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Shout Factory presents

Dodger Blue: The Championship Years (2005)

"I don't believe what I just saw!" - Jack Buck, calling Kirk Gibson's Game 1 home run in the 1988 World Series

Stars: Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Kirk Gibson, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda
Other Stars: Charley Steiner
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:06m:08s
Release Date: 2005-05-17
Genre: sports

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

It tells you all you need to know about the geographic distribution and sports affinities of dOc reviewers that I, a Mets fan raising a Yankees fan, was deputized to review this history of the Dodgers. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should relate that my father grew up in Brooklyn, a Dodgers fan; to this day he is unforgiving about his team's move west, and his short list of the monsters of the twentieth century is headed by Hitler, Stalin and Walter O'Malley. Such sentiments have no place here, however, for this is a documentary for those who bleed Dodger blue. It's a rah rah look at the franchise and its world championships, a celebration of its traditions, and a canonization of the greatest players and managers in the history of the organization.

It's all about the rings here, so the action begins in 1955, when the Brooklyn Dodgers, after years of futility at the hands of the Yankees, finally vanquished the team from the Bronx in the World Series. The movie is heavy on interview clips with players from the time, including Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roger Craig; also paying their respects are Yankees Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra; and there are a few well-chosen words from Roger Kahn, sportswriter and author of The Boys of Summer, maybe the best baseball book ever written. (Curiously, very little time and attention is given to inarguably the most important player in the history of the franchise, and perhaps in all of baseball, and one of the Americans without whom the history of the twentieth century could not be written: Jackie Robinson.) O'Malley pulled up stakes, and the next year of glory is 1959, with the World Series played against the White Sox in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum; Chavez Ravine was the site of the next championship, 1963, over those damn Yankees again, and this time the emphasis is on the two legendary pitchers at the front of the rotation: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Among those paying their respects to Koufax are Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Joe Torre and Juan Marichal; Koufax may well be the most dominant pitcher of all time, for a brief run of years, and Drysdale made for a hell of a second.

Jump ahead to the 1970s, with the longtime Dodger infield: Steve Garvey at first, Davey Lopes at second, Bill Russell at short, Ron Cey at third. (The Penguin was always my favorite Dodger.) This is supposed to be a look at world championships, but the documentary cheats a little, with bits on the pennant-winning Dodgers who lost in the fall classic in 1974 (to Oakland), 1977 and 1978 (both times to the Yankees—Reg-GIE!). Almost as lionized as Koufax is Tommy Lasorda; then we're on to more championships, with Fernando-mania in 1981, and Orel Hershiser's astounding streak of scoreless innings in 1988, a postseason capped by Kirk Gibson's shot off of Eckersley. (I am still deeply bitter about Mike Scioscia's home run in the N.L. playoffs, a shot which spelled doom for my Mets.) Even if you're not a Dodger fan, you have to admit that Gibson's home run and the sight of him gimping around the base paths and pumping his fists is a pretty amazing moment.

Charley Steiner, the newest member of the Dodgers broadcast team, narrates, and while he's perfectly serviceable, he feels a little generic; part of that is because he was broadcasting Yankee games as recently as last year, but even more, it's because one of those interviewed here has been for decades the voice of the Dodger franchise: Vin Scully. The quick whip through the years since the 1988 World Series victory is energetic, but it's not much of a sales job—a bunch of Rookie of the Year awards and Paul Lo Duca going six for six isn't really a substitute for championships. The audience for a project like this is obviously self-selecting, and if you're a diehard Dodger fan, you won't be disappointed. 

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The transfer itself looks fine, but there's one major visual annoyance: the Major League Baseball logo is in the top right corner of the screen for the run of the documentary. Branding is one thing, but this seems a little out of hand.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: It all sounds clear enough, whether your preference is 5.1 or 2.0, English or Spanish; the archival clips look great, but sound a little ragged.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring History of Soccer, Warren Miller: Journey Through the Decades
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Footage of the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for three all-time Dodgers are included—they're for Lasorda (16m:00s), Drysdale (08m:04s), and Duke Snider (10m:42s). Of course it's always lovely to have a chance to see Bowie Kuhn again, but these seem like an arbitrary threesome—notably absent are Koufax and Robinson.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

You can't quite smell the peanuts and Dodger dogs, but then, you don't have to fight the L.A. traffic, either—a fond look back over the high moments of the last fifty years of the Dodger franchise. 

Jon Danziger 2005-05-18