HBO’s highly-anticipated release of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic on DVD is finally here. OFB received an advance copy, which we were pleased to review.
While the DVD’s content is fantastic, there were a few minor disappointments. There were no special features; some outtakes or unused footage would have been great to see. Of course, this is the first HBO Sports special that made it to DVD, so the bare-bones packaging is not a surprise… but one can imagine the stellar cutting-room-floor footage that Capitals and Penguins fans alike would be grateful to see.
Additionally, it would have been nice if there was an HD option—the video quality is very good, but it’s no Blu-Ray. The stellar production values of this series are certainly deserving of a high-def disc.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment is that which allowed the series to be released on DVD in the first place. The “original” series, as aired on HBO, was beautifully filmed, edited, and narrated. It also had a soundtrack that helped tell the story, not just complement the pretty pictures. The scenes of both teams preparing for the actual Winter Classic game in the locker room taping sticks, playing soccer, stretching, posting bulletin board material, even making a stupid PB&J, loses the full effect when hearing a dramatic custom orchestrated piece instead of Survivor’s “Burning Heart” from the Rocky IV Soundtrack. However, the expense to pay Survivor, Boston, and the other artists whose work was used would economically ruin the project. With this in mind, it’s understandable why changes were made. Thankfully one work that remained in the conversion to DVD was the stirring end to the four part series set to “Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)” by Muse. Any change there would have ruined the end.
Reliving the Winter Classic in the fourth and final episode is itself worth the purchase price. HBO Sports can at times be a bit heavy-handed with its dramatic soundtrack, but that epic game was worthy of the orchestral bombast.
From the locker room scenes, one thing that stands out is Bruce Boudreau’s mantra of “keep it simple, shoot the puck, drive the net.” It’s a refrain Capitals fans are quite familiar with, and a message that rings true today. It’s fascinating to re-watch this series knowing now that the team had already tuned out Coach Boudreau—which is a shame, as his message, while not particularly tactical, is one the team must embrace even today.
You can order the 24/7 DVD from HBO or find it at the Capitals’ merchandise stands around Verizon Center for $20.