One doesn’t usually admit they love puppets. There are many vehicles for this love all over the entertainment world. On one hand, you have those who perform standup with puppets like Jeff Dunham. Then you have those crazy puppets who live down in Fraggle Rock. But one can not forget the fairly recent invention of one Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. A dog, sporting a cigar who likes to insult & poop on things. The idea of Triumph did not come from the Conan O’Brien show so much but instead came from the mind of Robert Smigel. Comedy Central’s TV Funhouse was that show that gave the real inspiration or birth to the character. At least I know now who to drag into the street and shoot.
In the year 2000, a show premiered on Comedy Central called TV Funhouse. The show was created by Robert Smigel & Dino Stamatopoulos with Doug Dale as the host. Doug played host to the viewers at home with the atmosphere of Pee Wee’s Playhouse complete with an assortment of puppets. These puppets ranged from dogs & roosters to turtles & cats (and more). Every week had a theme from Western Day to Safari Day where Doug would try to present the show in that format until the animals turned into something far worse. The show lasted only eight episodes. Low ratings and disturbing content led to a pre-emptive exit.
Disturbing content? If one could count the number of animals humping other animals in the span of twenty minutes you might go blind. There are poop jokes galore along with the usual assortment of other crude punch lines. No topic or nationality is safe from its ridicule. So it is just a bunch of puppets having sex, what is wrong with that? Take that one step farther, there are puppets sodomizing real animals. Let me stop right there, there must be tons of humor in this production and further more it must be ahead of its time.
Wrong. This is quite possibly the worst show I have ever seen. The amount of Advil that pulsed through my veins was not adequate for the throbbing pain in my head from watching this show. My major problem with this show is how unfunny it actually is. Even the little cartoon or infomercial skits that run during the show have very little humor or usually drag thirty seconds in. I think I found one moment funny and that was the bit they did about the dog chasing his own tail. Have you noticed that all of the dogs have the same voice? To be honest, that’s a minor complaint compared to some of the shenanigans.
Don’t even get me started about the Hawaiian episode where they actually cut a star out of the United States flag to throw on some poster board. The host, Doug Dale defaced the American Flag. Somebody actually thought this was funny. I understand that this sort of speech is protected under the first amendment. But somebody should have the good taste to tell the creators that they want to stay away from such an obvious indiscretion.
The film is presented in 1.33:1 Fullscreen presentation. It’s the typical early millennium non-hd fare with pretty average video quality. It’s hard to judge this accurately when there are so many crude elements in puppetry. Colors at time look washed out and appear very ordinary. Chances are if you are watching this broadcast you could care less about video quality. Actually, those who chose to watch this presentation, I’m worried about your psyche than your taste in quality video.
The only choice here is 2.0 English Dolby Digital. This is typical television broadcasting sound here with nothing but good ole center channel. There are hardly any sound effects to mention because most of the time it is straight up talking and walking around. Dialog is fairly clear, but again this is just barebones on presentation. There aren’t any subtitles here either. At least we can be thankful for something.
- Automatic Trailers: Drawn Together – Season 2, Lil Bush – Season 1, & Upright Citizens Brigade – Season 2. .
- Audio Commentary by Creators Robert Smigel and Dino Stamatopoulous & Host: Doug Dale : Good commentary from the folks who created the show. They talk a lot about what it took to produce the show along with funny anecdotes and stories about what went on. I wish I liked the show, they are entertaining speakers.
- Video Commentary with Chickie, Jason, Xabu, and Dave 6:46: More crude puppets. This lasts about 5 minutes too long and had no place in the proceedings. I think Chickie said it best, “This show sucks!” When the puppets who star in the show don’t like it, you got a problem.
- Outtakes from the Anipals and Doug 7:43: Some outtakes of various scenes. I so appreciate turtle cock hiding behind a towel. Ooooo, the energy. Perhaps, I have something stronger than Advil in the cabinet. Maybe a ball-peen hammer.
- Behind the Scenes: Killing Bob Hope / Horse Cock 4:42: Bob Hope died roughly three years after TV Funhouse aired. Coincidence, I think not. Anyway, we get a puppet trying to do him in (not the actual Bob Hope, but a reasonable facsimile). Then we get some big beefy, pixilated Horse mammajamma. What is it called when you start to see spots in front of your face?
- Extra Triumph Appearance: On the Rob Reiner Roast 8:15: Triumph’s appearance on Comedy Central roast. Pretty bad if you ask me, but then I never understood what the humor was in “For me to poop on” followed by “I keed, I keed”. If I ever have a roast and a Robert Smigel puppet shows up, please make sure I am handcuffed to my seat. I can not be held responsible for the things I might to do to myself or the puppet.
- On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart 5:16: More Triumph on the Daily Show. Jon Stewart’s facial expressions are just painful to watch. He actually looks like he’s wondering when to cut to break and strangle the person with the bright idea to bring the dog in as a sketch for the show.
- Last Sketch: What Do We Know Part 2 w/ Bob Odenkirk 2:39: Not sure really, it’s their last sketch. It isn’t any better than the other ones that were in the show. It’s like a moving car that has plowed into your tree, you aren’t sure how it got there but you want it gone. Now.
- Comedy Central Quickies 1:26, 2:37, 2:34: We get quick excerpts from the Colbert Report (Breasts), The Sarah Silverman Show (Date w/ God) and South Park (something about a Leprechaun). Personal thought, but Sarah Silverman is so pretty. That is until she opens up her mouth. Geezus.
DVD Reviewers suffer. A lot. Sure we get free movies, but sometimes we have to suffer for our cause by watching shows that probably chimps shouldn’t be subjected to. If they were, they would probably develop chain smoking & the kind of rash that doesn’t go away with fungal cream. I keed, I keed. Seriously though, TV Funhouse is bad. Super bad. If the jokes were funny, I could probably forgive many of the things that just left such a bad taste in my mouth. No, I don’t eat my own feces. But the puppets in the show do. The sketches are awful and I just come away from the show wondering if I’m better off watching gay porn on the Here! Network. If you loved the show or are a fan of Smigel’s work, then this disk will make you very happy. The extras are plentiful and give you plenty of information about the show and how it worked. For the rest of us, stay away. Please, thanks.
1 – Western Day
2 – Hawaiian Day
3 – Christmas Day
4 – Mexicans Day
5 – Caveman Day
6 – Safari Day
7 – Astronaut Day
8 – Chinese New Year’s Day
- DvdVerdict.com – “Just because something is low-brow, profane, and sophomoric doesn’t mean it can’t be brilliant satirical comedy. TV Funhouse is all of these things.”
- HomeTheaterForum.com – “If only the creatures could have had something on their minds except their sexual gratification, we might still be enjoying TV Funhouse on Comedy Central presently.”