Holiday Gift Alert! DVD Review: Robin Williams: Comic Genius (12 Disc Collection)

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Time Life has honored the life of the late Robin Williams with a pair of massive DVD sets. Robin Williams: Comic Genius is now available as a 22-disc set or a more economically-priced 12-disc edition. Discussed here is the 12-disc edition, which is jam-packed with some 30 hours of material—so, rest assured, if you or someone you love is a Williams superfan, you might consider the 50+ hour 22-disc box set. Regardless of what your budget will allow, Time Life has done the comedic legend proud (the more compact set is amazing; I can only imagine the full set is even more so).

Basically there are four multi-DVD volumes and the first two have been packaged together as the 12-disc version. The sheer volume of material collected, included pieces sourced directly from Williams' private VHS tape archive, is pretty staggering. The meat of the six-disc first volume are five HBO comedy specials, collected in one place for the first time: Off the Wall (1978), An Evening with Robin Williams (1983), An Evening at the Met (1986), Live on Broadway (2002), and Weapons of Self Destruction (2009).

Those uncut stand-up specials would are absolutely worthy of their own collection, all on their own. But there's tons more here. Each disc is supplemented by a generous amount of shorter vintage pieces, sourced from a wide variety of comedy shows and specials. And again, there are pieces that come from Williams' archive, including a priceless surprise concert appearance in which Williams joined Bobby McFerrin onstage. The sixth disc of the first volume, Robin's USO Christmas, is loaded with Afghanistan and Iraq-war era performances by Williams (and others, including Lewis Black, who also turns up throughout the set to introduce various clips) for the troops. This is definitely some rare stand-up material for fans, sourced from Armed Forces broadcasts.

Disc one of the second volume is entirely focused on Mork & Mindy, with six episodes representing the 'best of' the show's first season (including the two-part pilot). A couple episodes have new Pam Dawber intros, plus there's a new interview with Dawber. Discs two through five also focus on Williams' TV various appearances. Disc two boasts three episodes of Saturday Night Live hosted by Williams (these are about 45-minutes each, edited to exclude some of the non-Williams content it would seem), all from the '80s and each a valuable time capsule piece.

Disc three's main feature is a 1991 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but there is also a gut-busting—I mean priceless—12-minute clip from the 2003 Critics' Choice Awards. There were three nominees for Best Male Actor, and the winner was a two-man tie. Guess who didn't win? But one of the winners did invite Williams to the stage and the results are simply hilarious.

Appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno dominate the fourth disc, while the fifth disc is given over to James Lipton's Inside the Actor's Studio extended interview with Williams. There's also "Great Moments That Didn't Make the Cut." Last but certainly not least, the sixth disc of the second volume is devoted to the incredible, feature-length 2018 HBO documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.

Can you imagine a Christmas or New Year's marathon of Robin Williams comedy? I can, because it's how I spent Thanksgiving—this set is pretty addictive once you start exploring it. Anyone who loves the innovations of Robin Williams should head over to Time Life and consider snagging one or the other of their new collections. Never mind the quite frankly terrible cover art (which makes the release look like a generic, bargain basement collection of public domain material). Robin Williams: Comic Genius presents everything necessary to remember and honor the greatly missed legend.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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