May 19, 2005

DVD Review: An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends Featuring Special Musical Guest Michael Feinstein

I think that is the single longest title I have ever written. With that out of the way, I am sure you are wondering why I am reviewing something which is completely opposite of the usual material that I review, but I figured I would stretch a bit. Even if it is not your cup of tea, it is very easy to see the hard work and care that goes into putting together a program such as this.

I am not a fan of ice skating, never have been and probably never will be. On the other hand, I have always been impressed with the sheer athleticism and intensity that the skaters bring to their craft. This particular show adds another level of complexity, live music. The entire set is skated to a live band, headed by Michael Feinstein.

This originally aired in 2004 as a special on NBC, even garnering a Daytime Emmy nomination. It is now being brought to DVD by Concord Records. They have done a fine job bringing it home. Besides the program there are a number of interviews and making of segments. But first let's take a look at the show.

If I have to watch skating, this is the type to watch, a fun program, not some competition. I find the competitions particularly bad, but when you take that tension away and put these skaters into a fun atmosphere, such as the one generated here, you are bound to have a more entertaining show. The skaters reflect that, as they truly look more like they are having fun out there.

The music is a variety of showtunes, rock and roll, swing, jazz, easy listening type ballads, all brought together and performed well by Michael Feinstein and his band. Combine his performance with a tight performance from Scott Hamilton and other skaters and what the result is actually a lot of fun.

In between the segments there is a lot of banter between Scott and Michael, joking and having fun. Michael will often talk about the piece he is about to perform, or some piece of information regarding the skater about to come out onto the ice.

Besides Michael Feinstein, who does a great job at delivering the music, Scott Hamilton is the star of the show. He proves just why he is one of the greatest to ever take to the ice, and I have to admit, I do find him entertaining and fun to watch, even with my general dislike for the sport.

This show is much more interesting than the standard dull competition. It cannot be easy to choreograph live skating (as if it could be any other way) with live music. There are just so many things that could go wrong. Any slight timing difference could turn a great work into a disasterpiece. A lot of work went into putting this together, and it shows.

Video. The show is presented in a 1.33:1 full frame and it looks good. No hi-def, but it is most likely better than how it looked on it's original broadcast.

Audio. Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation, sounds good, but the music could have used a 5.1 mix. The music represented could use the added richness that it would have provided.

Extras. There are two groups of extras on the disk.
-Interviews. Nearly a half hour of interviews with Michael Feinstein, Scott Hamilton, and others regarding how the project got started and the work that went into it.
-Making of. A little over a half an hour of behind the scenes footage of the skaters getting ready, getting the costumes ready, making sure the ice is ready, working out the choreography with the live music.

Bottomline. I am still not a skating fan, but this show was entertaining. I am very impressed with the entire live aspect to it. This is definitely recommended for skating fans, and mildly recommended for non-skating fans who may be interested in the live aspects of entertainment.


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