I really loved the first season of Manstrokewoman
and it was
hard waiting the two years before the second, and final, season arrived
DVD. Unfortunately the first season was
released by the now defunct BCI Eclipse, and is now out of print. MPI Home Video acquired the rights to the
series and has released both seasons in one set. The
upshot is that if you want season two,
you have to buy season one even if you already have it.
The good news is that the MSRP is very
reasonable, only $5 more than the price for just season one, so that
make it easy to justify the partial double dip.
It is certainly worth it as season two is just as outrageously
Manstrokewoman is a comedy troupe that consists of six
members: Amanda Abbington, Ben Crompton,
Daisy Haggard, Meredith MacNeill, Nicholas Burns and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Spaced). Their
show consists of many rapid-fire skits
(some lasting only a minute) involving a set of reoccurring characters
mixed with one-shot sketches, and they are generally hilarious. A bit does occasionally misfire, but it is no
big deal as another one pops up in mere seconds.
The two seasons feature totally different characters, which
is good. By the end of each season each
personality had been played out thoroughly and while the skits didn't
dull, dragging the characters through more set ups would have lessened
show. Yes, each season is only six
episodes long, but I'd much rather have six funny episodes than 26
One of my favorite bits from season one involved a guy who
runs into a girl who dumped him years ago.
She doesn't want to talk to the looser, but he sees her and
himself to sit down and they start to chat and catch up.
She's married now, to an accountant, and
he's...the King of Spain. Through some odd
family tree thing, he's become the king of a major European country,
and by all
accounts he's a great ruler. The look on
her face as she downs her drink after he leaves is priceless.
Then there's the woman who, wearing some outrageous bit of
clothing, asks her husband how she looks.
Having been in a similar (though not so pronounced) situation
to sympathize with the poor man as he gently and ever-so-tactfully
tell her that her earrings are as large as chandeliers.
I also loved the bit with the man (Nick Frost) who doesn't
understand that his girlfriend is trying to break up with him. "It's over!"
"Ahh, you're such a kidder." She
gets more and more frazzled as time goes on until she's at her wit's
he's blissfully ignorant.
Season two had just as many hilarious bits. The
highlight for me was a sketch near the
end of the season where a realtor is showing a couple though a house
Man: Is it just me or
is it a bit cold in here?
Real Estate Agent:
The cold, yes. The house is
actually permeated by unspeakable evil.
It feels nothing but hatred towards anyone who wishes to make it
Man: Umm, what's down
Agent: That's the
cellar. The thing lives down there. It's basically a shapeless mass of malevolent
energy.... It guards a gateway to another dimension.
You are going to love this little room round
Wife: This is great!
Season two also has a wonderful reoccurring sketch involving
a business man who has totally misunderstood his assignment. Instead of giving a presentation on the
feasibility of migrating the companies operations to Southeast Asia, he discusses his idea for the
Cloudfinder, a 20,000 ft high
Some of these skits are a bit raunchy or politically
incorrect. A good example of that is the
emergency room skit in the final episode in season one. When
a female accident patient's heart stops,
the doctor declares that he's going to try an experimental new
procedure: "I'm going to cum on her tits." They remove her shirt (leaving the bra on)
and the doctor climbs in an ejaculates (off camera) on the woman. Another rather funny but possibly
objectionably part is the reoccurring sketch of a man with his son Josh. In one of these skits viewers see the man and
a small cross in front of a tiny grave.
He's explaining to Josh how nothing lives forever and that
an old cat. His wife walks up behind him
and asks "Where's Josh?" The camera
pulls back to show the man kneeling besides a dead cat.
End of skit.
That is one of the show's strongest points; the skits are
very short. They get to the funny bit
and then move on. They don't try to milk
a joke for more than it's worth, nor do they spend a lot of time on the
for the gag. It's all short and sweet.
All twelve episodes that made up the two seasons of the show
are presented on a pair of single sided DVDs which comes in a standard
The stereo soundtrack is free of audio defects and generally
clear. It is a bit hard to understand
the dialog at times because of the accents and other times the voices
a little low. Luckily for those times
there are subtitles in English.
The 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced image is very solid.
The picture is very pleasing overall. The
colors are fine and the level of detail
is great. On the digital side, things
were also fine. There was a little
aliasing but blocking and other common defects were absent. A nice looking disc.
There's fair amount of extras included on this set.
All 12 episodes have a commentary track,
though these weren't really all that engaging.
The various actors reminisce about the filming, but they really
know what to say and there are some really long gaps in the tracks. They talk about seeing a couple having sex by
the side of the road while driving to a location for example, and try
what type of car they were in and who was on top. Okay...
Disc one also comes with How
to Make Manstrokewoman is a 16 minute behind the scenes featurette
amusing but not as interesting as it could have been. There wasn't any
narration or much structure, just a camera watching the cast and crew
scenes for the show. The Music
of Manstrokewoman has a text
biography of the band that does the theme music as well as a track off
upcoming album. There are also
biographies of the actors.
The second season includes four featurettes. 24
Hours of Manstrokewoman is a jerky, hand
held look at a day's worth of filming.
This shows the cast and crew cutting up between takes and runs
minutes in length. It would have been
much better if they actually used a tripod.
There are also three short films that the cast made:
Ben Crompton's Film about Ash
is a four
minute, well, it is, ummm. Basically
Ben Crompton making funny faces into the camera and filming a little
series producer Ash Atalia. What's more
surprising is it's actually pretty funny in parts.
Nick Frost's Love Letter to
Emma Thomas, is
an irreverent look at the show's script editor.
Finally A Day in the life of
Nick Burns shows the religious, meditative
and generally high brow lives that the cast lead. These
were all amusing, though they wouldn't
stand up to repeated viewings.
There's also a gag reel and an area where each actor selects
their favorite sketch from the season.
This is one of the most consistently funny sketch shows I've
seen. Outrageously hilarious and
thoroughly entertaining, this short series is great. A
top notch show that fans of British comedy
should be sure to check out. Highly