We are…two wild and crazy guys!
So goes the catch line from one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits of all time; Steve Martin (Bowfinger, Father of the Bride, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Dan Aykroyd (Blues Brothers, My Fellow Americans, Sneakers) as the two Czech brothers "swinging" in New York. Steve Martin has hosted Saturday Night Live more than perhaps any other person, and has made for some of the show's funniest moments. So I was thrilled when I received an advance review copy of Best of Steve Martin. Trimark has done a fine job of allowing me, and soon the rest of us, to relive some great comedy with a very nice DVD.
There is a lot to like on this disc. The "Wild and Crazy Guys" sketch is only one of the 17 on the main disc. Among the other favorites are "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber" and the time Steve Martin walked up behind David Spade in the middle of his Hollywood Minute, just as he was ripping Martin's latest movie. The live performance of what actually became a top selling song "King Tut" is another big plus. Seeing Steve with all the old gang from SNL, including Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Lorraine Newman, and Gilda Radner was great too.
The sketches covered range from his early appearances in the mid to late '70s up to a '94 sketch. The early days, when Martin had his trademark white suit and banjo, are among the funniest stuff I've ever seen on the show. Later he would tone down his zany act quite a bit and threatened at times to become a "serious" actor. Maybe it's just me, but I liked the days when he would play a banjo with a fake arrow stuck through his head better. At any rate, even his later, more subdued stuff was very good.
Trimark did not disappoint in the picture quality. Of course it is full frame, being a recording of the television show. But the TV show never looked this good. Certainly there is a varying degree of picture quality depending on the age of the sketch and print being used, but even in the worst case the picture looked very clear and detailed. The King Tut song (perhaps a precursor to MTV), even though it was done in '78, had very rich colors and fine detail, without edge enhancement problems or artifact. The later sketches looked even better.
The sound was nothing to write home about, but more than adequate. The two channel mono track never left my center speaker unless I disabled it with a DSP on my receiver. Dialogue was always clear, and music was fairly dynamic considering the limited range. It sounds the same as it did on television, perhaps even a little better so I'm not complaining.
This is a little strange to describe the extras. There are three bonus sketches on the special features menu; but then the whole disc is sketches. So basically you get 20 skits. The extras were as good or better than the ones on the main menu, including another Theodoric of York one. There is one true "extra" on the disc though; it gives the dates of each sketch on the disc, which was a welcome way to track Steve Martin's career as he came back time and again to SNL.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As with many shows of SNL, some sketches you like, some you don't like as much. One sketch where Steve and Bill Murray say "What the hell is that?" in varying ways over and over wasn't so hot for me, but maybe someone out there thinks it was great.
The lack of subtitles on the disc also deserve mention; I think closed captioning should become standard so the deaf and hard-of-hearing can also enjoy these discs.
I do have a valid complaint with the packaging. It says on the back of the case that special features of Mr. Bill, our favorite clay man who gets mangled by Sluggo; Father Guido Sarducci; and the Blues Brothers are included, but I couldn't find them. If they're an Easter egg that diligent searching hasn't found I'm sorry, but I have to believe they aren't there. I wouldn't have been upset by the absence of these features except that they're advertised. You could perhaps claim the Blues Brothers were there since most of the band members were part of the SNL band at the time and Belushi and Aykroyd are also on the disc; but they had no appearances as the Blues Brothers.
Out of all the "Best of SNL" discs coming out this was the one I was most looking forward to. Nothing against some of the other fine comics on other discs, but Steve Martin in the old days was as funny as they come. Huge kudos to Trimark for this disc, and all fans should either rent or buy this one.
Steve Martin has given us many laughs through the years and is still a funny guy today. Some of the old SNL gang is no longer with us and it is great to see them how I best remember them again. All on the disc are acquitted, and Trimark gets high marks for this disc. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
• Bonus Sketches
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