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STUDIO: Warner Bros.
RUNNING TIME: 1200 Minutes
• Does the box count?
"It’s hockey meets…shit, it’s really just hockey. Hmm, gotta gussie this up a bit. What to do, what to do…I know! It’s hockey meets graphic, hardcore pornography!"
Forty years worth of Philadelphia Flyers team members, including Jeremy Roenick, Bobby Clarke, Keith Primeau, and Tim Kerr.
Hold on to your butts, sports fans. This is twenty hours worth of pure, unadulterated Philadelphia Flyers-love, culled from ten of their most popular games. I’ll put it another way: this is a fuckton of Philadelphia sports not featuring a certain Italian Stallion.
You know, being Russian doesn’t automatically make you the next fucking Baryshnikov.
I don’t mean to go all Harry Knowles here, but I think a little personal setup is important. I don’t watch hockey, save for those examples featuring the Hanson brothers or Emilio Estevez. I don’t really watch any sports. Come to think of it, unless it’s film, comic book, or porn-related, I’m pretty useless in general. All of which made going through the 1200 minutes of hockey on this disc a bit daunting. I mean, all that hockey on virgin eyes? I was either gonna come out a convert or grow nauseated at even the mention of the word “puck.”
As it stands, neither of those happened.
This Philadelphia Flyers set had me interested and dead bored in pretty equal measures. You get right down to it, and sports are just conflict, boiled down to its barest essentials: one side vs. the next. Just for shits and giggles, here’s a full list of the games included.
05/09/74 – Stanley Cup Final game, Flyers vs. Bruins
05/19/74 – Stanley Cup Final game, Flyers vs. Bruins again
05/27/75 – Stanley Cup Final game, Flyers vs. Buffalo
01/11/76 – Flyers vs. Soviet Red Army
12/22/79 – Flyers vs. Bruins again
04/13/85 – Division Semifinals game, Flyers vs. Rangers
05/28/87 – Stanley Cup Final game, Flyers vs. Edmonton
05/04/00 – Eastern Conference Semifinals game, Flyers vs. Penguins
05/04/04 – Eastern Conference Semifinals, Flyers vs. Maple Leafs
05/20/04 – Eastern Conference Semifinals, Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
And there are some great examples of conflict here, some great human drama, played out on the ice. You get a really hard fought game against the Edmonton Oilers, made even more special due to the ass-whipping hockey great Wayne Gretzky received from the Flyers. Their 1985 game against the New York Rangers is a remarkably high-scoring and fast paced (for this set, anyways) affair, with the Flyers nailing like four goals in nine minutes. And, in what’s probably the piece de resistance for this set, their 1976 game against the Soviet Red Army. Call me old fashioned, maybe call me just a huge Kurt Russell fan, but watching Americans bitch-slap the Russkies never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
But man, every exciting moment seemed to have its deathly dull counterpart. I take full credit for not being thrilled; I appreciate and respect the skill and art that goes into hockey, but it just ain’t for me. The Flyers may have won 29 games in a row with their defeat of the Bruins in 1979, but man, watching this game was like watching paint watching paint dry (and that’s not a typo). Likewise, I’m sure a lot of hard work and practice went into the amazing job of defense both Philadelphia and Buffalo put forth in the 1975 Stanley Cup game, but no one scored for three periods! Three! And don’t get me started on the 2000 game against Pittsburgh! Sixty minutes go by, a whole game, without anyone scoring anything. Then, and this was the part that felt like a cruel joke as I was watching it, they play in overtime for another sixty minutes before scoring a single goal! That hurt, to say the least.
"Ah, date night. Time to add a little lube to the old hysterectomy mask."
And yet, this is a worthwhile set. The variety of games is impressive; they don’t just focus on one time period but jump all over the past forty years. And Lord knows Philadelphia fans will love the set. They do seem to have a lot to be proud of, what with their team being the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup (thank you, Wikipedia), and this set showcases the team at their finest.
It’s a big, sloppy blowjob to hockey fans. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Note: The games are not 100% uncut. Both the 1974 Bruins game and the 1985 Rangers game are missing footage, the first half of the second period in the first game and assorted early bits from the second game, but given the probable (un)availability of restoration materials, it’s understandable. Plus, Warner Bros did right in these two games, including opening graphics explaining the problem. Just FYI.
The picture and sound quality definitely vary, but that’s due to the age of the materials. Older games are far grainier, with a somewhat streaky, hazy quality to the visuals and washed-out sound, while new games look better and better; the games in the 2000s look almost identical to current ESPN standards, with better sound as well.
I really thought the packaging was classy for this set: simple logo on black for the cover, with the discs themselves packaged in chronological order in double-disc slim-line cases (that’s two discs per case for those in the Michigan Militia who are reading this). As for the special features…oh wait, there aren’t any. On one hand, the games do speak for themselves, and commentaries would probably be redundant. Also, I’ll remind you that they take up twenty hours. But on the other hand, some interviews or documentaries on the history of the Flyers might be nice, as well as some “Great” games where, and forgive me if this is sacrilege, the Flyers played well but lost in the end. Just a thought.
Phantom Zone? Try "Fabulous Zone!"
Still, I can definitely recommend this set to hockey fans and Flyers fans especially, although it seems to me if you’re a Flyers fan and you’ve got a seat in the DVD revolution, you probably already bought this. I’m 100% positive you folks will find so much more to love here than I did. The lack of features hurts a little, but it’s still a comprehensive set. Personally, I’d award it with a 5.0 out of 10, but I’ll go with my hockey-fan score, which is: