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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Monday, February 20
- Jason Jones (The Detour) - Watch Jason on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Norm Macdonald (The Norm Show/A Minute with Stan Hooper) - Norm is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
- Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit and Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H) - Mike, Loretta and Jamie are guests on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Anne-Marie Johnson (What's Happening Now!!) - Anne-Marie discusses diversity at the Oscars on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) - Adam joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Rosie Perez (Search Party) - Rosie is a guest on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime between 7-10am.
- Regina Hall (Grandfathered) - Regina appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Louie Anderson (Baskets/The Louie Show/Life with Louie) - Louie is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.