Judge Ike Oden refuses to follow the rules of D's.
Our review of Workaholics: Seasons 1 and 2 (Blu-ray), published July 11th, 2012, is also available.
"There's not gonna be a fight. There's gonna be two hits—me hitting you and Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba" playing in the background. Have that s*** cued up."
Slacker comedies are a dime a dozen these days. I blame Judd Apatow's crew of comedic miscreants. His creative satellite of writers and actors, which include Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Jason Segel, have turned bromantic, stoner comedy into big box office with films like Knocked Up, 50/50, and even superhero fare like The Green Hornet.
Keep in mind Apatow alumni aren't the only ones getting in on the fun. Television has taken a strong trend toward the premise of bros behaving badly, with shows like Entourage, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men saturating the small screen and dominating pop culture dialogue regularly.
With this evidence in mind, I'd argue the last thing the world need is another slacker comedy film or television show—unless it's Comedy Central's Workaholics. This sole exception is a shockingly funny take on the buddy formula that turns the clichés of the subgenre into an excuse for some of the most hilarious, anarchic onscreen exploits to ever hit basic cable. If you don't believe me, you need only check out Workaholics: Season One, which arrives to DVD from Comedy Central "fully torqued."
Facts of the Case
Anders (Anders Holm, Traffic Light), Blake (Blake Anderson, Entourage), and Adam (Adam DeVine, Mama's Boy) are former college roommates who now live together in a California party house. When not throwing down off the hook soirees or getting high, they struggle to keep their jobs as telemarketers under the thumb of their disdainful boss (Maribeth Monroe, The Back-up Plan).
Workaholics is fantastically funny stuff. Despite the ironic title, which seems to suggest a knockoff of something like The Office or Parks and Recreation, the show is less a workplace comedy than it is a skewering of the recent slate of bromantic comedies.
The scenarios for each episode are more or less your typical sitcom fare: the boys scheme to pass a drug test, the boys lie to some girls in order to get dates, the boys spend a night locked in their office, etc. Workaholics knows this well-worn territory intimately and filters it through a haze of drugs, pop culture obsession, and frat boy perversion. Scatology, substance abuse and sexual deviance drive Workaholics' creative engine not as gratuitous gross-out humor but as serious philosophical and personal issues for our protagonists. Pop culture is approached with a similarly solemn face, meaning boys don't reference Nickelodeon's Double Dare, Dateline's "To Catch A Predator" and The Insane Clown Posse as one-off jokes, but as major story points within episodes.
None of these innovations would coalesce if actors/creators Anderson, DeVine, and Holm didn't have such spectacular comedic chemistry with one another. The trio created the show after accumulating years of improv and viral video experience together, making their "best friend" interplay organic and believable. Each represents a different archetype of buddy comedies—Holm is the responsible one, Anderson is the quirky guy, and DeVine is the clueless leader. With the meta use of their own names and storylines culled from real life experiences, the guys are play stylized versions of themselves (comparable to Larry David's work in Curb Your Enthusiasm) giving the show a naturally spontaneous feel that's refreshing in a sitcom.
This meta premise also adds extra dimensions to the characters, letting the performers take their characters down roads that border skirt the lines of insanity and narcissism without freeing the characters of conscious and empathy. They're bros, after all, and always rely on the bond their friendship to claw their way out of whatever ridiculous problem they face each episode. Unlike the characters populating the similarly anarchic It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, it's hard not to sympathize with stoners like Blake, Adam, and Anders. They love each other, and we love them for it.
Great praise must also be showered upon the show's writing. Dialogue consistently crackles with pseudo hip-hop slang and some of the most creative profanity ever realized on the small screen. Not only that, but the show's ability to consistently subvert audience expectations without relying on gimmicks or false plot twists deserves a rousing applause. Though their numbers are too large to list here, accolades must be given to the writing staff and showrunners of Workaholics as some of the freshest comedy writing on television.
As if I couldn't recommend Workaholics enough, Comedy Central comes through with a DVD absolutely stacked with content.
The technical specs check out solidly. The show is shot on a fairly small budget, so the somewhat fuzzy 1.78.1 transfer won't blow minds, but proves serviceable for a shot-on-digital show about workaday potheads. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track fares a little better, boasting very clear dialogue and a thumping hip-hop theme that you'll never tire of hearing.
The extras that are where Workaholics: Season One really shine. Included in the set is cast interviews, deleted/alternate scenes, Workaholics digital originals, a live Workaholics sketch (as performed at Bonnaroo), outtakes, and (fittingly inebriated) audio commentaries for each episode. Rather than pick apart each extra bit-by-bit and step on the jokes, I will only say every supplement sampled here made me laugh as hard as the show itself. If the bonus material is to be trusted, the Workaholics crew are just as hilarious outside the show as they are on it. For fans, the extras are a veritable feast of funny that spans several hours beyond the episodes featured.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There is nothing spectacular about the premise of Workaholics. We've seen the misadventures of white collar party dudes too many times to count. For many, this lack of originality will be dissuading, however I dare anyone with a sense of humor (or an appropriate amount of drugs and alcohol) to not be even the least bit charmed byWorkaholics. Funny is funny, no matter how original the material itself is.
I can't praise Workaholics enough. It is innovative, smartly written, well acted and very addictive. This reviewer's screening found him glued to the couch for the entire 220 minutes running time (breaks for snacks, bathroom, and disc changing notwithstanding). All fans of slacker comedy need to run, not walk to their local DVD repository (or better yet Amazon.com, as clicked through via this review—wink, wink) and pick up their copy of Workaholics: Season One right now.
Not guilty to a redonkulous degree.
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Studio: Comedy Central
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