I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge Oprah Winfrey fan. It's nothing personal, but I just don't worship at her shrine the way so many other Americans seem to do. That being said, this special 6-disc 20th Anniversary Collection of clips and memories of The Oprah Winfrey Show was simply a delight to watch – not so much because of Oprah herself, but because of the many stories and people she has crossed paths with over the last 20 years. I went into the set thinking I would be mildly entertained, and found myself smiling, laughing, and yes…even crying…at some of the things I watched.
Rather than one long presentation, each disc contains a number of short segments which all run anywhere from a half-hour to a little over an hour each. The first disc opens up with The Beginning, which gives viewers the story of how Oprah got her start in Chicago and eventually became a nationally syndicated show. In this segment and most of the others on the DVDs, there is new interview footage of Oprah as she reminisces about the events in her life or the particular show that is being discussed. There's a few interesting tidbits in The Beginning - including the fact that not only did film critic Roger Ebert give Oprah the idea about going into syndication, but the two actually went out on a date!
Also on Disc 1 is Heartprints, which shows some clips from the more emotional moments of The Oprah Winfrey Show. We also get to see Part One of The Stars, which spreads across the first 5 discs of this set. In this segment, we get to see Oprah interview such notables as John Travolta (apparently her favorite celebrity), Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, and many others.
Disc 2 begins with Aha!, 20 years worth of "Lessons" that have been learned on Oprah's show. Surprise! is a segment where different people on the show have been surprised – including a funny moment where Oprah brings in a fan to meet Tom Cruise. Home includes tours of Oprah's house, Kirstie Alley's house and a few other home-related segments, such as Jerry O'Connell getting a total makeover of his bachelor pad.
Finally, the second segment of The Stars includes such fan-favorites as Tom Cruise (yes, the couch jumping incident is here!), Bill Cosby, Jay Leno, Denzel Washington, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith.
The Interviews is one of the most interesting segments on all the DVDs, as it includes extended interview moments with some of the more notable people of the last 20 years, including the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., plus Sindey Poitier and Nelson Mandela.
Firsts is a collection of clips where Oprah tried things out like dancing on stage with Tina Turner; being in basic training; working at McDonalds; or cycling with Lance Armstrong.
The third section of The Stars includes popular actors such as Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman and Brad Pitt.
Another very interesting segment to watch is on Disc 4 and is entitled The Headlines. Here we get clips from the shows that covered some of the major events of the last 20 years, including 9/11, Columbine and the O.J. Simpson trial and verdict.
Makeover Hall Of Fame covers some of the shows where makeovers were given, and also takes a look at the many different "looks" of Oprah over the past 20 years.
In part four of The Stars, viewers will get to see clips of people like Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Britney Spears and Meg Ryan, among others.
You knew there would be at least one section on this DVD set devoted to Weight, and it's on Disc 5. Not only do we get to see Oprah's up and down battle with the bulge in this section, but it also covers some of the other shows devoted to the topic of weight loss.
Books covers the creation of Oprah's Book Club and some of the segments devoted to it; while Angels covers the creation of Oprah's "Angel Network". Wildest Dreams: The 19th Season includes some of the more creative giveaways Oprah has devised – including giving a brand-new car to every one of her audience members.
In the fifth and final segment of The Stars, viewers will see clips featuring Paul McCartney, Adam Sandler, Richard Gere, and a number of others.
The final disc in the set begins with Oprah's 50th Birthday Bash which was an episode of the show devoted to her turning 50. There's no clips here – we get to see the episode in it's entirety.
Disc 6 also contains another complete episode of the show: Christmas Kindness, where Oprah visits South Africa.
Behind The Scenes: A Day In The Life Of The Oprah Winfrey Show was shot during the final days of Season 19 and takes a backstage look at how the program is produced.
Finally, there's Laughs!, a look at some of the more humorous moments of the show, including some practical jokes that Oprah has masterminded.
Each disc is presented in the full-frame format and comes with 2.0 Dolby Digital sound. Both the picture and the audio are nicely transferred, although some of the older clips do show their age. It's about what one would have expected for a look back on a television talk show.
This was where it was very hard to grade since, depending on how you look at the set, either there are no extras or everything could be considered an extra! Therefore, I decided to split it right down the middle and give the "Extras" an average rating.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I have to admit, I enjoyed this set quite a bit. And if a non-Oprah fan like myself enjoyed it, I'm willing to bet that a follower of Ms. Winfrey is simply going to love these DVDs. It should also be noted that Oprah herself receives no profit from these discs. Any cut that Harpo Productions gets is being donated to her "Angel Network". There's no word, however, on what Paramount (who is putting out the DVDs) is doing with their cut! Regardless, those interested in this set can go ahead and buy with the confidence that they will be getting many hours of entertainment. I highly recommend picking this set up.