Saturday, June 06, 2009
The Best of Whose Line is it Anyway (Warner, $24.98) hits store shelves this Tuesday, and contained within you are going to find 10 of the funniest episodes of television imaginable. Whose Line is it Anyway ran from 1998 through 2004 on ABC, before jumping to ABC Family for its final two years of new episodes from 2005-06. Due to the nature of the show, sales of season sets just didn't make financial sense -- but the show was popular enough that some sort of DVD release was still warranted. Here we have what I hope will the first in a great many volumes of "best of" sets.
If you want to know that this truly is the best of the show, you needn't look any further than the first episode on the set. The episode that -- at least in my opinion -- is not only the series' best show but one of the funniest half hours in TV history leads off, the Richard Simmons episode. I have *never* seen a funnier single episode. The episode is in fact a theme show. We start off with people pretending to be different people/things and having to switch off every now and then. One of the assigned things to pretend to be? Richard Simmons. Later on we have fun with the green screen, with Colin (Mochrie) anchoring a news report live from the scene of...one of Richard's workout videos! But the highlight of the episode is a segment called "Living Scenery." In it, two people act out a scene, while two others actually act as the assortment of props. Drew then calls in Richard, who comes out to wild applause. What transpires next is the funniest 5 minutes in television history -- there are thousands of copies of the video online, just search for it. If you've never seen it you may well wind up bowled over in laughter, while those of you who HAVE seen it will still find it hysterical. Other episodes on the set feature fluffing your Garfield, Wayne Brady as that annoying singing fish you used to see in novelty stores everywhere, and a multitude of guest stars including David Hasselhoff, Jerry Springer, and Florence Henderson. The episodes are cherry-picked from the run, with the earliest show being from June 2001 and the oldest being from August 2004.
As this is only a 10 episode set, packaging is rather minimalist. Black plastic keepcase, with two discs inside. The first disc is housed on a plastic tray affixed to the spine, while the second disc is housed on a hub affixed to the packaging itself. There is also an insert detailing the 10 episodes. Disc art is very, very green -- following the theme set by the main package itself. Disc 1 features Drew solo, while disc 2 features Colin, Ryan, and of course Wayne Brady. Menu art features a strip of cast headshots -- six in total. Featured is Drew, Ryan, Colin, and Wayne -- plus semi-regular Greg Proops and show musician Laura Hall. It's interesting -- and extremely nice -- to see Laura Hall included in the menu. She was there just as often as anyone else affiliated with the show, and her music played an integral role in some of the show's classic bits, but she's usually overlooked. Anyway, the menu features their headshots in a strip across the top, while across the center are six chalk-outlined bodies not necessarily matching the cast photo. For example, the body under Ryan is a doctor, while the one under Colin is of a bikini-clad woman.
I should mention, as I head into the audio and video, that this is Whose Line "Uncensored." Any bleeps or such things that might have occurred in the original airings for the benefit of ABC viewers have been removed. You're going to hear what was actually said. As such, this may not be ideal for the extremely young viewer -- but realistically once a child reaches their double digits, they've already been exposed to any words or content mentioned here, so I wouldn't worry about kids 13 and over. The episodes themselves run in the neighborhood of 21:30 with few deviations. For an early 2000's TV series, this is largely consistent with what you should expect. Video quality looks good, keeping in mind that this show was intended as a live-feeling comedy show, and as such may not have been shot on the highest grade tape stock. It's also from the standard-def era, so obviously that's going to knick the video a bit too. Still, what is presented by and large looks great. Audio sounds good and you hear what is most important -- the vocals -- loud and clear. The stereo track does its job well.
As the episodes on the set itself doesn't start until 2001 -- a couple of seasons into the set, there's a special feature included to recap the highlights of seasons 1 and 2. It also includes some uncensored highlights and outtakes (43:59). Still, for a 10 episode collection-style release to have a bonus included is a rare and nice thing to behold. That's how well-done this set is. As it's 10 extremely funny half-hours (and a bonus funny hour), I wholeheartedly recommend this set. This is a good solid several hours of nonstop entertainment, and is worthy of dollars from your entertainment budget.
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
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09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
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09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Tuesday, October 25
The Middle - "Halloween VIII: The Heckoning" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Halloween approaches, Frankie is taken aback when she discovers that, if the circumstances ever arose where she and Mike got divorced, the kids would all choose to live with Mike. Meanwhile, Sue tries everything in her power to get her room back from Brick, and having to be so nice around girlfriend April all of the time leads Axl to lash out at his family.
American Housewife - "Westport Zombies" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Katie, jealous of Taylor’s friendship with neighbor Viv (Leslie Bibb), reluctantly competes in the Westport Halloween “Zombie Run” after she finds out they’ll both be running. Meanwhile, Greg and Anna-Kat get a little too much in character for the “zombie” part of the run’s obstacle course.
Fresh Off the Boat - "Louisween" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
It’s Louis’ favorite holiday, and he makes every attempt to scare Jessica into the Halloween spirit, but she is buried in her word processor, drafting her first horror novel. Meanwhile, Emery and Evan debate costume choices, and Eddie and his crew are excited to party with high schoolers at Nicole’s house.
The Real O'Neals - "The Real Halloween" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Halloween arrives, or what Kenny refers to as “the gay Super Bowl,” he plans to go to Boystown to watch the festive costume parade. In an effort to prevent Kenny from attending, Eileen agrees to let him throw his own Halloween party at home. Eileen’s tolerance is ultimately tested when Kenny recruits Stuart and his gay friends to join the big party, and he makes a BIG costume change. Meanwhile, Jimmy and Shannon plan to pull off an epic Halloween prank.
Atlanta - "Junteenth" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Why my Auntie trying to make me go to one of these bougie Junteenth parties again? I don't like them sadity people and I'm gonna miss my shows. Le sigh.
Family Time - "Head of House" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When the Stallworths have an unexpected visitor, they learn of a vicious crime that took place in their home years ago.
Tuesday, October 25
- Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Catch Will on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Friends) - Matt is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) - Cobie appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Mary Lynn Rajskub (How to Be a Gentleman/Veronica's Closet/The Larry Sanders Show) and David Koechner (Another Period/Hank/The Office) - Mary and David are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - John appears on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
- Erinn Hayes (Kevin Can Wait/Guys with Kids/Worst Week) - Erinn plays a celeb guessing game with Rach, who’s serving up no-fail make-your-own takeout, on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. She will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Cheryl Hines (Son of Zorn/Suburgatory/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Cheryl is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) - Abbi will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She will also be on the AOL Build Show 4pm.
- Don Rickles (C.P.O. Sharkey/Daddy Dearest) - Don is a guest on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
- Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.