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Item No.: KOCH401
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Former Mayor Ed Koch is the quintessential New Yorker. Ferocious, charismatic, and hilariously blunt, Koch, who died in February at the age of 88, ruled New York from 1978 to 1989 a down-and-dirty decade of grit, graffiti, near-bankruptcy and rampant crime.
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Ed Koch - How He Done It

By Jim M.

from Attleboro, MA

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS POV: Koch DVD:

"Koch" is a terrific documentary about the man who, perhaps more than any other municipal chief executive of his time, best exemplified the city (New York) he helped govern and an exciting and tumultuous era of that city.

Director Neil Barsky (a onetime hedge fund manager, as well business reporter at "The New York Daily News" and "The Wall Street Journal") has hit the nail squarely on the head of his subject matter, providing insight into both the person and public persona of Edward I. Koch, with a balanced perspective also showing Koch's detractors (who were many, despite Koch's twice having been re-elected mayor). Interesting is a segment revealing Koch at the home of a nephew, perhaps during a Jewish Seder dinner, wherein said nephew disagreed with his famous relative about the location of a controversial Muslim community center proposed to be constructed near the very symbolic, almost sacred "Ground Zero" site where Islamic jihadists attacked NYC's landmark Twin Towers on 09/11/2001. The nephew thinks opposition to the community center to be anti-Muslim, while Koch (a decorated World War II veteran) held that opposing viewpoint. And in his inimitable style, Koch handles his predictably outspoken relative in much the same brash and frank manner he did any constituent at a public meeting.

This film is worthwhile viewing for not only those seeking a well-made profile of the late, former Mayor Koch, but also for a capsule of America's most famous city in a certain period of time, the issues New York faced in the late 20th Century and the personalities involved with this city in those times.

The film's only weakness is its failure to show a bit more of Koch during his pre-and-post-mayoral life, perhaps could have made an effort to show more of his period hosting "The People's Court" (having replaced original host Judge Joseph Wapner), as well as a popular radio talk show. It would also have been interesting to see some more footage of Koch's two terms in the U.S. Congress representing NYC's 17th (and 18th, after a redistricting) District, as well his single term on the New York City Council, the latter effectively a precursor to Koch's three terms leading the executive branch of NYC's government.

For an obvious reason, it might also have lent the film a more colorful background aesthetic had director Barsky known and used The Mills Brothers' tune "How'm I Doin'? (Hey, Hey!)" in his film's soundtrack. And it would also have been great to include some of Koch's segments from "Saturday Night Live" (he appeared four times, hosted twice in 1983/84), particularly his 1978 uncredited debut that was the same episode The Rolling Stones hosted in their "SNL" debut, as well the birth of the infamous "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger!" sketch. But such matters are easily tended to in a "director's cut," as well later home video releases.

This documentary brilliantly and candidly profiles the man who was probably New York's most charismatic and effective mayor since Fiorello La Guardia (also a three-termer). I never knew was Koch responsible for a tremendous boom of housing in "The Big Apple" and the demolition of run-down commercial properties in and around Times Square, had always assumed were the efforts of later mayor Rudolph Giuliani. But this film reveals that, although Giuliani increased policing (as well prosecuting some corrupt borough bosses during Koch's tenure, which also led to Koch's defeat for an unprecedented fourth term) during his own three terms as mayor and continued commercial expansion (with Disneyfication of Broadway), which also improved the city, was Koch who actually began the massive demolition and new construction (of retail and housing) projects, thus establishing the revitalization of New York City as we see it today.

For all these insights and its more-than-thorough profile of its subject, this film deserves at least a nod for the documentary category of the Emmy and Peabody Awards this year upcoming, should be eligible for having made its broadcast debut this fall.

Ed Koch's signature expression was "How'm I Doin'?" If anyone would like to know how Koch was "doin'" and how he done it, this is the film you must see!

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