The lads come stateside and remain mostly as excellent as ever
The Story So Far...
The first season was released on DVD in August of 2005, followed by a second series in May of 2006, and a third quickly in November. DVDTalk has a review of all sets, plus the compilation set: Season One | Season Two | Season Three | Complete Collection.
Thankfully, there hasn't been a dramatic change in the series, as they've maintained the narration by former Doctor Who Tom Baker, the sketch structure and the oddball sense of humor. But as the show now takes place in the colonies, led behind the camera by Michael PatrickJann ("The State," "Reno 911!") and "Friends" star David Schwimmer , not all the characters from the previous series have made the trip across the pond, and they've been replaced by new Americans, including a pair ofovermuscular , probably gay weightlifters, a precocious child with a filthy mouth, and a former astronaut struggling with his irrelevancy, but some are just American versions of the British characters, like the politician attempting to cover up his homosexual affairs. Most of the popular characters made the jump though, including Daffyd, the only gay in the village (now attending college in America;) Sebastian Love, the gay British Prime Minister working with and lusting for the president of America; and terrible teen Vicky Pollard, who's been sent to a boot camp in Utah. It's not just a rehash of what's been seen before, with the new settings giving the characters some new life.
Is this series as fresh as the first run on the BBC? No. In all honesty, the series seems stuck between satisfying the fans by bringing back the tried and true star characters and keeping them mostly in a formula, while attempting some new bits that have trouble stacking up to over-the-top creations like Emily Howard, the rubbish transvestite, or Bubbles, the frequently nude and excessively fat socialite. The guys' best work is so outrageous and vivid, combining gross-out and social commentary withe purely silly gags, that it would be hard to top it (though the visual spectacle of the gym buddies' full-body muscle suits (complete with disturbingly hysterical genitalia) may be the most memorable imagery of theshow's four seasons.
No matter which characters they play, including the frustratingly unenjoyable travelers Lou and Andy (returning yet again,) Lucas and Walliams are brilliant comedians, making their characters far more real than they should be, like playing drag with the simple honesty that lends realism to the scenes (much like the Kids in the Hall.) No matter howcartoonish the role, and there are several who verge on surreal, these two ground the show, preventing the outrageous from distracting from the funny.
When you're dealing with sketch comedy, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack tends to be overkill, coming in handy mainly to enhance any music, and that's just the case here, as the dialogue is strong, clear, and center-balanced, while the music gets a bump in the surround field. It's a solid presentation, matching the needs of the material.
The rest of the extras are on the second disc, starting with a 13-minute making-of featurette. Though it covers similar ground to what's spoken about in the commentary, it adds in interviews with the crew, including Jann and Schwimmer, and on-set footage, making it a nice addition to the set. It's followed by some previous unseen material, including nine deleted scenes and eight minutes of bloopers. The deleted scenes aren't bad, including a recluse concept that didn't make it into the show, a hypnotist Kenny Craig sketch, along with Daffyd and Marjorie Dawes bits, and they have optional commentary explaining why the scenes got the chop. The bloopers are simply silly and are worth a look.
The Bottom Line