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STUDIO: Paramount Home Video
RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 175 Minutes
• Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
• Includes: The Word, Better Know a District, Green Screen Challenge, Stephen Jr. -• Flight of a Patriot, "Papa Bear" Bill O’Reilly Enters the Eagle’s Nest, Cooking With Feminists, Meta-Free-Phor-All, and more
A glorious three hour high from a truth and freedom freebase.
Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA
Originally conceived as a faux-commercial utilized as a joke on its brother program The Daily Show, The Colbert Report has become something of a pop cultural phenomenon over the past year plus it has been on the air; taking its inspiration from other similarly ridiculous pundit programs such as The O’Reilly Factor (whom Colbert affectionately refers to as Papa Bear) the host tells its viewers how to think about the issues as the host proudly displays his lack of fact-checking and instead speaks about how he feels emotionally about the issues. Also, time is taken out for Stephen to self-promote, attack his guests in the nightly interview segment, and constantly keep us aware of the danger of our bear population, who we all know are nothing more than godless killing machines.
We seem to be reaching critical mass on Stephen Colbert in the realm of pop culture lately; with his (sadly, especially now with the WGA strike in full effect*) failed presidential run and his I’m America and So Can You topping the NYT best-seller list, so what better time to capitalize on his increased prominence in the mainstream media by releasing a compilation of some of the more memorable moments of his first two-hundred plus episodes of the show that started the entire phenomenon, The Colbert Report.
The Colbert Report is one of the most consistently brilliant shows currently airing on TV and perhaps the only show where the viewer can truly say anything could happen and they wouldn’t be surprised; after ending episodes with duets, lightsaber duels and most recently having Viggo Mortensen run out fully in character as Aragorn and run off camera right screaming about fighting orcs, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot that wouldn’t make sense in the context of the show at this point (boxing J.D. Salinger with Kofi Annan as the guest ring announcer feels possible, if not downright probable). And beyond the excitement that an ‘anything can and will happen!’ vibe can bring, it’s never less than amusing, and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. It utilizes a lot of Daily Show-esque crude photoshop sight gags combined with a more refined verbal humor to suit the Colbert-as-character sensibility while keeping its satirical edge (often more so than its predecessor, on account of the character these bits are being funneled through). It’s one of the most exhilarating experiences on television today.
I don’t know if enough can be said about Colbert’s performance as the host of the program: its a constant high-wire act that somehow finds a happy balance between playing the character to the hilt (a solid example of which being his silent ‘The Word’ segment on this disc or perhaps his sweeps week pill addiction during his wrist awareness campaign) with small character breaks whenever Stephen Colbert the human being finds something amusing or ridiculousness enough (perhaps better than both of those are his ‘amazed at what he’s accomplishing as he does it’ character breaks; you can genuinely see him beaming with pride as he shows the montage of his green screen challenge submissions and he’s clearly having a geekgasm when given the opportunity to wield a lightsaber and duel with George Lucas). And this is all done while still delivering powerful satire of the punditry-laden news-scape where self-promotion and fits of illogic take precedence over fact or truth any day of the week.
This isn’t a perfect compilation by any means; there’s a bit too much focus on events outside of the show that Stephen had a hand in (Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle, his war on Wikipedia, the Bridge being named after him) as opposed to actually including the most hilarious footage possible. For instance, this set could’ve done with many more Better Know A District segments and perhaps a couple more instances of The Word (and there wasn’t a single Formidable Opponent worth putting on?). Some of the simple pleasures the show has to offer are missing as well; such as the constant reuse of the same roaring bear graphic for whenever the number one threat in the country is bears or his guests already being seated as Stephen showboats and high-fives his audience are missing from this set.
However, for the most part, they get it right with their inclusions: his interview with Papa Bear Bill O’Reilly is pretty good stuff (although the importance of Bill-bo getting to be introduced and walk on instead of already having been seated is lost), ‘Cooking with Feminists’ is brilliant, the Meta-Free-Phor-All is comically inspired (much credit to Sean Penn for being game for this, by the way), and his gravitas competition with Stone Phillips is to be admired. So while its by no means a complete distillation of what makes the show great (Filliam H. Muffman!), there’s plenty here to convince someone on the fence of this show’s brilliance. However, at this point in the game, after The Colbert Report has proven itself to be one of the most unpredictable and consistently entertaining/smart (at the same time, no less) shows on television, kindly impale yourself on the fence if you’re still there. Bask in this while the strike deprives us of any new Colbert for the time being.
The cover art is appropriately Stephen-centric (not quite as much as his book or the opening credits for his show) and the “He reports. He decides.” tagline on the back cover is a pretty solid distillation of the show’s main thrust in just a handful of words. The segments look exactly as they do on television, so this set isn’t an upgrade in quality, just a nice collection for posterity’s sake. So while my head is telling me that this is simply a bare-bones compilation that skimps on the extras, if this show has taught me anything, it’s that I should think with my gut. Hence…
10,000,000 out of 10
*I, for one, was holding out hope that a furious angel of vengeance Stephen would’ve tried to run as an independent after being left off the Democratic ballot.