Judge Patrick Naugle will hereafter be referred to as Patrick the Adjudicator.
"You want national security? I got a church full of nosy ol' ladies. Put them in the CIA and they'll find out everybody's business. They'll tell you where Osama's been and where Osama gonna be!"—Cedric the Entertainer
It's Cedric the Entertainer's world; we're just living in it! Standing tall on his last name, Cedric presents an entertaining variety show featuring dancing, comedy, and music, all rolled into one gut-busting package. In Cedric The Entertainer Presents, viewers will get to laugh at Cedric and his wacky crew skewering everything from the President of the United States to religious chefs to gangsta thugs in a no-holds barred comedy tour-de-force (how many hyphens can I use in one sentence?!?) that will take you to the edge of comedic sanity, then push you over!
Lately, it's as if Hollywood has gone nostalgic on us. Remakes of old movies are being released in movie theaters at an alarming rate. Songs from famous musicals (Fiddler on the Roof) are being diced and retooled into pop hits ("Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani). Apparently, someone decided they missed variety shows—as of late we've had pop stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson and comedian Wayne Brady hosting their own variety shows, and then came Cedric the Entertainer's (Barbershop) aptly titled Cedric The Entertainer Presents. (I guess with a last name like "Entertainer" you were bound for variety show hell.)
Cedric The Entertainer Presents: The Complete Series is a collections of comedy skits and characters that are sometimes funny, oftentimes not. Regardless, I think that Cedric the Entertainer (one of The Original Kings of Comedy) is a funny guy. Though his film record has been spotty at best (he starred in the two Barbershop films, as well as such duds as Johnson Family Vacation and the Tommy Lee Jones turkey Man of the House), Cedric is a genuinely funny guy whose persona should have been ripe for a variety series.
Alas, the show's skits are often hit-or-miss, and too much of the latter. A few of the characters are funny (Cedric plays a cafeteria lady who helps cater an upscale wedding to disastrous effect, with sayings like "I'm like a cup of coffee; I'm hot, black, and strong!") while others are just plain dumb (a diner skit where an "actor" portrays a stereotypical 1950s African American man is just awkward). Throughout the series (there were a grand total of 22 episodes during its 2002-03 run), there are comedic jabs at psychics, hip-hop dancing, Vegas showgirls, the President of the United States, church leaders (who are actually chefs), line dancing, lawyers, the Mafia, inner city gangs, and, of course, white people (we make an excellent fodder for black comedy, and rightly so).
The show's supporting cast—including Amy Brassette, Shaun Majumder, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and JB Smoove—are decent, though generally overshadowed by the bulbous, center-staged Cedric. As an almost nod to the TV show In Living Color, Cedric has his own personal Fly Girls: The Ced-sation Dancers. And much like that show, Cedric makes his appearance at the beginning and end of each show to welcome and bid the audience a fond farewell.
I laughed a few times while watching Cedric The Entertainer Presents (if you can't tell, I did enjoy the religious chef bit), but not enough for me to really recommend the show. Let's hope that Cedric finds better success in the upcoming remakes of The Honeymooners (a new spin on the classic TV show with Cedric as Ralph Kramden) or Back To School (originally an '80s comedy starring Rodney Dangerfield).
Each episode of Cedric The Entertainer Presents: The Complete Series is presented in its original TV aspect ratio, 1.33:1 full frame. The video quality on the transfers is good, if not great—this is a variety show in the vein of Saturday Night Live, so don't expect a shockingly clear, movie-quality image. The colors are in good shape, as are the black levels—overall, the transfers are acceptable for the show they're supporting.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. Much like the video portions of the series, the audio is as good as it needs to be. This is a typical 2.0 mix that is free of any surround sounds—it's a front-heavy mix without much in the way of dynamic range. Then again, do you really need to hear Cedric and his crew in 5.1 Surround? All aspects of the mix are free of any major hiss or distortion. Also included on this set are English and Spanish subtitles.
Paramount has decided not to include any extra features on this three-disc set. All viewers get are slimline cases housed in a cardboard sleeve.
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