The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was a massive hit in the early ’70s. The married couple were able to find a second life with their variety show after their musical career was in a bit of a lull post “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Their fortunes were revived as they rivaled on Dean Martin in the format. What went wrong? Turns out they weren’t happily married. The divorce was rather nasty and bitter. So bitter that Sonny got custody of not only the creative team that made their show, but all of her characters from the show. The only thing Sonny didn’t legally hold onto was Cher’s talent and fashion designer Bob Mackie. Certain TV critics sensed that Sonny Bono was going to coming out the winner when it came to TV show. But The Sonny Comedy Revue vanished after 13 episodes. Cher became the hit because she was the real talent and people loved to tune into see what Bob Mackie had her barely wear. The Best of Cher has these episodes to show that the best post-divorce “revenge” is success along with other treats from her post-Sonny life.
The 10 episodes from Cher really show off how she can call up her showbiz friends to have fun on her stage. The first episode had Elton John from when he was dominating showbiz and Bette Midler. How can you beat that trio? How about also giving us a little Flip Wilson. Cher does a bit of intimate comedy as she gets ready for bed and reflects on her newly found singlehood and the dating life. The sketches are actually a bit better since was no longer have to tolerate Sonny in all the male roles. This also means we can just enjoy Cher and her guests The second show has a bit of pizzazz with Tatum O’Neal (The Bad News Bears) and Raquel Welch (The Kansas City Bomber). One of the coolest moments is when Art Gunfunkel and Cher duet on several songs written by Jimmy Webb including “Up, Up and Away” and “Galveston.” What makes it cool is Jimmy Webb is playing the piano as they sing. It’s a culture moment. Of course later we get a duet with Charo and McLean Stevenson (Hello Larry). The sample of episodes has major stars of the ’70s. We get Freddie Prinze (Chico and the Man), Teri Garr (Mr. Mom), Liberace, Linda Rondstadt, The Jackson Five, Ray Charles, Art Carney (The Honeymooners), Greg Allman, The Muppets, Carol Burnett, The Hudson Brothers and Ike & Tina Turner. So much goodness came off these episodes with all this talent. Even though Cher was successful, it ended after 26 episodes. Why? Because Cher decided to TV reunite with Sonny. Their revival of The Sonny & Cher Show lasted another two seasons.
Cher wasn’t done with TV. The second boxset contains quite a few of the specials. Cher….Special was from 1978. This has a fine moment when Cher performs several roles while singing tunes from West Side Story. Dolly Parton shows up to sing “Two Floors Down.” Completely out of “What?” is the arrival of The Tubes. “Cher…And Other Fantasies” had her return in the Spring on 1979 with Lucille Ball, Andy Kaufman, Shelley Winters and Elliot Gould. The framing on this has Cher visiting various places inside a building. Gould plays the painter. There’s shiny roller disco! Andy Kaufman is part of a Adam and Eve sketch that has him playing against a multitude of Cher. Bill Conti is the musical director of the disco symphonic sound.
Cher: Extravaganza – Live At the Mirage is a concert from 1991. You got to love how Cher arrives and tells the crowd, “You’re not that excited.” She is Cher and it’s her stage to play with the audience and sing with her band. The songs include “I’m No Angel,” “Bang Bang” and “If I Can Turn Back Time.” There’s a lot of bonus features including the Rehearsal footage (36:45) that includes working out the quick change. A second concert is Cher’s Believe Tour with Cher: Live in Concert at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas HBO Special. She digs deep in her career with “Half-Breed,” “Take Me Home,” “We All Sleep Alone” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” It showed that Cher was able to rule the stage and not merely be a queen at the movie box office.
The boxset wraps up with Dear Mom, Love Cher (42:14) which is a Lifetime special from 2013. The film praises how her mom raised her so this isn’t Mommy Dearest Part 2. This gives so much details on her life. We also see her winning the Oscar for Moonstruck. In that stunning moment, she quotes her mother. No matter how wild Cher got, she was still her mom’s daughter.
The Best of Cher is the perfect way to immerse yourself into a Cher universe. This boxset documents how she was something beyond what Sonny wanted her to be. She had the talent to not merely keep working, but to reach the tops of charts. The Best of Cher is the best way to just vanish for a weekend of pure Cher ecstasy. Just remember to wear something from the Bob Mackie collection to embrace it all.
The video is 1.33:1 Full Frame. The episodes and the special were shot on standard video. But they’ve done a fine job upgrading the video so you can be dazzled by her wardrobe. Most of the audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The concerts are in Dolby Digital Stereo. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
Alternate Opening (2:02) starts the show with Cher’s dressing room door and a montage instead of the jet flying into Las Vegas.
Cher’s Big Blooper (1:36) will remain a secret so you can enjoy it.
Tour TV Commercial (0:43) will tempt you to camp out for tickets at the Rochester War Memorial.
Backstage Home Movies (3:04) shows what goes on to make a big production.
I Survived the 1990 Tour (6:18) was made by the tour members. They joke about working with Cher.
Heart of Stone (5:41) has a surprise guest Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi playing with Cher. It’s shot with a Camcorder. An interesting element is that both bonus songs (“Baby Hold On” and “Tougher Than the Rest”) let you see them performed at the Mirage, during rehearsals and on the tour.
Cher Interview – BELIEVE Tour 1999 (9:02) has her talking about her tour after she had another big hit at the end of the ’90s.
Cher’s National Anthem, Super Bowl XXXIII (2:44) is from the night of January 31, 1999. The game featured the Denver Broncos against the Atlanta Falcons. Cher won the game with her rendition.
Superstars and Their Moms (7:02) has Cher and her mom hanging out with an old school principal. The guy swears she was Cher’s sister when she first brought her daughter to school.
The Late Late Show with James Corden (8:49) has her play “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” Don’t watch this soon after eating.
Cher: Then and Now (12:00) has her talk about what made doing a variety show special to her. She talks about why she went back to working with Sonny.
The Dick Cavett Show (10:50) has Cher as the guest in 1975. Dick gets her to open up a bit about her new solo life. She talks about how she met Sonny when she was just 16 and he was 28.
Interview with Cher (15:04) has her open up about how she didn’t want to bust up the Sonny and Cher Show. But she was merely an employee and not a partner in the production so she had to go.
Interview with George Schlatter (23:09) has him talk about executive producing the show. George was part of making Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. He talks about working with Cher.
Dinah! (12:09) has Cher as a guest on the Dinah Shore show. The interview is from 1975 and mention Jack-In-The-Box Tacos.
Interview with Lily Tomlin (13:04) has Lily talk about doing the show because of George Schlatter, her old Laugh-In boss.
Cher CBS Promo (0:34) talks about her bare midriff.
Interview with Bob Mackie (25:30) talks about how he met Cher and they formed a creative bond over the decades. They had met when she and Sonny performed on the Carol Burnett Show. Her helped her move on from her ’60s fashions. There’s a booklet in the boxset that includes dozens of Bob’s sketches of Cher’s dresses. Does anyone know if he’s put these out as limited art prints for hanging over the fireplace? Bob does spill the beans that Sonny and Cher are the same height.
Time Life presents The Best of Cher. Starring: Cher, Sony Bono, Elton John, Bob Mackie, Charo, Lily Tomlin, Ray Charles and the Muppets. Running Time: 945 minutes. Boxset Contents: 9 DVDs. Released: September 15, 2020.
Tags: Cher, Elton John, Sonny & Cher Show, Time life