Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

The Judy Garland show

Prompted by something leatherapron posted a while ago, I put the final two The Judy Garland Show DVDs on my Netflix list. Last weekend and this week I watched the episodes thereon, and was amazed by a few things. First is what a phenomenal belt voice she had. She did not have much more than an octave and a half range, but she could sure belt out what she had. Kind of ironic for Hollywood's poster child for Sweet Young Thing™. While she sang her share of ballads and torch songs, many of them were arranged to segue into jazz or belt arrangements. And she did many numbers which were pure belt & Big Band jazz.

Her theme music was, of course, the opening bars from Over The Rainbow. I was hoping she would close out the series with that number, but she didn't perform it at all that final season.

The season started with guest stars Steve Allen and Mel Torme and Allen's wife Jane Meadows. There was a troupe of about a dozen dancers with three costume changes and some basic choreography. There was also an off-screen chorus of maybe 6-8 voices and a full orchestra. By the end of the season, there were no guests, no dancers. no choreographer, the orchestra was onstage and the show was subtitled "Judy Garland in Concert".

Physically, she did not look as bad as I had remembered (I was 13 when this series was broadcast, and I know we watched it at home). She looked okay for someone in her early 60's. But then I did the math. This was 1964. She was born in 1922. She was 42. Yikes!

The final DVD included outtakes. Some of the outtakes were scenes which were cut from the broadcast because Judy was unable to complete the number. While the written commentary on these was very kind, the video spoke louder than the text.

It's obvious from the progression of the shows that Judy became more and more difficult to work with, and people dropped off the production and guests canceled. It is also obvious that her fans were extremely loyal, sometimes staying till 3 am for a taping to complete. However, as the season wore on, there were more and more empty seats.

During one of the final shows, she did a musical tribute to her children. She sang a song each for Liza, Joe and Lorna. Joe and Lorna were in the audience, Liza was not. Liza would have been about 16 at the time. Interesting, because she had been on two episodes the previous season, and I don't see her working on anything at the time from her IMDB credits.

Some un-Judy-related comments about the show:

  • The arrangements sucked, especially the orchestra's overtures, which were a mish-mash of unrelated tunes in no perceivable order, some of which were not being sung that night.

  • There were no sets. The show was shot on a bare stage with only the most rudimentary of lighting effects. There weren't even backdrops or a cyc. Lighting was awful.

  • The orchestra was pretty good. The conductor did a fine job of following Judy's sometimes erratic tempos and covering missed entrances. You could tell he was a fan.

the first DVD in the series is next up. I don't know if I'll review it - my main purpose in getting the series was to see if my memory of how much she had deteriorated was accurate. For the most part, it wasn't. In my mind she was totally washed up, but in these clips I saw someone who could still belt out a song full force.

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