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David Steinberg Show, The

Koch Vision // Unrated // August 9, 2005
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted February 5, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

Pre-dating The Larry Sanders show by at least a decade, The David Steinberg Show offers up the surface conceit of being a "behind the scenes" sort of comedy, but doesn't really do enough with the gimmick to be considered anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. And maybe it's just that the modern age has dulled my humor sensors, but a lot of the comedy offered here errs way on the corny side of the equation.

Basically, it's your standard comedy-variety show, and one that should prove just fitfully entertaining enough to all the loyal David Steinberg fans out there ... most of whom probably reside in Canada. The background cast is populated with kooky Canucks like John Candy, Martin Short, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty, and Andrea Martin, a few years before they'd all collaborate on Canada's finest comedical export: namely, SCTV.

The concept here is that we're privy to the backdoor goings-on on "The David Steinberg Show," which means that we start out with a lengthy monologue before heading to a diner across the street from the TV studio. Weekly guest stars pop up to discuss their impending appearances while Steinberg looks on sheepishly and doles out a few semi-amusing chuckles.

Fans of the performers mentioned above will certainly enjoy seeing some of their very earliest work, and I'm not exactly saying that The David Steinberg Show is a terrible little TV program; it's just helplessly, hopelessly outdated, and as any worthwhile comedian can tell you: the passage of three decades is not always kind to once-timely comedy schtick.

Quaintly kitschy and only intermittently amusing, the series features weekly guest appearances from the likes of Tommy Smothers, James Coco, Jon Voight, Milton Berle, Ed McMahon, Adrienne Barbeau, Ethel Merman, Robert Vaughn, Conrad Bain, Bill Macy, Rip Taylor, and Scatman Crothers, which means that if you enjoy using your DVD as a pop culture time machine, you just might have a ball with Steinberg's first series. (Once a pretty popular stand-up comedian, Mr. Steinberg has moved on to become a successful TV director; series he's contributed to include Designing Women, Newhart, The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, Friends, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.)

The DVD

Video: The 21 episodes are spread over four platters, and they're presented in a rather unflattering full-frame fuzz-fest. I'm not expecting a mid-70's Canadian sitcom to earn any sort of digital facelift, and The David Steinberg Show looks suitably antiquated.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0.

Extras: On disc 4 you'll find about a half-hour interview with the modern-day Steinberg as he looks back on his series with fond memories and numerous anecdotes. Nothing too exciting here, but fans of the series will certainly appreciate the inclusion.

Final Thoughts

Is there any TV show that's not going to be released on DVD eventually? This mid-70's obscurity ran only 21 episodes and quickly faded out of memory ... yet here's the DVD package. Those who remember enjoying Steinberg's series will want to give this curiosity a rental, perhaps, but others need not apply.

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