In what Stiller himself describes as a misfired precursor to the Gary Shandling Show,the central conceit here is that a fictionalized version of Stiller gives us a behind-the-scenes lookat the series between skits, an gradually reveals himself to be the Boss From Hell. The skitsthemselves are in the Mad TV/SCTV vein, parodying rockumentaries, movie trailers, and so on.There is some clever stuff, but I’ll confess that I seem have some kind of a jinx when it comes…tosketch comedy: I have but to watch it, and it fails to be funny. For the most part, that’s what Ifound here.
As with so many DVDs with a TV origin, the music is the only element that gets a surroundtreatment in this 2.0 mix. Then again, there really aren’t any sound effects at all, so we wouldn’texpect much surround from that angle. As for the dialogue, it is clear and distortion-free.
All kinds of formats are used here, and the between-the-skits sequences are deliberatelygrainy. As for the skits, the picture quality is solid, though sometimes a bit soft. There are plentyof TV releases out there, though, that look a lot worse than this.
Ben Stiller and a revolving group of collaborators comment on episodes 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12and 13, as well as on a collection of unaired sketches (of which there are 5). The extras areconcentrated on Disc 2. Selecting a Polaroid picture opens up an Easter Egg that is a commentaryon the “Melrose Heights” sketch. There are 9 outtakes, and a print history of the show isaccompanied by the MTV routine that anticipated the show’s move over to Fox, and 2 alternateversions of the pilot. The E! behind-the-scenes featurette is a parody of that form. In fact, ageneral air of “what the hell were we thinking?” pervades the disc in a rather endearing fashion.The menu’s main page, intro and transitions are animated and scored, and those transitions arequite long, becoming annoying if you’re doing more than just the most basic navigating throughthe disc.
Can’t say the show, for the most part, worked for me, though there are a number of nicelyconceived characters. The self-mocking tone of the disc is fun.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries for Selected Episodes
- E! Featurette
- Unaired Sketches with Optional Commentary
- “A Brief History of the Ben Stiller Show”
- MTV Sketch
- Alternate Versions of Pilot