Judge David Johnson is counting down the days until the spin-off America's Funniest Celebrity Sex Home Videos arrives.
Ha! That kid fell on his face!.
In 1989, that tall gangly fella from Full House walked on stage and introduced the viewing populace to what would soon become a national sensation: America's Funniest Home Videos. Fifteen years later, the show charges onward, now with Tom Bergeron at the helm, providing America with an unending onslaught of bumbling idiots caught on tape. And I'm not talking about C-SPAN, either.
Facts of the Case
So what exactly do you need to know about America's Funniest Home Videos? It was an early 1990s phenomenon whose popularity kind of petered out. However, the show is still on, and people are still sending in their stuff: wedding catastrophes, body hair catching on fire, idiots riding their bikes into parked vehicles, dogs and cats attacking each other, babies puking, toddlers saying inappropriate things, construction site screw-ups, improbable basketball shots, lame practical jokes, and the omnipresent shots to the family jewels.
Following Bob Saget's departure, Daisy Fuentes and John Fugelsang took over in 1997. Then in 2000, Tom Bergeron stepped in for hosting duties. Also, the show shortened its bulky title to the hipper acronym "AFV."
This batch of episodes—over nine hours' worth!—from Shout! Factory features twelve episodes hosted by Bergeron, the $100,000 season finale, and the 300th episode special, a concoction of some of the AFV highlights from years past.
If you're a fan of the AFV parade of buffoons, this set is for you. Shout! Factory has loaded you up with hours of videotaped shenanigans, and while it's a mixed bag of stupid and funny, if it's your thang you'll be satisfied.
In my humble opinion, the ratio of unfunny to funny clips is about four to one. Those aren't bad odds, actually. But again, this will be an attractive calculation only if this is the kind of stuff that tickles your particular funny bone. That's about as detailed a commentary I can offer on the clips themselves. Some are very funny. Some are okay. Some are pointless. You know the drill.
However, I wasn't totally on board with Tom Bergeron. The guy's got some natural charm, he's apparently the de facto host for programs featuring C-list celebrities, and he hails from northern New England. Those are all checks in the plus column, but, frankly, his material was lacking. Bob Saget was no laugh-generating maestro on the original version of the show, but he had the benefit of larger-scale production values. Here the pomp and circumstance of the big $10,000 payoffs and the dramatic "locking in their vote" portion of the past is lacking. In this toned-down version of the show, much of the responsibility for padding the time falls to Tom (and of course the writers) and, well, the jokes suck. But what are you going to do? It's a thankless job hosting a clip show, and coming up with creative segues to yet another montage of dogs humping appliances leaves little wiggle room for sterling comical craftsmanship.
That said, Tom is nowhere near as vapid as the live audience he must entertain. I've always believed that the studio audiences for America's Funniest Home Videos consisted of automatons permanently set on "cheesy." I mean, how could someone laugh that hard at a cat eating a birthday cake? It's not humanly possible! I suspect there's a secret lab buried somewhere beneath the castle at Walt Disney World that manufactures synthetic cornball audience members for use on AFV, the set of That '70s Show, and every single infomercial ever made.
The show receives little doctoring in its DVD release. The full-screen aspect ratio has been preserved, and it is adequate. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix does what it has to, mainly transmitting the high-pitched yelps of pain from the hapless yahoos who get a whiffleball bat in the crotch.
The 300th episode bonus is pretty cool. It's long (90 minutes) and sports a highlight reel of clips from the past seasons, including a stultifying series of baby-vomiting clips. Unfortunately, you're also going to have to endure some mind-numbing reminiscence from ABC "stars" like Jim Belushi and Star Jones.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh at some of these clips. But this set is recommended only if you're a fan of the show.
Not guilty. Idiots of America, continue to carry that camcorder everywhere you go!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
• 300th Episode
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