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Comedians: The Complete Series, The
The cable network FX has built a respectable portfolio of dramatic shows like Justified and Sons of Anarchy and has done decently with comedies like Louie and Archer. The Comedians was an attempt of something different and it was mildly interesting in that regard.
The show follows Billy Crystal (Monsters, Inc.) and Josh Gad (The Wedding Ringer) on an FX show called "The Billy and Josh Show." The show follows the same vein as The Office, where the camera crew shooting Crystal and Gad are filming with the premise of shooting supplements for the show's DVD release, but as the "show" deals with various problems the cameras are more of a documentary to witness the downfall. Crystal and Gad play themselves, and Crystal's friend (and show co-creator) Larry Charles (Seinfeld) plays himself, but the other recurring cast members are playing characters on the show. Crystal's wife is even played by Dana Delany (China Beach), as an illustrative example.
Those who play fake characters on the fake show are where I discovered the funnier moments of the show. Stephnie Weir (Fun With Dick and Jane) plays the show's producer Kristen and she owns her character extremely well and steals more than a few scenes during the show's season. Her scenes played off FX President Denis Grant (Denis O'Hare, Dallas Buyers Club) are fun to watch not only because the performances from each are fun, but they seem to be only steps away from a show/network interaction that if there was ever a spinoff that could occur, Denis and Kristen would be it.
Mostly though, the show seems to focus on Crystal, and his attempts at making sure his show will worker with the younger and (in his opinion) cruder Gad, who smokes weed a lot and whose comedy Crystal thinks just isn't as refined as his own. Most of the work between the two is trying to get them to see a middle ground of agreement on comedy, production choices, etc., that the two can share. This is the focus for much of the show and was hard to believe from the premise. When the show ventures towards employing Crystal's friends to appear in guest starring roles like Rob Reiner and Mel Brooks, their respective appearances, while welcome, feel like they are part of some Crystal vanity project we have not been told about. There is no elevation to a next stage for either Crystal or Gad in on or off-air persona, and really becomes an exercise where if you see one episode of The Comedians, you do not have to see the other dozen.
Even if you aren't a devotee of Crystal and/or Gad's work, if someone had told you there was be a faux-umentary about a show co-starring both, you would at least give it some attention. However, said co-stars believe little in the material and do nothing with either ‘character' and you're forced to look elsewhere for sources of comedy in The Comedians. It does beg a question, that if two comedians do little comedy, is it still a comedy show?The Discs:
The Comedians thirteen-episode run is spread over two discs, and all of the episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with an occasional dalliance into 2.35:1 from a bit or two from the "show". Generally, the show's style is straightforward, handheld cameras filming all the action with little image enhancement and color reproduction. It looks natural with no edge enhancement, blacks are naturally inconsistent with moments of crushing and pixilation but the show looks fine overall.The Sound:
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is given to all of the episodes, and while the source material does not have a lot to work with, it sounds fine. Directional effects and channel panning are sparse for most of the show and the dialogue-forward source material is balanced and when louder moments of bleeping or more dynamic moments sound clean with no distortion or chirping noises. It reproduces the show nicely and without complaint.Extras:
Nothing here, hardly a surprise for a lame duck DVD release, honestly.Final Thoughts:
Seeing Billy Crystal and Josh Gad do a phony show and have that show be a show in real life was an interesting idea, until Billy Crystal and Josh Gad started becoming all Billy Crystal and Josh Gad about it. The show has its moments, particularly those that emphasize less on the two, but there is a reason why this show isn't coming back to television anytime soon. If you do want to check it out be my guest, but you'll wind up frustrated by the results it gives you.