When I first heard the news that Popular Woodworking Magazine was going to be re-releasing the Woodwright’s Shop on DVD I had a number of reactions.
First and foremost my reaction was ABOUT DAMN TIME! I’ve been trying to record as many of them on my DVR as I could, but it’s a pain to save them to DVD-r and we had a equipment failure that wiped about 10 episodes. I’ve been watching Roy since I was young, and since I’ve gotten into the “hand tool” world, he’s become even more important. So the fact that these episodes were not available on DVD was a true crime.
My second thought was, oh man, there goes my bank account. No matter what the cost was, there are over 30 seasons of this show, and it was going to add up. This thought was quickly shut down by my wife, as she was having none of that argument. She accepted right away that we were buying ALL of them, no matter what. I love that woman.
My third thought was best described by quoting a comment on the thread for the original announcement by Megan Fitzpatrick. “Shut up and take my money!”
Since then, I’ve managed to get three of the videos, and next paycheck will be season three. I’ve picked up seasons 20, 1, and 2 so far in that order. Here are my thoughts on the first two seasons.
After having watched a lot of the most recent season, this first season was almost painful to watch. Roy is clearly new to doing this and has not found his groove yet. He’s a little stiff and appears almost nervous to start out, but his passion for the subject shines through like a beacon. You can see some of the standard Roy mannerisms in their infancy, and you get to see him developing the patter that he will use for years. Still it’s a little hard to watch him nervously careen around the shop as he presents the material.
Production quality of the disc is fine, although the source material’s age shows through at times with a few glitches here and there. The source material is in pretty good shape though for how old it is, and I am very thankful that it was preserved for us to watch these decades later. It’s almost comical to watch the “high tech” computer graphics used in the intro for PBS, and the university.
My favorite episode of this season is “Panel Frame and Dovetail” episode, followed by the “Timber Frame Construction” episode. Watching these episodes have me thinking about finding a blacksmith to make me a froe, and building myself a shaving horse.
It’s amazing to watch the confidence building and his ease in front of the camera growing in each episode. The skinny nervous woodworking zealot slowly transforms into a smooth talking trickster and educator, albeit a clumsy one. His increasing confidence and experience in pacing himself over the material grew by leaps and bounds in one year. You can more clearly see the Roy Underhill that we’ve grown used to in the later seasons really clearly. The transformation is quite amazing, and very entertaining to watch.
My favorite episodes in this season are “In Yer Drawers” with the highlight of glue pot freezing on him at the last minute, and the “Saws” episode. I really hope they keep putting these out, and I’m looking forward to watching my through all of the seasons again and again. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge and inspiration contained in this show, and it makes me very happy to have them.
Thanks Popular Woodworking for bringing these to us, and thanks to Roy for… well… being Roy.