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Kidding: Season One
is one of the most
unique and intriguing new television series to hit airwaves in the
past few years. Though audiences have become accustomed to being in a
"golden age" of television there are still shows which find ways
to not only push the envelope creatively but which also genuinely
surprise and delight with their originality, complexity, and
idiosyncratic delights. The series is produced by star Jim Carrey
along with creator Dave Holstein (Weeds), Raffi
Aguilar, Roberto Benabib, and director Michel Gondry.
Jeff (Jim Carrey) is a
and beloved television host for a children's series (which strikes
comparison to the like of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood).
persona is that of Mr. Pickles, a warm, kind, and generous spirit who
radiates meaningful characteristics through his show as it beams into
the homes of millions. Jeff himself isn't too far removed from the
kindheartedness of Mr. Pickles. Everyone who knows him sees the
kindness which inspires the beloved Mr. Pickles character.
The children's series is
Jeff's father, Seb (Frank Langella). Unlike his son (whose
involvement in the series stems from a desire to help others), Seb is
simply a business-man whose interest is to profiteer on the
production and its franchise development (as the series is translated
into other countries with different "hosts" around the world
bringing a spin to Mr. Pickles and he looks into the possibility of
replacing his son with an animated version of the Mr. Pickles
character so he can fully control every aspect of the series).
Deirdre (Catherine Keener) also works on the production and tries to
counter-balance some of the mad-cap producer-ideas from Seb.
While the series itself
Pickles as an almost-perfect and idyllic being, Jeff isn't having
such a peachy-keen time in real life. His young son Will Pickles
(Cole Allen) is addicted to drugs and Jeff is trying to help his son
overcome his use of drugs. Jeff is also lonely and looking for a
relationship with someone. His relationship ended with ex-wife, Jill
(Judy Greer). Though Jeff and Jill are on speaking terms it's clear
that things are rocky for the entire family. Jeff is dealing with a
personal mid-life crisis of sorts while trying to sort out the
meaning of his life in relation to family, to friends, and to the
world of viewers experiencing his show.
In my mind, Kidding
is a perfect
remedy to the increase is television series which star unlikable and
overbearingly dark protagonists in their overbearingly dark worlds.
Not every television series needs pitch-black vibes, folks. This
series has the touch of being a smart, complex series which has dark
characters and serious themes but you can become more easily involved
in the storytelling.
This isn't a House
of Cards type
series where nearly every character might feel unbearably unlikable.
Though Kidding revolves around serious dramatic
divorce, drug addiction, and finding meaning in one's self (as well
as finding balance in family and work) it's also a series where you
become engaged with the character's and their respective journeys.
You root for these characters.
created by Dave
Holstein (Weeds). This is a well-developed show with
writing, characters, and themes at each turn. It's easy to get
engaged with each episode as the show quickly pulls you in with it's
storytelling craft. The series feels like it has an overarching aim
and direction, developing piece-by-piece. The characters are on a
journey that feels well laid-out by the staff of writers.
The series is directed by
(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Jake
and Frank), and Minkie Spiro (Call the Midwife).
Gondry is the primary director who oversees the creative development.
Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry created magic together when they made
the cinematic gem Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. They
have perfect collaborative synchronicity once more with Kidding.
From a production
excels. The music by David Wingo (Take Shelter, Midnight
Special) is unique and charming. The score feels whimsical
part melancholic while effectively matching the tempo and mood of the
story. Cinematography by Shawn Kim and Shasta Spahn is engaging and
beautiful throughout. The costumes by Rahel Afiley (Flight of
Conchords, The Muppets) are stylized for
and the quirky nature of the story. The production design by Maxwell
Orgell matches the outlandish originality of Gondry with aplomb.
is that rare
television series which grips you from the very first episode. More
often than not, television can sometimes take some time to truly win
you over completely. The first episode is not always the best
indication on whether or not a series will ultimately work for you.
(Even some of my all time favorites like Buffy
win-me-over from the first episode). Yet with Kidding style="font-style: normal;">,
that initial episode is a good indication of what's in store from
this charming and quirky television series. I'm not kiddin' (pun is
intended, folks) about Kidding style="font-style: normal;">
being something truly special.
arrives on DVD with an
MPEG-2 encode in the original television broadcast aspect ration of
1.78:1 widescreen. The DVD's are presented in anamorphic widescreen
for widescreen televisions. Unfortunately, that's the most positive
thing about the presentation: no black bars on all sides. This
presentation is predictably mediocre with high compression levels.
It's mediocre by DVD standards (feeling as if little thought or care
went into the presentation). The presentation quality has little to
add, with poor definition, frequent pixelation, and bad color
reproduction. This entire presentation feels like one which was just
tossed on disc without any regard to trying to eek out the best of
the DVD format.
The audio is presented on
DVD with 5.1
surround sound. This is a average quality sound mix which
occasionally has interesting sound design decisions but mostly is
front-heavy and dialogue-driven. Nothing impressive regarding
dynamics or fidelity but it's a serviceable presentation.
The DVD includes a handful of fluff EPK behind-the-scenes
promotional videos (which were previously released as promotional
The most interesting extra on the release is a making-of
break-down of the filming of one particularly challenging sequences
in which an entire apartment is given a time-lapse make-over which
required production crew to rapidly run around the set, making major
set alterations, without breaking the sequence's single-take
photography. This sequences clearly demonstrates the brilliance of
director style="font-weight: normal;">Michel
Gondry (who has become a master of these photographic efforts with
music videos from the likes of style="font-weight: normal;">The
White Stripes style="font-style: normal;"> style="font-weight: normal;">to
Brothers style="font-weight: normal;">).
great appointment-level television. Jim Carrey is incredible in the
series and delivers one of his best performances to date. The show is
engaging from start to finish and leaves one practically begging for
more. Season 2 can't come soon enough. The series is also beautifully
directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless
and feels so creative, original, and complex with each episode. This
is easily one of my new favorite television outings. Must-see
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.