Being a hard-core Packers fan, I wasn't sure what to expect from a documentary chronicling the history of the Dallas Cowboys. But the football fan in me didn't take long to show itself as I quickly found myself immersed in the in the team's amazing story.
Disc one of The Dallas Cowboys: The Complete History of America's Team uses film clips both old and new, interviews both old and recent, and the patented NFL Films narration and music to capture the essence of the Dallas Cowboys history. Disc two, however, focuses solely on the 1992 NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, a victory that catapulted the Cowboys into the first of three Super Bowls in the next four years.
Disc One: The Complete History of the Dallas Cowboys
In 1960, the NFL expanded to include a new team called the Dallas Cowboys. Coached by the soon-to-be legendary Tom Landry, the team received three bad players from each of the other teams in the league, and their season showed it. The early footage of the team is comical, as the Cowboys went 0-11-1 thanks to some poor playing on both sides of the ball.
But the team's losing ways didn't last long. With the drafting of defense end Bob Lilly, the Doomsday Defense began to develop. Meanwhile, on offense, Don Perkins running led the way to more and more victories. Although the first 10 years of the team only take up 10 minutes of this documentary, there are some nice highlights (and lowlights) of the team, and some very interesting comments from players and coach Landry.
The good times really began with the introduction of quarter back Roger Staubach in 1971 and later in 1977 with the appearance of running back Tony Dorsett. Although the team went on to play in four Super Bowls that decade, there is very little footage to be found here. I understand that the Cowboys have many shining moments in their 43 year history, but trimming off the early Super Bowl footage seems to be a glaring error.
Luckily, this is soon forgotten as the team progresses to becoming America's Team. Thanks to the creativity and marketing genius of Tex Schramm, the President of the Cowboys who came up with the idea to highlight the sexy Cowboys cheerleaders and who helped make the team most marketable team in the nation.
Naturally, there is more footage and more interviews surrounding the more recent glory years. When Jimmy Johnson took the coaching reins, it wasn't long before the Cowboys were back in the upper echelon of teams in the NFL. There are some great clips found here for Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.
Yes, the gang is all here, from the early days of Mel Renfro to the current secondary stud, Roy Williams. This disc has it all covered. Although I would've liked to see more footage of the older players and fewer interview clips, this documentary does a wonderful job of showing how the Cowboys went from laughing stock to one of the best teams in NFL history.
Disc Two: The 1992 NFC Championship Game
The 1992 NFC Championship game is one of the many great games in Cowboys history, particularly because the victory put them in the first of three Super Bowls for the team over the next four years. Although the game itself does not come down to the wire, it is a good, solid football game.
Instead of the typical NFL Films narration, this presentation features a play-by-play broadcast of the game, focusing on the key plays and cutting out all the fluff, like huddles and time outs. It's like watching it live, with stats popping up just like a current game. Except when there's a particularly important play, recent interviews appear with a player explaining what it was like on the field and what emotions were prevailing at the time. This is definitely a great way to watch the game.
Forty-Niners fans may cringe while watching this footage, as the combatants seem evenly matched, but the 49ers definitely made more mistakes, including a couple of costly turnovers. The turning point of the game might have come on the first drive, when a Jerry Rice touchdown was nullified due to a holding penalty, one that was ticky tack at best.
These two teams truly battled in the mud of Candlestick Stadium, but the Cowboys came away with the victory. Thanks to this presentation, football fans young and old can watch some of the best players in the history of the NFL play in one game.
NFL Films and Warner Bros. Pictures present The Dallas Cowboys: The Complete History of America's Team in all of its full frame glory. With all the old clips and various sources for the highlights, I wasn't expecting the video to be all that good. However, most of the older footage looks great, with a surprising amount of bright colors. You still get some blemishes here and there, but highlights from 1960 to the 1970s looks sharp. Naturally, the more modern images look even better, with bright colors and proper darkness in the shadows.
The 1992 NFC Championship footage looks great too, with sharp detail throughout the presentation. The colors are very vibrant and look spot on.
Despite boasting only a Dolby 2.0 track, The Dallas Cowboys: The Complete History of America's Team actually sounds pretty good. The boom boom boom of the NFL Films music sounds really nice here, but I can only imagine what it would've been like with the woofer taking charge. But that shouldn't count against this track. The music is deep and powerful, and the interview voices are crisp, clean, and easy to understand. At times I would've liked more audio to come from the field (although some of the more recent footage does feature some smacks and pops from the field), but with the older footage, that's asking too much. There's no static or other interference, and I can't imagine any of these features sounding better.
The menus on disc one feature the trademark music associated with an NFL Films release along with imagery of Cowboys greats. The menus on disc two offer the same tone, but with images from the 1992 NFC Championship game. Neither menus are astounding, but they definitely got me excited to watch the features.
THE BONUS FEATURES
The bonus features in this set are spread among both discs, with disc one owning most of the extras. Each featurette runs between five and eight minutes (unless noted) and includes interviews, game footage, and voice over commentary from various NFL Films narrators.
First up on disc one is 1979 Redskins-Cowboys Shootout, clips and interviews detailing the Roger Staubach-led comeback in the Eastern Division Title game. This back and forth battle was definitely a doozy. Next up is Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, a brief look at the troubled linebacker who became an alcoholic and drug addict and went from the Super Bowl to a jail cell. This is really moving stuff.
Also on disc one is Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters, a look at two of the Cowboys best safeties who went on to work together after their playing days just as they did on the field. Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Bill Bates feature interviews and highlights of the famous defensive end and little known safety, respectively.
Last up on disc one is Bill Parcell's 1st Dallas Win. Running at just over two minutes, this short featurette highlights the finer moments in the 2003 match-up vs. the Giants.
Over on disc two, you'll find a Super Bowl XXVII recap that focuses on one of the best games in Cowboys history, their return to glory. You also get a closer look at the life and times of Troy Aikman, from his little league days to UCLA to the Super Bowls and beyond.
The only thing missing here is a featurette (or heck, why not a full-length feature?) on the Cowboys cheerleaders.
Cowboys fans have to own this disc, while hard-core football fans need to at least rent it. There are some really good clips featuring NFL legends, so it is definitely recommended viewing.