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Shout Factory presents
Home Movies: Season Four (2004)

Coach McGuirk: All right, put your hands in.
Brendon: Why?
Coach McGuirk: For the...team thing we do.
Brendon: Really?
Coach McGuirk: Have we never done that?
Melissa: No.
Brendon: No.
Fenton: I don't like to be touched.
Brendon: Yeah, I think most of us have, like, space issues.

- H. Jon Benjamin, Brendon Small, Melissa Bardin Galsky, Sam Seder

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: May 15, 2006

Stars: Brendon Small, Janine Ditullio, H. Jon Benjamin, Melissa Bardin Galsky
Other Stars: Ron Lynch, Sam Seder, Jonathan Katz, Emo Philips, John Flansburgh, John Linnell, Paul Kozlowski, Maria Bamford, Bill Braudis, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Andy Kindler, Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry, Laura Silverman
Director: Loren Bouchard

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some sexual references, censored expletives)
Run Time: 04h:13m:52s
Release Date: May 16, 2006
UPC: 826663100051
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- ABB- C+

DVD Review

There's a hole in The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup. After only 52 episodes, Home Movies aired its series finale on April 4, 2004. For the show's fans, the cancellation created a void that remains to this day, but the vast majority of viewers never even knew this oddball animated gem existed. Brendon Small and co-creator Loren Bouchard snagged four seasons for a show that, truthfully, never garnered any interest outside of a small, sad spectacle of dateless wonders. If I had a girlfriend, perhaps she would console me as I mourn having nothing to watch at midnight on Sunday. Nevertheless, I shall hold back my tears and persevere through these 13 final episodes, brought to DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory.

In its senior year, Home Movies is far more story-oriented than during any of its previous seasons. Beginning with Camp, the animators and writers set the stage for this final collection of stories with a bang. There's a certain air of disillusionment about the cast this time around, with aspiring filmmaker Brendon Small attending Camp Campingston Falls to learn the nit-and-gritty of show business. Accompanied by his best friends/partners, Melissa and Jason, Brendon finds the experience denigrating as the rigid, Hollywood-centric instructor derides his independent film. Outraged by the tyrannical forces of the camp, the filmmaking trio launches a scathing attack on the industry and escapes the counselors' wrath thanks to Brendon's mom, Paula. Unfortunately, the kids' lovable, drunken soccer coach, Jon McGuirk, is unable to shake off a bizarre cult of men chasing him through the surrounding woods. The horrifying result? Coach McGuirk accepts the cult's enlightened understanding of male emotions.

Not that it holds. Before long, McGuirk is back to his usual unsavory self, cursing at a referee in Curses while also explaining to Brendon that swearing will always come back to haunt you. The show's humor is esoteric in the extreme. Writers Small and Bill Braudis are taking more chances this season, pushing the expletives and sexual innuendos to a new level. The Heart Smashers features showcases a McGuirk with unbelievably ripped pecs until, well, they rip and he winds up walking around with a pair of man boobs. There's also a touching storyline about Melissa and her father Eric in Curses. Disheartened by her father beginning to date again, Melissa moves in with Brendon and the result is disastrous. Though it's not as nearly as trying as when Brendon and Jason find themselves caught up in a love triangle in Those Bitches Tried to Cheat Me. The storytelling is more sophisticated in this final season than in the previous ones. Whereas the Brendon-Jason storyline would've been the whole focus of a Season One episode, now it is being told alongside various other tantalizing comic delights. While struggling with Jason, Brendon also cheats on a test and McGuirk tries to scam his way out of traffic school.

On a technical level, Season Four is the best. While I enjoy Season Three more, the animation and storytelling are notably improved for these final thirteen outings. Mixing competing storylines together in just about every episode, the whole cast and crew further develop the universe of Home Movies. To a certain extent, the more efficient storytelling and stylized animation run contrary to the show's establishing aesthetic. It's as if everybody involved knows the days of Brendon and company shooting a simple movie and having meandering conversations with either Paula or Coach McGuirk will soon be a thing of the past. The result is a show that crams in as many musical performances as possible (including an awesome cameo by They Might Be Giants in Camp) and relishes every opportunity to have fun with the animation. Take, for example, Temporary Blindness. It features yet another rock opera from Brendon called Timmy. It's a nice homage to Tommy, but doesn't truly belong in the show.

This isn't to say, however, that the show is completely abandoning its unique comedic stylings. The free-flowing dialogue, complete with characters talking over one another and stuttering constantly, is still in full swing. Perhaps the funniest moment in the show's entire history comes when Jason and Melissa try to finance CGI shots for their latest project in The Wizard's Baker. Going door-to-door, the two panic when a pitch goes horribly wrong. The voice work is astonishingly astute in this scene, with H. Jon Benjamin during a wonderful job a Jason. He manages to convey the innocent childlike side of Jason while also giving a vivid portrait of a not-so-slick shyster. Benjamin also provides many laughs as McGuirk, particularly in Bye Bye Greasy. Brendon finds himself directing the school musical, but things go horribly wrong when McGuirk drives his car onto the stage. There's such a natural feeling to this absurd turn of events that it evokes an unnerving sense in me that an elementary school musical really could go this horribly wrong.

All of the show's themes about childhood, art, and family come to a head in Focus Grill. Acting as the finale, this episode finds Brendon, Jason, and Melissa returning to their roots. The references to Rear Window, Planet of the Apes, and Amélie that populated the season's other outings are absent here. It's a slightly nostalgic episode, with the trio struggling to film an ending to their very first work (made back in the days when they didn't have other children act as focus groups). As Brendon struggles to wrap up that long-forgotten movie, McGuirk and Paula attempt to build a grill in the backyard. There's an undercurrent throughout the whole episode that suggests everything is going to be fine, even if things aren't going your way at the moment. Acting as probably both a reflection of the show's staff at the time and a final send off, I can't think of a better way to send Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard's creation into the sunset. As I shed this tear, I cherish the 52 opportunities I've had to spend with this eclectic cast of characters.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Each episode is shown in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The quality is the same as the previous releases, presenting the simple animation accurately. There's nothing special about these transfers, but they preserve the original broadcast experience well.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix also doesn't call much attention to itself. Even when played in Pro Logic, the sound is far from dynamic and exists almost entirely in the front channels. Dialogue is always audible, which is really the most important thing here, and the sound is always crisp and clean.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series, Home Movies: Seasons 1-3, Undeclared: The Complete Series, Cops: The Animated Series, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
24 Feature/Episode commentaries by Todd Barry, Jon Benjamin, Loren Bouchard, Bill Braudis, Isaac Brack, Marty Crandall, Jack Ferraiolo, Melissa Galsky, Joe Garden, Chris Karwowski, John Krewson, Keith Law, Ron Lynch, James Mercer, Eugene Mirman, Joe Plummer, Sam Seder, Will Shepard, B
Packaging: Thinpak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Animatics—the original show animatics for select episodes.
  2. The Beginning of the Genesis of the Origin of Home Movies—co-creator Loren Bouchard guides us through the original audio recordings for the pilot episode.
  3. Home Movies Audio Outtakes—an assortment of various audio recordings that never aired on TV.
  4. Home Movies Bonus CD—a music CD featuring the various musical themes and songs performed throughout the show's four seasons.
Extras Review: The special features are a mixed bag. Some of them are quite enjoyable and others are rather tedious. Spread across the discs, there are three animatics for Camp, The Wizard's Baker, and Those Bitches Tried to Cheat Me. There's nothing especially unique about them just; they simply show the original dry run at establishing the visuals. I guess if you've seen one animatic, you've seen them all.

Additionally there are 24 commentaries, with at least one by co-creators Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard for each episode. Other commentators include the rest of the cast, crew, and even some fans (including bands like Modest Mouse and The Shins, among others). Truthfully, very little information is divulged here. Mostly these tracks consist of people talking over one another, making inside jokes, and pointlessly discussing random thoughts about the Cold War, dogs, or whatever. Occasionally H. Jon Benjamin gets off a funny joke, but otherwise these commentaries don't add much to the experience.

A more worthwhile extra is The Beginning of the Genesis of the Origin of Home Movies (22m:34s). Bouchard hosts this assembly of the original audio recordings from the pilot episode, selecting various pieces to help show how the actors found their characters and letting us hear the improvisation process used during the show's first season. The feature offers a unique look at the voice acting trade. Accompanying it is a Home Movies Audio Outtakes Jukebox. Housed on Disc 2, this extra features various audio bits that never made the broadcast airwaves. Most are courtesy of Jon Benjamin and often are quite humorous. There's no set order to how things will play, with some lines being repeated quickly and others never surfacing again.

My personal favorite special feature on this set is the Home Movies Bonus CD. Featuring 52 tracks of songs and musical themes from the show's four seasons, this is a treasure for all fans who enjoy the show's offbeat songs. It also includes some audio bits from the individual episodes, making for an even more enjoyable walk down memory name.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

There's no need to wave a final farewell to Home Movies thanks to this three-disc set from Shout! Factory. These 13 episodes will make a welcomed inclusion in any DVD collection, with some nice extras alongside fitting audio and image transfers.

 


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