Saturday, October 17, 2009
Saturday Night Live - The Best of Amy Poehler (Universal, $19.98) is now on DVD with a best of special featuring Amy Poehler. This has aired on NBC already this past April. If you're a fan of the work of SNL alumnus and star of NBC's Parks and Recreation, then Universal has a new DVD set coming out you might well be interested in - it's a "best of" compilation from her years at SNL. Classic bits such as the Clinton & Palin opening gag from last year's election segment to the various recurring original characters and one-off bits (such as "Adventures of a Dollar," an underrated bit from the show's recent past). Highlights of her SNL career spanning much of this decade (2001-2008) are featured.
The set includes miscellaneous sketches from Poehler's run on the show, spread fairly well across the run. This presents an interesting scenario when you get into the technical nuts and bolts of the set, as the show switched from 4:3 SD to 16:9 HD roughly halfway into her tenure on the show. This causes a bit of a problem with regards to the video if you're watching this set on some older television sets (more on that in a bit). If you noticed earlier, I was a bit light on details of the sketches. This is for a decent reason...unfortunately, I'm not that big a fan of much of Amy's work on SNL. While I can appreciate that others find her funny, her humor style doesn't mesh well with what I consider funny. It's just an issue of personal tastes, but as a consequence there's not much on this set to hold my interest.
In addition to the two sketches I mentioned earlier, there's also a Live with Regis & Kelly parody, with guest Queen Latifah that was fairly decent. Other sketches included include a Kaitlin sketch, one staging of the recurring "Dakota Fanning Show" bit, two miscellaneous compilations of short bits - one from Weekend Update, one from sketches, plus more. With regards to guests, aside from the myriad of regular cast members you also get the various guest hosts from those episodes, including Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, Justin Timberlake, Hugh Jackman, Josh Brolin, and Christopher Walken, plus more.
There is one disc in the set - the full feature is a single one hour twenty minute compilation episode. The artwork is a white background, with miscellaneous green splotches and dark scribbles. The disc has the same artwork. With regards to the content on the set, earlier I mentioned the video early in the review because of an important problem this WILL cause for some buyers: For this set, the show is presented in anamorphic widescreen, with the non-widescreen segments being pillarboxed into the native widescreen of the DVD. If you're watching this set on an older square television set with your DVD player in Letterbox, this will mean the unenviable presence of twin boxes - both letterboxed (horizontal bars) and pillarboxed (vertical bars) on some sketches. You poor, poor souls.
The video quality itself falls into two categories. The HD-era video is flawless, with absolutely no deterioration or noise. The SD-era video shows slight color issues. One sketch in the set is made to look deliberately poor - a video designed to parody 1980s workout tapes. The video is deliberately set up to look like a 3rd-generation VHS tape. This is part of the gag, and as such isn't an issue. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, with the extra channels getting used more on the more recent skits. Chapter stops are placed at the end of EVERY sketch, as you can select individual sketches from the main menu and it's important to access those easily.
Every now and then, SNL puts out a compilation DVD of various cast members. Given the slow release in season sets, I suppose it's better than nothing. I suppose here that's my opinion of this set - it's better than nothing. Of the *primary* cast members from SNL from the 2000s, there are quite a few I'd rather see DVD sets of - but again, that's really personal taste at work. What bothers me, those tastes aside, is the price point for this set. $20 for what amounts to a single episode of SNL and no bonus material? Really? That's absolutely ridiculous - I wouldn't pay for a 90 minute compilation set for ANY cast member at that price - luckily they eventually come down.
If you're an Amy Poehler fan, go ahead and pick this set up. Otherwise, there are other ways to spend your $10-$20 than this. A $20 MSRP for 90 minutes of a TV show is just ridiculous. Recommendation to avoid.
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
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Thursday, January 19
The Big Bang Theory - "The Romance Calibration" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Penny feels that Leonard is taking her for granted, she decides to go on a spa weekend with Amy. Also, Wolowitz and Koothrappali try to fix a squeaky floorboard in the baby’s room.
The Great Indoors - "Mason Blows Up" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jack tries to reassert his dominance as a reporter after Mason scores an investigative coup that turns him into an overnight celebrity. Also, Clark’s low self-esteem causes him to give Emma relationship advice about other guys instead of asking her out himself
Mom - "Good Karma and the Big Weird" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bonnie encourages Christy to pursue Marjorie’s charming nephew, Nick, despite the fact that he’s been declared off limits. Chris Pratt, husband of MOM star Anna Faris, guest stars as Nick, Marjorie’s nephew.
Life in Pieces - "Tailgate Spiral Souvenir Seating" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Colleen and Matt host the family tailgate party at the L.A. Rams game, they invite former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner to spice up their so far dismal event. Also, Tim’s in danger of missing the game when Sophia makes him take her to the restroom and they get sidetracked returning to their seats; Joan and Jen try to sneak into seats closer to the field; and Greg wins a chance to participate in a halftime contest involving a football toss.
Baskets - "Freaks" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Chip has to decide between a tarp and snacks.
Friday, January 20
- Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Catch Anthony on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Reba/Better with You) - JoAnna visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - John is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela drops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Nicole Byer (Loosely, Exactly Nicole) - Nicole appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Joe Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Joe guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Bernadette Peters (Mozart in the Jungle/All's Fair) - Bernadette is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Queen Latifah (Living Single) - Queen Latifah is a guest on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
- Andrew Dice Clay (Bless This House/Hitz) - Andrew stops by Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory/Roseanne - Johnny discusses his role in the new film, Rings, and dishes on this season of The Big Bang Theory on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.