BUY IT AT AMAZON:
CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Comedy Central
MSRP: $26.98
RATING: Not Rated    
RUNNING TIME: 220 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
•    Behind the Breaks – Behind the Scenes
•    Mencia Minutes
•    Bloopers and deleted scenes


The Pitch

If Dave Chappelle can do it why not Carlos Mencia.

The Humans

Carlos Mencia

The Nutshell

On the fourth season of his hit show, Mr. Mencia laughs at a lot of his own jokes, teaches us how to not love one another, and pushes old stereotypes of others for maximum comedy effect.



The Lowdown

An argument can be made that Mencia is doing nothing more than following down the same trail that was blazed by Dave Chappelle with his series on Comedy Central; trying to show that no matter what race or gender people are, we are all in this together. That argument would be wrong. Carlos Mencia doesn’t seem as interested in using humor to bring people together as he is in pushing stereotypes. In The Mind of Mencia, white people are uptight whiners, blacks are sassy and loud, Hispanics wear sombreros, Asians wear funny hats, and homosexuals (which seem to be his favorite group to make, ahem, hilarious observations about) are super flaming.



Everything Mencia makes a joke about is based not on real people, but on perceptions of them, and not even modern perceptions, but ones that are pretty old. In Mencia’s mind, we are not many varieties that that try and hope to live as one (sometimes with humorous results), but many that should be segregated into categories that make it easier to goof on.

Mencia claims to only be using observational humor to uncover stereotypes about minorities, but his observations must come from things like Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or gays in The Birdcage; there is no reality in which he is basing his jokes on. Also, watching the show, I rarely got the sense that Mencia was saying “these people might be different, but hey, their living their life, so good for them”. Instead he just perpetuates a stereotype for a punchline. Saying “beaner” or “Wetback” doesn’t take the stigma away from the words when you follow it up with bits about Hispanics in cartoonish Poncho Villa garb.



Oddly, when Mencia does some bits that aren’t based on race, they are somewhat humorous. A segment that he does about a time machine and how he affects the lives of people like President Bush and Kurt Cobain with it is funny and a bit edgy without being completely ignorant of the real world. Too bad there aren’t more of those types of segments in The Mind of Mencia.

I hate to sound like I am just taking cheap shots at Carlos Mencia, and in all fairness there are a few skits, like his take on gay marriage, that try to convey the idea that we should all get along, but the message in that skit doesn’t come along until the end of three minutes of dick in mouth jokes. It’s a little unfair to roast a whole group of people for three minutes, then say “Ohhh hey, just kidding, you’re allright…” when this group may have not have asked to be roasted in the first place.



The Package

Included as an extra on disc 2 of Mind of Mencia is Between the Breaks, where we get to see Mencia ham it up with the audience between skits (“UCLA…may as well be University of China.” Hilarious!). There are also a handful of Mencia Minutes, where Carlos ruminates to the camera on topics such as midgets, racist Mexicans, and Tiger Woods. Add to this some deleted scenes and bloopers and that’s the extras.




BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Nickelodeon
MSRP: $35.98
RATING: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 367 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: none



The Pitch

It’s The Odd Couple for the tween set!

The Humans

Drake Bell, Josh Peck, Nancy Sullivan, Jonathan Goldstein, Miranda Cosgrove

The Nutshell

Drake and Josh are Stepbrothers. Drake is the class hunk; a lazy, sloppy slacker who would rather play guitar and talk to girls than do his studies. Josh is a nerd with horrible hair who chastises Drake for his ways, but at the same time enlists his help in various attempts to get hip. Together they are a team that gets into and out of whacky adventures such as Josh’s first crush and Drake becoming Josh’s boss at the movie theater; always with an ending that culminates in hilarity.



The Lowdown

What makes a show like Drake & Josh work? The storylines are the same, tired, cookie cutter ideas that you have seen in countless episodes of Saved by the Bell. The humor is broad and blunt; perfect for the younger crowd, but a little harder to digest for anyone over fourteen, and it doesn’t have too much style.*



But it does have a kid named Josh Peck in it, and he’s pretty funny. Sure, the heavy one is always the funniest, but Peck goes beyond that simple axiom by giving his all (and more) to scripts that don’t really ask for anything more than adequate. You can tell by watching him work off other performers in the show that he wants to really break out and get crazy, and its only the same formulaic plots that keep him reigned in. The rest of the performers do a fine job, and Drake even gets to sing a few songs, but Peck is definitely the star of the show here. Even his hair is funny.

 

Josh and Drake: The Best of Seasons 1 & 2 is not breaking any ground in teen television, but it doesn’t have Miley Cyrus, or the Jonahs Brothers in it, so that at least makes it refreshing viewing in programming for young adults. It’s not terribly sophisticated, and the humor is fairly broad and blunt, but it’s enjoyable enough.

The Package

Josh & Drake: The Best of Seasons 1 & 2 collects fifteen of the twenty episodes that make up the first two seasons of the show. No idea why five episodes were left off, but the show is repetitive enough to not be missing much. No extras to speak of here.

*I must admit to not having seen all the episodes before coming to this conclusion. The DVD set I was sent for review did not contain the first disc, which included many early episodes that set up the characters.




BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Sony Pictures
MSRP: $29.95
RATING: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 432 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
•   Pre-Show antics with Brad Garrett
•    Bloopers



The Pitch

Can a show be good based solely on the power of Joely Fisher’s breasts? Our experts say yes!

The Humans

Brad Garrett, Joely Fisher, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Kat Foster, J.B. Smoove

The Nutshell

Is there still wedded bliss after 23 years? This is the question that ‘Til Death attempts to answer. Eddie and Joy Stark, played by Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher, are the long time bride and groom, and after two decades they are till trying to make things perfect. Eddie gets annoyed by his wife’s ticks, like singing too loudly at birthday parties, while Joy has problems with Eddie’s ways as well, such as buying sports cars in an attempt to be cool. But by the end of the day, they are still very much in love and we are all in awe of Fisher’s amazing cleavage.



But, if you need more than that there are the Starks’ neighbors, played by Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster. They are newlyweds who, by season two, are starting to see some cracks in the foundation of their marriage, but have no fear; Eddie and Joy are there to help guide them through the pitfalls of matrimony.



The Lowdown

I may be going out on a limb here, or putting the noose around my neck, but I must admit to enjoying ‘Til Death very much. The “filmed in front of a live audience”  sitcom is not something that I tune into very often, not since Three’s Company really. I never found them very funny or interesting in any way. And with shows like 30 Rock and Flight of the Conchords taking up all my comedy TV time, traditional sitcoms are not on my radar.

But ‘Til Death isn’t a very traditional comedy. Sure, it is not much more than an update on one of the first sitcoms, The Honeymooners, but it’s a solid update. Garrett and Fisher play off each other very well, and make for an excellent television couple, and although their arguments are sometimes out of the realm of reality, they are at least understandable to people who have been married for so long (I had to go to my parents on that one, they are fans of the show and it was their comment). They are also well defined characters.



Garrett’s Eddie Stark doesn’t step outside the comfort zone that the show’s creators designed for him, and humor comes from him trying to keep his idea of manhood intact while at the same time appeasing his wife. Fisher is also very game as the wife that doesn’t so much try to change her husband, but adapt to him while at the same time trying to get him to see some of his own problems without her nagging. I have never seen Garrett’s other show, Everybody Loves Raymond, and I know almost nothing about Joely Fisher other than she is related to Princess Lea and she has an amazing chest, but in ‘Til Death they are the main reasons that the show works.



What doesn’t quite work on the show is the newly married couple. Thomas and Foster, who were funny in the first season as the always cuddly, always sugary sweet neighbors of the Starks made for a good contrast to the Starks constant, but loving bickering. In season 2 they seem played out and tired. That could be due in part to the writing, which doesn’t seem as strong for these two. He’s too dopey and she’s too bitchy. They just kind of fill space till the next set piece featuring Garrett and Fisher is ready.



 But a new addition to the cast for the second season is J.B. Smoove, who plays Kenneth, a recent divorce’ who befriended Eddie when they were paired up in a “Big Brother” mentoring program. Smoove does very well in bringing a little more pep to the humor, keeping the back end of the second season from becoming stale.

The show moves along on a fairly breezy wind, with solid writing that never allows things to get more serious than the Starks reaction to their recently married neighbors watching porn, or Eddie needing to learn to swim to surprise his wife on their honeymoon, but sometimes it’s just what you need. It is a comedy about average people getting through their lives that works without sending them into loony “it’s crazy, but it just may work” scenarios. Would I buy it? No, but if I was walking through my local library looking for something that offers a few quick laughs without making me think too much, then ‘Til Death would certainly meet my needs. And those lovely Fisher breasts!



The Package

Included along with eighteen episodes of ‘Till Death is an extra titled Pre-Show Antics with Brad Garrett. Mr. Garrett has a history of saying fairly inappropriate things in public, and here he does a bit of the same, which was humorous for most of its seven minute running time. There are also bloopers which devote a whole segment to Joely’s lovely boobs!




BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Shout Factory
MSRP: $39.99
RATING: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 420 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
•    Deleted scenes
•    Commentaries on various episodes



The Pitch

Attention all 14 year old boys! The BEST show of all time is on DVD!

The Humans

Timothy Stack, Kimberly Oja, Jaime Bergman, Leila Arcieri, Roland Kickinger



The Nutshell

Buxom blond B.J. Cummings (Bergman), Sassy Jamaica St. Croix, Germanic Chip Rommel, and one-piece wearing Kimberlee Clark are members of the Shore Patrol Force 30 (the SPF 30 for those not in the know). They are the protectors of Malibu Adjacent’s best beach, but they don’t just rescue swimmers in peril; they also chase adventure wherever they can find it. If you have ever watched the show on basic cable then you may have seen them, under the leadership of top lifeguard Notch Johnson (Stack) take on the evil porn lord Vinnie Fellachio, or battle the villainous assistant to alien impregnators Captain Enteneille (the wordplay can go on and on with this show).



The Lowdown

Collected here for your viewing pleasure are 21 episodes of Son of the Beach, the brainchild of the Howard Stern Production Company. There, that should end the review right now, because if you know Stern, then you know exactly what you are going to get with this show. That is certainly not a complaint though.

In fact, Son of the Beach is definitely good for a few chuckles in every episode. It knows exactly the audience it is shooting for; males with a penchant for crude humor who also happen to enjoy looking at boobs. Operating at this level, the show manages to squeeze out laughs fairly consistently, although it does become very apparent very soon that Beach is working on a one-joke level. It just wants the viewer to have some harmless bawdy fun for a half hour; no harm no foul.



What’s fun about Son of the Beach is that it does its best to play it straight. Stack’s Notch Johnson is full of bravado and macho, and no one questions the fact that he is no David Hasselhoff. Stack holds the show together very well, and should get credit for it being more than merely watchable. He sells every joke like it’s the best one of the series, and he is game for some pretty bizarre scenes.
 



But you should also watch as the girls fantasize in every episode about what it would be like to be a cheerleader, or what it would feel like to jump out of a cake at a bachelor party, or…well, you get the idea. The main thing is that nearly every episode includes a fantasy sequence where the girls strip down and dance about for a minute or so.



The Package

There are many outtakes scattered across the three disc set. You also get some commentaries for various episodes.



Mind of Mencia: Season 4 Uncensored – 1.5 out of 10
Drake and Josh: Best of Seasons 1 & 2 – 5.5 out of 10

‘Til Death: The Complete Second Season – 7 out of 10
Son of the Beach: Volume 2 – 6.9 out of 10