In 1963, CBS began airing what would be the only season of The Judy Garland Show. Spanning twenty-six episodes, the show was an uncomfortably paced variety hour that fared poorly in the ratings. Despite Garland's phenomenal popularity, nothing seemed to come together as the show was an inconsistent muddle of dull production numbers and flat comedy sketches. The Infinity Entertainment Group has issued The Judy Garland Show Collection on DVD. The four-disc set includes a mere three episodes as well as a disc of outtakes.
Disc one contains the show's first episode, taped June 24, 1963 (though aired in December of that year). Mickey Rooney, Garland's co-star in numerous movies, is featured performing a selection of duets with her. Fans of both may find something to enjoy, but there's not much here to recommend to a general audience. Garland and Rooney also talk a bit about their days working together at MGM studios in their youth.
The eighth episode, taped September 27, 1963, is found on disc two. This time Garland is joined by the bluegrass band, The Dillards, as well as actor George Maharis (of Route 66 fame). Maharis was a singer as well, and he steps up to the microphone for some rather stiff vocals. Comedian Jack Carter is on hand to tell a few very corny jokes.
The third disc jumps forward to the fourteenth episode, taped November 30, 1963. Casual viewers may find this to be the most entertaining episode, with Bobby Darin and Bob Newhart guest starring. Newhart is on hand for some comedy stylings. Darin sings several duets with Garland and both performers seem to be enjoying themselves. The energy level is high, with each of them seemingly inspiring the other. Too bad the earlier two episodes selected for this set weren't as much fun.
The fourth disc features outtakes, but not of the flubbed-line variety. Basically these are incomplete and/or alternate takes of Garland performing songs for the series. These will appeal mostly to diehard fans, as there is not much to hold the attention of the casual viewer. Actually it's all quite a sad sight to see the legendary star in these outtakes, exhausted and emaciated. Garland was in her early 40s when this show was produced but she looks 20 years older. A very hard and troubled life had clearly taken its toll by the time she taped the series. She would pass away about five years after the final episode aired.
The Judy Garland Show Collection is impossible to recommend. Spreading out 185 minutes of content over four DVDs is an unconscionable rip-off. The visual quality of these shows is actually very good. The black-and-white videography looks excellent considering the material's age. But it all could've fit comfortably on a single disc, resulting in a lower retail price. Besides that, fans deserve the entire twenty-six episodes in one release. Avoid Infinity Entertainment's release at all costs and wait for a complete collection if you are a Judy Garland enthusiast.