Warner Bros. // 1998 // 220 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 31st, 2007
With a buzzer, some goofy props and a way too exuberant audience, volume two of the first season of ABC's version of Whose Line is it Anyway jumps and flops and comically gyrates onto DVD.
If ABC Family or Comedy Central is part of your cable package, you've no doubt stumbled upon this series during your late-night channel surfing. Whose Line is an improv show that forces comedians to make fools of themselves in a live audience. The show was birthed in England and imported across the pond. Carry-over performers from the Brit predecessor include mainstays Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady and the omnipresent Ryan Stiles. Drew Carey hosts.
Shows consist of a series of games designed to elicit as much comic mayhem as possible. Some of the regularly-used games are "Questions Only," "Song Styles," "Party Quirks," "Let's make a Date," "Weird Newscasters," and my favorite -- "Hoedown." For the American translation, some custom games were added, which were usually more drawn out and lot less funnier than the classics.
And while I find a fair amount of good times to be had with these episodes and there are a handful of brilliant moments, I still think the British version is superior. I think the show works best with shorter games like "Scenes from a Hat" and "World's Worst," allowing for fresh, rapid-fire routines. These segments are present in the American series, but appear sporadically in different episodes. British shows were packed tighter with bits and as such sported more laughs per capita than its Yankee counterpart. Drew and company have the talent but too much time is wasted with long-running, mediocre games.
More annoying than the occasional flatlining improv is the studio audience. These folks are just too into it, vomiting forth ecstatic laughter at every little thing. Hey, I'm all for having a good time and yukking it up with your friends, but the show's producers must be pumping nitrous oxides into the studio HVAC system. And God help us all if Wayne Brady does a James Brown impression; the ladies in the audience will climax on the spot.
Volume Two brings 10 more episodes to the party, all varying in comedic punch, though each is at least marginally entertaining. Brady, Mochrie and Stiles are the three regulars, buttressed by appearances of Brad Sherwood, Greg Proops and even Stephen Colbert. As the series progresses, the shows do get punchier and tweaks like the audience-generated sound effects games are hilarious. I anticipate those releases, but hope that forthcoming seasons aren't staggered as they were for season one. With only a few deleted scenes for extras on each disc, I'm unsure of the purpose of splitting the first season into volumes. The audio and video is purely serviceable -- full frame and 2.0 stereo all the way.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 220 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes