Bill Engvall seems to be the one member of the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" thrown in to appeal to other audiences aside from the group's target demographic. He's also arguably the most talented of the bunch, working a greater variety of material into his act. Engvall's material isn't classic by any means, but it's at least consistently amusing and Engvall has an enjoyably casual delivery and "everyguy" style that works.
Engvall's "everyguy" style would obviously translate into an "According to Jim"-style family sitcom and that's exactly what we get: "The Bill Engvall Show", a TBS sitcom that's now in its second season. The comic stars as Bill Pearson, a therapist who - when he's not trying to fix other people - is trying to work with his own family, which includes daughter Lauren (Jennifer Lawrence), older son Trent (Graham Patrick Martin) and younger son Bryan (Skyler Gisondo) and wife Susan (Nancy Travis).
The series is basically enjoyable - the plots are basically entertaining, the performances are reasonably good, the dialogue worthy of a few laughs here-and-there. However - as much as I tried to like this series and as much as I think Engvall's a great fit for a sitcom - I can't shake the feeling that this series is very "been there, done that" in regards to just about...well, everything. Even the "he's a therapist who has to deal with his family's issues" feels more than a little corny as a core concept.
There's the sassy teenage daughter, the youngest one is smarter than any of the other characters, the goofy middle child, the husband who learns a lesson (although, to the show's credit, Engvall at least doesn't play the father as dim as several other recent TV dads) and plots that - while featuring amusing one-liners and fine acting - feel as if they're taken from Sitcom 101. An early episode in the season where the family dog gets ill and they have to choose between taking a trip and saving the dog feels like that episode of "The Simpsons" where the family had to go light on the budget to save Santa's Little Helper.
The whole thing is pleasantly inoffensive as sitcoms go, but in trying to be as inoffensive as it is, the whole enterprise can't help but start to feel a tad bland. While there's such a thing as comfort in familiarity, sitcoms have been around for so long that new entries need to stand out from the pack. The reason why the "Bill Engvall Show" works as well as it does is the cast - Engvall carries the show nicely and has good chemistry with Travis. The kids play their roles fairly well and the cast as a whole manages to liven up the material. Steve Hytner (Banya from "Seinfeld") and Tim Meadows also provide
Overall, "The Bill Engvall Show" makes a passably enjoyable time waster. Despite my dislike of "The Blue Collar Comedy Tour", I've always thought Engvall's a pretty decent stand-up and the comedian seems comfortable in the sitcom format. However, while the cast works pretty well - as sitcom casts go - the material just seems paint-by-numbers and plain. Hopefully the new season will see the show moving out of its comfort zone a little and away from the formula.
1. 1- 1 17 Jul 07 Good People
2. 1- 2 24 Jul 07 Aloha, Raffles
3. 1- 3 31 Jul 07 How Bill Met Susan
4. 1- 4 7 Aug 07 Have You Seen My Muffins, Man?
5. 1- 5 14 Aug 07 Feel Free to Say No
6. 1- 6 21 Aug 07 Jealous Guy
7. 1- 7 28 Aug 07 The Birthday
8. 1- 8 4 Sep 07 Go Ahead, See If I Karaoke
VIDEO: "Bill Engvall Show" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. Image quality is generally just fine, as while the presentation never appeared crystal clear (and could look somewhat soft at times), many scenes at least looked moderately crisp. While no edge enhancement was seen, the picture did have a few moments of mild artifacting at times. Colors looked bright, but did appear slightly soft and smeary in a few scenes. Overall, this presentation was about broadcast quality.
SOUND: The show's stereo soundtrack offered pleasing stereo audio, with clear dialogue and no distortion or other faults.
EXTRAS: The second disc contains a series of short featurettes that are definitely promotional in nature - in a couple of cases, they seem like the kind of thing that the channel would show between the end of a movie and whatever's coming on next. The extras run anywhere from about a minute to four minutes, but generally stick around 2-3 minutes. These include a basic overview of the series, "A Conversation With Bill", "A Conversation With Tim and Steve", "Set Tour" and eight quick "Ask Bill" features.
Final Thoughts: "The Bill Engvall Show" does manage some laughs thanks to an enjoyable cast that has good chemistry with one another. However, the material needs some work - there's some good one-liners, but the plots are staple sitcom stories that have been done better elsewhere. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a few minor extras. Recommened for fans - otherwise, rent it.