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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Sketches > TV > In Living Color - Season One (Fox DVD)

In Living Color – Season One (Boxed Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B



The original In Living Color was the mastermind of Keenan Ivory Wayans, and its initial seasons were some of the most daring and groundbreaking sketch comedy since the original years of Saturday Night Live.  Besides being the big break for the Wayans, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Kim Coles, Tommy Davidson, and the rest of its exceptional cast, it dared to go farther than Eddie Murphy ever did when it came to the subject of urban life.  It also dared to deal with African American and even Gay culture in a way that was unheard of previously.


The first season is contained on three DVDs, episodes of which originally ran from April through September 1990.  Highlight skits included the introductions of The Fly Girls (the resident Hip Hop dancers choreographed by Academy Award nominated dancer/actress Rosie Perez) that became a signature of the show, The Homeboy Shopping Network, the “Men On” skits, Kim Wayans’ Oprah spoof, Ted Turner’s Very Colorized Classics, Mo Money, Homey The Clown, Vera Demilo – Bodybuilder, Benita the Gossiper, and The Brothers Brothers (a send-up of, but equally subversive version of the also controversial Smothers Brothers) about some very oblivious black folk singers who are rather conservative.


Great one-shot skits include Oppression (a send-up of the racism in a series of Calvin Klein cologne ads), the Do-It-Yourself Milli Vanilli Kit, The Wrath of Farrakhan, Ridin’ Miss Daisy, Jheri’s Kids with Jim Carrey doing an early dead-on Jerry Lewis impersonation, Tommy Davidson’s M.C. Hammer Music Video send-up, Kim Wayans’ hilarious Making Of A Tracey Chapman Song skit, Michael Jackson Mr. Potato Head, and a terrific I Love Lucy send-up called I Love Laquita.  And remember, this way just the first season.


The full frame, color footage is in great shape, as clean and clear as it is going to get for professional analog NTSC videotape of the time.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is good for its age, but offers no surrounds of any kind.  Combined, the show has never looked so good.  Extras include featurettes on the First Season, The Fly Girls (which is much shorter), and commentary tracks by Tommy Davidson in Episodes Seven and Thirteen.  These are all good and welcome, but a 2001 panel discussion planned for this set seems to be missing.  What is also noticeably missing involves any new materials in the supplements by the Wayans themselves, despite the fact that Damon is making a Homey The Clown feature film.  Their exodus during the waning final episodes, when Fox had a tragic falling out with Keenan over his creative control of the show that made it possible in the first place, still lingers.


Fortunately, the most important thing that lingers is the show and its innovations.  Though Saturday Night Live and Mad-TV outlasted it, those shows have not held up as well, and In Living Color could have still been on the air if not for that fall out.  However, it is one of TV’s classics and one of the few great TV series of the 1990s, and that’s not bad at all.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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