Judge Patrick Naugle liked this show better when God called Himself Ted, and the Devil was two hot chicks named Carol and Alice.
One divine comedy. One helluva show.
God (voice of James Garner, The Notebook) looks like Jerry Garcia on a good hair day. The Devil (voice of Alan Cumming, Son of the Mask) looks like a movie executive whose best skill is ordering the right kind of martini. And then there's Bob Alman (voice of French Stewart, TV's 3rd Rock From The Sun), an everyman who is about to become the savior of the human race.
God has always hoped that humanity would do better, but they haven't. So He begins to think along the lines of "big flood" and "big ark." Before that happens, He decides to see if the world is really worth saving: If only one individual can prove that humanity isn't worth destroying, He'll keep the earth spinning. Being a sporting kind of Creator, God allows the Devil to chose which man will shoulder the weight of mankind. It ends up being Bob—a cynical, sarcastic beer-swilling father and husband who finds that being the pawn in a comedic game of supernatural chess isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I know little of the history or failure of God, The Devil, and Bob, but I do know this: The show was not very good. After watching the entire season of God, The Devil, and Bob, I can safely surmise that those who were offended by the show couldn't have outweighed those who just thought it was out-and-out cruddy. Who was this show made for? Religious fanatics? Atheists? Kids? Parents? Your guess is as good as mine.
I wasn't offended by God, The Devil, and Bob—just really, really bored. It seems that something like The Simpsons raised the bar for how television animation should be conveyed. If you're going to do an animated show, it should be wacky, irreverent, odd, and very funny. While I'm not a fan of The Family Guy or Futurama, at least these shows stuck to that principle. God, The Devil, and Bob isn't filled with jokes—or at least if it is, they aren't very good ones, because I didn't recognize most of them. The show meanders from episode to episode as one of the title characters (Bob) deals with not only his family issues, but also being the pawn in a game of existence for God and the Devil's amusement. I laughed maybe twice, and that was only because I'd been silent for so long that I wanted to remember what laughter sounded like.
To compound matters, the voice talent here is all over the map. The best of the lot is James Garner as God, a Jerry Garcia-like entity who sips beer and spins the earth on His fingertips. Har-har. At least Garner's witty delivery punches up a few of the gags to a higher level than usual. Alan Cumming as the Devil is so over-the-top and annoying that I often wished the show had been titled just God and Bob. Cumming makes the Devil come off as a second-rate follies player who screeches and whines like an eighth-rate Woody Allen wannabe. The worst of the lot is French Stewart as Bob Alman ("All Men"…get it? GET IT?!), the chosen savior of mankind. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was just something about Stewart's nasal drawl that grated on me to no end.
Probably the biggest obstacle the show had to overcome (which it didn't) was the fact that this premise just wasn't good enough to sustain season after season of an animated comedy. The Simpsons works because it's about a family and a community going through all kinds of wacky misadventures—it didn't need a big "concept" to be funny. God, The Devil, and Bob is about…well, God, the Devil, and Bob, and Bob's weight of saving the planet, and dealing with his family, and…that's too much already. A cartoon show about a dying cancer patient would be way out of its league. An animated comedy about such topics as theology, deities, and saviors is way, way out of its league—as in, past Jupiter and around the second moon of Neptune.
I'm sure there are fans of this show out there, and to you I tip my hat: I'm sure you'll be pleased to finally get God, The Devil, and Bob—The Complete Series on DVD. To misquote the Good Book, "As for me and my family, we will watch The Simpsons."
Each episode of God, The Devil, and Bob—The Complete Series is presented in a decent-looking 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. All in all, the transfers here are good, if not spectacular (or heavenly, as it were). The colors and black levels are all well rendered and respectively bright or dark without any major bleeding in the image. The animation for the show isn't impressive (think The Simpsons, as drawn by a fifth-grader), so don't go in expecting a lot.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. There isn't much to say about this sound mix—the dialogue, music, and effects are all easily heard, and little else. There aren't any discernable surround sounds here (this is mostly a front-heavy mix). Also included on this set are English and French subtitles.
Fox has included a few extra features for you diehard fans of the show. Six commentary tracks are included (on six episodes). Creator Matt Carlson and producer Harvey Myman are joined by co-executive producers Neil Thompson and Gary Murphy and consulting producer David Sacks on the episodes "In the Beginning," "Bob Gets Greedy," "Bob's Father," "God's Favorite," and "God's Girlfriend," and by Thompson and Murphy sans Sacks on "The Devil's Birthday." The commentaries feature some in-depth detail about the show and the production, but often devolve into everyone just watching the show and commenting about what they're seeing.
Finally, there are two featurettes ("Let There Be God, The Devil, and Bob" and "God, The Devil, and Bob Revealed") that include interviews with the cast and crew members, still photos, and clips from the show. Neither of these are any great shakes, but considering this show only lasted for 13 episodes, this is all you're likely to get.
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