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Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes (Uncensored)

Paramount Home Video
Show D-
Special Features D
DVD Geek Factor 1 (out of 10)

Things weren't going too well when Dave Chappelle decided to walk away from his mega-successful TV show a couple of years ago. This DVD is proof of that.

When Chappelle abandoned his show, Comedy Central claimed they had enough footage for three episodes. Yeah, right. In reality, they had enough for one relatively decent episode and a bunch of crap. It's clear that Chappelle's heart wasn't really in it, and his leaving was probably a good idea. He only had two seasons in him.

The money definitely messed with Chappelle's comedy. Most of these weak sketches are about Chappelle's dealing with his stardom. There are a couple of good laughs, like when Chappelle is getting his hair cut at a neighborhood barbershop, and news of his big bucks goes out over the TV. (Suddenly, the price of his haircut goes up significantly.) The best sketch involves Chappelle getting revenge on people who screwed him before he hit the big time. It ends with him throwing a dude in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs and punting a baby, the sort of shocking stuff that was the highlight of the previous two seasons.

Shame on Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings for hosting the shows in Chappelle's place, a lame career move if there ever was one. The lack of good material is sorely evident when the hosts go into the live audience for feedback on the infamous "Pixie" sketch, where Chappelle lampoons African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian stereotypes. (He actually performs part of the sketch dressed as a lawn jockey.) That the show would pull an Oprah and give the audience a chance to sound off shows how desperate the enterprise had become.

The first two seasons of this series were historically funny and significant. These lost episodes are just filler garbage, and they taint the legacy of the show. Chappelle doesn't support the exhibition of these sketches, and he wishes they'd remained unaired. It's easy to see why. The DVD is fascinating in a sad way, because it is the recorded demise of something great. But that's not reason enough for you to waste your money.

Special Features: Jesus, it gets worse. There are deleted scenes, including a bizarre Munsters spoof that wasn't good enough to be included in the final shows. These are the lowest of the low, and they prove that Chappelle and his cronies had run out of ideas. A making-of documentary shows nothing other than how Comedy Central hijacked the show and managed to make a mockery of it.

If anything, the bloopers are fun to watch, because they contain rare moments of actual Chappelle happiness. He finds his inability to deliver a line amusing, and it is actually the funniest thing on this pitiful excuse for a DVD.


Reno 911: The Complete Third Season (Uncensored)

Paramount Home Video
Show B
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6.75 (out of 10)

This show got off to a strange start in its third season, with Reno's finest sitting in jail after a dirty politician had them imprisoned. As it turns out, the man who campaigned against them was a serial killer, and he wanted the cops dead. The crew is released and then stalked by the serial killer, resulting in a showdown that is only semi-funny.

The show gets better as the season progresses, and it's always quite hilarious when it sticks close to the Cops format (shirtless criminals being tackled by law enforcement while swearing vigorously). An episode where new deputy recruits show up their superiors is pretty funny. The best episode would be when the show breaks format for the Reading Ron children's program, a strange hybrid of Blue's Clues and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

A big-screen film, starring the likes of Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Paul Reubens and Danny DeVito, is on the way for 2007.

Special Features: A bunch of outtakes (some of them quite funny), audio commentary and a DVD intro where two deputies discuss the soon-to-be-released big screen venture.


Tsotsi

Miramax
Movie A-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6.5 (out of 10)

Winner of the Best Foreign Film Academy Award, this one deserved its acclaim. A South African criminal finds an infant in a car he steals and decides to hold on to it. He keeps the child in a paper sack under his bed, demanding that a young mother down the block nurse it. Newcomer Presley Chweneyagae does stunning work as the title character, making you actually care about a dude stupid enough to keep a kid in a paper bag.

I know the above synopsis makes the film sound like some sort of horror show, but director Gavin Hood has come up with an extraordinarily touching film. The baby cast in this film is an amazing child, and the supporting players all contribute to the story. Tsotsi is one of the more unique characters to grace screens last year, and the film is definitely worth a viewing.

Special Features: Gavin Hood's short film The Shopkeeper, deleted scenes with Hood commentary and an alternate ending are all of interest.

More by Bob Grimm

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