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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Bronx Is Burning: World Championship Limited Edition
The Bronx Is Burning: World Championship Limited Edition
ESPN Original Entertainment // PG // December 18, 2007
List Price: $59.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Crichton | posted January 23, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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"There it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is burning." - Howard Cosell.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Yankees magical 1977 season, ESPN adapted Jonathan Mahler's Book, Ladies And Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, into an eight-episode mini-series last year. Premiering last July, the Bronx Is Burning starred Oliver Platt, John Turturro and Daniel Sanjaya and documented the turbulent summer of 1977 in New York City. Mainly focusing on the relationship between Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, team manager Billy Martin and new acquisition Reggie Jackson, there are also plot threads involving the NYC mayoral race, the Son Of Sam hysteria and a blackout that crippled the city.

However, you've read all this already. My fellow reviewer, David Walker, summed it up quite succinctly in his review for a three-disc set which ESPN released last September. A scant three months later, ESPN re-released the Bronx Is Burning in a "World Championship Limited Edition". In addition to the three discs from the initial release, ESPN has added two disc of bonus content as well as a ballcap and a 1977 team photo. Let's take a look at the new additions:

Disc One contains the first four episodes - "the Straw", "Team In Turmoil", "Time For A Change?" and "the Seven Commandments" as well as Yankee Bios - scrolling text-only bios for George Steinbrenner (written by Mike Puma), Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson (both written by Nick Acocella). Disc Two contains the final four episodes - "CAUGHT!", "The Game's Not As Easy As It Looks, Fellas", "Past Combatants" and "Mr. October". Disc Three was originally the initial release's bonus content disc. In addition to some Outtakes (3m 13s) and an On the Set Featurette (22m 27s), there's also the following:

  • Deleted And Extended Scenes (letterboxed and available with optional audio commentary by Executive Producer Gordon Greisman):
    • Billy And Gretchen Discussion
    • Billy And Yogi Drive
    • Club House Rain Delay
    • Reggie Meets Sydney In Bar
    • Yogi Suggests Billy Stop His Cattin' Way
  • the Bronx Is Burning Webisodes (roughly a minute and a half long and letterboxed):
    • Thank You For Making This Day Necessary
    • Reg-gie, We Hardly New Ye
    • Oh, Mickey, You're So Fine You Blow My Mind, Oh, Mickey
    • Thurman
    • What Would Jesus Hit?
    • Wisdom
    • the King Is Dead
  • the Interviews (roughly a minute and a half long and letterboxed):
    • George Steinbrenner (10m 54s)
    • Reggie Jackson (8m 37s)
    • Billy Martin, Jr. (10m 39s)
    • John Turturro (6m 48s)
  • Stories Of '77 (letterboxed):
    • Fenway Dugout Brawl (6m 31s)
    • Sport Magazine Article (6m 21s)

Moving on to disc four, ESPN was kind enough to include the Complete Game 6 from the 1977 World Series (close to two hours long and also found on the New York Yankees 1977 World Series Collector's Edition), as well as "Game Highlights", essentially a 15-19 minute recap of each World Series game. The final disc contains "the Bronx Is Burning Anecdotes", each one lasting for roughly a minute or so.

  • "Phil Pepe on George Steinbrenner hiring Billy Martin"
  • "Mike Lupica on George Steinbrenner wooing Reggie Jackson"
  • "Reggie Jackson on "The straw that stirs the drink" quote"
  • "Willie Randolph on The Big Red Machine of 1976"
  • "Cliff Johnson, Graig Nettles & Fran Healy on Son of Sam"
  • "Maury Allen on Reggie Jackson batting 4th"
  • "Willie Randolph on the Sport Magazine fallout"
  • "Sam Roberts on Jimmy Breslin and the Son of Sam case"
  • "George Steinbrenner on relationships with players"
  • "Graig Nettles on Fenway Dugout argument"
  • "Maury Allen on Reggie Jackson & Thurman Munson's differences"
  • "Joseph Borelli on night Son of Sam was almost caught"
  • "Bucky Dent on Yankees - Red Sox rivalry"
  • "Cliff Johnson on Thurman Munson as a family man"
  • "Henry Hecht on George Steinbrenner's hotel room meeting"
  • "Stan Brooks & Joseph Borelli on Son of Sam stake out"
  • "Jimmy Breslin on 1977 blackout riots"
  • "Lou Piniella on the hotel room meeting"
  • "Fran Healy on Reggie Jackson's media savvy"
  • "Willie Randolph on Cookie Rivers smashing Mickey Rivers' car"
  • "Graig Nettles on George Steinbrenner's use of the media"
  • "Chris Chambliss on strength of Yankee lineup"
  • "Graig Nettles on fan support and Yankees - Royals rivalry"
  • "George Brett on dirty play in 1977 ALCS"
  • "Fran Healy on Billy Martin benching Reggie Jackson in Game 5 of the ALCS"
  • "Tommy Lasorda on confidence in his 1977 LA Dodgers team"
  • "George Brett on Yankees - Dodgers 1977 team differences"
  • "Steve Garvey on difference of World Series fans in NY and LA"
  • "Willie Randolph and George Steinbrenner on the Yankees - Dodgers rivalry"
  • "Cliff Johnson clubhouse memories"
  • "Reggie Jackson on his 3 home runs in World Series Game 6"
  • "Don Sutton, Tommy Lasorda and Steve Garvey on Mr. October heroics"
  • "Murray Chass & Phil Pepe on Steinbrenner after 1977 World Series".

Additionally, there is something called Archival News Features, though the "Thurman Munson Tragedy" looks a little too new to be considered "Archival" -

  • "Reggie Jackson Signs" - 1m 36s of footage with NBC News reporter Dick Schaap reporting at Jackson's press conference signing with the Yanks.
  • "Handshake Controversy" - This 2m 54s clip shows interviews with both Jackson and Thurm where they discuss the aftermath the Sport Magazine article and incidents during the Red Sox game on May 23, 1977 (Jackson refused to shake the team's hand after hitting a game-tying home run) and their May 29, 1977 game against the White Sox (Munson returns the favor to Jackson after being knocked in by a Chris Chambliss home run).
  • "Thurman Munson Tragedy" - A 10m 45s report hosted by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi and featuring comments from Lou Piniella, Bobby Murcer and Diana Munson. This extra is significant because Munson friend and fellow passenger on that fatal flight, Jerry Anderson finally breaks his silence about what happened on the plane.

Rounding out the special features found on disc five is "More Stories Of '77" - , which is essentially extended versions of the backstories shown at the end of each the Bronx Is Burning episode when it was broadcast on ESPN.

  • "Mr. October" 6m 24s,
  • "Son of Sam" 15m 58s,
  • "the Mayoral Race" 6m 57s,
  • "the Blackout" 6m 11s.
Video: It might not have looked as good as when I watched it on ESPN HD, but the Bronx Is Burning had a pretty sharp and colorful 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture. While the archival footage is what one would expect from that day and age - washed out colors, dirt and a slightly out of focus picture - I agree with Mr. Walker in thinking that the "green screen" shots were terrible and far more jarring than the occasional attempts to seamlessly integrate archival footage during some games.

Audio:
The Bronx Is Burning is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0. It was average, but I didn't have any problems with it.

Conclusion:
As a DVD enthusiast, I am all too familiar with the concept of a "double dip". Most studios, however, wait more than three months to stick it to those fans who've already thrown down their hard-earned money for the initial release. If they had merely included a hat and a photo, it would take me half a second to tell you to skip this set (particularly if you were able to get the team photo during last year's New York Times Sunday summer giveaway). But, wait...what about the two extra discs? Well, disc four contains something any diehard fan would surely already own, which leaves disc five. Though this disc features only roughly an additional hour of material, it's quite informative and complements the mini-series quite well. Fans will definitely want to go through the hassle of trying to unload the original release and add this to their collection. For them, the Bronx Is Burning: World Championship Limited Edition is Recommended. Casual fans who've purchased the initial release and fans of baseball would be better off trying to rent the fifth disc.
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