HBO // 2003 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 2nd, 2003
When he talks, it really smarts.
The acerbic wit and wisdom of Dennis Miller has been around for years, starting with his stint on Saturday Night Live. Now you can get a taste of it up close and personal in this hour-long stand-up special that features Miller ranting about anything and everything. From Alan Greenspan to the ungodly length of Circuit City receipts, the ACLU to drug and bomb sniffing dogs, Miller's sharp tongue and often sharper brain poke fun at everything he can get his cerebral hands on. Miller is best known for headlining various talk shows (including HBO's Dennis Miller Live) and popping up once in a while in various Hollywood feature films (The Net, Disclosure, Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood). In Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed, the comedian is off his rocker and on a tirade to show America that it's not only the strong that survive, but also the intelligent.
I've been a fan of Miller's ever since a friend introduced me to his classic stand-up CD "The Off-White Album." That performance, filled with rants about AIDS, born again Christians, and Snickers bars is well worth picking up. But, much like that album, Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed is filled with comedy bits that will quickly be rendered obsolete due to Miller's topical tirades. Whenever you have a show that focuses almost solely on political figures and happenings of the day, you know you're in trouble. Did I laugh at this hour-long performance? You bet. Will it be as funny a few years down the road? Most likely not -- even "The Off-White Album" has material that is so dated only your parents may full appreciate some of the references. Speaking of references, am I the only one who feels that sometimes Miller tries as hard as he can to often alienate 98% of his audience? "Might be in a bathysphere at the base of the Marianas trench," Miller quips, making me wonder if he pulled that out of his rear just to be obscure (for those that care, a bathysphere is, according to the dictionary, "A spherical deep-diving chamber in which persons are lowered by a cable to study the oceans and deep-sea life"). Minor quibbles aside, Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed is a fine showcase for Miller's trademark zingers -- his skewered take on America is punctuated by some truthful insight into the way we really are. There are points where Miller gets a bit preachy, sidestepping laughs for political opinions (and his theory on abortion is a little crass). But that's part of Miller's draw -- he's never attempted to adopt the warm, oozy persona of Bill Cosby. As Miller slinks into each decade he becomes crankier and crankier -- I can see him sitting at an old age home one day, waving around his cane and complaining about kids and their darned "rap music." Would you have it any other way? This doesn't come close to being classic Miller, but if you enjoy a good political rib roast, Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed shouldn't disappoint.
Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. This HBO special was shot on video and looks as good as that medium will allow. There are solid colors and dark black levels throughout the transfer. There are some minor imperfections, but these are almost solely due in part to the medium of video being very limited in terms of visual quality. The bottom line is that this picture looks as good as it needs to, which should please fans. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. There isn't much to say about this mix -- Miller's lashings are all clear as a bell, which is all that's really required. No directional effects or surround sounds are featured, and none are needed. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are included on this disc.
Not surprisingly, there isn't a single extra feature on this disc. All you get is a list of 21 chapter selections. Are you laughing yet?
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated