Directed By: Ted May
Starring: Doug Dale, Jon Glaser, Jackie Hoffman, Robert Smigel, Brian Stack, Dino Stamatopoulos, Robert Goulet
All eight episodes of the one and only season of the surreal parody of Saturday morning variety shows TV Funhouse. The hysterical creation of Robert Smigel that combines wildly inappropriate cartoons, with the near pornographic antics of the Anipals, a group of the crudest animal puppets ever on TV. TV Funhouse was recently released on DVD by Comedy Central.
If you’re a fan, you already know what TV Funhouse is all about. If not you may have see some of Robert Smigel’s cartoons such as The Ambiguously Gay Duo, or Fun With Audio on Saturday Night Live, or Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Conan O’ Brien, well you won’t see any of that material, but imagine that without the restrictions of broadcast TV. That will give you an idea of what TV Funhouse is all about. The basic setup is your slightly below average Saturday morning TV show with the typical dim witted host, Doug, player by Doug Dale, and bunch of cute little animal puppets, the Anipals, that get up to funny hijinks between the cartoons and PSAs. Wel,l this time around the Anipals don’t really want anything to do with Doug, they would rather run off to Tijuana and cockfights and cat houses.
So, Doug is left with a gasping fish and a dog that’s obsessed with chasing it’s tail to help host the show. The show bounces around between the adventures of the Anipals, original cartoons, and just plain weird little shorts that parody the type of stuff you would find on Zoom, The Electric Company, or Sesame Street.
It’s easy to focus on the Anipals and their antics, which include hanging with Robert Goulet in Atlantic City, attending a cock fight in Tijuana, spending Christmas high on “Cheer” and volunteering for animal testing at a pharmaceutical company, and they are great but everything else on the show works well too. Doug Dale is great as Doug the dimwitted host who in his naivety is often as offensive as the Anipals. The shorts whether it’s the PSA parodies like Mnemonics – Your Dear, Dear Friend Parts 1,2 & 3 and Policeman or cartoons like The Black Sabbath Show or The Baby The Immigrant and the Guy on Mushrooms are some of the funniest bits. It’s all great I was a little surprised I wasn’t fast forwarding through some of it to get back to the Anipals, but it’s all worth watching. Put simply, it’s all meat and no filler. It’s a real shame this show only ran for one season.
The video quality is what you would expect for turn of the century video. It’s all in full screen and looks just fine. Many of the shorts are purposely aged to give the pieces a period feel. It’s all done very well, evoking a particular period without sacrificing viewability.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo in English only. It is well balanced with appropriate levels at all times. Really, the only knock to be made here is the lack of subtitles and surround sound, but considering the source this would be an unreasonable expectation.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging and extras are great. The DVD comes with a slipcase for the two slimline DVD cases. The only reason I can think of that this does not come in one of the regular double DVD case is that it looks like there is more material than their really is. A little bit of a deception but they make up for it with episode summaries and contents on the slimline cases. The art and copy on the slipcase is top notch. The cover has a nice rosy cheeked portrait of Doug and the Anipals and the copy not only tries to be clever and funny but oddly succeeds. There are audio commentaries for each episode and even a couple of video commentaries with a couple of the Anipals. There are some outtakes and the obligatory trailers as well.
TV Funhouse is either a love it or hate it proposition so in a way I hesitate to recommend it, but I’m going to anyway just because I love it so much. It’s not like there is a paucity of crude humor in the marketplace, but there is not much out there as funny as TV Funhouse.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Show 9/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10