"If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."
- Red Green
My dad introduced me to long-running Canadian comedy "The Red Green Show" the same way he introduced me to every other show on PBS that I came to love – by forcing me to watch with him.
The men of the Possum Lodge were some of his favorite characters, possibly because he saw so much of himself in the pragmatic manly man Red Green (played by Steve Smith). The duct tape devotee Green is sometimes boastful, often ill-informed and tends to think very little of his nephew and major domo, Harold (Patrick McKenna). Maybe my dad always thought I was Harold.
The Red Green Show – 1998 Season is actually season 8 of the show which ran from 1991-2005 and it definitely hit its stride by '98. The episodes have taken on a rhythmic quality, a little story to start with, followed by regular segments, another bit of story, some more recurring bits and finally the story conclusion and the voting in of new members at the lodge meeting.
"The Red Green Show" might seem similar to "Home Improvement," but there's no schmaltzy family stuff to be found here. Red seems mostly annoyed by his family -- or at least Harold -- and the only mentions of his wife generally come at the end of the show when Red tells her he may be late coming home.
Recurring bits are the highlight of the show, as the creators found some very basic ideas that could be warped a new way in every episode. Which is not to say the stories are boring. Still, as funny as they sometimes are, they're really just filler between the very popular segments.
This isn't a variety show, however. No musical acts pop up, at least not in a "sit back and enjoy the sounds of..." kind of way. Harold plays a little, but only on that quintessentially dorky keyboard-itar he wears.
The best among them is the Possum Lodge Word Game, moderated by Harold and played by Red and any number of his sad-sack lodge mates. It's a comedy staple based on the old "$64,000 Pyramid" game show. Harold shows Red the word which he tries to get his partner to say.
Let's just say that the route to the word is always circuitous and doesn't do much to compliment the character of Red or the guest by the time it is answered.
Another favorite is the Handyman's Corner, in which Red makes home improvement dreams come true with ingenuity and duct tape. Mostly duct tape. Seriously, I think the guy is addicted to duct tape.
One of the best examples in the set is when Red decides to build his own backhoe using an old sedan, a ladder, a trash can and – wait for it – duct tape. The joke isn't that his creations don't work, though they aren't always effective, but that he puts so much work into doing something he could do much easier with more simple tools.
Adventures with Bill is the weak sister of the group, in which Red and Bill, an easily confused and clumsy dolt, try to do some simple task. Filmed in black and white, the only sounds are Red's voiceover and the sound effects that accompany Bill's many injuries. Most seem to hit the head and crotch. But some duct tape will fix it, surely.
Mid-Life Musings is more of a monologue segment and it's really the heart of this show. While the cantankerous Red is rarely affectionate for anything but the good old days and power tools, his one-on-one with the viewers comes from a warmer place. He ends every one, whether he's talking about married life or the way of the world, with "Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."
Less often you're get a visit with The Experts, an "educational" interview and Q&A session with a lodge member. These are a little sneakier than some of the more blatant comedy segments, but the humor of the expert who clearly knows nothing is biting and honest.
- Harold's Leaving
- House Moving
- Neither Rain Nor Sleet
- The Cult Visit
- College Life
- The New Monument
- Free Apricots
- The Mayor Race
- Better to Give than Receive
- Town Services Contract
- It's a Wonderful Red Green Christmas
- Life Cycle
- Mad About You
- Bingo Was His Name
This 3-disc set is presented in fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. It won't blow you away with the picture, but it's not overly grainy or hard to watch except for the "Adventures with Bill" segments, which are done that way purposefully.
Similarly, the sound is no great shakes, but it's not an action series. You hear what they're saying, thanks at least partially to that famed Canadian diction, and that's about all you need.
Character biographies of Harold and Red are included, but they don't give you anything you wouldn't pick up from just watching an episode. That is it for extras. No episode commentaries are included.
Funny, but not hilarious, The Red Green Show – 1998 Season is something you can watch with your parents or young kids without getting too embarrassed or too bored. That said, unless you REALLY love handyman and lodge-based humor, or can't get enough Canadian humor, this isn't a must-have by any means.
Don't avoid it, but don't go out of your way to get it. This one is Recommended.