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Case Number 20443: Small Claims Court

Buy Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete First Season at Amazon

Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete First Season

HBO // 2010 // 360 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // January 5th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Clark Douglas has always found death immensely funny.

Editor's Note

Our review of Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season, published December 24th, 2012, is also available.

The Charge

A series that crosses lines you never knew existed—and laughs while doing it.

The Case

Since its creation in late 2006, the Funny or Die website has become an immensely popular way to waste time on the internet in the wee hours of the morning. The concept is simple: videos are posted and people vote on them. If they're deemed "funny," they get to stay on the website. If people feel they should "die," the videos are placed in the site's "crypt." Many of the site's most notable videos feature celebrities (Will Ferrell, one of the website's co-founders, has made quite a few appearances) and/or are created by well-known comics. Now HBO has blessed/cursed us with Funny or Die Presents, a television show offering the same sort of sketches without the voting option.

Each episode is hosted by a polite network executive named Ed Haligan (played by a dryly amusing Steve Tom), who presents a collection of odds n' ends for our viewing pleasure. The sketches presented vary dramatically in both running time and quality. Some items are presented as one-and-done affairs, while the majority of sketches are ongoing miniseries that appear in multiple episodes.

Let's take a look at the show's assorted pieces.

Playground Politics (4 segments): A genuinely hilarious segment in which children on a school playground act out a series of global political conflicts.
Grade: A

Designated Driver (4 segments): A four-part tale in which a blustery Rob Riggle (The Daily Show) and his mild-mannered pal Paul Scheer (The League) get into a series of strange, violent conflicts over the course of a very long night. Fun for a while, but the series starts repeating itself all too quickly.
Grade: C+

Sleeping with Celebrities (4 segments): We watch for a lengthy period of time as a series of celebrities sleep. A cute joke the first time, but there's no reason we should be getting this more than once.
Grade: C-

Father and Son (1 segment): A lengthy short film from Tim & Eric (of Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) about a son's desperate attempt to connect with his step-father. A few bright moments are overwhelmed by the short's mean-spirited nature.
Grade: C

The Amazing Adventures of David & Jennie (3 segments): While this segment admittedly offers a clever joke or two on occasion, the central characters are obnoxious and not particularly funny.
Grade: C-

Derek Waters Presents LOL (2 segments): A sketch show within a sketch show, this program takes up the majority of the running time in both episodes it appears in. While the first program is middling aside from the amusing "Drunk History" sketch (featuring Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle, and Zooey Deschanel), the second is solid from start to finish.
Grade: B

The Slovin & Allen Show (2 segments): Another sketch show within a sketch show. This one relies heavier on surreal material and is less successful overall, but as with "Derek Waters Presents LOL" the second installment is a good deal stronger than the first.
Grade: C+

Men of Unquiet Desperation (2 segments): Two comic essays of terribly sad men courtesy of Mr. David Koechner (The Office). Koechner's good, but the sketches seem uncertain of whether they're more interested in mocking or pitying his characters.
Grade: C

The Carpet Brothers (1 segment): The only segment of the series that gets an entire episode to itself. This one tells the story of three brothers attempting to keep their late father's carpet business up-and-running. Stars Tim Meadows (Mean Girls), Will Ferrell (Step Brothers), and David Spade (Tommy Boy) seem to be having a good time, but things start to drag after a while. I can't help but feel this could have been tighter and funnier at 10-15 minutes.
Grade: C

Casual Sex (3 segments): A very pregnant woman allows us to witness her ongoing quest to sleep with lots of guys during the late stages of her pregnancy. The second installment features a fun supporting turn from a spot-on Chris Parnell (30 Rock), but otherwise this idea gets tedious quickly.
Grade: C-

Day by Day (2 segments): Two shorts in which a couple of guys have very wild days. These pieces go to extremes to get laughs but are nonetheless quite forgettable.
Grade: D+

Magical Balloon (1 segment): Easily the strangest, most peculiar piece of the entire season, this one stars Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) and Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces) as the owners of a small video service. Not especially funny, but inventive and oddly compelling.
Grade: B+

Hold Up (4 segments): An ongoing tale of numerous individuals being held hostage inside a bank. Like many other parts of Funny or Die Presents, this one relies too heavily on cheap shock value for laughs. A disappointment considering the talent involved (including Ed Helms and Malin Akerman).
Grade: C-

Morning Prayer with Skott ∧ Behr (1 segment): Tim ∧ Eric offer this slightly-too-long parody of televangelism programs. They've got the look and feel down perfectly, but this sketch wanders down rabbit trails a little too often for its own good. Will Forte is onhand to present a clip from "The Animated Adventures of Forrest Gump" (starring Tom Arnold as the voice of Forrest).
Grade: B-

Space Baby (3 segments): The concept is immensely silly, but these segments are brief and clever enough to justify their existence. The two segments guest-starring a dryly hilarious Fred Willard are particularly amusing.
Grade: B-

Songs with Mike O'Connell (4 segments): These repetitive, irritating songs only serve to accentuate O'Connell's limited comedic (and musical) range.
Grade: D

Just 3 Boyz (3 segments): There are three segments of this one, but they're all stuffed into a single episode. It's a bizarrely overdramatized sitcom parody that plays like a variation on that odd rabbit show from David Lynch's Inland Empire. Tim & Eric do their thing, Zach Galifianakis sports women's clothing and pigtails and Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthusiasm) voices a lamp shade. Props for sheer strangeness, but the laughs are few and far between. Also, I'm afraid I'm never going to get that image of a chicken stuffed with semen out of my head.
Grade: C

One Thousand Cats (1 segment): A one-note, bland, much-too-long parody of pretentious Broadway productions. A real pretentious Broadway production would have been vastly more enjoyable. I'm still impressed with myself for actually sitting through this entire thing.
Grade: F

The DVD transfer is fine, though a surprisingly huge amount of the sketches incorporate a crappy faux-VHS look. Audio is also fine, though there's nothing to give your speakers a workout. There are no extras of any sort included.

Despite a handful of bright moments (those "Playground Politics" segments in particular never failed to make me laugh), too much of Funny or Die Presents doesn't work. Here's hoping the success ratio is higher next season.

The Verdict

Die.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 68

Perp Profile

Studio: HBO
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 360 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Funny or Die








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