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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he team behind the animated cult smash hit "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" is back with the incredibly funny "Home Movies," now available on a 3-disc DVD box set. Originally debuting in 1999 on UPN as the unofficial replacement of Dr. Katz's infamous psychotherapy sessions with famous stars, "Home Movies" didn't receive much recognition until it was later picked up by and re-aired on Cartoon Network's mature-themed animation block Adult Swim. Following a pretentious eight-year-old filmmaker Brendon (Brendon Small) and his two best friends Jason (Jon Benjamin) and Melissa (Melissa Bardin Galsky) as they spend their spare time shooting movies, the show shares the same crappy animation style as its predecessor. Using a method known as Squiggle Vision, the characters never have straight or clean outlines, but rather squiggles that simulate movement. The animation is a moot point for the series though, which keeps the laughs rolling with biting dialogue throughout each 20-minute episode.
Right behind "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" as one of the funniest animated series, "Home Movies" rarely has a stand-out episode of the season, but the pilot serves as a great introduction to the show's many supporting characters, including Brendon's single mother (Paula Poundstone), his childish soccer coach John McGuirk (Benjamin), rocker Dwayne (Small) and male partners Walter and Perry (Small and Benjamin, respectively). Keep in mind that all of these kids are eight-years-old with the maturity level of a young adult and you'll soon understand the brand of humor that is in store with "Home Movies."
The DVD release of the first season is a thorough box set that offers plenty of special features for die hard fans including ten audio commentaries, four interviews, three animation galleries, two short films and the animatics for two episodes. The entire collection is presented in three slim pack DVD cases with four-to-five episodes to a disc. The video and audio transfers for the show leave much to be desired by most DVD aficionados, but they don't hurt the finished product either. The real gem of the set is the show itself, but the creators have included an amazing selection of bonus material for such a small show.
The first thing that you'll probably notice is the impressive amount of audio commentaries available featuring co-creator Loren Bouchard along with the show's three main voice actors. The commentaries appear on episodes 1 (disc one), 3-7 (discs one and two), 10-11 (disc three) and 13 (disc three). The audio tracks don't start off with a bang and include far too much chaos when all four guests speak at the same time, but they get increasingly better with each succeeding episode. The rest of the special features have been divided between all three discs and range from interesting to horrible.
Disc one offers an in-depth interview with executive producer Loren Bouchard about the origin of the show, a passable short film by Brendon Small entitled "The Thor Von Clemson Advanced Fast Hand Finger Wizard Master Class" and an animation gallery of early sketches. Two more animation galleries also appear on the last two discs of the set, as well as interviews with co-creator/writer/actor Brendon Small and Jon Benjamin. Both interviews don't offer much insight into the production of the show, but the improvisational comedy will be appreciated by fans of the actors. Disc two also includes a shot-by-shot animatics composition of episode 5 and another horrible short film, "Baby Pranks," this time by Benjamin. The animatics extra is a well-designed special for those interested in the technical production of the show (and another one can be found for episode 10 on disc three), but the "Baby Pranks" short quickly outgrows its satire of "Punk'd" far too soon. Finally, a fourth interview featuring Bouchard, Small and Benjamin is presented on disc three and is among the best of the collection. This time, fans can finally sit back and enjoy genuine commentary on the making of show from all of the guests without having to worry about them slipping away into improvisational nonsense.
While the "Home Movies: Season One" DVD box set certainly lists an admirable amount of special features, a majority of them just don't make it worthwhile to sit through. Instead, focus on watching the series itself and you'll discover an untapped source of comedy that rivals the same cult status of shows like "Family Guy" and "Futurama" before they became massive hits. Take a step out of the norm and you'll find thirteen good reasons to keep your DVD player spinning all week long.