Dolly Parton & Friends
R1 - America - MPI Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (19th February 2007).
The Show

Firstly, I'd like to say that this isn't a movie or a TV show. It's six TV episodes together. You can choose the show you want to watch from the menu.

Dolly Parton, who at the time of the shows, looked eerily like Jessica Simpson, sings along with friends and alone for a package that is probably going to be very, very nice for fans. I don't particularly enjoy country music, but this was a nice show to watch anyway.

There are 3 episodes on each disc, running roughly 24 minutes each (wow, half-hour shows have certainly changed since 1976, with 'The Simpsons' running between 21 and 22 minutes now in 2006). With horribly dated 1970s clothes and hair, Dolly Parton seems to be having tons of fun in here.

This first disc is from Dolly Parton's 1976 TV show, 'Dolly'. At first, Linda Ronstast and Emmylou Harris, the latter of which seems to be lost, join her. She sings a song, then it's Mrs. Ronstadt's turn. As you may guess, they all end up singing together. Mrs. Parton picks on her guitar and her banjo, harmonizing with the other two ladies, and trade small stories. It's a nice show.

The second show is with Rod McKuen. Mr. McKuen, though, is in my opinion not as good a singer as the two other ladies, and this show was a bit long for me. He sings, then Mrs. Parton sings, then the both sing together.

The third show has Kenny Rogers. This is a nice show. As you may guess, the format hasn't really changed from the previous show. Mrs. Parton is the first to sing this time, then Mr. Rogers, then the both of them. I highly doubt the authenticity of their duet, though, because there are far more voices and instruments than what you see on screen.

The fourth episode is with my paisano Anne Murray and Mrs. Parton's brother, Randy Parton. Mrs. Murray sings, then Mr. Parton sings then they all sing. Randy Parton also has a small joke to tell. It's another nice show, though I'm wondering whatever happened to Randy Parton after this.

The next show has Ronnie Milsap and the regular format still holds. Dolly Parton sings, then Ronnie Mislap sings, then they both sing. I've also noticed something and am curious at the dubious post-production sound. In the song with the kids, her guitar playing is a bit strange when you watch her fingers. Her subsequent song in the street only makes my suspicions grow.

The last episode is with a couple of people, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. (of The Fifth Dimension). Like the other episodes, they each sing something and end up by singing a trio. In this episode, Dolly Parton sings 'Love is Like a Butterfly', the song that starts every episode. I prefer this episode because the guests here sing songs than sound less like country music than the other guests, but that's just a personal preference, though.

Mrs. Parton always surprises me. With nails like she has, she shouldn't be able to play guitar. (Hell, I don't even like it when I practice piano with longer than normal nails (for me), so how she can play guitars and banjos with long nails is quite surprising).

She and her friends/guests run the gamut from rock to pop to rockabilly to country to bluegrass and ballads. At the end of every episode, she sings a version of 'I Will Always Love You', that, in my opinion, would be absolutely stunning if all the country/western elements were tweaked to be more ballad-like. Also, in these six episodes, two songs are repeated twice, so it's kind of funny that, in her oeuvre, she has to repeat a couple of songs. Regardless, this is a very nice collection of shows for Dolly Parton's fans. It's simple and a good way of seeing Dolly Parton sing.

Video

1.33:1 full frame. These episodes were taken from 1976 and they look great. The colours are bright and vivid with great clarity. They're stable and skin tones are accurate. Contrast is strong, and the transfer reveals no edge enhancement or other artifacts. There are no big movements or anything hard for the DVD to show, so the bitrate has no problems handling the picture you see.

Audio

The only track is an English Dolby 2.0 stereo track and you have one question, right? How does it sound? It sounds great. For a show from 1976, it sounds amazing. There's no hissing, popping or anything showing its age. The track is clean and crisp, and all of Dolly Parton's vocal chords are heard clearly, with every little note and variation coming through. English subtitles are also provided.

Extras

Given they're not part of the actual episodes, I suppose these can be considered extras. On disc one, there's a Bonus Song (3:12), from 'The Porter Wagoner Show', from 1977, where she sings 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. On disc two, there's another Bonus Song (1:47) from the same show, from 1969 this time. Interesting to see how fashion (not to mention her bust size) changed.

Overall

The Show: B Video: B Audio: B Extras: D Overall: C+

 


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