Robin Williams Remembered - Pioneers of Television
(Penny Marshall, Jonathan Winters, Henry Winkler, Yakov Smirnoff, Pam Dawber, et al / NR / 2014 / PBS)
Overview: This one-hour special features highlights from Robin Williams' last full-length television interview, tributes from those who knew and worked with him closely, and clips from iconic moments throughout his career.
DVD Verdict: When Robin Williams died in August, every network rushed to create a “special” to air that night or a day later. PBS took a bit more time – though not much. Documentary Director Steven J. Boettcher had apparently already started a documentary about Williams or had footage of one of Williams' last interviews in preparation of another episode of PBS’ “Pioneers of Television” series.
Boettcher gathered the interview footage and contacted show business folks close to Williams and compiled this loving – and often hilarious (thanks to Williams amazing comic talents) 55 minute show. It aired a few weeks after his death as a one-off, but thanks to PBS Home Video it is now out on DVD for us all to lovingly own.
I’d say that nearly half of the time is spent on Williams’ role on TV’s 'Mork and Mindy' (which ran four seasons). But that is also some of the funniest material here. It was an offshoot from 'Happy Days' and so Henry Winkler (The Fonz) gets to discuss working with Williams. And “Mindy”. Pam Dawber, tells some great on the set stories, especially about the fourth season when Jonathan Winters (seen her in interviews before his death) and Williams would improvise (the script just said “Williams and Winters do shtick”).
Then the tribute moves on to his feature film career with clips from 'Good Will Hunting', the highly underrated 'Popeye,' 'Mrs. Doubtfire' and, of course, the manic 'Good Morning, Vietnam.' In this portion we learn that Williams recorded nearly 10 hours of material as the DJ in Vietnam, but only some was used. Perhaps showing us some of that never-before-seen footage would have been rather nice; but no. Robin Williams was a legend, is a legend, always will be a legend and this DVD goes a long way to ensuring we all remember that. [SR] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.