Tuesday, December 22, 2015

THE WIZ LIVE DVD and Soundtrack CD

Well, now that The Wiz Live! has happened and is done with (aside from its expected relocation on Broadway), how can we enjoy it now?

Well, as of today, the DVD is out, giving Oz fans a physical copy to have on their shelves.

The DVD isn't quite how viewers on December 3 saw the production as some botched camera angles and sound mixing have been corrected between the live broadcast and when the DVD went to press. Most importantly, Dorothy now clicks her heels three times. (In my review of the broadcast, I mentioned that the camera caught only one and a half clicks.)

The DVD is a pretty plain affair, opening on a simple menu that lets you select either playing The Wiz Live or the lone bonus feature, The Making of the Wiz Live. There is no chapter selection menu, subtitles or closed captions. (Digital video versions that support captions/subtitles include them, so Universal missed a beat.) I don't suppose there's many other bonus features that should have been added, unless they wanted to add at least some of the several TV spots that aired to promote it, or the introduction with Queen Latifah that aired in front of the broadcast. (There were several interviews with the cast and crew, but there may have been licensing issues when it came to including these.)

There are chapter breaks, most of them where the commercial breaks happened. The first one occurs right after the Tornado segment as lights come up in Munchkin Country.

It appears that The Making of the Wiz Live has been altered after its initial broadcast. The original broadcast contained clips from The Wiz on Broadway in 1975 and The Wiz movie. Now it only contains stills.

Lack of chapter menu and subtitles aside, the only major disappointment with this disc is that it's only on DVD, no Blu-Ray has been announced. Watching it on my computer, the image looked rather soft and some of the finer details blurred, which is what happens when you're limited to 480p. This is a fine look for DVD, but I know I'm not alone in wishing Universal would revisit this one on Blu-Ray with a nice 1080p encode so we can see it in full quality. They could also add in the subtitles as well.

I'd recommend any Oz/Wiz collector pick up the soundtrack album as well. It's available on CD and digital, with a nice booklet offering an appreciation of The Wiz, a synopsis of the show, the complete lyrics of all the songs on the album, complete credits for the album, and lots of photos. This booklet would make a nice companion for the DVD, but unfortunately, no one (except Criterion) does booklets for DVDs anymore.

The tracks are not culled from the broadcast, but studio-recorded. When we first saw the track listing, I noted it was very similar to the Original Broadway Cast Recording album.

  1. Prologue
  2. The Feeling We Once Had
  3. Tornado
  4. He's the Wizard
  5. Soon As I Get Home
  6. You Can't Win
  7. Ease On Down The Road
  8. Slide Some Oil To Me
  9. Mean Ole Lion
  10. Be A Lion
  11. So You Wanted To See The Wizard
  12. What Would I Do If I Could Feel
  13. We Got It
  14. Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News
  15. A Brand New Day
  16. Y'all Got It
  17. Believe in Yourself
  18. Home (same as the single track released in late November)
Yeah, take out "We Got It," swap out "You Can't Win" for "I Was Born On The Day Before Yesterday" and change the name of "A Brand New Day" to "Everybody Rejoice," and it'd be identical to the Original Broadway Cast album's listing.

I wonder if that was intentional, particularly as just as the OBC album mashed the last two versions of "Ease On Down the Road" together to make a new 2-verse version, and this new album uses that same arrangement. This verse isn't present on the album:
'Cause there may be times
When you think you lost your mind
And the steps you're takin'
Leave you three, four steps behind
You just keep on keepin'
On the road that you choose
Don't you give up walkin'
'Cause you gave up shoes,
 Overall, if you loved the songs as they were heard in the broadcast or the DVD, you'll love being able to play them on their own.

I do, however, wish they'd included more of the music. There was no need to cut "Ease On Down The Road" to one version, because with digital and CD, there was no limit on how long the album needed to run, unlike the Original Broadway Cast album. Well, CDs do hold up to 80 minutes. The tracks here have a running time of 48 minutes and 28 seconds, meaning there'd have been room for, at the very least, the music heard in the Emerald City scene or the Poppy scene.

Even with my quibbles, I'd recommend both the DVD and CD to fans of The Wiz! Unless you're reading this at a time when Universal has released it to Blu-Ray. Then definitely get the Blu-Ray instead of the DVD.

1 comment:

Ryan Jay said...

Nice article - Thanks Jared!! And I agree - the inclusion of the Em City & Poppy music would have been amazing on the CD!!