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Thursday, April 3, 2008

7 TV Shows That Desperately Need DVDs

Just take a look at the TV on DVD shelf at your local video store and you will see countless shows that you forgot even existed. When every season of Dinosaurs is on DVD, you can be sure that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel and pushing out anything that could possibly sell. So with every single TV show that ever existed making its way to DVD, the question is, why aren't these shows getting proper releases?

7. The Comedians of Comedy

Don't be fooled by the DVD release of the motion picture of the same name, this short lived gem of a TV show is still in DVD limbo, apparently not being deemed worthy of gracing the shelves of a Best Buy next to "Mind of Mencia" or other wonderful Comedy Central releases. This documentary show followed comedians Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Zach Galifianakis, and Maria Bamford on their tour of U.S. Cities, splicing together footage from their performances with them attempting to entertain themselves as the drove from city to city. They do so with a variety of activities that often prove to be funnier than their actual stage antics, such as feeding dirty lines into a playback parrot in a Cracker Barrel, recreating scenes from When Harry Met Sally in a diner, and counting how many amputees they can find on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. "Dane Cook's Tourgasm" gets a fancy chrome covered DVD set and the Comedians of Comedy get nothing? Get on it DVD people!

6. Liquid Television

Ren, Stimpy, Beavis, Butthead, Adult Swim... you can thank Liquid Television for paving the way for groundbreaking indie-style animation. Essentially a collection of bizarre animated skits, Liquid Television pushed the public's acceptance of animation past "just cartoons". Aside from giving a national stage to many of the world's most prolific animators including Bill Plympton, Mike Judge, and Peter Chung, the show also featured the genesis of two extremely popular franchises in Judge's "Beavis and Butthead" and Chung's "Æon Flux." The show had a best-of DVD called "Wet Shorts" that featured the show's most popular cartoons, but it couldn't capture the arching storyline of the show's serials, including Dog Boy, Winter Steele, and The Specialists. MTV's been dragging its feet releasing any of its programs in a complete collection, so I don't have high hopes here. Thankfully, Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have imbued the same "Liquid Television" spirit into "The Animation Show," an annual film festival that celebrated groundbreaking animation.

5. Crossballs

While Ali G made his way across the Atlantic to trick experts into talking about ridiculous and idiotic things, the comedians at "Crossballs" were doing the same, just in a much more hostile environment. They set up a debate show to tackle issues like marijuana and animal rights, but had each side consist of one real expert and one very good improviser. Unbeknownst to the real experts of course. Where's the fun if they're in on the joke? The result is some of the funniest ad-libbing and most frustrated responses to ever grace the moving picture box. With characters like a hippie that hated pot smokers and a Nazi fashion expert, "Crossballs" pushed opinionated people to their limits but never quite enough for them to realize it was a joke. And why is a DVD so badly needed? So the world can finally see the unaired Gun Control episode that led to threats on the lives of the comedian's involved. Oh Comedy!

4. Andy Richter Controls the Universe

When Andy Richter left his sidekick chair on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" it was supposed to be so he would movie onto bigger and better things. He landed a starring role on this unconventional comedy immediately, but unfortunately it didn't last for long. By presenting the world as Andy see it, complete with hallucinations of the homophobic dead man that owned his building and constant re-appraisals of how he could have approached a situation, such as stuffing his suit with puppies, the show became an office based comedy with the silly, absurd sensibility of a cartoon. And thanks to Andy's connections we got a full episode guest starring Conan in one of his rare actual acting roles. Now if only Andy really did control the universe maybe we would get a DVD set.

3. The State

"The State" may have one of the most tumultuous DVD histories in all of television. Constantly on and off, fans of the MTV sketch series from the 90's have had their hopes built up and dashed more times than is even fair. The show proved that young people can do sketch comedy as well as anyone and helped to launch 11 extremely funny people into show business, allowing for smaller factions in the group to form and give the world "Reno 911!" and "Stella." A DVD has been completely prepared, from hours of bonus features to box art, but MTV has shelved the project yet again. Come on MTV, I just want to see a young Michael Ian Black as Captain Monterey Jack!

2. Get A Life!

Chris Elliott established himself as a bizarre institution on "Late Night with David Letterman," so it's no surprise that when he got his own TV show it ended up equally as strange. Chris starred as a 30 something year old paper boy who lived with his parents and ended up in a series of absurd situations like becoming a celebrity for losing his wallet in the big city and befriending and eventually eating an extraterrestrial that shot mysterious liquid out of it's pores (which Chris happily drank of course). "Get A Life!" delved into comedy anarchy, ignoring every rule of the conventional sitcom by having every character be thoroughly unlikable and even ending many of the episodes with Chris' (later ignored) death. Two "best of" DVDs were put out years ago, but the fail to satisfy with the knowledge that Chris has recorded commentary on the whole first season and they won't put it out.

1. Dog Bites Man

"Dog Bites Man" was one of the first to really succeed where Borat did so well: combining prank footage with a story to create comedy that works on both levels. Posing as a news team, 4 comedians would interview local experts for stories and pose stupid questions for them to answer, but at the same time a story ran through each episode that worked along with the news stories and made the comedians into fully formed characters rather than just vessels used to trick people into looking dumb or awkward on camera. This pairing allowed for an interview with a gay rights activist who is told to act "more gay" to rest snugly beside a performance by the news director of his rap song "Up in Dem Guts." And why we really need the DVD is so the final episode, in which the team went to a Klu Klux Klan rally, can finally be seen. Because I cannot think of anything much better than the Grand Wizard of the KKK having to answer the question "Have you seen Big Momma's House 2?"

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