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Shout Factory presents
Home Movies: Season Three (2002-03)

Melissa: Wait, Coach, a tornado's really coming?
Coach McGuirk: Yeah, that's what the radio said. There's a tornado coming. So, I'm going to stay down here with the baby, you guys go upstairs and play.

- Melissa Bardin Galsky, H. Jon Benjamin

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: November 16, 2005

Stars: Brendon Small, Janine Ditullio, H. Jon Benjamin, Melissa Bardin Galsky
Other Stars: Laura Silverman, Jonathan Katz, Paula Plum, Sam Seder, Jennifer Kirkman, Ron Lynch, Patton Oswalt, Valeria Kappa, Will LeBow, Bill Braudis, Louie C.K., Tom Kenny, Kelly Kimball, Ian Roberts
Director: Loren Bouchard

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (bleeped out sweat words, some sexuality)
Run Time: 04h:52m:46s
Release Date: November 15, 2005
UPC: 826663669091
Genre: television


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

DVD Review

Cult TV shows are a strange phenomenon. If you're a part of the show's following, then there's no sensation quite like popping in a DVD to gaze at your favorite episodes. Conversely, if you're on the outside looking in, then the program usually plays like a form of torture. There's little reason to wonder why Home Movies got the axe from Adult Swim after only four seasons, because it is the zenith of cult television. Awkward pacing, peculiar characters, and animation only a mother could love make the show an acquired taste even the most devoted connoisseur of avant-garde television will struggle to appreciate.

Yet, there's an indelible charm to the show and my appreciation of it only increases with every viewing. While the first two seasons created a marvelous ambience for this offbeat cast of characters, co-creators Brendon Small and Loren Bouchard did not truly strike gold until season three. Debuting with Shore Leave, the junior season takes its youthful trio of filmmakers and separates them over the course of a weekend. Struggling to complete their pirate epic, Brendon and Melissa are thrust into alternate activities by their parents with disastrous consequences. Melissa's father, Eric, is concerned that she lacks the proper feminine influence and enrolls her in the Fairy Princess group, while Brendon's mom, Paula, agrees to send her son over to Fenton Mulley's house on a sleepover. Anybody who suspects that little girl organizations are merely excuses to shyster people out of their money, or has a memory of a sleepover gone bad, should be able to appreciate the children's predicaments. Yet that's about the only thing to this show that's universal.

Home Movies takes simple themes, such as children leaving home for the first time or joining a new youth group, and twists them. This is a show about children, yet it's not a children's show. Filled with parodies of The Blair Witch Project, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and countless other films, this is a show intended for twentysomethings equipped with the perfect blend of ennui and movie knowledge. Bad Influences explores disastrous relationships when Brendon and best friend Jason discover that they are fat-enablers. Perhaps there's something wrong about a program that uses child obesity for comedic gain, but when you're a cult member, normal moral standards get thrown out the window. The episode contains hilarious jabs of method acting (you'll never look at James Dean in Giant the same way again) as the boys pack on the pounds, severely limiting their acting abilities. As a fan, I truly feel empathy for both lads when they are forced to split up and great joy when they reunite. Much of this season chronicles the relationships between the children, such as when they form a rock band in Guitarmageddon. The trio creates perhaps the worse piece of music in history, causing Paula and their soccer coach, John McGuirk, to threaten action. The writing (taken in a loose sense, since much of the voice acting is improvised) has tremendous fun with childhood's fascination with heavy metal music, but also makes room for an endearing story about Dwayne. Aided by schoolmate Brendon, Dwayne must overcome his father's objections to music and compete in a guitar contest. The episode doesn't end according to the usual formula, but it feels fitting, in line with the series' sensibilities.

The show's tone is eccentric, but its storylines are painfully normal, as when Coach McGuirk coaxes Brendon's teacher, Mr. Lynch, into a double date, also in Bad Influences. The two men despise each other and McGuirk's social ineptness creates one of the most laugh-out loud moments of the season as he drunkenly reads a poem to his date, school nurse Jennifer. Another great outing finds McGuirk babysitting the kids during a tornado in Storm Warning. Completely unable to appreciate the situation's urgency, McGuirk actually tells the children to separate as a safety precaution. In the real world, his behavior would merit criminal charges, but in this show it earns every laugh in spades. I suspect that most TV viewers will find McGuirk to be unbearable, but fans indulge in his many vices and his adult supervision creates my favorite moments. When he advices Brendon on how to behave on a prison visit in Time to Pay the Price, McGuirk's matter-of-fact description of prison movie clichés as absolute truths left me keeling over with laughter.

However, the adults are secondary to this season (and, honestly, Coach McGuirk acts more childish than any of the kids do). The most noteworthy episode is Renaissance, where the children are working at a school renaissance festival that comes under attack from the Sci-Fi convention next door. It's the age-old battle between dorks and nerds, complete with an inspired stage play about King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Guinevere... oh my! Here the animation becomes far more epic than in any previous episode, but never abandons the show's humble origins. The strange character designs, complete with the women lacking noses and almost everybody wearing a jumpsuit, return once again to continue the minimalist animation. There are a few more tricks put to use than before, such as a slick split-screen technique for phone calls and larger crowd shots, but the animation still is a far cry from The Simpsons scope. Purists might object to the increase in pans and tracking shots, but they occur infrequently enough to not compromise the artistic style established back in the SquiggleVision days (after all, the animators make a casino boat seem plain in Stowaway).

Home Movies: Season Three isn't likely to win the series any new converts, but it certainly improves upon the original seasons. Like other great cult TV shows, these 13 episodes provide an endless fountain of good times for their followers; but leave the unfaithful cold.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The image transfer doesn't call attention to itself, capturing the animation's qualities (or, depending on your point-of-view, lack thereof) accurately. There are a few instances of edge-enhancement, but nothing distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix is fairly tame, even when played in ProLogic. The dialogue is audible and clean, which is the most important thing here, but it would be nice to have a more dynamic mix. I didn't notice any sound separation or directionality and the rear-channels barely get any exercise.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Home Movies: Seasons 1-3, Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series, Undeclared: The Complete Series, Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack
1 Featurette(s)
7 Feature/Episode commentaries by Loren Bouchard, Brendon Small
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Decide Your Doom Game: Revenge of the Dorks—an interactive game inspired by the Renaissance episode.
  2. Animatics—the first pass at the animation for select episodes.
  3. WFMU Radio Interview with Jon Benjamin and Loren Bouchard (April 13, 2004)—a lengthy interview from a local New York radio station.
Extras Review: The special features on this set are in keeping with the original DVD releases, but not as vast. The packaging consists of a slimpak for all three discs, contained in a cardboard slipcase. Closed-captions can be accessed through your TV, but no subtitles are provided on the DVD itself. Spread across the three discs are commentaries by co-creators Loren Bouchard and Brendon Small on Shore Leave, Bad Influences, Renaissance, Guitarmageddon, Storm Warning, Time to Pay the Price, and Coffins and Cradles. The two men take the opportunity to answer fan mail, play the guitar, and recall some anecdotes about writing. However, they don't really offer much information and their articulation is poor, resulting in some indecipherable comments. In addition to the commentaries, select episodes have animatics. Shore Leave, Guitarmageddon, and Coffee and Cradles each feature the original, unfinished animatic with an alternate audio track of the actor's original reading.

On Disc 1, things begin with trailers for Home Movies: Seasons 1-3, Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series, Undeclared: The Complete Series, and Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack. Following that is an interactive game, Decide Your Doom Game: Revenge of the Dorks. Building upon the Renaissance episode, you are given various options on how to launch a counter-attack on the Sci-Fi convention. This isn't a video game, but merely a sequence of various questions on what you should do.

The second disc starts off with A Featurette for People Who Don't Necessarily Like Home Movies by Jon Benjamin (07m:52s). Instead of the usual featurette about the show's production, this consists of people running, comedian David Cross shooting a rifle, and a man eating lunch. There's also a funny making-of component to this featurette, in which everybody pretends to be taking their work very seriously. Disc 3 follows this offbeat brand of extras with Some Home Movies Fans—A Music Video (01m:14s) that amounts to little more than a few shots of fans at a convention set to a guitar lick. Things wrap up with WFMU Radio Interview with Jon Benjamin and Loren Bouchard (April 13, 2004) (01h:11m:42s). This presentation of their audio interview on a local New York talk show plays over a black screen, with only a few still photographs popping up on occasion. I can't tell whether the host is in on Benjamin's jokes, but the interview seems to be endless and aimless—kind of like the extras as a whole.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Home Movies: Season Three is another success from Shout! Factory. The extras are in keeping with the show's sense of humor and the presentation is faithful to the original broadcasts.

 


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