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Complete Red Green Show

Acorn Media // Unrated // October 16, 2012
List Price: $299.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted November 11, 2012 | E-mail the Author
The Show:
"The Red Green Show is kind of like the flu; not everybody gets it." - Red Green
I'm often astonished at the number of people I run across who have never seen the Red Green Show.  The Canadian show ran for an amazing 15 years, producing 300 episodes and several specials.  Show in the US on PBS (there were even Red Green marathons during pledge drives) the show is hilarious, but never quite made the inroads like several other PBS offerings.  That's too bad because the show is genuinely creative and inspired with a decidedly off kilter look at the world.  But most of all it's just plain funny.  Acorn previously released all 15 seasons in various collections but now they are putting out the complete collection in the massive Red Green Show High Quality Quantity Collection.    It's a great set, reasonably priced, that will be sure to please any fan of comedy this holiday season.

The program was always created on a shoestring budget with only a few sets, a limited cast in any given episode, and lots of location shots.  The low-budget, do it yourself origins actually work in the show's favor because that's what it's about:  guys messing with things that they ought to know better than to mess with.
Half skit comedy show, half sitcom, the program sounds like a low-rent version of Home Improvement, but it is anything but that. Each episode Red Green (creator/writer Steve Smith) broadcasts his show from the Possum Lodge aided by the technical wizardry of his ultra-nerdy and rather awkward nephew Harold (Patrick McKenna).  He relates the latest happenings at the lodge, how the members ended up with a 357 cubic inch engine and decided to turn it into an outboard motor for a canoe with a shower curtain rod, an old ceiling fan, and plenty of duct tape for example, while Harold interrupts him by transitioning to skits and other events that have taken place in the area.
"We now come to the part of the show called 'If it ain't broke, you're not trying!'" - Red Green
It's a simple concept, but it works wonderfully due to Steve Smith's dry, low-key humor and the series of creative gags he comes up with for every episode.  In the first season the crew had very limited time in the studio (a total of eight days for the 24 episodes.  In one of the extras Steve Smith mentions that they got through 84 pages of dialog, in a single, very long, day.  For the rest of the content they took a crew out on location.  One of the reoccurring segments they recorded consisted of Red, bundled up in the middle of a Canadian winter next to a small camp site reciting humorous poetry.  These were called "The Winter of Our Discount Tent:"
It is winter. A friend hits you in the face with a snowball. And as it melts, you become aware that he has a new puppy.

One of the most popular segments is the Handyman's Corner, where Red, with the help of "the Handyman's secret weapon:  duct tape" would show the viewers to home how to build or repair something.  Like turning a patio table into a surf board, or making a household communication system out of a used toilet.  He always ended these segments with the immortal words "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."
Adventures with Bill featured the shows director, Bill Green, in a silent, black and white, reel of slapstick comedy.  Aided by Red, Bill would try to go sledding, or play basketball, and the result was always slapstick comedy.  These were narrated by Red, and though a few of them miss the mark, when they hit it the skit is hilarious.

My personal favorite installment, which didn't start until one of the later seasons, is the Possum Lodge Word Game.  A take off on the old game show Password, Harold would provide a clue and if Red could get another member of the lodge to say it, they'd win some terribly underwhelming prize, such as a free ice cream cone with purchase of a scoop of ice cream from the House of Vanilla, or potatoes, vegetables and a leg of fish from the Longshot Family Restaurant.  In one episode Red tries to get fellow lodge member Mike Hamar to guess the word "father:"
Red: All right, Mike, your mother is married to...
Mike: Uh, her job. Exotic dancing's her life.
Red: Alright, okay, okay, I'm talking about, the man who took care of you when you were young was your...
Mike: Ummm ...truant officer.
Red:  No, this- this is a family member, Mike. The man who slept with your mother.
Mike:  Could you be more specific?
Red: Okay, growing up with just a mom, you knew you had a...
Mike: Curfew.
Red: Another word for "daddy".
Mike: Lifer.
Red: (inspired) Alright, alright, Mike, if your wife has kids, you'll be...
Mike: Long gone.
Red: (shaking his finger) Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! Just like your...
Mike: ...father.
Red: There we go!
The banter between Red and Harold was often inspired too, and what makes it better is that a lot of the jokes are delivered in such a low key manner that if you don't pay attention you'll miss them. 

Red: Well, I'm not gonna be calling the U.S. Air Force, Harold. What do I say? "We've got a missile?" They take that as a threat, we're in real trouble!
Harold: Well, then, contact the Canadian Air Force.
Red: Harold, it's after six; he's gone home.
Of course, the show isn't prefect.  Like any skit show, the gags can be hit or miss and sometimes Red does miss a few in a row.  The good jokes are hilarious though and more than make up for the duds.
The other thing I have to mention is the laugh track.  It's grating and annoying and way too loud.  The thing that makes this even more irritating is that it wasn't originally aired with one.  It was only when it was imported to the US that the canned laughter was added.  I guess PBS didn't think its viewers were bright enough to tell when something was funny.
The DVD:

The entire 300 episodes plus five specials totally an amazing 124+ hours worth of comedy arrive on an impressive 50 DVDs.  They're housed in 15 single-width cases that hold three DVDs each, one per season and another for the specials (a five-disc case).  These all come in a thin pressboard box made to look like a toolbox with plenty of duct tape holding it together.  I do wish this box was a little more substantial, especially since the contents weigh so much, but it is attractive.

As far as I could tell, these are the same discs as Acorn's original releases, so if you have those, there's nothing additional to be found in this set aside from the packaging.
The show comes with the original stereo audio track, which is nothing special.  It was a low budget show, and the fidelity isn't the greatest but the program is generally clear and easy on the ears.  There were a couple of segments in various shows that did have some background noise, but it was never distracting and it was pretty rare, at least among the episodes I screened.  
The original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is preserved and it looks pretty good.  It doesn't look polished as slick, like the latest hot show from Hollywood but that fits in with the show's do-it-yourself brand of humor.  The image is clean lacking specs and dirt, and while there's a slight amount of banding in a few spots, only anal-retentive DVD reviewers are likely to notice.  It's a decent looking show, given the program's origins.
There are a whole slew of extras included with this set.  First off are the five specials:  We Can't Help It, We're Men (65 minutes) - a hilarious collection of skits about 'the various sexes" Hindsight is 20/20 (60 minutes) - a look back at the show; Duct Tape Virtuoso Deluxe (64 minutes) - a great collection devoted to the handyman's secret weapon:  duct tape; The Red Green Story (90 minutes) - a collection of clips, audition reels and production material that go behind the scenes and tells the story of the Red Green Show; and It's a Wonderful Red Green Christmas (60 minutes) - this special tells you all you need to know to celebrate the holidays just like the members of the Possum Lodge.
That would be plenty for many releases, but Acorn doesn't stop there.  There's Red Green's of Cars and Men (71 minutes) - a collection of car skits, A Merry Red Green Christmas (45 minutes) - more holiday cheer, Red Green style; Behind-the scenes comments by star and creator Steve Smith, A tour of a duct tape factory guided by Red, Fan-made duct tape creations, and introductions to several of the seasons by Steve Smith. 
As if that wasn't enough, there's also a collection of production photos, Red and Harold text character profiles and biographies of stars Steve Smith and Patrick McKenna.  *whew*
It looks like the only thing really missing is the Red Green movie, Duct Tape Forever.  I assume the rights are held by another company and would require a separate license.  Even without that single entry, there's enough to keep fans busy for weeks.
Final Thoughts:

This is a hilarious show and getting the entire 15 years worth of episodes in one bundle is a joy.  Filled with off the wall humor that guys will find particularly funny, it would make a great gift this holiday season.  The price may seem a little steep, but it retails for a dollar an episode (and that's not counting the specials or the copious extras) and the street price is much lower than that.  It's a great package that comes Highly Recommended.
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Highly Recommended

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