Warner Home Video presents
The Brak Show: Volume 2 (2003)
"I wish we weren't penguins and that our show wasn't cancelled."- Brak (Andy Merrill)
Stars: Andy Merrill
Other Stars: C. Martin Croker, George Lowe, Marsha Crenshaw, Joanna Daniel
Director: Jim Fortier, Pete Smith
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, sexual humor)
Run Time: 02h:34m:00s
Release Date: 2006-08-08
DVD ReviewHere conclude the adventures of Brak, strange cat-boy and presumptive space creature. Like the poetry of Walt Whitman or the strident but vital music of the dearly departed Sleater-Kinney, Brak either speaks to you, or he totally doesn't. (OK, actually, he doesn't so much speak as yell, and one suspects he spits while doing it, and maybe he's not quite Walt Whitman. However, I digress...)
Adult Swim shows like Sealab 2021 certainly pitch to very particular tastes, but Brak is a niche within a niche. Though a mainstay of Cartoon Network from the Space Ghost days, Brak's solo show didn't make the relative pop culture splash of an Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Still, he has his admirers, and I'm right there, I have to admit. In spite of his best pal's constant plotting to take over the world, his sometimes-British mom's occasional murderous rampages, and his dad's gutless apathy, Brak himself is actually sort of...sweet. Maybe I'm analyzing too much here, but when Brak bursts into a musical number about his feet, or bemoans the loss of his beloved stuffed lobster, he's like an island of oblivious joy in a world gone mad. Nothing phases him, and nothing's going to stop him from winning that rap contest or getting the prize out of his favorite box of cereal. Even when the jokes gets bloody or dark (and they do, frequently), Brak's friendliness wins the day. In the concluding episode here, Cardburkey, Brak is granted his fondest wish by a Greek god when he is the only one who offers to share his dinner with a stooped old man. The meal is a cardboard turkey from a cardboard oven in Brak's cardboard bachelor pad, but the gesture is appreciated nonetheless.
While the episodes contained in the first volume hold together a little better for me, there's definitely fun to be had in this one. Braklet, Prince of Spaceland has the gang offering up their own homage to the Bard, Splat involves a murderous cover-up when mother and dad run down Zorak on a dark night. Sexy New Brak Show Go is a dead-on sendup of some of the conventions of anime and Japanese television, with an unbilled cameo from Mr. George Takei himself, in what passes for star power among guest voices. The plots, though, are beside the point. If you're at all familiar with Adult Swim's comedies (or Family Guy for that matter) then you'll be well aware that the plots are just a thin reed on which to hang the gags. And at 10 to 15 minutes each, that works just fine.
Despite being a solid collection of episodes even sans special features, there's a major omission here, and it's almost a deal-breaker: New Year's Party at Brak's House, the special that served as a series wrap-up is nowhere to be found. That episode made some cute nods to the characters' early origins and featured guest stars from all over the Adult Swim lineup. It was one of the first things I looked for when I popped open this collection, so I can't imagine I'll be the only one disappointed that it's missing.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Bearing in mind that the source material here is a low-budget, late-night animated short, Brak looks pretty great. Colors are bright, contrast is good, and everything is sharp without being overdone.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: There's not a lot of excitement here, but the 2.0 track serves its purpose. Not much happening in the surround, but sound from the front is clear and distinct.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, French
Packaging: generic plastic two-disc keepc
Extras Review: Zilch. Nada. Nothing. One suspects that sales on Volume One were solid enough to have brought about this second volume, but lackluster enough to inspire minimal effort on this one.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsCompared to the embarassment of special-features riches on the first volume, this set is a bit of a letdown, made all the more so by the missing wrap-up special. The curious uninitiated would definitely be advised to start at Volume One. What's here looks great, though, so if you're a Brak fan you'll want to pick this up to complete your collection.
Ross Johnson 2006-08-16