Paramount Home Video presents
The Best of The Colbert Report (2007)
"Stephen Colbert is America's last hero."- Morley Safer
Stars: Stephen Colbert
Other Stars: Barney Frank, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Penn, Barry Manilow, George Lucas
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 03h:00m:23s
Release Date: 2007-11-06
DVD ReviewMaybe the greatest C-SPAN moment of all time was when someone from deep inside the Beltway unwisely decided to ask Stephen Colbert to host the White House Correspondents Dinner, no doubt expecting him to be of the doofy, Capitol Steps/Mark Russell school of toothless satire. (Rich Little hosted the next year. Who knew Rich Little was even still alive?) What resulted was an extraordinary piece of cutting comedy, in a room where almost nobody was in on the joke—Colbert's on-air persona, developed on The Daily Show and honed on his eponymous broadcast, is a vicious takedown of the middle-school style groupthink of Washington journalists, in which you've got to preserve access at all costs, and suck up to power to remain one of the kool kids. Everything is a horserace; the people are idiots; we go to tony cocktail parties in Georgetown, and we know better. One of the great democratizing aspects of the Internet is giving voice to somebody else in the public debate—what a sad state of public discourse, and how far we've fallen since Woodward and Bernstein, now when our reporters' highest aspiration is to throw it back to Larry in L.A. with tonight's guest, Mark Geragos.
Political satire, of course, has an extremely short shelf life—it is, as George S. Kaufman famously stated, what closes on Saturday night—and even though Colbert's show has been on for only two years, some of the stuff on this DVD already feels Paleolithic. (I can get you a really great deal on some Harriet Miers jokes, for instance.) And much as I am amused by Colbert's schtick, you had to wonder if he could sustain it on a high level for a couple of hours each week—no doubt Bill O'Reilly and his ilk are a bunch of self-important, dopey, frequently hypocritical windbags, but the danger inherent in Colbert's show had to have been that this would be a one-trick pony. I underestimated two things, clearly: the continuing comic inventiveness of Colbert and his staff, and the seemingly inelastic amounts of stupidity offered up as news by the Very Serious People on places like CNN and Fox.
This DVD, then, collects 20 of Colbert's best bits, and runs just over three hours—and almost all of it is deeply hilarious. Funnily enough, those who you'd expect to be the best interviewees turn out to be some of the worst sports—Rep. Barney Frank and Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressional delegate from the District of Columbia, turn out to be among the most humorless. Most Republicans and conservatives seem to flee Colbert in horror, so you've got to give some sort of respect to O'Reilly, for appearing on the show—Colbert's worshipful persona refers to the Fox host as Papa Bear, though it's clear in their exchanges that old Bill isn't the brightest light on the Christmas tree, and either misses or deliberately ignores some of Colbert's allusions to the well-publicized sexual harassment charges brought against O'Reilly.
Providing plenty of fuel, too, is that Colbert loves to revel in his geekiness, and in taking advantage of the good will of some of his most famous fans—the show sponsored a Green Screen Challenge, for instance, in which Colbert provided the raw footage of himself as a Jedi warrior; finishing second was a George L., from Marin County, who gamely appears on the show for a light saber battle royal with the host. And as with any great comedian, Colbert is fearless and relentless in pursuit of the funny—he can also be gentler than you might anticipate with some potential targets, and one of my favorite bits here is when the guest is Barry Manilow. Manilow beat out Colbert for an Emmy (raising the question about the none-of-the-above nature of the category in which they were both nominated); after some bitching about the injustice done to him, Colbert joins in on a smashing duet of I Write the Songs. How great is that?
Of course the darkest hour came in November 2006, when the Democrats won majorities in both houses of Congress—Colbert's mourning is a great comic opportunity, smashingly followed through on. If you're part of Colbert Nation, you're likely to have seen many of these before, at least on YouTube if not Comedy Central—still, there's plenty of truthiness to go around.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Standard stuff, just sort of dumped over from the nightly broadcasts.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: Nothing remarkable here, either, though all sufficiently audible.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Christmastime in South Park, The Sarah Silverman Program: Season One, Demetri Martin. Person.
Extras Review: Only trailers for three other Comedy Central DVD releases.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsIf you don't like this DVD, it's because you hate America.
Jon Danziger 2007-11-05