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, March 26
The Simpsons - "Dad Behavior" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer finds a new app that makes his life much easier and outsources his father-son bonding. Meanwhile, Grampa finds that he is about to be a father again.
Bob's Burgers - "Aquaticism" / "Ain't Miss Debatin'" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
When Tina learns that the aquarium is in danger of closing, the Belcher children devise a scheme to keep it running. Meanwhile, Bob realizes that he could learn a thing or two from Linda’s customer service skills. Then, when Tina is recruited by the debate team, she finds unexpected success and an even more unexpected relationship. Meanwhile, Louise and Gene convince their parents to help fund a stop-motion movie focusing on a surprising subject matter.
Making History - "Chadwick's Angels" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
In need of a victory, the trio heads back to the 1990s to give Dan another shot at his childhood dream: finishing the infamous “Bellybuster” ice cream sundae at a local parlor. As Deb bonds with the parlor’s owner, Chris is on a mission to save a life in honor of his late British friend. But all of their plans are derailed when Dan runs into the bully that tormented him.
Family Guy - "Peter's Lost Youth" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter gets jealous of Lois when she upstages him at a Red Sox fantasy baseball camp. Meanwhile, Stewie runs away from home when Meg is left to babysit him.
The Last Man on Earth - "Find This Thing We Need To" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Carol makes a big discovery, enlisting Tandy and Erica to help her track down some answers. Meanwhile, Todd has a major breakthrough with Melissa.
Sunday, March 26
- Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Catch Sanaa on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Richard Dreyfuss (Your Family or Mine) - Richard appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie/Malibu Country) and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) - Lily and Jane are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. They also chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) - Rachel is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Pete Holmes (Crashing) - Pete stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Ron Funches (Powerless/Undateable) - Ron is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kaitlin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi appears on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Mark guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Tahj Mowry, Derek Theler and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Baby Daddy) - Tahj, Derek and Jean-Luc are guests on Harry, so check your local listings.
- Tika Sumpter (The Game) - Tika appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
- Vanessa Bell Calloway (Rhythm & Blues) - Vanessa is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie) - June talks about Grace and Frankie on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) and Ben Falcone (Joey) - Melissa and Ben talk TV Land's Nobodies on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Brooklyn Decker (Grace and Frankie/Friends with Better Lives) - Brookyln stops by People Now at 8:30am.
- Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia opens up about her favorite part of being in the 50 Shades movies on People Now at 8:30am. \
- Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee dishes about her Golden Globe win on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.