Judge David Gutierrez wishes he had his own eponymous sitcom.
"Want a big-ass donut?"—Bernie Mac
Like so many comedians that have come before, stand-up comedian Bernie Mac (Ocean's Eleven) finally received his own sitcom loosely based on his comedy routine. Bernie Mac is a fiercely funny man with an equally funny show in The Bernie Mac Show—Season One.
Facts of the Case
Bernie Mac plays Bernie "Mac" McCullough, a married comedian who suddenly finds himself raising his sister's three children: Vanessa, Jordan, and Bryana. Bernie tries his best not to fail too badly and simultaneously tries to keep his lifestyle in tact.
Composed of 22 half-hour episodes, the DVD set is spread out over four separate single-sided discs:
• "Now You Got It!"
• "The Main Event"
• "Bernie Mac, Ladies Man"
• "Saving Bernie Mac"
• "Here to Stay"
• "A Christmas Story"
• "Starting School"
• "Hot, Hot, Hot"
• "Wanda's Week Off"
• "The King and I"
• "Hall of Fame"
• "Handle Your Business"
• "Back in the Day"
• "Mac 101"
• "If I were N-Riched Man"
• "Stop Having Sex"
• "Secrets and Lies"
• "Kelly's Heroes"
• "Sweet Home Chicago—Part One"
• "Sweet Home Chicago—Part Two"
Special Features include "Bernie Mac: TV's 'Family Man'." This featurette details Bernie's rise through stand-up to his television show. Also available is a commentary for the pilot episode with Bernie Mac and the show's writer and director.
When I watch this show, I'm alarmed at how closely Bernie's parenting methods resemble the way I interact with children. I don't dumb it down or clean it up either—and it gets both of us in trouble. The show's greatest strength is how it remains funny and intelligent. Yes, it's a sitcom, but it's far better than most of the stuff that passes for network television these days. A lesson in parenting or growth of some sort lies at the heart of every episode and is reached in darkly humorous fashion. Things can truly go wrong in this show and do. While still playing in sitcom conventions, this show still manages to retain its identity. Normally, I don't think much of when characters address the viewer, but it actually works in this series, as do the random effects used for laughs.
Bernie Mac as Bernie Mac is excellent. I defy anyone not to find his television persona engagingly cool and funny. He's a natural at this sort of thing and it comes across in every scene. I liked watching his character slowly grow over the course of the season. Actually, the entire cast is talented and strong. Child actors don't strike me as all that talented, but these kids can hold their own. I'm especially impressed by Jordan's (Jeremy Suarez, Jerry Maguire) natural comic ability.
The show uses music to great affect, enhancing the scenes by carrying some of the comedic and dramatic action. I've noticed most television shows today employ a video montage on a regular basis. At times, The Bernie Mac Show—Season One borders on becoming a music video, but manages to avoid crossing that line. The song selection is particularly good. I've yet to hear a bad song on this show.
Pay careful attention to the look of the show. It's not shot as a standard sitcom. Instead, it uses some inventive techniques that cause the viewer to immediately understand the show's something just a little different.
The picture and sound were adequate for a series made so recently. Considering how dark some of the backgrounds can be, I was pleased to find that there was little blurring or fuzziness.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The bonus features were lacking. Having one commentary on a single episode hardly strikes me as a bonus. While interesting, I thought more ground could have been covered.
Despite the overall strength of the cast, I was disappointed by the lack of the talented Kellita Smith (The Jamie Foxx Show) as Wanda McCullough. She's severely underused.
I always got the feeling the show never quite went as far as it could. I suppose the confines of network television can do that to a series.
A good rental and recommended to those tired of insipid and uninspired family sitcoms, The Bernie Mac Show—Season One is a step above normal television fare. Watch it. It's good, and more importantly, it's funny. I normally loathe sitcoms but this one has won my favor.
The Bernie Mac Show—Season One is free to go.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary on pilot episode
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