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Norm Show, The - Complete Series

 Unrated   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 59.95
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In the booklet that accompanies this welcome boxed set, The Norm Show cocreator Bruce Helford calls this late lamented series "the one that got away." A show that was just getting better as it went along, it fell prey to the vagaries of network scheduling, moved from Wednesday nights where it did very well to the programming sinkhole that is Friday night, where it did not, and was cancelled after three seasons. Helford also cocreated The Drew Carey Show, and Norm is cut from the same cloth. It shares the same off-center rhythms, delight in meta-musings and tweaking sitcom conventions, and cold openings, such as Norm's parsing of TV's ratings system (with rebuttal in one episode by the Devil) and the episode that begins apropos of nothing with costumed cast members engaged in a Pokémon battle. The show also engaged in Carey-esque stunts, such as the punch line and movie reference contests. Norm MacDonald is a pricklier personality than Carey. His Norm is not as likeable as Carey's Everyman. He is a former professional hockey player who avoids jail for tax evasion by performing community service as a social worker. He is a slacker in an office of dedicated professionals, including compassionate and overworked Laurie (the remarkable Laurie Metcalf) and the luckless and sensitive Danny (Ian Gomez). To the show's credit, little effort is made to dull Norm's sarcastic and acerbic edge that made him one of SNL's best Weekend Update anchors and Conan O'Brien's most dependably funny talk show guests. In one episode, when Danny says, "But you don't want to hear my problems," Norm replies, "Thanks, buddy. I was gonna say that but I thought it'd sound bad." The ensemble also includes sitcom veterans who raised MacDonald's game, including Murphy Brown's Faith Ford as Norm's social worker and romantic interest, Alf's Max Wright as Norm's tormented boss, MacDonald's Dirty Work costar Artie Lange as Norm's irresponsible brother, and Nikki Cox as Taylor, a former hooker, whom Norm helps rehabilitate. There are no Very Special Episodes, but several involving story arcs (Norm lapses into gambling, Danny and Taylor's budding relationship). And just for fun, there are memorable cameos (Richard Pryor in his last screen appearance as an abusive and uncooperative case, Lou Rawls as a hansom cab driver) and guest star turns, including Jack Warden as Danny's macho father who may be gay and Tommy Smothers as Norm's less than paternalistic father. As the show got better, so did its opening credit sequences. Season 2's never gets old, a comically choreographed street scene that perfectly encapsulates the characters. Extras are limited to several entertaining audio commentaries by MacDonald and Helford, who share writing and comedy insights and secrets from the set (during the episode "Norm Dates Danny's Dad," Helford reveals Norm's failed catchphrase that, alas, can't be repeated here). --Donald Liebenson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shout Factory Does It Again! Jan. 15 2011
By Kasey G TOP 100 REVIEWER
IMO, the TV sitcom landscape in the late '90s was a wasteland. My old favorites "Roseanne" and "Murphy Brown" were getting long in the tooth, and I found the vastly overrated "Friends" unwatchable.

It was by chance I discovered "The Norm Show" at a friend's house shortly before it was cancelled. I was surprised to see Laurie Metcalf, so wonderful in "Roseanne" among the cast. Since the show was never syndicated, I was only able to catch full episodes on two Emmy screener VHS tapes I acquired from eBay about 10 years back.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I learned Shout! Factory was partnering with WB to bring the complete series to DVD in a comprehensive set which consists of all 54 episodes from the three seasons of "The Norm Show" (later shortened to simply "Norm") which ran on ABC from 1999 to 2001. There are commentaries on select episodes but I wish there was a featurette reuniting the entire cast to discuss the show together.

I guess you could say "The Norm Show" is my "Seinfeld" since I never was a big fan of Jerry's show. The characters in "Norm" are similar though, in that they are often self-serving and deceitful to get what they want. Much of the humour is mean-spirited (especially that directed towards Mr. Denby) but never comes off as too bitter.

Dare I say Ms. Metcalfe is even more hilarious here than she was on "Roseanne". However, it's not all about Laurie. This is truly an ensemble comedy--albeit a quirky one that many people may not "get"--but let 'em watch "Friends" or "Everybody Loves Raymond" instead. I have never been a fan of anything than panders to the lowest common denominator.

Henderson's delivery takes some time to get used to, but it works well within the show and the chemistry among the actors is terrific.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best shows ever. July 27 2010
By R Duck
The Norm Show was one of the best television sit-coms that I've ever seen. It ranks up there with Three's Company, MASH, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons. It's too bad this show only lasted 3 seasons, because Norm's wit and humor was just off the charts. The entire ensemble really contributed to the shows comedy, even Weinner Dog, Norm's dog. You can watch this show over and over and still laugh.

I hope that they have done a good job in transfering the shows on DVD. I also hope that there will be some special features.

Enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not Enough Norm Sept. 26 2011
It's unfortunate that The Norm Show didn't go on for a few more years. It was very funny, with an excellent cast (especially Norm, Laurie and Max) and outstanding comedy writing. Every episode is packed with memorable lines, though I can't remember any of them right now.

If you liked Norm on Saturday Night Live, this show gives you more Norm than you thought you would even want. Enjoy all 50-some episodes of this not-quite-classic sitcom.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As funny as can be Sept. 12 2010
I can finally get rid of my 4 VHS tapes of the Norm Show now that I have acquired my DVD set, and can also get rid of my VCR... I'm such a fan of Norm Macdonald that I started to look at the Norm show from the first episode and taped it as well, if you like Norm you won't be disapointed, that series was as funny as can be...

No extras except for commentaries which I must admit is worth it (I listened to the first 2 episodes with commentaries) and it's funny...

Long Live Norm
Cheers
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holds up quite well, y'know? Oct. 7 2010
By A. Buckley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I really enjoyed the Norm Show when it first aired in the late 90's/early 2000's, and have been a huge Norm fan since his SNL days. But I was still worried that I wouldn't find the show as funny as I did 10 years ago. Well, I'm happy to say it has done very well. The humour is actually dirtier than I remember it (I wasn't even aware a few of the words were allowed on network television), and sometimes is fairly dark (like when one character finds out his dad was a homosexual... during his dad's funeral). Norm is really the worst actor in the show, but that's his shtick (you could make a drinking game for how many times he says "y'know" per episode, but you'd probably drink yourself blind), and you either love or hate Norm's style. If you're a fan of Norm Macdonald, definitely buy this show. If you're like me and weren't sure if the show would be as funny as you remembered it, worry no more, it is. If you're not a fan of Norm, this show won't convert you, but then why are you even reading this review anyway? Shouldn't you be petitioning whoever has the rights to "Dharma and Greg" to release more seasons on DVD?
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