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Mr. Show: The Complete Fourth Season

HBO Video
Show A+
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 10 (out of 10)

Nothing, not even Monty Python, managed to maintain the hilarious consistency achieved by Mr. Show, the funniest comedy sketch program in the history of American television. Buried in obscure timeslots by HBO, who clearly had no idea what to do with the combined genius of David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, it went virtually unnoticed during its initial run despite critical acclaim and a few Emmy nominations. The final and fourth season was arguably their best, featuring a merciless stab at former Beach Boy Brian Wilson (played by Odenkirk), who croons the heart-melting ballad "A Mouthful of Sores," and a search for the Dalai Lama that ends in a parody of summer camp films (too unbelievably strange to be explained). The duo are merciless in their efforts to be politically incorrect, a mission at which they wonderfully succeed. Cross has an arsenal of fake smiles that are funny every time he dons one, and nobody does comedic rage better than Odenkirk. Their recent feature film (the underrated Run, Ronnie, Run) was abandoned by New Line Cinema and sent straight to video. I hope that doesn't mean studios find them unmarketable, because we need more from these guys.

Special Features: A Mr. Show Jukebox offers complete versions of many joke tunes culled from all four seasons. A Grand Reunion clip shows the carnage that broke out at the recording of the set's audio commentaries. And the commentaries themselves are, as always, entertaining and enriched with new comic bits and insights. Cross and Odenkirk often hint at further projects together. (Cross proclaims "This is the last episode of Mr. Show ... as of right now.") Come back, boys ... come back.


Hardcore

Columbia Tri-Star
Movie D+
Special Features Impotent
DVD Geek Factor 2 (out of 10)

This George C. Scott vehicle from writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver scribe) has a reputation for being shocking, gritty and uncompromising. It is no longer any of the above--it's unintentionally funny. Scott plays a religiously devout man who must travel to seedy parts of the country looking for his missing daughter, who has disappeared into the world of pornography. In order to find her, he goes deep undercover as a porn producer, wearing all kinds of cool, hip clothes and sporting the occasional fake moustache and wig. It's especially interesting how Scott's mild-mannered man becomes a wrecking force as he kicks lowlife ass! I'm sure this stunned people back in the day, but it now stands as a funny little exploitation film with Scott in the Chuck Norris role. Peter Boyle is a non-intended scream as a private investigator who guns somebody down in the street near the film's end and doesn't get any hassle from the many cops cleaning up the aftermath. He's a private dick, so I guess he's just allowed to play judge, jury and executioner.


Dawn of the Dead: The Ultimate Edition

Anchor Bay
Movie A
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

I know what some of you are thinking: "Say, didn't this guy review a Dawn of the Dead DVD a few months ago?" And I know that others of you are thinking "Pompous ass! I have two jobs and a mortgage to pay! How pretentious of you to assume I spend any part of my day thinking about your stupid DVD column!" Regardless, I did review a Dawn of the Dead release a few months ago, but that was a single-disc version containing one cut of the movie and very little in the way of special features. Since then, the Dawn of the Dead remake scored big bucks, got director George Romero's fourth zombie film, Land of the Dead greenlit (due in theaters October 2005) and paved the way for this "ultimate edition." Sure, those of you who bought the original release will give themselves a little kick for getting suckered into the prior purchase, but a gander at this package will soothe your overspending nerves. Romero's overtly violent look at American consumerism in the '70s is still relevant today, and no matter how many times it's remade, this will remain the superior work.

Special Features: Three versions of the film and a slew of decent documentaries make up this four-disc package. Fans can indulge in the theatrical cut--which includes a Romero commentary--as well as a European version (edited by Italian director Dario Argento and containing more gore), or the director's cut (an extended version of the film). Documentaries include the new The Dead Will Walk, featuring interviews with Romero and cast, and Document of the Dead, a documentary created during the film's initial production. A modern-day tour of the mall used for the film is useless, and some home movies from former zombies are only mildly amusing. Overall, a must-have for Romero freaks. Stay tuned: An unrated cut of the 2004 Dawn remake comes out next month.

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