The Beach Boys

Special Edition EP [DVD]

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This four-song DVD has the same drawbacks that mar most of the rest of this series, including a lack of a continuous play function, near-useless "pop-up" factoids, and dull, repetitive graphics and generic music over the menu. And in some ways, the first of the clips is even worse than the usual standard for this series -- Dennis Wilson doesn't even try to mime the drum part to "Do It Again," and the synchronization is so bad that it almost seems like the Beach Boys are contemptuous of what they're doing, except that they all seem totally oblivious to what's going on; when the Rolling Stones blew their miming on television, it was with purpose and malicious intent. But "California Girls" fares slightly better, in terms of the bandmembers actually concentrating on what they're doing, and they're surrounded by images from recent and not-so-recent albums and picture sleeves. "Breakaway," the one surprise inclusion here, is also the place where the group seems most involved and everything that they and the producers were doing seems to fall into place properly -- they're miming to the studio track, but with enthusiasm, and the producers have utilized multiple split-screen and picture-within-picture imagery that makes this track almost worth the price of the disc by itself. "Surfin' USA" is almost anti-climactic, mimed against a montage of beach images. All of these visual effects would work better if they were in color, but evidently German television (or, at least, these producers) lacked the ability to videotape images in color in 1969 -- it doesn't hurt "Breakaway," because it is done so cleverly, but the other clips all suffer from the technology gap.