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- Published on Amazon.com
I'm writing this review assuming you're a fan of the KITH and don't need to be sold on their utter genius. (For those who have never seen the KITH, you should probably watch a hald dozen episodes before buying; this is not to everybody's taste, although I wouldn't want to be stuck on a desert island with somebody who doesn't like KITH, to be sure.) We're certainly planning on buying all five seasons as they come out, so I believe I can be forgiven for being ever so slightly critical of the DVD "extras", though. The original KITH episodes in all their glory get an unequivocal five stars, but the DVD extras are so-so, so we'll average the total package out to a four.
First off, the praise and glory. The complete skits of the CBC-HBO versions of the KITH's second season are on the first three DVDs. For those of us who had to suffer through the edited/censored KITH on CBS/Comedy Central at the time, this restoration freshens up a lot of sketches considerably by adding in previously nipped/edited out bits and sometimes whole sketches that were minced up either because of "standards", or for running time. The "Groovy Teacher" skit, for instance, has the scene where Dave, as the Groovy Teacher Theo, lead the class in a chant of a vulgarity, which is repeated by Kevin's character Stephen ("I'm Not Gay!") at the end as a punchline. If you saw this on CBS or Comedy Central, the first part would have been omitted altogether and the punchline bleeped, and the sketch wasn't nearly as funny. For the first season DVDs, all in all there were enough "extra" sketches to make the equivalent of a whole extra episode. In season two, it's not quite as many whole sketches, but a lot more tidbits added back in to partial sketches, and a number of extended transitions which are mildly amusing here and there. The Kids, as they note in the commentary, started writing for comedy on TV this season, as opposed to stagey sketches, and overall this is really when the series was hitting its prime.
Now the nitpicking over the DVD packaging. The first three discs have no extras at all -- just the episodes, no commentary (not counting one-page bios of the Kids that are the same as in the first set of DVDs). The fourth disk is the "bonus disk". As a diehard fan, I'm happy to have it, but it's a bit of a disappontment as far as quantity of extras.
We get a very short 15-minute documentary of sorts about the second season, featuring amusing and lightly illuminating interview snippets with all five Kids, Lorne Michaels, and Bellini, but just as its warming up, it's over.
The next two "extras" are just two "greatest hits" episodes from season two -- all of the sketches are on the first three discs, so you really have to ask what the point was. There is an audio commentary option for both of these clip shows, though, featuring (unlike the first season, where there were commentaries for entire episodes, but featuring Dave and Kevin on one and Mark, Bruce, and a late-arriving Scott on the other), all five Kids commenting at the same time. Did I say at the same time? I mean that literally -- half the time they're talking over one another so you can't figure out what's going on. A good portion of the commentary is also private nostalgia or inside jokes among the kids. There is a bit of interesting backstory on some of the sketches -- such as the original Sir Simon and Hecubus combo, changed right before taping, or the origins of the Chicken Lady (and the disgusting way Scott got Dave to have a genuinely disgusted look on his face during taping of the sketch -- that alone, I will admit, made us laugh so hard as to be worth the price of the set). And even though there's too little of that, just listening to the Kids banter among themselves is pretty amusing. I still left feeling a little short-changed at only 45 minutes of commentary for a whole season, though.
Be advised that there's a fair amount of R-rated explicit talk in the commentary (if you peg the unedited episodes at about a strong PG-13 for comparison.) I doubt it will offend any KITH fan but you probably don't want to give this to your 11-year old niece unless you're trying hard to be like The Groovy Teacher.
Speaking of The Groovy Teacher again, an early Rivoli Theater version of this sketch is included in the next extras section, along with a half dozen other video stage snippets. They definitely used all the good Rivoli clips up on the first season DVD; the ones here are mostly out of focus, often inaudible, and members of the troupe are blocked out half the time. It's interesting as pre-history, but not essential or too-funny-to-miss.
The other extras are throwaways -- a short still gallery of KITH performance posters not on the first season DVD gallery, and trailers for some non-KITH DVD sets.
All in all, if you're setting out to own all five seasons, press on and keep buying; just temper your expectations for the extras used to justify the fourth DVD and thus the four-DVD list price. One cannot help but think that if this is the best they can do for season two, it won't be getting any better for 3, 4, and 5.