Chappelle's Show: Season One review by Mike Long

When The Chris Rock Show left television in 2000, it left a big gap in the popular culture. (Note to HBO: Please release full seasons of the show on DVD.) The gap was not only in African-American programming, but in "in your face" political/social satire as well. Comedy Central saw fit to fill that gap by bringing Chappelle's Show to its lineup. Comedian Dave Chappelle may not be as talented as Chris Rock, but he's certainly entertaining, and Chappelle's Show proves to be a winner. The first season of the series has just hit DVD.

Chappelle's Show is a sketch-comedy show, similar in nature to In Living Color. (Don't call it a "skit" show. Dave Chappelle reveals in the audio commentary that he hates the word "skit".) The show deftly mixes satires of society, popular culture, everyday life, with many segments having a decidedly political slant. Dave Chappelle has taken the bizarre view of life that he presents in his stand-up act and transplanted it into this show, and no one is safe. Chappelle's Show offers satires of hit movies, such as The Matrix, Pretty Woman, and Antwone Fisher. Dave also targets hidden-camera reality shows and The Real World, and in one of the most shocking sketches, Trading Spaces. Along with his attacks on pop-culture, Dave also offers sketches which address racism, relationships, and drugs, all with a sly, humorous twist.

Dave Chappelle and series co-creator/co-writer Neal Brennan (who has a cameo in the "PopCopy" sketch) have created a show which combines comedy with a healthy does of shock value. Much like The Chris Rock Show and, to an extent In Living Color, Chappelle's Show doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the issues that it lampoons, especially racial issues. In fact, on the show and during the audio commentary, Dave mentions that his Black friends have been taken aback by some of the material on the show. And, to be honest, many viewers will find the show offensive, not for the crude humor, but for the statements that the show makes about our culture and race. The most important thing to remember is that Chappelle's Show is an equal opportunity offender. The show makes fun of Whites in "The Mad Real World" and "Trading Spouses", but those sketches also gently rib the black community as well. There is no gentle ribbing going on in the "Headphones" or "Reparations" sketches. The most important thing to keep in mind about Chappelle's Show is that it's funny. The show does a great job of balancing the humor with its own agendas, and I found myself laughing out loud at the show quite often. Like any show of this nature, Chappelle's Show had some misses, such as "The Real Mad World" and "Make a Wish", but those are a rarity here. Chappelle's Show isn't as subtle or clever as The Chris Rock Show, but if Season One is any indication, Chappelle is off to a great start.

Chappelle's Show: Season One spoofs its way onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. This 2-DVD set includes all 12 episodes from the show's first season. The episodes are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. As Chappelle's Show contains many different mediums, the video quality varies throughout. For the most part, the image is sharp and clear, showing only minor amounts of video noise at times. So of the sketches, such as the commercial for "O'Dweeds" are crystal clear, while some of the moments in "Crazy Camera" show a great amount of distortion. The colors are good and the image is typically stable. The shows feature Dolby Digital Stereo audio tracks. These tracks provide clear dialogue and show no evidence of hissing. The stereo effects are weak for the most part, except during the musical performances. My only complaint about the DVD itself is the lack of a definitive track listing. Each show contains up to 6 sketches, but the DVD menu only allows to user to select individual episodes. The DVD case only lists 1 to 2 higlights from each episode, so that doesn't help. Also, the chapter stops on the shows are timed more towards commercial breaks than jumping to the next sketch.

This DVD set contains several extras. The most important special feature of this DVD is that it features the uncensored versions of the episodes from Season One. Thus all of the profanity and nudity is intact. And while the "bleeps" are obvious on the show, hearing the uncensored version made me think that Chappelle's Show had originally been made for HBO and then moved to Comedy Central. While that is something new, there have also been things removed from the shows. Several of the live musical performances were removed, presumably for rights reasons. But, appearances by Mos Def, Blackstar, and De La Soul did survive. Dave Chapelle and Neal Brennan provide audio commentaries for five episodes. (Episodes 1, 6, 9, 10, & 12.) This pair has worked together for years and they make for great speaking partners. They point out which sketches are their favorites and report how others reacted to them. They talk about the actors involved and reveal which of Dave's lines were improvised. The DVD also contains 30-minutes of bloopers and deleted scenes, with optional commentary from Chappelle and Brennan (which are censored to remove a certain corporate name). The bloopers are OK, but the deleted scenes from "PopCopy" are very funny. Finally we have 12-minutes of unaired footage from "Ask a Black Guy". Unfortunately, this footage is not funny.

9 out of 10 Jackasses

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