This is a PSB-funded TV version of a stage musical which manages to capture most of the feeling of the original (I would guess). Having owned the LP and then CD for many years, I have long been a fan of the score, which is a songbook organised by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked and a number of Disney movies), who contributes two of the best songs; other contributors are James Taylor, Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard), and Craig Carnelia, the other writing "star".
What I never realised from the score was just how angry this show is. It's a very simple structure, just a series of people talking or singing to camera/audience about their work and what it means to them. Some skive, some love what they do, some are bored, some are being killed by it. At one point a character says, "Jobs are too small for people", and the underlying theme is the need for people to find meaning in what they do, the wish to be remembered, to do something worthwhile. And the anger comes from the realisation of how little jobs enable them to do that. Which is not to say that the characters are angry, few of them are, but the authors are, and you will be too. You'll also be moved to tears in places, and exhilarated by the musical performances.
The 1982 transfer to television brings a host of star names - Rita Moreno, Barbara Hershey, Barry Bostwick, Scatman Crothers, Charles Durning, most of whom do more than justice to the material. The major downside of the DVD is that about 2/3rds of the way through the music soundtrack (though not the vocals) develops a serious fast/slow lurch as if taken from a warped LP. A serious re-mastering is needed, and now Schwartz has hit the jackpot with "Wicked", hopefully someone will think the money well-spent to restore this little gem.