In 10 Words or Less
Scott Aukerman, Reggie Watts...all this and more on today's...
Loves: Comedy Bang! Bang!, alt comedy, podcasts, Paul F. Tompkins, Reggie Watts
Likes: The vast majority of the guests
Dislikes: When an episode is over
Hates: The lack of Womp-ing going on
The Story So Far...
Scott Aukerman's wonderful interview podcast Comedy Bang! Bang! made the leap from the Earwolf network into the visual realm, becoming something like a grown-up Pee-Wee's Playhouse, while still integrating the celebrities and characters that make the podcast so enjoyable. With the show currently airing its third season on IFC, DVDs for the first season were released in January of 2014. DVDTalk has a review.
Welcome to today's review of the second season DVDs of Comedy Bing! Bong!. In today's DVDTalk weather report, it's rainy and cloudy here on Long Island. Today, we're going to take a look at the second season of the series, which continues the talk-show adventures of Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts. After a stellar first season, the show received an extended second-season pick-up, which meant a grand 20 episodes of trademark CBB silliness and more opportunities for the best in alt-comedy to do their thing.
After the show stuck somewhat close to the script in the first go-round, calling on podcast regulars like Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, theatrical director Don Dimello and reality star Cake Boss (Cake Boss), while blending in absurd games and TV parodies, the expanded run of episodes opened up the doors for new faces in season two. Though there are certainly some familiar faces, including David Cross, Casey Wilson and Zach Galifianakis, newcomers to the world of CB!B! add some new energy, like Zoe Saldana, Clark Gregg, Anna Kendrick, Jessica Alba, Pee-Wee Herman and Jason Schwartzman (who might fit in better than any of the guests this season.) Seeing them integrate with Scott and Reggie's world of improv comedy is a testament to the guests' talent and the creators' ability to
What...We're sorry. This is very unusual. Who's there?
Hello, my name is Agneetha Kretchkimp. I am selling magazines and I saw your door open, so I thought I'd check to see if you wanted to buy a subscription to Ladies Home Journal.
Agneetha, we're in the middle of a DVD review right now, so this isn't really a good
Oh, I am truly sorry, Mr. Reeso. According to our records, you were at one time a subscriber to our fine family of periodicals, so we thought if we offered you a new low rate, you might want to re-subscribe.
I'm pretty sure I've never subscribed to Ladies Home Journal, but either way, we have to finish this review.
Oh, well that's all right. I'll just sit here quietly until you're done and then we can discuss your subscription.
Well, I really dont want to… you know what, hold tight there. Where was I? OK, so the second season of Comedy Big Bang Theory is, in some ways, more of the same, but as anyone who listens to the podcast will tell you, part of what makes the show special is the sense that the series' characters are all part of a shared universe that the guest stars get to play in. People like television producer Garry Marshall, poor orphan Fourvel and legendary Broadway producer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber
Oh, I like him.
Andrew Lloyd Webber. I like him. He's so handsome. And I love Cats.
The musical or the animal?
OK...so...this season is packed with guests, most of whom will be very exciting to see for comedy nerds. Among the big names joining Scott on the couch are Bill Hader, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari and Jason Schwartzman, all of whom play along with the show's concept well, while the list of funny folk who make appearances, featured and otherwise, includes Adam Pally, Will Forte, Jordan Peele, Jason Mantzoukas, Ron Huebel, Aidy Bryant, Joe Lo Truglio, the Sklar Brothers and Thomas Lennon, along with tons of other comedy stars.
Is Angus Jones in this show?
Angus Jones. The half-man. From the Aston Koosher Show.
No, I don't believe he is.
That's too bad. That show is very funny. How many years would you like to sign up for?
I don't want any magazines, Agneetha. Though the show does have something of a formula to it, the bits in that formula have enough variety and creativity to them to keep it fresh episode in and episode out. While not everything is a home run (quick-hit bits tends to suffer, especially momentum-wise, when mixed in amongst the longer material), but pretty much anything involving Scott and Reggie is consistently great, like "Reggie's Day Off," a short film that follows Reggie when he ditches work, or Reggie's trip inside the Internet, while the TV parodies are simply goofy and often ridiculous, like "Cop Swap," where Reggie becomes a cop, and a cop becomes Scott's bandleader.
I was on "Cop Swap".
When were you on "Cop Swap"?
I'm pretty sure it's a fake show, Agneetha.
Oh. Well...that's not good. I gave that man a lot of money.
Why did you give someone a lot of money?
They said they needed money to develop the film so I could be on TV.
I'm going to go ahead and say that's not going to happen, Agneetha. TV doesn't work that way.
Then I'm going to need you to buy...about...1,500 magazine subscriptions. Or I'm going to be going away for a long time.
I'm not buying any magazines. One of the things that really makes Comedy Bing! Bong! stand out in a sea of fake comedy talk shows hosted by husbands of Kulap Vilaysack is the strange longform concepts the series manages to weave into the format, giving the episodes a narrative life beyond the silly stuff. Episodes like "Gillian Jacobs Wears A Red Dress With Sail Boats", where a mystery plot unfolds via vague flashbacks, the "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" show with Scott and Reggie's kids or the pilot episode from way back when, complete with a band and obnoxious, laughing audience, who would
Do you have any snacks?
We have some fruit roll-ups in that drawer over there. Anyway, the best concept episodes feature two of the more out-there ideas from this season. The musical episode, with Webber and Wilson, is just completely over the top, displaying Aukerman and company's love of musical theater, while the Spin to Win episode
The Spin to Win episode, in which Comedy...Bang! Bang! is encroached upon by a pointless game show hosted by Jimmy Pardo, is a perfect example of how the show can fold together its signature elements with a one-time bit of oddness
Could you give me a ride to the mall later?
Agneetha, I think it's time for you to go.
But you haven't bought any magazines.
Fine. Do you have Piss Drinkers Magazine?
What about Taint?
Do you have anything besides Ladies Home Journal?
You're not really selling magazines are you?
You're really a team of sentient oil rags forming together in the shape of a woman, aren't you?
Well, that just about does it for today's review. Because now it's time for a little something we like to call "The DVDs."
The 20 episodes of the second season of Comedy Bang! Bang! are spread over four DVDs (with the episodes found on the first three platters), which are packed in a standard-width keepcase with dual-sided trays. The DVDs features animated, anamorphic widescreen menus with options to play all the episodes, select shows and adjust languages. There are no audio options, though subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
The anamorphic widescreen transfers on this series are just as nice as they were last season, with appropriate color, skintones and black levels and a high level of fine detail for standard definition (a factor that actually helps with the visual effects, which can be a bit obvious in high-definition.) There are no noticeable concerns about compression artifacts or any other digital distractions.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks reproduce the show's sound well, even if the series doesn't lend itself to an extravagant aural presentation (thus, don't expect to hear any dynamix mixing in the surrounds.) The dialogue comes from the center channel, while the side and rear channels give some emphasis to the score and Watts' outstanding ditties (which also give the low-end something to do.)
So, last time out, we, the DVD buyers of America and beyond, were sold a false bill of goods. Via the legally-binding menu screens of the first season of Comedy Bang! Bang!, we learned that the commentaries would feature some very funny folks like Tompkins and Kroll, only to end up slogging our way through tracks with Aukerman and oddballs like Cake Boss (Cake Boss) and El Chupacabra. Well, you're not going to believe this, but it's happened again!
This time, we get Aukerman, joined by writers Neil Campbell and Eva Anderson, as they work their way through the entire season sequentially in the span of a single day, joined occasionally by collaborators like Tompkins or Benny Schwas (of House of Pies), some of whom participate via some of the worst phone connections in modern civilization. But then sometimes, instead of enjoying hearing from a Bobby Moynihan or one of the other fine folks involved, as listed on the discs, we have to suffer through psychopaths like Fourvel and Santa Claus or egomaniacs like Harrison Ford. At least we get to hear from Garry Marshall. Plus, this time the commentaries actually manage to deliver some interesting info about the series' production, when they don't fly off onto tangents and end up delivering commentaries on well-known films, writing fan fiction or talking about that old classic "Leaning on Spongecake." I guess these 20 tracks are enjoyable and stuff, but someone's got to make a stand in support of truth in advertising.
Anyway, here's the supposed list of participants:
Ep. 1: Aukerman, Neil Campbell, Eva Anderson, Moynihan
Ep. 2: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Schwartz
Ep. 3: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Schwartz
Ep. 4: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson
Ep. 5: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Tompkins
Ep. 6: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Tompkins
Ep. 7: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Tompkins
Ep. 8: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Tompkins
Ep. 9: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Tompkins, Mike Hanford (by phone)
Ep. 10: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Tompkins, Wilson (by phone)
Ep. 11: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson,Tim Kalpakis, Ben Berman
Ep. 12: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Berman, Paul Rust
Ep. 13: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Berman, Paul Rust
Ep. 14: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Rust
Ep. 15: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Rust
Ep. 16: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Rust
Ep. 17: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Rust
Ep. 18: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Rust
Ep. 19: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson, Watts (by phone)
Ep. 20: Aukerman, Campbell, Anderson
Like last season, there's a host of deleted, alternate or extended scenes to check out from across the run (with only Pee-Wee Herman's episode going unrepresented.) There's nearly 87 minutes of clips, mostly made up of extensions of the couch interviews, ranging from 42 seconds to over five minutes for one interview. There are also a few odd clips from elsewhere in the show, along with more from Reggie (though some things mentioned during the commentaries didn't make it onto the disc.) There's a lot to enjoy here, but the best has to be Ben Schwartz forcing Scott and Kendrick to break and Jim Gaffigan giving Matt Besser a case of the giggles. Also available on this set is the 3:41 "Acting Lesson with Herb Roost," an extension of a scene in episode four, with Paul Rust coaching a pair of actors in an unusual way.
One thing missing from the season one DVDs was the great "Reggie Makes Music" online segments, which paired the musician with the guests to create a quick improvised song. Thankfully, this set corrects that omission, delivering over 49 minutes of musical magic. Pairing up these comic actors with Reggie creates some entertaining moments, with Peele, Jacobs, Schwartz and Devine being among the best, while Kendrick, Casey Wilson, Rashida Jones and Jessica Alba deliver simply impressive singing performances. Unfortunately, because Watts missed filming several episodes, we missed out on hearing from Saldana, Forte, Hader and Gaffigan. At least we got the rest. We also get an 18:10 supercut of Reggie's intro and bumper music from the show, which is a perfect opportunity to appreciate Watts' special talents.
The musical portion of the extras continue with the 3:50 CCB Crew Dance Party. It just a silly moment of dancing on the part of the show's crew, while Reggie plays between production set-ups. Watching the crew shake their groove things, it's obvious that they are talented, but you'll only realize just how talented when you watch the 1:23 "Meet the Crew," a brilliant bit of fun.
Director Ben Berman returns with more test VFX shots (3:18) showing how they worked up special effects like the animated ladders, the giant microwave, Fourvel the tiny orphan and the vanishing set. Seeing how these things started out is an interesting look behind the scenes.
The bonus content wraps up with footage of a live showing of the musical episode at the Cinefamily in Los Angeles from August 2013. Following the screening, Aukerman, Casey Wilson, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Phantom of the Bang! Bang! Studios took the stage for something like a live mini-episode: talking to the crowd, answering some questions and counting from one to 60. More than once. It's quite a moment to behold.
The Bottom Line
In its second season, Comedy Bang! Bang! maintained the level of excellence established in the first season, with fun guests and funny games and sketches, while adding to its base of comedy friends to stay as fresh as ever. The quality of the presentation remains solid
Are you gonna give me that ride?
Just let me finish, Agneetha! There's even more bonus content than last season, making this a game of Would You Rather with one right answer: buy it. So for myself, and Agneetha, we hope to see you next time here at DVDTalk. Bye.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.