"Real Time With Bill Maher" is bracing, biting and in heavy rotation around the Fox News Channel offices. OK, maybe not, but for left-leaning funnybones, it doesn't get much more side-splitting than Maher's HBO series, one which gave the comic a new lease of life following his ignominious departure from ABC's "Politically Incorrect" in light of scabrous comments made in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Arguably, Maher is much more comfortable within the cable confines of HBO, where his cheerfully profane diatribes about politics and pop culture are unfettered by broadcast standards and practices.
Basically structured as "Politically Incorrect" 2.0, "Real Time" features interviews, weekly panel discussions (with often contentious and entertaining results) as well as the highlight of each 30-minute show, Maher's riff on whatever's irritating him in the news - "New Rules." This collection, Bill Maher: New Rules, gathers three seasons' worth of "New Rules" segments from 2003, 2004 and 2005, each running roughly 15 minutes apiece. This approach functions as an ersatz greatest hits collection and is arguably the best format in which to enjoy Maher's caustic, left-wing humor. His swipes at pop culture and politics are well-practiced and often stingingly funny; all too eager to cut down the latest fad or brainless celebrity, Maher's "New Rules" are easily the best and most rewatchable part of "Real Time," although this collection did make me wish that HBO was releasing complete seasons of "Real Time," as none of the show's guests are shown here.
Unafraid of whom he might anger or otherwise upset with his often blunt take on the world, Bill Maher's brand of take-no-prisoners comedy has won him equal shares of adulation and derision – this modest chunk of "Real Time," a compelling, timely and often dead-on look at our modern world is a great introduction for those who might be unsure as to whether they can find Maher's outlook amusing. For those die-hard Maher fans, this is all but a no-brainer. The DVD
Clean and sharp, as befits a recently broadcast program, Bill Maher: New Rules looks great with its 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation. Offered as originally broadcast on HBO, there's not a whole lot to complain about here. The Audio:
As with the visuals, the soundtrack isn't jaw-dropping but gets Maher's incisive barbs across with clarity and crispness. The Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack is loud, clean and free of distortion or dropout. Optional English subtitles are also onboard. The Extras:
Bumping the "run time" up to over an hour, the supplements include "New Rules Extras," 12 minutes of additional "New Rules" segments as well as four "editorials," playable separately or all together: the 2004 clip "New Gays" runs for four minutes, the 2004 clip "WolfPAC" runs three minutes, 41 seconds; the 2005 clip "Don't Ask, Don't Sodomize" runs three minutes and the 2005 clip "Recall Bush" runs for three minutes, 55 seconds. Final Thoughts:
New rule: If you laugh yourself silly watching Bill Maher's "Real Time" on HBO, the terrorists will win unless you snag a copy of this ersatz "greatest hits" collection. Neophytes and diehards alike will find much to laugh at, easily earning Bill Maher: New Rules a high recommendation.