There is a little more Tracey to go around with Tracey Takes On: The Complete Second Season, so fans of the show shouldn’t be disappointed. However, I find her humor quaint and dry in an inescapably British way. No one can deny her talent. But it’s hard to like a show when none of the laughs are connecting. Of course, humor – like beauty – is certainly in the eye of the beholder. With that said, I am not one of the lucky ones that can look at this raw oyster of a show and see the pearl. This season, Ullman inc…udes many of the same faces from season one. The humor also continues in the same light with its often irreverent pokes at social norms and behavior. There are a variety of guest stars accompanying Ullman, as was also the case last season. This time, we get Timothy Busfield, Jon Favreau, Julie Kavner, Michael McKean, Ron Perlman, George Segal, John Stamos, and Bradley Whitford; and their only purpose seems to be filling out the camera lens. After all, Ullman can’t be everywhere at once, in spite of her talents. And to many of these celebrities, doing Ullman’s show is the hip thing to do.
But hip doesn’t make for funny, and there’s only so much Chic, Hope Finch, and Linda Granger, a sane mind can take. Add in the myriad of quick vignettes in each of the 15 episodes, and you have one stone-faced reviewer doing his best to stay awake through a show that seems much longer than its sitcom-length running time would indicate. I wish we could see more serious acting from Ullman. She is incredible, and I respect her abilities so much. But the humor is flat; the format, tired. The simple fact she can still garner fame and acclaim after all these years of performing material such as this only hints at the even bigger accomplishments she could achieve, if only her mind was set to it. Until then, die-hard fans can cherish yet another collection of her antics; as for me, I’d rather she try something else.
HBO seems to have made slight improvements in the color tones from last season, but it’s still a boring visual presentation. There aren’t any huge, gaping flaws; but there isn’t any sharpness or vivaciousness either. What viewers will receive is basically a regurgitation of the TV transmission, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The quality gets a little better from the first ten episodes; but beyond that, don’t expect much. (NOTE: The series is presented in its original 4:3 ratio.)
Last season, I wrote the following: “The Dolby Digital 2.0 track plays well between dialogue and background noise, adding zest where the video presentation lags. The best aspect of the disc’s audio is Ullman’s vocals on the opening number to each show. The track’s natural volume is quite loud throughout, but there’s strength to the show’s theme song that is missing from the actual episodes.” – Same strengths and weaknesses this season.
Filling out the parallel structure of the audio-video in comparison to last season are the nearly identical bonus materials, which include the following: Tracey Takes On… Kay, Chris, and Hope, an audio commentary featuring Ullman, and The Many Faces of Tracey: a Slide Show. While the actual content is not a straight rehash, the style of the features are. In all, there are over 90 minutes of bonus materials, so fans shouldn’t meet this set with total disappointment.
It’s hard to feel any differently for this show, as both seasons are pretty consistent. If you loved it before, you’ll love it now. If you hated it before, then the same rings true. At least HBO has made it available without completely skimping on bonus materials. While the A/V end isn’t the best, it doesn’t have to be. Throw in five additional episodes from season one’s offerings, and adding this to the collection will either make a lot of sense… or it will send you running for the first 180-degree turned comedy you can get your hands on.
Special Features List
- Tracey Takes On… Kay, Chris, and Hope
- Audio Commentary with Tracey
- The Many Faces of Tracey: a Slide Show