The beloved television show Candid Camera, which many consider the first reality TV show, was a long-running series that delighted in creating strange situations and recording people's reactions to them. This disc features the greatest moments of the show, and while some of them are quite good, not all live up to the moniker.
Some of the standout segments from this collection include the talking mailbox, where a voice within a mailbox talks to passersby on a city street, and the car without a motor, where a woman coasts into a auto body shop's parking lot only to find a bewildered mechanic who cannot understand how she got there. Some of the simplest gags are the funniest. In one clip, a "Rest Room" sign is placed on a closet door, and the people are so clearly puzzled that it is hilarious; one man goes in and out of the closet several times, as though he cannot believe his eyes.
Celebrities' appearances are included here as well. Woody Allen, Jayne Mansfield, Dolly Parton, Muhammad Ali, and Buster Keaton are all involved in gags. Allen's is particularly funny, where he plays a boss who dictates an extremely inappropriate letter to a secretary, who is at the same time amused and surprised by the letter. Muhammad Ali surprises children in a grade school classroom, and they are clearly delighted to see him! One terrific aspect to the celebrity segment is that they appear to be so excited to be on the fun. Ali arm wrestles one of the children and spars with another, and he is a natural with the children. Dolly Parton fans may be disappointed to see how little time she is given on screen – less than a minute.
Another interesting segment is the "Then and Now" collection, where past gags are repeated to gauge whether or not people's reactions have changed over time. The first gag, where a conveyor belt goes haywire, delivering too many cakes at one time, isn't all that funny, however there are several other gags that are quite good. Overall, it appears that people's reactions haven't changed all that much.
After a while, watching this DVD gets tedious. Some of the clips are clearly better than others, giving the collection an uneven feel. While some are laugh-out-loud funny, many more could only be described as cute or even just okay. That said, viewers who loved the original show will enjoy seeing the vintage clips all in one place.
Considering the age of some of this footage, the picture is surprisingly sharp and clear. It is presented in full screen. Many of the black-and-white segments are free of the graininess that usually accompanies such footage, although the newer the segments, usually the better the picture is on this disc.
The sound quality of these discs is adequate, but given the age of the clips, at times an echo can be heard. The best sound occurs from the present-day narration that sets up and at times explains the segments.
There are no extras to be had here, however the very generous runtime of 130 minutes more than makes up for it. In addition, the on-screen menus are very helpful and unusually well-organized.
Rent this one before you buy, unless you are a diehard fan or are sure that there is a particular segment you absolutely must have on DVD. Otherwise, this disc makes for an amusing couple of hours, but it is not anything that is going to blow viewers away.