Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Anthology > British > Stand Up > Documentary > Biography > Sitcom > BritCom > TV > Gay > The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection (1983 – 2000/British TV/E1 DVD Box Set)/Debra DiGiovanni: Single Awkward Female (2011/E1 DVD)/I Ain’t Scared Of You: A Tribute To Bernie Mac (Image DV

The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection (1983 – 2000/British TV/E1 DVD Box Set)/Debra DiGiovanni: Single Awkward Female (2011/E1 DVD)/I Ain’t Scared Of You: A Tribute To Bernie Mac (Image DVD)/Meet The Browns: Season Four (Tyler Perry/Lionsgate DVD)/Northern Lights: The Complete Collection (2004 – 2007/British/Acorn Media DVD Set)/Spork (2010/E1 DVD)/What Happens Next (2011/Wolfe DVD)


Picture: C+/C+/C+/C/C+/C/C+    Sound: C+     Extras: B/C/B-/D/C+/D/C     Main Programs: B/C+/B-/D/B-/D/C



Here are a wide-ranging set of new comedy releases form both sides of the Atlantic, but on this list, the Brits fare best.


The bets on the list is easily The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection (1983 – 2000) which lacks a recent reunion skit attacking Tony Blair, but is complete otherwise and features some great skits.  In the U.S., you may have seen the show on MTV, likely booked in part because some cast member are alumni of The Young Ones which MTV made a surprise hit when all the other networks rejected it.


Like SCTV and Saturday Night Live, there are a cast of regulars you see most of the time including Robbie Coltrane, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Peter Richardson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Alexei Sayle, Adrian Edmondson, Keith Allen and Kevin Allen among them.  Guitarist/legend Jeff Beck and Miranda Richardson show up in more than a few shows, as does Lionel Jeffries.


The series is an anthology show that plays its humor straight.  Instead of being a sitcom or BritCom, each show is a self-contained episode pretending to be the real version of a drama or the like, but it is total satire.  This includes a few shows with sequels that send up the likes of The Famous Five, The Next Generation (sending up various rock bands), Eddie Monsoon (spoofing a particular kind of Brit male), several Four Men shows sending up some all-male Brit works and even a clever spoof of Brian Clemens’ police classic The Professionals.


The first of those spoofs is called The Bullsh*****s, making fun of the 1970s style of the show that Clemens employed from American detective TV and this one is no holds barred.  Even if you have not seen the show, you’ll get many of the jokes and it is one of the best here, but the series tops itself with a sequel called Detectives On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown directed by no less than Stephen Frears!  When “the gourmet detective” is killed and a 1990s boring, by-the-book police procedural detective seems not to be able to cut it, they have to call in the 1970s detectives from the last spoof, but they don’t stop there.


They also call in a hard hitting street detective from The Weenie, spoofing the groundbreaking The Sweeney with Jim Broadbent acing the lead role of Regan (see the Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) originally played by John Thaw.  He can yell and holler as well as the best of them.  But the real topper is calling in Jason Bentley, a sophisticated detective who calmly takes the high, intelligent road to solving the murder in fancy, expensive clothes and a vintage Bentley.  This is a spoof of the spy/detective classic Department S (called Department Z (or Zed, a Z Cars reference as an additional gag) and the Jason King character originally played by the great Peter Wyngarde, who eventually spun off into his own hit show simply called Jason King, both of which we have also reviewed elsewhere on the site.


Though King was a spy and wrote fictional spy novels, he was also an investigator and his inclusion here works very well down to his look.  There is even Space Virgins From Planet Sex which combines outer space and Science fiction British TV of the time (Space: 1999, even Star Maidens) with the Sean Connery James Bond!


This one is all over the place, but has plenty of laughs like this whole set.  If you want some big laughs, The Comic Strip Presents: The Complete Collection is for you.  Extras include an early filmed stand-up special directed by Julien Temple, a 2005 retrospective on the show and two-part First Laugh On Four look at the show, all on DVD 9.



Debra DiGiovanni: Single Awkward Female (2011) is a stand up comedy concert in which the comedienne tells a mix of amusing jokes, a few funny jokes and many that do not work.  I wish she could have found a consistent approach, but she never does and it is me, or did the makers add a laugh track to enhance audience reaction?  Cat Photo, Photo Shoot, Blown Away and The Touchup are the extras.


I Ain’t Scared Of You: A Tribute To Bernie Mac is an hour-long tribute to the late stand-up comic who turned out to be more groundbreaking than many gave him credit for as we discover in interviews with family and top names in show business.  I think this could have even been longer, but this is not bad and puts his all-too-brief career into a finer perspective.  A bonus interview and bonus concert footage are included as extras, which helps.


Meet The Browns: Season Four is the played-out Tyler Perry series that keeps on going, as covered in this previous review:




We weren’t even impressed with the original play…




…so you can forget this one unless you are a Perry fanatic.  Episodes 61 – 80 are here over 3 DVDs and there are no extras.



Northern Lights: The Complete Collection (2004 – 2007) is a comedy we have never seen before about two men who have been friends since childhood, now live near each other with their wives and still have competitive friction between them.  Robson Green (who we’ve seen dramatically before) and Mark Benton are convincing as the leads and the show is consistently amusing, but it is not one that necessarily stays with you when you finish watching it.  Still, it is smart humor and if you like British humor, you’ll want to try it out.  The 4-DVD set has all 12 episodes plus a Christmas Special and Behind The Scenes featurette as the sets only extra.  Acorn Media is good at picking up such shows so if you like Britcoms, you might enjoy this one.


J.B Ghuman. Jr.’s Spork (2010) is yet another bad Napoleon Dynamite wanna be with the title young lady (Savanna Stehlin) as the title character, another caricature that we are supposed to like and root for, but is so badly written and annoying that you get the opposite.  In addition, the dialogue is idiotic and trying to make up for it with obscenity and gross humor backfires even more.  Then it becomes borderline racist, sexist and is never funny or believable for one moment.  Wow is this one bad, almost as much as the dreadful Bucky Larson.  There are no extras, fortunately.


Jay Arnold’s What Happens Next (2011) is about an older man (Jon Lindstrom) who is rich but unhappy with his life and starts to fall for a young man (Chris Murrah) in a way that makes him realize he is gay.  It is not explained how much he realized this to begin with, but this sitcom-like comedy plays it safe too often and it never rings true or adds up to much when all is said and done.  Wendy Malick plays Lindstorm’s sister and she is good, but this just falls flat and in one way, is even a bit condescending.  Extras include a trailer and Deleted Scenes.



The 1.33 X 1 image on Strip offers older transfers of filmed shows, likely all 16mm, sometimes showing their age but looking good throughout otherwise.  Despite flaws on the prints or limits of the transfers, they more than hold their own against the rest of the DVDs here, all presented at 1.78 X 1, anamorphically enhanced.  Browns and Spork are especially soft, problematic and have more motion blur than they should.  All have lossy Dolby Digital sound, with Strip 2.0 Mono and Stereo, the rest offer Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby 5.1 is also offered on Happens, Mac and Spork, but with little improvement.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com