Weird Al Yankovic Show:The
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Those who remember Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted festivals might also recall that the creators of No Neck Joe, Peyton Reed and Keith Alcorn, were simultaneously dosing The Weird Al Show with a similar bizarre humor. Not until one revisits this freakish TV series does one realize how "Weird" Al Yankovic really was. Like Jerry Lee Lewis, he perfected the art of being corny, with his frizzy, long hair, gaudy Hawaiian shirts, and nerdy voice. Known mostly as a musician who spoofed radio hits, Weird Al's show placed Yankovic in stand-up situations, albeit scripted, involving props like x-ray spray or an electric toenail-cutting machine. Each episode was thematically established for kids, with lessons like, "Be Yourself," "Dont Make Promises You Cant Keep," and "Settle Conflicts with Peaceful Communication," setting Al up for comedic failure. Watching a grown man turn infantile harkens back to Pee Wee's Playhouse, as do The Weird Al Show's colorful, kitschy sets. In "One For the Books," Al accidentally microwaves his best friend, Harvey the Wonder Hamster, turning Harvey into a "grotesque radioactive mutant." When Harvey gets into the Guinness Book of World Records for Largest Rodent and gains several groupies, Al gets jealous and begins searching, in vain, for his own records to break. Al learns that it isn't record-breaking that counts, but the effort that goes into a given task. Each of the 13 episodes showcase classic Weird Al, at best when he sinks into his Skull Chair to watch self-invented commercials on TV, like one for Pirate Roofers, or for a barber who gives terrible haircuts. Random guest-appearances, like those from John Tesh and Alex Trebek, add mystery, and the commentaries by Al & cast are authentically entertaining. The Weird Al Show is so stupid it's funny. --Trinie Dalton
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Then a funny thing happened - this DVD came out and every episode had a commentary track from the director, the head writer, and oh yea, Weird Al. And I learned that not only were they aware of every single thing I noticed that was wrong with this show, they hated it as much as I did. They mercilessly assault their own program and take no prisoners. The network censors, the educational mandates, the lost sketches, the ridiculous changes...they list them and lambast them all. It proves that Al's excellent UHF commentary was not a fluke - he's very good at keeping these amusing. There's a few guest stars from his close personal friends, but the real highlight is how savagely Al attacks his own program and the difficult working environment that his show was filmed in. And ss one last snub, material such as bloopers and cut scenes are not included because Dick Clark Productions threw out everything except for the master tapes themselves.
This show belongs on every Weird Al fan's shelf - for the commentary, and to remember the few sparkling moments when this show shined inspite of the network's desperate attempts to snuff it out.
In case you've never seen the show, it stars none other than Weird Al himself. In case you don't know who Weird Al is, take your head out from under that rock already. Al has been hired by J.B. Koopersmith to host a television show, which of course J.B. watches as it's going on and sometimes throws in his own creative input, like a Giant Banana. After all, it's his money. Al's next door neighbor is The Hooded Avenger, who often gives Al the very obvious advice which Al somehow couldn't figure out himself, thus leading him to a moment of self-discovery in every episode. Other characters include Val Brentwood, Gal Spy, Al's cousin Corky, and lots of other characters played by Al, my favorite of which being Fred Huggins, another kid's show host who has a love for everything in this universe and is accompanied by his grumpy two best friends / puppets, Papa Booley and Baby Booley.
Really, you don't have to be a kid to enjoy this show. The writing is sharp and of a quality just sappy enough for even adults to find hilarious. The show also includes many cameo appearances, including Alex Trebek, John Tesh, and Gedde Watanabe (thankfully reprising the role of Kuni from UHF ["YOU ARE SOOO STUPID!"]). Every episode follows a different life lesson, like "Don't make promises you can't keep," as this was Al's way of making it "educational." Each show loosely follows these lessons, but for the most part the show is driven by the jokes, the gimmicks, and the educational films which have nothing to do with the episodes themselves ("Where Does Dirt Come From?").
Some of the best humor in the show, however, comes in the form of Al's new parodies. Not songs, these parodies come between the show and the commercial. These ad parodies will keep you cracking up at just how genius and/or rediculous they are (like "Camp Superfun, the perfect camp for shapeless, tall, furry animals between the ages of 6 and 13."). Personally, these were my favorite parts of the show, and I get the feeling that if Al had not had the restriction of making the show educational, most of the show would have been like these.
If you've never seen the Weird Al show and are a fan of Weird Al, you will want to get this DVD when it comes out. However, if you don't like Al's music, you won't find too much too different about his show. The jokes are of the same variety, poking fun at 1997 pop culture (my god is it almost 10 years old???) and how we act on a day to day basis. The show even includes some unreleased Al songs ("Lousy Haircut," a parody of Prodigy's "Firestarter," as well as "I Like You" sung by Fred Huggins, "The Cheese Song" and more). If you've never heard of Weird Al in general, you'd be better off getting to know his music before jumping into the show, as starting on the show could be a little awkward if you are unfamiliar with Al's affinity for parody, of which the show is ripe. Me? I'm getting this the DAY it comes out, "or my name isn't Weird Al SHOELACEovich!"
THE WEIRD AL SHOW debuted in the wake of PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE, Paul Reubens' very creative but unfortunately staunchly mannered and deadly serious kids' show featuring his character Pee-Wee Herman. Though both shows have the same set designer, THE WEIRD AL SHOW succeeds in bringing forth the unbridled anarchy that PWP only hinted at, mainly because of two things about Weird Al Yankovic: first, he has no pretensions about his work, and second, his humor attempts to be truly anarchic while remaining, on some level, for everybody. You have to have respect for a man who purposely designed his Ear-Booker Productions company logo (which appears at the end of every episode) to be the most nerve-wracking thing ever made.
The plot is fairly simple: Al (Weird Al Yankovic), a goofy, often jerky but still likable fellow who lives in a cave some twenty miles below the surface of the earth, is bringing you a television show featuring himself, various friends and neighbors (such as the Hooded Avenger (Brian Haley), the superhero who lives in the cave next door, and his strangely cute cousin Corky (Danielle Weeks), who shares Al's taste for clashing-but-colorful wardrobe), and his roommate/pet/best friend Harvey The Wonder Hamster, a professional stunt hamster who performs such feats as hang-gliding off a model of Mount Everest, jumping a race car and wrestling Randy "Macho Man" Savage (who is soundly defeated by said plucky rodent). Each episode has Al involved in a situation that serves as an object lesson of sorts to the viewer, which Al rarely completely learns until the end of the episode. While the lesson is fairly ham-handed in its execution (much of which happened due to CBS forcing educational mandates down the producers/creators' throats, which Al and several others detail in extensive commentary for every episode), the show manages to demonstrate the raucous nature of Saturday Morning TV at a time when it was in its death rattle.
This set features commentaries for every episode by Al, his partners in crime (director Peyton Reed and producer Thomas F. Frank), and occasional drop-ins from Emo Philips, Danielle Weeks and Judy Tenuta, who all appeared on the show. None of these are particularly complementary of the CBS network, who often went to blows with Al and made the production of every episode a struggle. The set also features concept art galleries and animated storyboards for FATMAN, the Al-produced cartoon that appeared on the show, as well as show theme karaoke (probably the weirdest feature on the set).
Pick this up if you like Weird Al, as I do: it's a very good showing from the mind of a talented comedy performer who managed to overcome many obstacles to create something interesting and fun at a time when it was really needed. Good work.