ABC's longest-running comedy series and admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine, "America's Funniest Home Videos" has been on-air for about 15 years now, and has gone through a few different hosts - first Bob Saget, then the pairing of Daisy Fuentes and John Fugelsang and finally, "Hollywood Squares" host Tom Bergeron.
The series itself has also gradually changed over the years, moving away a bit from the kind of humiliating videos that it previously showcased, which often involved people getting hit in very uncomfortable places, often while doing sports such as golf, baseball or some sort of winter sport. Instead of watching people act like complete idiots, the show has gradually steered a lot of its material towards the cute, such as pet videos and babies doing things that usually result in an "awwww..." from the studio audience, such as in one clip where a baby names the presidents.
Despite this dismaying turn of events, "AFV" is still enjoyable mindless television and despite the cuteness meter on the show being turned up, there are still some good clips of people getting hurt doing stupid stuff every episode.
This 3-DVD set, "Best of Kids and Animals", is mixture of clips from throughout the show's history, with one disc devoted to the 2-hour "Best of the Best" special, which is a dazzling train wreck of television. While the videos themselves are funny (cats attacking, raccoons looking for a midnight snack, people scaring each other while doing repair work, dogs running races, people attempting to ski and rolling down what appears to be the majority of a mountain), less amusing is the fact that just about the weirdest group of celebrities ever put together - Kathy Griffin, Coolio, Martin Mull and Picabo Street - are asked to vote on the videos. The celebs seem to have little interest - especially Mull and Coolio, who look like they'd rather be somewhere else - and really can't come up with a whole lot to say, often narrating what just happened in the videos. Host Bergeron keeps pushing on forward, despite the celebrities nearly sinking the whole enterprise. Worth it for the videos, but fast forward through the celebs chatting.
"Best of Kids and Animals" is prime material for those seeking a dose of old-school AFV. Hosted by Bob Saget, the show's exactly the way it should be: kids doing stupid stuff (running into walls, doors, etc) instead of cute stuff. We also get animal surprise attacks, animals doing crazy stuff because of stupid kids and more. There's also the cartoonish voices standing in for the subjets that subtly (and not so subtly) comment on how dumb their actions are (an element of the series that's sorely missed.) Finally, we get "All-Animal Extravaganza", which has Bergeron going through some of the show's library of silly animal clips.
VIDEO: It's AFV, what do you expect? Shout Factory presents the episodes in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio and, in a way, they look pretty good. The videos themselves are obviously going to look like someone's grainy camcorder footage, but the in-between segments with Bergeron and Saget look crisper and cleaner than broadcast quality. Of course there are faults and issues with the video footage, but the other elements of the show are cleanly presented, with no concerns.
SOUND: The stereo audio is perfectly fine for delivering Bergeron/Saget's lines, and although the videos don't always offer great sound, their audio is at least easily understood.
EXTRAS: The 1997 and 2004 $100,000 finales.
Final Thoughts: While it's unfortunate that no full seasons of the show are available yet, this 3-DVD set provides a good set of clips from over the years. Audio/video quality is fine, and two season finales make up the supplemental section. Recommended for fans only.