I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Some of the most infectious comedies over the last decade have come from the workplace subgenre, with no small thanks to Office Space and The Office. Comedy Central has obviously realized this, as well as the fact that the closest they've ever come to cornering that market was when they picked up reruns of Scrubs. That is, unless you want to count Reno 911! as a workplace comedy, but we all know the intention of that show was to merely be a spoof of the long-running program, COPS. That being said, how was the network supposed to get their foot in the office game? They easily could have launched their own brand for workplace induced giggles, sure, but viewers would have perceived such a project, at least at the time, to be a cheap attempt at cloning The Office. No, Comedy Central needed to wait for an opportunity that would have allowed a new workplace comedy to draw a solid viewership, and that opportunity arrived when news broke that Steve Carell was leaving The Office. Now, I don't know if the timing of Carell's announced departure and the series premiere of Workaholics was merely coincidence or what, but one thing's for sure - Workaholics isn't the program Comedy Central needed to reel in viewers that have become disappointed in an Office without Carell. Not by a long shot.
One of the major things that bothers me about this show, is that it's blatantly marketing itself as a workplace comedy when it's really not. Despite the fact ads have shown the main characters in their cubicles more often than not and the name of the show itself is Workaholics, the office setting is really just one of the many backdrops of the show. I'm not exactly a fan of when networks mislead a new potential audience, but they probably felt their hands were tied. If Comedy Central advertised this show for what it really is, a stoner/slacker comedy, they probably wouldn't have been able to draw a large enough audience to give the show a chance. After all, shenanigans in the workplace can appeal to almost anyone, whereas a show about three stoners who live and work together probably wouldn't be given the time of day outside of a very specific demographic. I know, I know - Workaholics in context is probably meant to be an ironic little joke, and I don't typically have a problem with such irony, but in culmination with the marketing campaign, something had rubbed me the wrong way.
Another issue I have with the show is the message it sends to me as a viewer. As I said, this show revolves around three recent college graduates who now work in the real world together. Although they've taken on real jobs and real responsibilities, they're still partying like burned out college kids. They'll wake and bake, smoke in the middle of the work day, relieve the stress of a 9-5 by chillin' on the roof while smoking and drinking as if it were their last day on Earth, and even throw huge house parties on the weekend. It should come as no surprise that these guys are about as dumb as human beings can possibly get... and that's where I start to take offense to what Workaholics has on constant display. Without getting into any specifics, I'm not someone who believes that marijuana inherently makes you turn into an idiot. In this world I think there's two kinds of stoners - There are those that sit on the couch and let their brain cells expire as fast as they can draw the smoke from their blunts, and there are those that keep their bodies active and take the time to enhance their minds with educational material and the like. My question is, why is it necessary to continually showcase pot smokers as complete morons on television? Don't get me wrong, there are other television shows with 'stupid' stoners that I don't take issue with, but those shows make it clear that the characters are losers, and their stupidity comes from a lack of willingness to better themselves... not from smoking pot. In Workaholics however, it's clear that these characters are losers with a capitol 'L', but it's easy to make the connection that marijuana has directly contributed to their idiocy on a day to day basis.
Last but certainly not least of my complaints, Workaholics just doesn't seem to have any real identity. Outside of a few goofs who get into a bunch of silly situations because they're stupid party animals - such as having to find a way to pass a drug test at work, taking blind dates to an Insane Clown Posse concert, going on a 'man trip', and even coming face to face with a burglar while tripping on shrooms - Workaholics really has nothing else to offer. After watching both seasons contained in this set, I really felt nothing for the main characters whatsoever. They're so over the top with stupid that it's hard to relate to them on any given episode, and it gets even harder to merely respect them as time goes on because they never learn from their mistakes. Not only that, but the secondary characters that appear throughout the series (some as one-off appearances, others as semi-regulars) are just as crazy and one-dimensional. So, I guess the question that comes to mind is, what's the point of even watching the show? Each character has been developed inside a very, very tiny box that eliminates any chance for them to diversify under any circumstance, and at the end of each episode, it's as if everything we just saw didn't really matter because everything seems to reset back to 'normal', whatever that means. Nope, not a single character on the show feels like a real person. Instead, they feel more like over the top characters that belong in a cartoon, and I feel like that's what Workaholics should have been - An animated program for late night audiences, because it just seems like a live action cartoon with no rhyme or reason to it.
With all the negativity I'm spewing however, I can't deny that Workaholics is thoroughly amusing more often than not. Although I find great creative weakness in the program's over the top story and character structure, it's that same over the top vibe that allows the show to push the envelope and deliver some laugh-out-loud worthy gags and dialogue. I don't think there was a single episode throughout the first two seasons where I wasn't consistently laughing. Still though, laughs alone don't really make for a great show. Laughs make for a great way to kill a half an hour, sure, but here's the show's ultimate failing, at least for me - I have no real desire to go back and watch any of these episodes again, and in a month's time, I'm sure I'll probably forget what half of them were about. That means the highest endorsement I can really give this show is that it's probably a blast to watch when there's nothing on else on TV, but after watching the first 20 episodes, I have no real desire to tune in to the third season when it begins on May 29th, 2012.
I enjoy a very wide variety of programming on television, but my taste varies quite a bit from what seems to be the norm. For example, I seem to be the only person I know who absolutely loathed Scrubs, so you're obviously going to have to take my opinion with a very large grain of salt, and I understand that when it comes to Workaholics I just might be the victim of 'it's not a show for everyone'. Still though, I can't see Workaholics lasting for the long haul, and even if it hangs on for a few more seasons, I can see this one being easily forgotten shortly after the series ends.
Workaholics - Seasons 1 and 2 appears on Blu-ray courtesy of a 1080p, AVC encoded transfer (1.78:1). Although plenty of shows can be said to look a bit better than their broadcast counterparts, I can't say the same for Workaholics. That's not to say that the video quality on these two discs are bad, because they're far from it. The production values of the show are likely the culprit here, as almost everything seems to be inconsistent - Black levels aren't always inky and noise can often creep into the lighter blacks we see, clarity and detail waver from amazing to somewhat soft, and colors range from bold and beautiful to looking somewhat washed out. There's even a fair bit of banding that can be seen throughout the 20 episodes included. That being said, the video presentation doesn't look as bad as I'm making it sound. Although all these issues are certainly there, I'd have to say that the HD is adequate enough for a Comedy Central show that probably doesn't have a huge budget. If you've seen the show broadcast on Comedy Central, I doubt you'd see much of a difference. So, while this release is probably accurate to its televised source, just don't expect anything above and beyond.
Although Workaholics - Seasons 1 and 2 sports 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless audio, don't expect anything above the norm for a (mostly) dialogue driven comedy. Although there's some ambience that weakly finds its way through the rear channels, this is mostly a front heavy presentation which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The dialogue that's here is crisp and clear, and the music that plays is mixed with a pleasing amount of clarity and a surprising amount of LFE. This seems to be a flawless representation of the source audio, and anyone who doesn't have any crazy expectations should find the quality contained on this set to be par for the course.
With 10 episodes on each disc, I wasn't sure if there would be any extras included, but there's a very respectable batch of supplements that have found their way on this release nonetheless. Nothing included is groundbreaking of course, but it's hard to complain with what's been included:
-Countdown to Vagina Town - Lead Up to the Series Premiere
-Live at Bonnaroo
-Extended Catherine Zeta-Jones Song
-Extended Ders Rap
-First Look Trailer
-Alternate and Deleted Scenes
-Behind the Scenes in the Writers Room
Considering the fact I really doubt this show is going to have any qualitative longevity, I think the studio has put together a really nice package of supplements that are sure to appease any fan of the show. Not only that, but even if you're not bananas about the show, the extras included aren't so overbearing that you'd find watching them to be a daunting task.
Workaholics just didn't do anything for me. I laughed pretty good throughout all 20 of the episodes included on this set, but the characters are entirely one-dimensional and have no real progression throughout the first two seasons. So, despite the fact that I found the show to be amusing on a very basic level, there's nothing about the show that's enticing me to keep watching. I'm quite content having seen all these episodes once, but I know for certain that I'll never have an urge to go back and watch them again, or tune in to the new season that begins on May 29th. The very best I can say about Workaholics is that it's good enough to watch when nothing else is on television, but considering how popular home video, DVR's and streaming video services are nowadays, such an opportunity is probably rare in most people's schedules. If you happen to be a fan though, the A/V presentation is faithful to the broadcast quality of the show with no nasty surprises to ruin the experience, and the supplemental package that's been included is respectable. Rent it.