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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Sunday, April 30
Bob's Burgers - "Like Gene for Chocolate" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Gene learns that the formula for his favorite chocolate has changed, he works with the head of the company in an attempt to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, Bob gets wrapped up in one of Teddy’s less-than-perfect plans.
Bob's Burgers - "Thelma & Louise Except Thelma Is Linda" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
After Louise gets in trouble at school, Linda is forced to meet with Mr. Frond (guest voice David Herman) and potentially could lose her hard-earned position as the Wagstaff bake sale leader. When she finds out that her daughter was actually trying to help another student, Linda is torn between following school policy or her own moral code.
The Simpsons - "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Bart gets in trouble on Grandparents Day at school and is forced to hang out with Skinner’s mother as punishment. After spending time with various grandmas in the neighborhood, he learns the benefits of hanging out with the elderly, but eventually recognizes the dangers of taking advantage of them. Meanwhile, Peekimon Get has taken over the town of Springfield.
Making History - "Night Cream" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
With the ever-present threat of losing tenure looming over him, Chris reaches out to John Hancock and Samuel Adams to help spice things up in the classroom in 2017. Meanwhile, Deb's dream of re-opening Chadwick's ice cream parlor is finally coming to fruition, but Dan has a few marketing ideas of his own.
Family Guy - "The Peter Principal" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter becomes the temporary principal at the high school, and Meg uses his new power to get even with her bullies. Meanwhile, Brian and Stewie open a bed & breakfast that quickly turns into a brothel.
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Sunday, April 30
- NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - Catch NeNe on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- America Ferrera (Superstore) - America drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) - Ike appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Joel McHale (The Great Indoors/Community) - Joel is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jake Johnson (New Girl) - Jake visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Al Madrigal (About a Boy/Welcome to the Captain/Gary Unmarried) - Al appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Ashton appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison teams up with Mario Batali to make a cheesy, decadent Gnocchi Al Telefono and dishes about her new Broadway show on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared) - Charlie will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 11:15am.
- Nick Robinson (Melissa & Joey) - Nick talks about his new film Everything, Everything on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
- Jodie Sweetin (Hollywood Darlings/Fuller House/Full House) - Jodie is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.