Alex Borstein: Drop Dead Gorgeous in a Down-to-Earth Bombshell Sort of Way
Fox // Unrated // $19.98 // November 14, 2006
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted November 12, 2006
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In 10 Words or Less
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Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Stand-up, monologists
Likes: "Family Guy," Alex Borstein
Dislikes: "Mad TV," loud girls
Hates: Teddy Towne

The Show
Just need to say something: Since learning of this disc's existence, I've been wondering why Fox is releasing this on DVD. Nothing against Alex Borstein, who comes off as a very funny woman, but putting out a DVD of an untelevised monologue by a woman best known as a voice on a once-canceled cartoon seems more like the realm of Image or Shout Factory than a major studio like Fox. I realize I shouldn't care, but I've chalked it up to either a favor on Fox' part or a condition of her TV contract.

Once I actually watched it though, I really began to question the deal. To be brutally honest, which is hard considering I find her attractive and am impressed by her status as a working TV writer, but this show just isn't that good. There are certainly decent parts, and Borstein is eminently likable, selling even her weakest material with ease, but I barely responded to her stories and bits with more than a chuckle, even when her effort and personality begged for a laugh. Perhaps I'm not the target audience.

Or perhaps it was her opening act. It's been said that performers choose their opening acts to make themselves look better. In Borstein's case, that certainly makes sense, as Teddy Towne, the stage persona of Ted Hardwick, definitely makes Borstein shine. Presenting himself as an old-school entertainer, like a slightly more masculine John Waters, he whips through a set of weak L.A.-style jokes before performing a musical segue into Borstein's part of the show.

Borstein's act is very energetic, punched up with verbal outbursts and some vulgar language, as she talks about the topics you'd expect from a "Family Guy" writer, including '80s TV, movies and politically incorrect old Jewish women, taking a few sidetrips into family stories. The stories, which add up to just 53 minutes of show, are mildly amusing, but wouldn't work well without her delivery.

When describing the girls of "The Facts of Life" or imitating Rosie O'Donnell and Natalie Merchant (sounding great doing so), she'll make you smile, but her best work here is in discussing the breakdowns used to cast TV shows and movies. Her bemused outrage at the narrow, physically-focused and simply stupid descriptions of the various roles for women is fun to watch, as she acts out silly concepts like a woman OK with being topless and good at improv, or pretends to be an exotic dancer.

Looking at this demure little lady, you wouldn't expect to hear this stuff coming out of her mouth, but once you do hear it you'd expect more of it. It's just not here in this hybrid stand-up/monlogue.

A one-disc release, this DVD is packaged in a standard, insert-less keepcase, and features a static anamorphic widescreen main menu, with options to watch the show, mercifully skip the opening act, check out the "extra crap," select scenes and adjust languages. There are no audio options, though subtitles are available in English, Spanish and French, along with closed captioning.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen transfer isn't the best I've ever seen, as Borstein looks washed out, the image is soft overall and the level of detail is somewhat low. The color is fine though, and there are no blemishes to be found.

The audio is a mono mix, presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. It's OK for what's basically all dialogue, though at times her voice drops out, unfortunately on her final punchline.

The Extras
There are two extras included on this DVD, starting with a tour of the "Family Guy" offices, led by Borstein. This seems to be a popular place to visit, as the latest "Family Guy" DVDs feature one too. It's a bit of a bone for fans of the show checking out Borstein.

There's also the full song from the show's closing credits to listen to.

On the Hunt...
There's at least one easter egg here, which is easily found, though not too rewarding.

The Bottom Line
Alex Borstein is an entertaining performer, and an adorable woman, but her material in this show is a bit lacking in laughs. It's certainly not the kind of show "Family Guy" fans are looking for, even if both spring from her dark mind. The disc itself isn't too great either, thanks to video that's very washed out and audio that can be thin at time, though the one real extra is a bit interesting. The price is right for the big Borstein fans out there, but a rental should cover it for most.

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