You don't want to know what Judge Erich Asperschlager is wearing.
Our review of Comedy Bang! Bang! The Complete First Season, published February 3rd, 2014, is also available.
"How do you juggle work and family?"
Following a triumphant first season on the IFC network, Scott, Reggie, Bookie, Dr. Ram, Sir Couchley, and the whole Comedy Bang! Bang! crew are back for a second season that's bigger, better, and funnier than ever.
Facts of the Case
Comedy Bang! Bang! The Complete Second Season has twenty episodes across three discs, with a fourth disc devoted entirely to bonus features:
Season Two ups the episode count from ten to twenty, but the show is bigger in other ways. Twice as many episodes means more appearances by some of the funniest folks working today. Beyond the featured guests and the return of old favorites like Nick Kroll's Fabrice Fabrice and Paul F. Tompkins' Garry Marshall, there are appearances by comedians including Michaela Watkins, Kristen Schaal, the Sklar Brothers, Bob Odenkirk, Tony Hale, Jack McBrayer, Will Forte, and Matts Walsh and Besser. The first season transition from podcast to TV gave comedian-host Scott Aukerman the ability to add visual humor to the show's character-based comedy—with man-on-the-street segments, surreal gags, and film/TV parodies. Season Two has all that, adding in some high concept episodes that push the talk-and-sketch show format even further.
Even the straightforward episodes have big special effects segments, like Reggie's Tron-inspired journey into cyberspace and a ship of shrunken doctors who venture inside Scott's body to cure his cold. The gems of the season are the ambitious themed entries. Gillian Jacobs' episode is built around a series of flashforwards and flashbacks that promise a shocking finale I certainly never saw coming. Another episode follows Scott through two alternate realities where his interview with Andy Dick goes very, very differently. There are holiday episodes, with the Comedy Bang! Bang! crew celebrating Halloween with legend Pee-Wee Herman, and Christmas with Santa Claus (Zach Galifianakis), claymation elves, and a Christmas miracle.
There's even a fake "lost pilot"—a pitch-perfect parody of The Tonight Show-style talk shows, with topical jokes, tone-deaf bits, lavish set, and an obsequious band leader (with Reginald Wattersmith on keyboards in the back). The genius of the episode is how, over the course of 22 minutes, it morphs from bland network talk show to the final format—complete with rational, if bizarre, explanations for why there are talking animal heads on the wall.
As structurally brilliant as the "pilot" is, it isn't the best episode of the season. That honor belongs to the mid-season's musical episode—an all-singing show written by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (Paul F. Tompkins) and starring Scott as the host, Casey Wilson as the guest, and Tom Lennon as the Phantom of the Bang! Bang! Set. The episode riffs on musicals from Les Miserables to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Bonus: the songs and performances are great. Extra bonus: Andrew Lloyd Webber raps about his two weeks in Thailand.
Comedy Bang! Bang! The Complete Second Season arrives on DVD with a sharp 1.78:1 transfer that looks great in-studio, on location, and in all the film style parodies. The 2.0 stereo audio is numerically a step down from the first season's 5.1 mix, but it sounds so good you won't miss the extra 3.1. In the age of Blu-ray and beefy surround sound, Comedy Bang! Bang! proves that production design and cinematography are more important than pixel count.
The show's Season One DVD had a ton of extras. Season Two has even more. So many, they had to add a fourth disc just to contain them all. It's like a Criterion Collection for comedy:
• Audio Commentaries: As with Season One, this set includes a commentary for every episode. Unlike the carefully orchestrated guest-packed commentaries on the first set, the deadline to record the new tracks was sprung on Aukerman at the last minute (as he tells it). The result: Scott and writers Neil Campbell and Eva Anderson came into the office on a Saturday to record all twenty in one marathon sitting. That the commentaries are every bit as entertaining is a testament to the trio's improv chops, and the flexible schedules/phone plans of the various writers and performers who join in, including Paul Rust, Mike Hanford, Casey Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, and Paul F. Tompkins—who sits in on several commentaries as himself and various characters.
• Deleted and Extended Scenes: The main bonus feature on disc four is this nearly 90-minute collection of extra scenes from every episode, including alternate interviews and deleted segment bits. It's all great stuff.
• "Musical Episode Talkback Featuring the Cast" (43:46): Prior to the TV debut of the musical episode, it was shown at Cinefamily in L.A., followed by a discussion/Q&A/bonus live podcast episode with Aukerman, Casey Wilson, "Andrew Lloyd Webber," and "the Phantom." If you've ever wondered what it means to "commit to a bit," stick around for the last 11 minutes.
• "Reggie Makes Music": Reggie Watts improvises all the music for the show. Here are 28 bonus music jams with Watts and guest comedians from every episode.
• "Reggie Season 2 Music Supercut" (18:10): All of Reggie's interstitial music from the season.
• "VFX Tests" (3:13): A test reel of some of the season's visual effects, including "Big Ladder," "Giant Microwave," and "Orphan Fourvel."
• "Comedy Bang! Bang! Crew Dance Party" (3:50): Reggie DJs an impromptu on-set dance party for the crew.
• "Meet the Crew" (1:22): I'm not going to spoil the gag.
• "An Acting Lesson with Herb Roost" (3:40): A full, alternate improvised acting lesson, recorded for the "Date-zaster" TV spoof.
Over the course of two-plus seasons, Scott Aukerman, Reggie Watts, and a parade of comedians and writers have turned IFC's Comedy Bang! Bang! into the funniest talk show and sketch show on television. Although the first two seasons are available on streaming services, the DVD sets are the best way to experience the show. Comedy Bang! Bang! The Complete Second Season takes the feature-rich first season package and doubles down with more episodes, more comedians, and more bonus features. Talk about getting more bang (bang!) for your buck.
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