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Comedy Central Home Video presents
“I defy anyone who is not high, to enjoy the music of The Grateful Dead.”
DVD ReviewDo we really need any more meanness in our news coverage these days? Don’t jump at the obvious answer of “no” until you’ve seen Comedy Central’s series, Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil. This is meanness for comedy’s sake, and, unless it crosses too many lines, doing something for laughs is deserving of at least a limited audience. With an interesting premise and just as original execution, this Black-hosted show delivers plenty of those laughs, and then some. Comedy Central DVD has compiled all eight of the first season’s episodes in the 2-disc set, Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil (Uncensored).
The basic premise gathers a pair of extremely funny comedians and has them present their case about a given topic. Each episode features these comedians pitting one controversial subject against another, while Black serves as the judge presiding over his hellish “court.” The first “case” sets Weed vs. Beer, with Andrew Daly and Paul F. Tompkins arguing the pros and cons of each. We also call to order the case of Oprah vs. The Catholic Church, with Tompkins and Greg Giraldo tackling what is easily the oddest pairing of topics in this set. This is an argument that definitely should not be spoiled by yours truly, and needs to be seen to be believed… and laughed at.
Ratatouille, himself, Patton Oswalt, is the best of the show’s “lawyers,” giving his and possibly the show’s best arguments in YouTube vs. Porn. These topics are rarely compared (at least by people I know), but Oswalt and his opponent Greg Giraldo present such compelling, hilarious arguments that you would think they were fought about during the recent Presidential debates. Oswalt shines again in Las Vegas vs. The Human Body, during which he takes Daly to task and leaves everyone rolling in the aisles. This is the best, most bizarre show in the set, and features one of the most insane discussions you’ll ever see.
We get even more Patton in Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney, where he squares off against Giraldo again, and in American Idol vs. High School. In the latter episode, Oswalt takes on Kathleen Madigan, who actually out duels him, at least for a bit. Madigan is back in Kim Jong-Il vs. Tila Tequila, going up against Giraldo in a battle of wits with an Asian flavor. Topping off all of the ridiculousness is Donald Trump vs. Viagra. Perhaps the most insightful of dueling arguments, this episode finds Giraldo and Kindler putting two and two together and getting an aroused Trumpster.
It’s easy to argue that Black is an unnecessary part of the show’s equation, but it’s his patented meanness and insane actions that set the tone for each episode. Black also ensures that the proceedings move along quickly, and that everything is fit into the show’s far-too-short 20-minute running time. This always-enraged comedian continues to excel on The Daily Show and during stand-up performances, but it’s truly great to see him finally have the solo project that he deserves.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: Each show is presented in its original full frame format, and the overall image quality is very similar to the TV broadcasts. Colors are generally strong and the images are always sharp and detailed, with very little softness.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also solid, sounding almost exactly as itdid on Comedy Central. The show doesn’t call for dynamic audio, so each track’s focus on dialogue clarity is never an issue.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 48 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Reno 911!: The Complete Fifth Season (Uncensored), South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season (Uncensored), Kenny Vs. Spenny: Volume One (Uncensored)
Packaging: Keep Case
Meet Judge Black is a 90-second clip finding Black talk about how he’s not really a judge; Meet the Lawyers is nearly three minutes profiling Oswalt, Daly, and the others in the show; and Politibits is a minute of Black talking about politicians and their penchant for lying.
There are also four Comedy Central Quickies, clips from Reno 911!, South Park, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsAt a time where politics are at the forefront of nearly everyone’s daily discussions, what we really need is a show that not only mocks the court system, but does so with completely off-the-wall topics. What better way to engage such discussions than with comedian Lewis Black as presiding judge? The show’s first DVD collection, Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil (Uncensored) is a great excuse to jump on the bandwagon.
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