Case Number 07887: Small Claims Court

AFV: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Shout! Factory // 1996 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // October 26th, 2005

The Charge

Ho-Ho-Humor to brighten your holidays

The Case

(Sung to the tune "Winter Wonderland." My apologies to composer Felix Bernard.)

"Sleigh bells ring, listen mee-ster
Santa falls, on his keester
A beautiful sight, we're laughing tonight
As voyeurs in this Christmas wonderland."

"Gone astray, a toboggan
Hits a tree, crack's Dad's noggin'
That punch to the nuts, we all love so much
As voyeurs in this Christmas wonderland."

"As a family we all trim the tree
The dog comes in, to lift his leg and pee
Our cats attack the gifts, as Grandma flees
Spilling wassail on the head of dear Aunt Bea."

"Later on, we admire
A gag gift that starts a fire
We roll on the floor, laughing 'til our side's sore
As voyeurs in this Christmas wonderland."

It's that time of the year again. Chestnuts roasting. Stockings hung by the chimney with care. Dad sliding off the roof, while adding just one more string of lights. Regardless of the festivity, Americans are there to capture each and every moment with their trusty camcorders.

Come on, admit it. We've all done it. Lord knows my family has enough material for a three-season reality series...and it's all thanks to the same man who gave us Battle of the Network Stars, uber-producer Vin Di Bona. His low-budget brainchild, America's Funniest Home Videos -- now simply known as AFV -- debuted in the fall of 1990 and has been going strong ever since. It's mindless, guilty pleasure entertainment of the highest degree.

The holidays have always been prime fodder for AFV. Every parent wants to preserve their child's first Christmas, the look on Grandpa's face as he opens that special gift, or Uncle Frank dressed up as Santa delivering toys to all the grandkids. In the process, of course, we manage to capture Aunt Judy stumbling face first into the Christmas tree, little Timmy dethroning a Wise Man in the church Christmas pageant, and cousin Fred passed out on the couch with the kids trying to shove as many cookies in his mouth as they can before he wakes up.

Who has more fun than people?

Shout! Factory has wrapped up a trio of holiday episodes to enjoy this season.

* 2003 Edition
Hosted by Tom Bergeron. Spotlights the joy of giving fake lottery tickets, a parade of not so wise men, a Christmas preparedness course, costume catastrophes, and a grudge match between Santa and The Easter Bunny. Tom is the perfect host for this show -- a smooth persona, with a sharp delivery, and never one to take himself too seriously. This latest incarnation is made even more effective with the addition of MST3K co-creator Trace Beaulieu to the writing team. 60 percent seasonal, 40 percent general video clips.
(39 min)

* 1997 Edition
Hosted by Bob Saget. The final season of Bob's hosting duties and it's easy to see why. He's embarrassed, bitter, and not the least bit funny. Far too many live action bits and not enough videos. The episode does have its moments...Christmas morning excitement, holiday boneheads, Christmas animal antics, unusual musical merriment, problematic visits by old St Nick, fun on skis, and Saget's Night Before Christmas. 100 percent seasonal video clips.
(20 min)

1996 Edition
* Hosted by Bob Saget. Not a happy camper, but at least he's trying to sell the jokes. Saget's not a prop comic, but the producers sure tried to make him one. The live action bits remain the least funny aspect of the show. Highlights include...Christmas is for kids, Santa leaves behind DNA evidence, gift-opening excitement, those holiday stage performances, and winter wonderland fun. 50 percent seasonal, 50 percent general video clips.
(23 min)

AFV: Home for the Holidays is presented in standard 1.33:1 full frame. While the 2003 episode is a sharp digital transfer with solid coloring and few enhancement issues, the same cannot be said for the 1996 and 1997 entries. Ported over from analog video, the colors are faded and the imagery is riddled with edge enhancement and artifacting. While the show's producers had a mixed bag of original source material to work with, it appears little was done to clean it up. Don't fault Shout! Factory for this one. In terms of audio, the Dolby 2.0 stereo mix is perfectly fine for the presentation, although there may be some clips where it's difficult to make out the dialogue. If you're interested, you might want to turn on the closed captioning. Then again, we're really here just to see the clips.

Not a trace of bonus materials. If the folks at Shout! Factory were smart, they would have requested Di Bona to supply a cache of holiday clips from all 15 seasons, for a rapid-fire seasonal barrage. It would have been more impressive than three mismatched episodes. Oh well, maybe next year.

This court exonerates AFV: Home for the Holidays, based solely on its ability to make us forget life's stressors -- if only for a little while. We recommend Shout! Factory head back to the drawing board to mine the wealth of this series to create more effective future releases, while limiting our exposure to Bob Saget. Sorry, Bob. It could be worse. AFV could have hired Ryan Seacrest.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Review content copyright © 2005 Michael Stailey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0098740/combined

* Official Site
http://abc.go.com/primetime/americasfunniest/

* Review -- AFV: Volume 1
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/afvvol1.php