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Drunk History: The Complete Series
Drunk History endured for six whole seasons as one of the most bizarre yet hilarious comedy shows of the last decade mainly because it never waivered from the tried-and-true formula since the premise's inception on the Funny or Die website. This formula is as simple as it is unique, bold, and to quote Graham Chapman, very, very silly indeed: Each episode is sliced into three sections. Each section contains a comedian who gets an inch away from a fall-on-your-face drunk.
They are then tasked with giving a complex and dense history lesson on a particular story, mostly within US history. Since they're as drunk as a skunk with an especially heavy drinking problem, they slur their words, go into absurd tangents, and predictably sabotage their self-serious history lecture every step of the way. The audio from the "lecture" is then meticulously recreated using actors, including some legit comedy stars and seasoned thespians.
Every single word by the drunk "historian", including the various burps, vomit sessions, and every form of gibberish known to mankind, is lip-synched by the actors. It's basically the 2 am last-call bar hound's take on a History Channel special. Across all of its seasons, even when it became able to hire some impressive names for the reenactments after grabbing heftier budgets thanks to the show's success, Drunk History kept to the above-outlined formula with religious zeal, making the show comfortably predictable while being able to reinvent itself through the various crazy stories in history within the lens of a, shall we say, fairly laissez-faire tone.
Drunk History was shot on HD video, and can be watched in 1080p on some streaming services. Therefore, this DVD presentation in SD is of course inferior. But keep in mind that streaming access doesn't mean you own the material, and it can vanish from the services at any moment. A singularly unique artifact of recent American comedy like this should be preserved in a personal collection, and this box set accomplishes this with flying colors. The transfer is as clear and crisp as it gets on SD and almost competes with streaming when upconverted to HD.
The lossy Dolby Digital comes with the options of 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo. If you're watching through regular TV speakers, always remember to first go into the setup options and change the track to stereo. Otherwise, you'll have your thumb on the volume button to adjust between the loud music and the timid spoken word when the 5.1 is downmixed into two channels. The 5.1 doesn't really add much if you have a surround system, but both tracks are clean and vibrant.
All of the extras can be found across all the discs in the box set.
Outtakes: Extra material from the "lecturers" that didn't get on the air to save time, or were too hot for TV.
Deleted Scenes: This one is like the outtakes, but it takes us to the reenactment sequences. They're short and sweet.
Sober Reveal: This is the absolute best extra on the box set. We get to see the lecturers talk about their segments while they are sober, allowing us to see the straightforward (and let's face it, dull) lessons we could have gotten.
Drunk History will make you wish that your high school history teacher was crapfaced every day. And if they were, it'll make you wish they were more fun than the one you got, who probably whined about their loveless marriage before passing out on the desk. This box set gloriously preserves the show. At the very least, it will allow you to show proof when someone in the future will eventually tell you that they don't believe such a show ever existed.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com