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Action - The Complete Series


TITLE: ACTION - THE COMPLETE SERIES


Info:

DVD Release Date: February 21, 2006 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Color/1999
MSRP: $24.98
Number of discs: 2
Number of episodes: 13
Running Time: Approx 299 Minutes
Total Runtime of Special Features: 93 Minutes
Languages: English
Closed Captioned
Special Features: Episode Filmmakers’ Commentaries; Making of Featurette; Interactive “Hollywood Insider” Dictionary.

Portions of “Action” may be inappropriate for younger viewers. This program is recommended for mature audiences.


Introduction:

Way too edgy for network TV, this funny, uncensored naming-names series peels off the glitter of Hollywood moviemaking and exposed the duplicitous but totally addictive, behind-the-scenes truth. Campy, uncensored, and very controversial, this “too-close-to-reality” show features several guest stars over its short run.

Superstar producer Peter Dragon (Jay Mohr, host of TV’s “Last Comic Standing”) builds his stellar career on the three pillars of show business:­ prostitution, nepotism, and dishonesty. Adding to that an ego as big as a Beverly Hills mansion, the aptly named Dragon and his cohorts manage to be politically incorrect, backstabbing, phony, petty, pissy, and most of all ­ ingeniously funny! Also in the show are legendary comedian Buddy Hackett as Uncle Lonnie, Jarrad Paul as Adam Rafkin, Illeana Douglas as Wendy Ward, and Jack Plotnick.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Let’s do the guest star list first - it’s easier. Obviously, any TV series based on the entertainment industry is going to have stars FROM the entertainment industry involved. The show seems to jab at The Matrix often, and given the spirit of the show, it’s not surprising to see Keanu Reeves in episode 1 (Pilot). In episode 2, Re-Enter the Dragon, Salma Hayek portrays herself. In episode 4, Sandra Bullock guests. In episode 5, David Hasselhoff (Germans love him) guests. In episode 6, Twelfth Step to Hell, legendary pro-skater Tony Hawk as well as co-star of Party of Five Scott Wolf appears. In the episode “Lights, Camera, Action”, David Leisure (“Empty Nest”) appears as himself as well. I may have missed a spot here and there, but I went by the cast list given to me.

When I first watched the show, honestly, I thought it was just BAD. But as I watched more and more of more and more episodes, I started to get it, and it got good. Some of the jokes in this series are classic - ­ the joke about stars in drug rehab is a personal favorite. Pilot is a great episode, as it introduces us to this genuinely screwed up gang of people. Re-enter the Dragon is also great, as Peter wants to hire Wendy as his vice president of production ­ and needless to say her pimp isn’t that happy about it. Yes, those of you unfamiliar with the show, you read that sentence correctly. Watching Peter trying to, uh, clean up his image in Mr. Dragon Goes to Washington is classic television as well. Twelfth Step to Hell features the aforementioned celebrities/drugs joke I loved so much, as well as many more. In Lights, Camera, Action, production starts…and Peter dies from a heart attack. In the next episode, Peter is recovering from his heart attack (I know what I said), only to witness his production falling apart. Episode 12 is notable really for one thing: It was written by future SNL cast member Will Forte--still a pretty good episode. Last Ride of the Elephant Princess is the finale, in which Peter breaks his TOP rule, and has to invest his own money in Beverly Hills Gun Club. Good series.


Packaging:

Obviously, it would have been silly for Sony to use a Digipak for this release, as there are only 13 releases. That raised the question as to whether Sony would go with the old traditional black Amaray-style casing, or whether they would go with 2 slim cases inside an outer box, as has been a trend recently among other sets. Sony has ultimately decided to go with the Amaray cases. The 2nd disc holder is molded into the case itself, while disc 1 is snapped in place by two plastic open-ended hinges. This same setup was used on another Sony setup, Barney Miller, and as with Barney Miller, the disc 1 holder has a tendency to come un-snapped. I’m not the biggest fan of this type setup. Front cover has Jay Mohr, Illeana Douglas, and the late Buddy Hackett standing in front of an aerial view of Hollywood/Los Angeles, with movie premiere-style lights in the background, and the Action title at the top. In the back, the Hollywood sign and hill is on the lower half of the back cover. Jay Mohr is on the left side, while the sky has been replaced with white. Disc 1 features Jay Mohr doing the rectangular hand box gesture commonly stereotyped to producers/directors, in front of a bunch of palm trees with an orange sky. Disc 2 just has the principle cast at the bottom of the disc, with the Action logo on the top. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-8, while D2 has episodes 9-13 plus the Making Of featurette and the Hollywood Insider dictionary.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menu design initially seems fairly complex and well done, but ultimately is another simple Sony menu with a couple bits of polish. The main menu on both disc starts with an extremely short version of the Action main title, leading into the main menu. On the main menu, you see a coffee, a 1999-esque cell phone, a script with post-it note attached and handwriting, and a fake Variety-style newspaper (called “Action”).

The episode selections essentially opens up this “newspaper.” Each episode essentially assumes the space where an advertisement would normally be. As a bit of text on the paper notes, episodes with an asterisk denote episodes with commentary. The special features menu is certainly well done -­ a menu and Reservation book from Le Prix. A small visual thing for those that pay attention to such: Every celebrity (not including Leisure, who, let’s admit it it, isn’t in the same “list” as the other guests) in the series is listed as having a reservation….there is also a listing for “Mohr”, obviously referring to Jay Mohr, the show’s star. The feature titles are the reservation notes, while the Episode Selections and Main Menu options are, appropriately enough, on the menu. For menus I knocked not even 45 seconds ago as simple, these menus hide a LOT of clever sight gags…

Previews menu is actually worth noting. The option to access them is selectable from the cell phone on the main menu. When accessing them, you get a notepad regarding previews and a production meeting. On at least two separate locations on the menu are a series of three dollar signs, a sight gag representing the money made by shilling other sets on another DVD. In a related story, apparently panda rental is costly (buy the set and you’ll understand). Previews are for An Evening With Kevin Smith, Laurel Canyon, Living in Oblivion, NewsRadio Seasons 1 + 2, Spaceballs Director’s Edition!, and Stripes ­ Extended Cut.


Video and Audio Quality:

Video is impeccable, minor compression artifacts. One thing I loved was that the titles changed depending on the episode. The video on the green screen changed with the episode ­ Twelfth Step to Hell has flames around the episode. No grain, colors are great. Audio is great for a 2.0 track. No hiss, music and dialogue balance out well. There are chapter stop after episode titles, at mid-show, and before the final credits.

Episodes in 1999 are supposed to run in the 22:30 range, so…

Episode Runtimes:
Pilot: 22:36
Re-enter The Dragon: 22:35
Blood Money: 22:34
Blowhard: 22:33
Mr. Dragon Goes to Washington: 22:35
Twelfth Step to Hell: 22:35
Dragon’s Blood: 22:34
Love Sucks: 22:33
Strong Sexual Content and Adult Themes: 22:33
Lights, Camera, Action: 22:34
Dead Man Floating: 22:33
One Easy Piece: 22:33
Last Ride of the Elephant Princess: 22:35

Edits Summary: None


Special Features:

Hollywood Insider Glossary: Surprisingly well done; has a number of words. When you click definition, you get a clip from the series--surprisingly well-done. No runtime.

Getting Into the Action (Making of Featurette): DragonFire Films Logo at start. Wow. This is just an all-over-the-place look at the show. Cast and crew interviewed. Interview with Will Forte during the episode ­ Will is now a cast member on SNL. Runtime for "Getting Into the Action: 26:07

Commentary:

Love Sucks: Jim Vallely, Don Rio, Ron Zimmerman, Jared, Paul, Dave Jesser, Matt. Silverstein. 22:33. Became one of the unaired episodes, though it was intended to be episode 7.

Dead Man Floating. 22:33. Jim Vallely, Don Rio, Matt Silverstein, Ron Zimmerman, Jared Paul, Dave Jesser. “You babysit my Daughter. I need to say nothing else."

One Easy Piece: 22:33. Jim Vallely (writer). Don Rio. Ron Zimmerman. Jared Paul. Will Forte. Dave Jesser. This is a great commentary. Taped breasts + … Hell, I don’t even need to finish this equation. This episode is all over the place. “Even the actors and crew wanted to get off of this show”. SNL Fans: Will wrote this episode. It’s the little touches, folks. I know this is wildly incoherent; you’ve got to watch this to understand.


Final Comments:

Buy this set. Buy this set. Buy this set (Shotgun loading sound). What? All I said was buy this set (aims gun).

Whoops, wrong show (there’s a cookie in it for whoever gets the reference). But given the way this show referenced anything and everything, I thought it was apt. AAAAAAAAAPT! (Reference #2)

Honestly, I loved this show. Initially, I didn’t think I would, but after a little bit, it really started to become funny. Near the end, I was really starting to say “Whooooa” to myself (#3).

There is no, no, NO reason not to own this set. It’s a hilarious show that went underappreciated in its initial run ­ I didn’t even get to enjoying it until now. Highly recommended.

Buy this set. (bang)


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Naviation/Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Seth Thrasher Seal of Approval

--Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 02/09/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000CQQI8K/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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