Jeff Foxworthy has experienced something of a renaissance as of late. In the early 90’s, this loveable redneck burst on to the comedy scene with his southern style of humor, driven by the ever-popular series of “…you might be a redneck” jokes. Living in the south myself, I was both entertained and angered by his routine. On the one hand, it kind-of made me angry that he was making Southerners sound so stupid. On the other hand, it was funny because it was true. Such is the dilemma of living in the South.
An…way, as I understand it, the swift life of an instant celebrity was a little more than Foxworthy was able to handle, so instead of ruining his life with wine, women and song, he disappeared from the spotlight for a while. After some time away, he has re-emerged as a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and the spotlight is back.
As would be expected, media companies have seen the return of Foxworthy as an excellent time to make some money off of pre-existing properties. His CDs are seeing sales growth, I spotted one of his books in my local neighborhood Books-a-Million, and of course, his sitcom has recently shown up on DVD.
All 18 episodes from the first (and, inexplicably, not the last) season of the show are here, from the one where he talks about being a redneck, to the one… where he… um… talks about being a redneck. While Foxworthy is great at writing his stand-up routines, his team of sitcom writers doesn’t share that same talent. Jokes are lame and predictable throughout the series. In fact, the most that I could manage was just one smirk throughout the first three episodes.
Apparently, the producers of the show were aware that it was a sinking ship, as Jay Mohr was brought in as Foxworthy’s brother in the 13th episode of the season. That’s right, Brooklyn’s own Jay Mohr as Jeff Foxworthy’s little brother. *What?* Sometimes, a little character maneuvering can improve a show (such as the mysterious vanishing of Paul Reiser’s old roommate on Mad About You), but that is not the case here.
This is a show that was bad from the start, and never rose above the bar set by similarly-mediocre sitcoms Family Matters and Blossom. Even a redneck could see that this was a bad show. The fact that the series only ran for two seasons proves it.
I don’t have any problem with this audio track being available only in stereo. Let’s be honest, this is a TV sitcom. Nobody needs to hear this in 5.1. In fact, Friends is available in 5.1, and the audience laughter is a bit too much sometimes.
What I do have a problem with, however, is the cheesy laugh track. The smallest quip or bad pun is met with an uproarious audience reaction. It is as if the show is trying to convince the audience that it is funny. I got the feeling that I was being told that even though I didn’t think it was funny, everybody else did, so something must be wrong with me. It’s not me that has the problem, however. It is the audience in a can.
The good news is, the dialog is very clear. The track has been compressed down to a narrow dB range, and ambient noises are kept to a minimum, so viewers should have no problem understanding conversations between the characters. It’s just a shame that the dialog itself is so poorly written.
The video quality here is great. In fact, it may be a little too great, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, the good stuff. These episodes have an extremely clear picture quality. No grain or blemishes of any kind are present on the screen. Colors also look fantastic. They pop, and really give the eye plenty to do throughout each scene. Also, every inch of every set is very well-lit. There are no shadows to be seen. The picture is, in a word, perfect.
In fact, the picture is too perfect. Real life is not this sterile. My house has shadows. My clothes sometimes have faded colors. I occasionally have an item out of place in my home from time to time. In the Foxworthy home, however, everything looks like it has been scrubbed by a HazMat team before each shot. The picture is so clean, it sort-of looks like a Saturday Night Live skit. I half expected Chris Farley to show up and tell Haley Joel Osment (who plays Foxworthy’s son on the show) that he saw dead people “in a van down by the river.” Modern sitcoms have living sets, where the set designers change things up a little from week to week, to make them looked lived in. The sets and props in this show felt like, well, sets and props. It’s all just a little bit too plastic.
There are absolutely zero special features included in this set. At the very least, I thought there might be some ads for similar products, or maybe a quick interview with Foxworthy, but there is nothing here at all. If ever there was a DVD that needed some extras to encourage sales, this is it.
For Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, this is a situation that is virtually guaranteed to make them some money. With an existing property, and very little DVD development cost, the only real up-front costs are packaging and manufacturing. This disc could be extremely profitable for the company after just a few copies are sold. Everybody wins… except the consumer, who is stuck with an inferior product, and the worst kind of sitcom… one that is not funny.
If you enjoy Foxworthy’s brand of humor, then pick up his comedy CDs, or the Blue Collar Comedy Tour DVD. Just don’t pick up this steaming pile of trash. If you do, it will only encourage the studios to put out more lame products such as this one in the future.