Starring: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson
- All twenty episodes from the first season
- Audio commentary by the cast on select sketches
- Interviews with producer Lorne Michaels and the cast
- Two best-of sketch compilations
- Thirty minutes of unseen footage from performances at the Rivoli Theater
Released by: A&E Home Video
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Fans should own.
[ad#longpost]Lo, the land of TV sketch comedy was dull and void. Monty Python had gone the way of all laughs, so too had SCTV gone off the air. SNL was still around, and while funny, they would continue to live in the shadow of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players until much later in the show’s life, when they’d live in the shadow of any cast that had been funny at all. Something needed to happen. Thus it was that five whacko Canadians came into our lives. They put on dresses, they talked in funny voices, and yea verily, they crushed heads. And it was good.
Okay, so maybe stuff wasn’t that bad, but I was on a roll. Still, it was true to a large extent: shows could pull off funny, sure, but not consistently. I mean, when you remember an episode of SNL, chances are you don’t remember the entire episode–you remember the good parts. There wasn’t a feeling of a band of comedic madmen getting up and doing anything just to get a laugh, and growing more and more absurd at each passing second. Forgotten was the way that a sketch could simply stop, or melt into something else, or that an entire episode could be a good part.
These five guys changed all of that, under the guidance of…yes, that’s right, SNL‘s daddy, Lorne Michaels. And they created a cult comedy smash with characters like the Guys Who Nobody Likes, Cabbage Head, Mr. Tyzik the Head Crusher, and the inevitable Buddy Cole. They’re widely considered to be the guys who actually picked up the baton that Python handed off–and not just because they had no problems with dressing in drag. But their stuff has retained its funny shelf life and thus we are pleased they’ve finally hit DVD.
The commentary by the Kids is across a selection of sketches as opposed to an entire episode and it’s pretty wild. All five of them talk over each other, crack jokes, crack on each other, make wild non sequiturs and occassionally comment on what they’re seeing on the screen. However, it’s so manic that it’s actually fairly enjoyable, as long as you understand it’s something you have to hold onto for dear life. The interviews are fairly candid, taking you through how the group was born from two other troupes, who was pissed off at whom when, and how they were pretty much thrown onto television in a fit of inspiration by Michaels. That’s definitely worth a watch, as it was all news to me.
A bit of a jewel for posterity is the footage of the Kids performing at the Rivoli theatre before their TV deal(s). While the audio and video quality is about what you would expect from what appears to be camcorder action, and the sketches are a mixed bag, it’s cool to see the group in their infancy, seeing what worked and what didn’t in front of a live audience.
The set is worthwhile just to get at the episodes themselves, but what features there are make it worthwhile for the fan to own. Everyone else would be content with a rental.