Ed [1996]

A great concept: The Beatles appeared four times on CBS' The Ed Sullivan Show, and while one is tempted to skip through this collection to watch only the Fab Four's 20 performances, there is historic value in seeing Sullivan's complete programs. With America reeling from the murder of a popular president, JFK, less than three months prior, the Beatles' Sullivan debut on February 9, 1964, ushered a renewing joy into the country's living rooms. The band kept it up another two weeks, sharing Sullivan's variety-show bills with the likes of impressionist Frank Gorshin, comedians Allen & Rossi, future Monkee Davy Jones (in a scene from Oliver!), and sundry unrepentant vaudevillians, magicians, and acrobats. Various problems with microphones and bad direction (one barely sees John Lennon on 2/9) couldn't stop the magic, and by the time the Beatles made a return trip in September 1965, the group's brilliance and wit outsized their television surroundings. --Tom Keogh

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