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
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'
- the Bronx Is Burning Webisodes (roughly a
minute and a half long and letterboxed):
- Thank You For Making This Day
- Reg-gie, We Hardly New Ye
- Oh, Mickey, You're So Fine You Blow My
Mind, Oh, Mickey
- What Would Jesus Hit?
- 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)
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
- "Cliff Johnson, Graig Nettles & Fran Healy on Son of Sam"
Allen on Reggie Jackson batting 4th"
- "Willie Randolph on the Sport Magazine
- "Sam Roberts on Jimmy Breslin and the Son of Sam case"
- "George Steinbrenner on relationships with
- "Graig Nettles on Fenway Dugout
- "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"
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
- "Willie Randolph on Cookie Rivers smashing Mickey Rivers' car"
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
- "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.
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.
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.
- "Mr. October" 6m 24s,
- "Son of Sam" 15m 58s,
- "the Mayoral Race"
- "the Blackout" 6m 11s.
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.