Wonder Showzen is either the most brilliant post modern art piece that I have ever seen, or it’s the work of a group of complete head cases. No matter what side of the fence you fall on, this show is undeniably offensive, creative, hilarious, disgusting… did I mention offensive? When I first heard that this show was a kids show parody for adults, I built up this image in my head of something between Pee Wee’s Playhouse and South Park. I really couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, the show is…much more like what would happen if The Electric Company was created by a brain trust of some of the most offensive and secretly brilliant comedians on the planet. I have heard about shows that know no boundaries before, but this is by far the most boundary-free product I have ever seen. Honestly, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I am all for comedy without limits, but this show is way, way over the line
Regular segments on the show include kids answers to inappropriate questions, disgusting and disturbing vintage footage, and a puppet who berates the public. One segment features a kid dressed as Hitler. Another shows a child drinking blood in a butcher shop. While this program is unquestionably fascinating and bizarre, and most definitely has some hilarious moments, that’s not to say that it is always a pleasant thing to watch.
The audio track on this disc is actually pretty smartly mixed. Instead of the standard television mix, this track more closely matches the traditional television mix of a children’s show. Sounds don’t overlap, and dialog is loud and clear. Of course, many of the children’s voices are hard to understand, but that is the fault of the kids, and not of the audio track. There is something really smart going on when even the way the soundtrack is mixed supports the tongue-in-cheek nature of the program. It’s not high quality, but it is definitely high concept.
The quality of the video is not as good as that of the audio. Admittedly, some of this was done on purpose to match the look of those basic children’s shows, but a lot of it is just plain poorly produced. This show is plagued with jagged edges, especially in the animated segments. The live action segments look to be shot with a high quality DV camera. The final result is a transfer that is just plain annoying. I understand why the quality should be a little bit on the poor side, but it is simply too bad here. While the show has a certain brilliance to it, this transfer makes it very easy to remember that the program is shot on the cheap.
As goes the show, so go the special features. There are commentaries on these episodes, but they are, well… let’s say “non traditional”. Instead of boring tracks by the creators or actors on the show, we are treated to ramblings by outside personalities such as author Gordon Lish and civil rights activist/comedian Dick Gregory.
Other extras include a collection of auditions and outtakes, as well as a segment called story time with Flavor Flav. Bringing Flav onto this show is something like throwing Jack Nicholson into the looney bin on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. While he may be odd on his own, he’s probably the sanest thing to show up on this two disc set.
Finally, there are a few other small extras, including a locker poster, a music video, and a couple other special little treats.
With a first season comprised of just eight episodes, I have to wonder why this title has to be spread out over two discs. I assume it is to increase the perceived worth of a short season, but it just seems like needless overkill to me. Still, if you are a fan of this show, it is clear that you will be picking up this title, as well you should. Aside from the poor video quality, this DVD set will undoubtedly please fans of this truly strange program. For those of you that have not seen the show before, however, this is most definitely not a title to gamble on. Check out a few episodes on M2 or from your local rental house before deciding to buy this one blind.
Special Features List
- Special Guest Commentaries by Gordon Lish, Dick Gregory, and others
- Storytime with Flava Flav
- Auditions and Outtakes
- Sneak Peek Cartoon
- Music Video
- Bonus mini-poster
- 8 episodes on 2 discs