(2012/Weinstein/Anchor Bay Blu-ray w/DVD)/Eastbound
& Down: The Complete Third Season (2012/HBO Blu-rays)/The Game: The Fifth Season (2012/CBS
DVD)/We Can Be Heroes (2005/HBO
& C+/B-/C+/C+ Sound: B/B- &
C+/B/C+/C+ Extras: C+/C/C/C-/C+ Main Programs: C+/C+/C/C/C+
A sort of
subcycle of comedy has surfaced and it is not necessarily either funny or
good. It involves simply being slightly
weird, odd or different just a little and we’re supposed to notice the
difference and laugh. That is not funny,
but desperate. These recent half-hearted
releases tend to define that category in their own way.
have a pair of very similar TV series where HBO is expecting Chris Lilley to be
the next Tracy Ullman, the male Australian version. They have issued his earlier 2005 Australian
show We Can Be Heroes and newer
series Angry Boys (2012) on DVD and
Blu-ray respectively. Lilley has the
talent to rather convincingly becomes several characters per show good enough
to make the viewer do double takes, but it also becomes formulaic very quickly
and neither ever have big laughs.
Heroes has him as an old woman, school
girl and several different guys who somehow might win the national honor. Mocking the lives of ordinary people who
might be doing something extraordinary may be amusing at first, but goes
nowhere leaving us to only marvel at his work.
Running 6 episodes, they quit while they are ahead, but without him
doing all the major roles, this would be as obviously flat as it tends to
has him still crossing genders (he plays several mad guys, plus a female prison
guard and a Japanese mother of a famed skateboarder. Twins from the earlier series even turn up.
it again only goes so far and when you add the political incorrectness (too
many casual racism jokes get tired on arrival), you can see why this is only on
cable TV. His oddest work is as an
African American rapper in semi-blackface that really has his work jump the
shark. Hip Hop cannot be spoofed enough,
but this is territory that is dull and not very funny, even when the actors
playing the parents are actually African American. Hope Lilley finds a new way to be funny,
because this is headed towards a dead end.
have their share of Deleted Scenes, with Heroes
adding Extended Episodes, Outtakes and a music performance while Boys adds Bloopers and a faux Music
Video for his rapper persona of S’mouse.
trend extends to would-be satires. Jim
Field Smith’s Butter (2012) features
small town people with small town ambitions whose big annual event and “art”
revolves around sculpting items out of actual butter. Jennifer Garner is on the money as the deeply
conservative trophy wife of a former butter champ who takes over from him when
he decides to retire and a young female African American intends to enter the
implied racism at best and she is (yawn) precocious and the result is another
one-joke film with hick stereotypes galore and a script that just never goes
anywhere, even with Oliva Wilde, Alicia Silverstone and Hugh Jackman in
supporting roles. There is a lack of
energy, nothing is really funny and by the time Garner’s character is sculpting
the Kennedy Assassination, this whole thing falls apart and proves that it
simply could not sustain its lame high concept in the first place. See it for yourself if you dare.
include a Gag Reel and Deleted & Extended Scenes. At least the actors tried.
as a hit despite its limited amusements, the formula that makes Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third
Season (2012) possible. The older
baseball pitcher Kenny (Danny McBride) is still on his irresponsible,
ego-driven trek to wreck all in his way as a one-man train wreck that never
stops. Again, it is a hit, so someone
(baseball fans?) is amused and the show continues, but this too has its share
of hick stereotypes, though they are comparatively warmer than those in Butter, which does not say much when we
are comparing tired stereotypes.
We get 8
more episodes over two Blu-ray discs and in this case, you may not need to
start at the beginning, but if you do and can tell the difference between that
and this, you are a big fan to be.
include audio commentaries on all 8 shows, Deleted Scenes and Outtakes.
we have another show that has been a hit longer, but is even less discussed,
yet also involved sports. The Game: The Fifth Season (2012)
continues the almost soap opera-like cast of African Americans with money, sex
and success connected to professional football plus any other trouble and high
risk behavior they can find themselves in.
Regressive from a standpoint of the best African American sitcoms (the
1960s Bill Cosby Show, the various
Norman Lear classics, etc.), the laugh track seems very forced here and so does
all the teleplays.
can be shrill and the new stereotype is boring young African Americans
replacing louder ones form the past.
Everyone talks at each other, interactions are never convincing and I
doubt it could have been any better in earlier seasons. We get 22 very trying near half-hours that
start out as dull, stay that way and give football and money a bad name. I guess there is a passive audience for this
somewhere, but it must be small because this is very forgettable and I wonder
how much longer this one can go on.
include Deleted Scenes, a Highlight Reel and Gag Reel that shows the cast as
far more human than the actual show.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Butter and 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers
on Down and Boys are all HD shoots and even in playback quality with their
share of stylized images that are not great, detail issues and motion blur more
than a few times. The anamorphically
enhanced Butter DVD is even softer
and on par with the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 presentations on the Game and Heroes DVDs which are all watchable, but not great throughout.
Blu-rays have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but Down and Boys are well recorded and have solid soundfields throughout their
run of episodes, while the same on Butter
has some sonic limits and can be towards the front speakers in some scenes so
it is not as good. The lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 on the Butter DVD and Game DVDs are even weaker to the point
that the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Heroes
(with or without Pro Logic playback) is their equal, so don’t expect much form
any of the DVDs sonically on this list.
- Nicholas Sheffo