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MPI Networks presents
Hullabaloo Volumes 1-4 (1965)

"Brought to you by Carnation Evaporated Milk—now VELVETIZED for Better Cooking! And by Clearasil, to fight today's surface blemishes and the excess oil that might cause tomorrow's blemishes! And by Betty Crocker's Cake Mixes, Goodness with a Capital G!"
- Announcer Johnny Holliday

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: October 08, 2000

Stars: Frankie Avalon, Chuck Berry, Gary Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr.
Other Stars: Nancy Sinatra, The Byrds, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes
Director: Bill Davis

Manufacturer: DVDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (no objectionable content)
Run Time: 03h:22m:42s
Release Date: October 17, 2000
UPC: 030306637020
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B+C-B- C-

DVD Review

Hullabaloo aired on NBC in 1965 and 1966, featuring performances by pop music artists of the day and hosted each week by a different celebrity guest. In a clear break from Dick Clark's 100% lip-synched American Bandstand, Hullabaloo almost always featured live performances, complete with laughs and line flubs (despite the show's prerecorded nature.) Each show opens with remarks by the guest host, followed by several soundstage performances by the musical guests, a medley of other popular songs, and a closing performance on the "Hullabaloo A Go Go" club set before the end credits roll. The resident Hullabaloo Dancers provide some movement and color, choreographed by David Winters of West Side Story fame.

The set of 7 episodes selected by MPI for this DVD (Volumes 1-4 of the earlier VHS edition) seem fairly representative of the show, airing from May 4, 1965 (a special hour-long show) through April 11, 1966. Guest hosts include Michael Landon, Trini Lopez, Gary Lewis and his father Jerry Lewis, Frankie Avalon, Sammy Davis Jr. and Paul Anka, all of whom gamely do some singing themselves. Musical guests included here represent a cross-section of mid-60's pop music, though the biggest acts like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones are nowhere to be seen. Performances by Herman's Hermits, Martha & The Vandellas, The Supremes, Sonny & Cher, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Byrds, Nancy Sinatra and others are sure to please, while more obscure performers like Chad & Jill and Noel Harrison fill out the one-hit wonder roster. The episodes included here are generally presented complete-as-broadcast, with the exception of the December 6, 1965 show, missing a performance by the Ronettes due to licensing issues.

Looking at Hullabaloo thirty-odd years later, it's apparent that musical experimentation was the farthest thing from the minds of the show's sponsors and producers, who were more preoccupied with cashing on this whole teen music thing. Musical director Peter Matz provides schmaltzy lounge-music arrangements of pop hits, including a hilarious rendition of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, and the official Hullabaloo Dancers (who call "Up With People" to mind) are often sloppy and out-of-synch, as though rehearsal time was a low priority. The musical guests are also called on to cover other performers' work during the medley segments, and one episode's medley is an awkward conglomeration of TV show themes, requiring Frankie Avalon to sing The Flintstones and hastily-minted lyrics to Bewitched, presumably to promote the shows mentioned. Broadway show tunes play a significant role in the show's musical lineup, with Frankie Avalon performing Do I Hear a Waltz? and Lola Falana doing a Matz-ized Loverly, and most of the material is safe, simple pop (American Pie fans will recognize Do You Believe in Magic?) with little risk or innovation that might have upset Max Factor, Clearasil or the show's other sponsors. Controversial humor and music is ixnayed—Hootenanny this is not. Still, Hullabaloo is entertaining and definitely of its time, with 60's hairdos, garish color schemes and curlicue set designs providing nostalgic fun, and the mostly-live performances record some very young acts at the height of their popularity.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Hullabaloo is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame television aspect ratio. Only three of the seven episodes are in color, drawn from archival broadcast videotape, with the remainder of the material (and bonus tracks) taken from black-and-white kinescope recordings. The image quality varies quite a bit—the color footage is very colorful with passable detail, while the kinescopes are generally softer. All the source material suffers from defects of one sort or another, ranging from scanline ripples and video glitches to some grain and scratches on the excerpted "bonus track" kinescopes, with occasional smearing and digital blocking artifacts introduced by the DVD transfer. MPI has stuffed over four hours of material onto a single-layer, two-sided disc, trading compression bandwidth for running time; given the mixed-quality nature of the source materials, this seems like an appropriate decision. Far from reference quality, but this restored material is as good as it's ever likely to look.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: MPI presents Hullabaloo with a Dolby Digital 2.0 monophonic soundtrack, preserving the simply-miked nature of the original TV show. A fair amount of restoration effort seems to have gone into the audio—it's fairly hiss-free throughout (except in the "bonus tracks") and there's even a bit of low-end bass during a few numbers. There's only so much that a cleanup can do, however—the show is occasionally poorly mixed, with instrumentation overpowering vocals, and the audio often has a thin, reedy, flat quality about it. Frequency range is limited and the TV-studio live audio is sometimes buzzy and clipped; the performances and patter are clear and comprehensible enough, but don't expect the same quality from Hullabaloo as from remastered audio recordings of the same era. Bonus points to MPI for making the effort; this material is never going to sound pristine and it's quite listenable in this DVD edition.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 73 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 59 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. 18 Bonus Tracks
Extras Review: MPI's Hullabaloo disc is highly navigable with nicely designed menus and 73 chapter stops (show openings, closings, and each and every musical number). Subtitles are provided in English, French, and Spanish, but unfortunately cover only the spoken word material, leaving lyrics (and therefore most of the footage) uncovered after a simple "[Singing Red Rubber Ball]" note.

There are also 18 "bonus tracks", worthwhile performances excerpted from episodes not scheduled for release in complete form; the material is in poorer condition than the main attraction, but watchable, with performances from Gene Pitney, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and others. The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein turns up here to introduce some British acts recorded at "Hullabaloo London." These bonus tracks add significantly to the disc's running time.

I would have liked to see some historical material on the show's genesis and brief two-year run on NBC, since its production company, Gary Smith Productions, was involved in the home video release with MPI. And the disc's "Side A" and "Side B" labels on my review copy were reversed, i.e., rather than following the convention that "Side B" up means "Side B" will be played, it's the other way around. But there's no shortage of content on this jam-packed Hullabaloo disc, and the potential "extras" won't be sorely missed.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

MPI's Hullabaloo disc presents several hours' worth of performances by mid-60's pop music acts, preserved as well as can be expected from aging videotape and kinescope sources. Good (if innocuous) material and generous running time make this disc a worthwhile purchase for nostalgia and history's sake. Recommended.


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