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Comedy Central Home Video presents
John Oliver: Terrifying Times (2008)

“Please show appreciation in whatever manner you feel appropriate, for John Oliver.”
- John Oliver

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: August 18, 2008

Stars: John Oliver
Other Stars: Andy Zaltzman
Director: Troy Miller

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult language)
Run Time: 00h:56m:36s
Release Date: August 19, 2008
UPC: 097368925045
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AA-B+ B-

DVD Review

Saturday Night Live used to be a major launching pad for comedians who were looking to make a major jump to big screen Hollywood fame. Now, while there are still a few SNL success stories, the new launching pad in the last few years has been The Daily Show. This Jon Stewart-hosted program is responsible for the mainstream success stories that are Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, both of whom served as correspondents on that show. John Oliver is another one of these correspondents that does a funny job each and every time he’s given the opportunity, and he’s definitely got the potential to be the next one to see his career take off. Look no further than Comedy Central’s new DVD release of John Oliver: Terrifying Times for proof that this comedian is bound for bigger and better things very soon.

The hilarity starts as soon as we see the disc’s main menu, which is basically Oliver not only scolding us if we are one of those who have stolen this DVD, but is also about 10 minutes of him rambling hilariously about anything and everything you can think of. After enjoying this early fun, it’s time to move on to the main program, a nearly hour-long stand-up performance that took place at New York City’s Symphony Space. This being Oliver’s first stateside stand-up special, it wouldn’t be far fetched to expect at least a bit of mediocrity from the comedian. Instead we get an hour of non-stop, thought-provoking laughs around subjects that teach us a hell of a lot more about current events and our modern society than we can ever expect from the mainstream news media.

A brilliant example of Oliver’s wit is his hilarious question that he poses to the audience: “Kenya has three apples, America wants those apples, how many apples does Kenya have?” Of course we all know theanswer to this almost rhetorical question, but it’s in Oliver’s deadpan delivery that his humor lies. While the major focus is on world affairs and economics, he’s not above stories of embarrassing childhood moments that just might involve his private parts coming out of his shorts during a track meet when he was 11 years old.

His musings about Americans’ ability to spend money on the most ridiculous things imaginable is another highlight, especially when he mentions the inflatable barbeque. This subject is taken to another level, however, when John goes on to call the Oreo Pizza the most patriotic thing we have. He walks quite a fine line at times between poignant fun-poking and uptight British snobbery, but unless you’re completely closed-minded, you’ll realize just how true most of what he’s saying is and find the pure humor in all of it.

Then, it’s on to a great discussion about the Fox News Channel. We’ve heard that ridiculous channel being ripped on countless other times, but Oliver hits the nail on the head here, even citing “Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Lazy Journalism.” He doesn’t simply pick on Fox News though, moving on to muse about how sad news coverage is as a whole, and culminating in a discussion on how the only thing that makes him cry anymore are slow-motion montages of sporting accomplishments set to '80s music.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is slightly better than the original broadcast quality. Images are sharp and detailed, while shadow and contrast levels are just right. The colors are limited given that the performance was shot in a single location, but the palette is nicely-rendered regardless. Fortunately, there’s nothing in the way of dirt, grain, or other print defects.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There’s a choice between a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, with the former offering a more dynamic, natural reproduction of the proceedings. The surrounds are quite active, allowing the audience’s laughter and applause envelope the listener. There’s no bass presence, but there’s also never a call for one, while Oliver’s hilarious dialogue is always clear and easy to understand.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season, Kenny Vs. Spenny: Volume One, Comedy Central’s TV Funhouse
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. John’s Appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  2. John at the UCB Theater in New York
  3. John & Andy On…
  4. Comedy Central Quickies
Extras Review: The extras include a series of clips from John Oliver’s work on The Daily Show. There are a total of four clips, and each is extremely funny. There’s also a very nice surprise in the form of Oliver’s 28-minute stand-up performance at the UCB Theater in New York, as well as nearly nine minutes of John and his sidekick Andy Zaltzman talking about a variety of funny topics.

Finishing up the extras are some Comedy Central Quickies, in the form of two-minute clips from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Reno 911!

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

If you thought that John Oliver was simply the lone British correspondent on The Daily Show, then you’re only half right. He’s also a great stand-up comic, and he shows off his talents in John Oliver: Terrifying Times. Comedy Central’s disc is a nice effort, with great audio and video and some amusing extra features.


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