it be? (58:54)

    Special Features:

    Documentary – “Howdy Doody : Memories of An American Classic – The Early Years” Star, Buffalo Bob Smith, Producer, Roger Muir, Writer, Eddie Kean, & Co-star Bob Keeshan (Clarabell The Clown: 1948-53) discuss the origins of the series, including Bob Smith’s earlier radio show days and how Howdy Doody became a reality on NBC. Interesting stories include the original ugly “Howdy Doody” puppet (never seen on the show) which quickly got replaced by the cute version we all know and love. This is a very entertaining retrospective. I only wish the later years were also mentioned. (26:02)

    Timeline – Describes 26 different moments in the series lifetime, starting with the day Buffalo Bob Smith was born, including the show’s aftermath.

    Slideshow – 118 photos from the series are featured (8:05)

    Howdy Doody Memories Book – Commemorative Photo Album of the Series in Paperback form. (32 pages)

    Total Running Time: 141 Minutes

    The Howdy Doody Show – 40 Episode Collection

    Black & White (w/ Final Episode and Extras in Color)

    1,316 Minutes – Not Rated – English Mono

    Original Full Screen Presentation

    5 DVD Box Set

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