Time Life awesomely follows up its recent (reviewed) epic DVD release of concerts, television shows, documentaries, etc. of Cher with the even more phenomenal "Dolly: The Ultimate Collection" celebrating the 50-year career of Dolly Parton. This perfect gift for any of the numerous demographics to which the modern queen of country appeals is only available by visiting the Time Life website. Being able to get away with just sticking a bow on the sturdy decorative box is a nice feature.
The only disappointing aspect of the below well-produced and comprehensive Time Life promo. for "Dolly" is that it does not follow the company tradition of having the titles scroll across the screen over scenes of the American Idol of the hour belting out her hits and appearing in clips from the series and other productions featuring her that comprise this 19-DVD, 35-hour set.
The preaching to the choir aspects of this set are numerous episodes of the '70s daytime series "Dolly" and the '80s primetime variety show of the same name, the two '80s Christmas specials, and the concerts. This not to mention "Tonight Show" appearances and the seven episodes of "The Porter Wagoner Show" that provided Parton a big break.
Highlights of the '70s series include Parton peers/friends Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt appearing in one episode and the parents and 12 siblings of Parton providing the entertainment in another outing. A terrifically bizarre duet of the Tony Orlando and Dawn hit "Knock Three Times on the Ceiling" with Kenny Rogers in another episode is must-see.
The regular primetime "Date With Dolly" segment having Patrick Duffy and Parton co-star Burt Reynolds playing two of the gentlemen callers is just as much fun. This is not to mention the cold opens featuring the star in a bubble bath. Parton fully channels Carol Burnett with a twist by ending each episode with a witty Q&A session. The quick wit that Parton displays here fully reflect the spirit of her song "Dumb Blonde" in which this master of all media shows that she ain't no stereotype.
All of this (and the rest) is great fun for those of us who are more familiar with the mainstream hits, film roles, and big and busty persona of Parton. Seeing the wide variety of her work, learning that she wrote the Whitney Houston hit "I Will Always Love You," discovering that "Islands in the Stream" apparently is a gay anthem, shows that she once was the hardest working woman in show business is enlightening.
The bonus disc that includes the BBC documentary "Dolly Parton: Here I Am" is a personal favorite in this enormous set (truly, no pun intended). It fills in many gaps as to the tale of growing up poor with 12 siblings, being a child country-music star, and moving to Nashville at 18 to fully become a star.
An awesome "behind-the-scenes" segment tells the tale as old of time as to Wagoner getting jealous when Parton begins to eclipse him. The response of Parton makes it clear that she knows how to make her point without biting the hand that currently is feeding her.
The segment on the film debut of Parton in "9 to 5" is one of the most interesting in "Here." We learn how producer/star Jane Fonda gets the idea to recruit Parton for the film and also get the perspective of co-star Lily Tomlin. This is not to mention the extent to which Parton nails the titular theme.
The big picture this time is that watching even roughly one-third of "Collection" clearly demonstrates the perfection combination of charm, talent, shrewdness, and ambition that earns Parton the respect and admiration of even us damn Yankees.