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2020 World Series Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers [Blu-ray + DVD]
I just got done talking a little bit about sports and wondering what they will be in a world post-Covid, but I haven't really gotten into sports during Covid, which Major League Baseball decided it wanted to do. Rather than scrap the season when the virus emerged at the beginning of the year, MLB decided to do a truncated season, mostly done to empty seats and some done to empty venues. It wasn't without bumps in the road as numerous teams had outbreaks among their personnel (to say nothing of contentious talks on trying to even start the season) but they managed to get 60 regular season games and a postseason in as well.
The Los Angeles Dodgers stood head and shoulders above most, finishing with the best record over the shortened season, winning 43 of those 60. The team lost no notable players in a trade with the Boston Red Sox while acquiring All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price in February before the season shut down. While Price is a reliable pitcher, he opted out of the season due to Covid risks. Meanwhile, Betts routinely bats around .300 and had led the league in runs scored the prior two seasons with the Bosox, and led the team in runs scored, stolen bases and tied for the lead in home runs with the Dodgers, who steamrolled the competition in the regular season, and swept the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres in the first two rounds of the lengthened postseason. In playing the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series, they spotted a 3-1 lead to the Braves before rallying to take the series 4-3, and play the Tampa Bay Rays.
Due to Covid restrictions the Series was in Texas (like the NLCS) so crowds could be accommodated, and after seeing the teams split the first four games, Clayton Kershaw (notorious for his postseason struggles, particularly contrasted with his regular season excellence) pitched well enough for long enough to help secure a win in Game 5, and Game 6 saw the Rays manager pull their starter despite a strong outing, and the Dodgers cracked the Rays' bullpen, culminating with a Betts home run to secure the lead and clinch the Series with a 3-1 win. To end the season on a note that dominated it, Justin Turner, a Dodgers third baseman who was removed late in the game, had tested positive for Covid, but returned to celebrate with his teammates. Turner and the Dodgers were not disciplined for the infraction.
The World Series film that MLB Video and Shout! release is kind of special, in that longtime Dodgers broadcaster (retired since 2016) Vin Scully provides narration for this film. The 93-year-old Scully called the action in Dodgers games for almost three quarters of a century, and his oratory on the strange circumstances on the 2020 campaign is poignant, given his legendary status. He manages to communicate some of the moments of the Dodgers' season nicely and is a welcome addition to the film.
As far as the film itself, while the mechanisms for showing that things are different are effective. Getting set up for Zoom, masks and such are certainly different than a player going into a room and letting beat reporters go in and start firing away. Lots of reminders about masks and social distancing about, but after a little while you tend to drift away from it and focus on the games. And while that is nice, you…kind of…want more of Scully in these moments. I get that the games are supposed to speak for themselves and the tension building up to winning the last Series game conveys the drama better, but come on, it's Vin FREAKING Scully!!!! A little more mixing of his voice into things could have been better.
While it's nice to have Vin Scully back, having him used like any other narrator for World Series films feels like a big miss. Audiences are in weird places now, and creators trying to explain the differences in 2020 sports against previous years is going to be hard to illustrate for anyone. But the 2020 World Series Champions film feels like it does not take enough of that into consideration, to say nothing of almost shuffling the franchise's voice to the fringe a little. One sin could be forgivable, but I don't think the other could be ignored.The Blu-ray:
1.78:1 for the World Series film and looks good. There is some hand held camera in pre- and post-game situations, most of it is sit-down stuff and closer shots of game footage which is already in 720p (at worst) anyway, and it looks good, with color reproduction looking fine (Dodger blue has never looked better!) and flesh tones are natural. Given the recency of the source material you'd expect pristine material presented nicely and that's what you get.The Sound:
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is good, but doesn't blow the doors off in terms of presentation. There are player worn microphones where teammates trade jokes and such, but most of it is game broadcast audio and interviews, so it is dialogue centric and fine. There is little compensation the viewer has to do while you watch, and given the nature of the material there is not a lot to do.The Extras:
The stuff that usually comes with previous World Series films comes with this one. "How They Got There" (5:09) looks at various roster construction things and other moments where the Dodgers became the Dodgers. "Key Moments" (8:12) are more focused on the games, and "Clinching Moments" (9:16) is self-explanatory. There are postgame Series interviews (14:02) with the players as well. There is a SD copy of the film as well if you are into that kind of thing.Final Thoughts:
I was looking forward to getting a bunch of Vin Scully here and off the top that's a bummer for the 2020 World Series Champions film on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also I don't think you can necessarily put the current environment too far behind you in the mirror, and I think that the film tries to do this and cannot pull it off. Technically the disc is fine as are the supplements, they are basically in line with past films. But if you have a Dodger fan in your life, you should probably get this for them for the sake of good karma.