TITLE: ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE - THE COMPLETE SERIES
DVD Release Date: March 24, 2009 (CBS DVD)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 19
Running Time: 6 hours 57 minutes
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
* “Commentary by Andy Richter and Victor Fresco on selected episodes”
* “How Andy Richter Controlled the Universe”
* “What if Andy Richter Controlled the Universe”
The rules of comedy are about to be broken in Andy Richter Controls the Universe, one of the funniest one year wonders in TV history. A bored writer of instruction manuals, Andy spends his office hours daydreaming about what his life could, should, and ought to be. Starring in his outlandish fantasies are his unlucky-in-love boss Jessica (Paget Brewster), best buddy Keith (James Patrick Stuart), quirky pal Byron (Jonathan Slavin), and Andy’s secret object of desire, Wendy the receptionist (Irene Malloy). Featuring the Emmy-nominated series 14 episodes PLUS 5 that were never shown on network TV, this is cutting-edge lunacy at its irreverent best, a mirth-quaking 10 on the Richter scale!
Good grief that was a terrible pun. And yes, it was intended.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
I’ll be honest; the humor in the show can occasionally strike people the wrong way. Ratings data shows that viewers simply weren’t interested in the style of the show. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because the masses fear something that’s different. The first 14 episodes of the show aired on Fox in 2002 and 2003, but the show was cancelled before the final five episodes could air. These final episodes represent a must-watch for fans of the series, as for many of you they represent fresh content. Because they represent new programming, at least versus original broadcast, I won’t spoil the plots for you but needless to say they’re quite funny. The pilot is also required viewing in order to get some sense of just what’s going on. I don’t recommend leaping into this at the halfway point!
Jon Cryer, not yet signed on for Two and a Half Men, appears in the episode “Gimme a C,” alongside CHiPs star Erik Estrada. Las Vegas co-star Molly Sims appears in the episode “Holy Sheep,” Beth Littleford, an original correspondent for The Daily Show appears in the episode “The Show Might Go On.” Conan O’Brien, Andy’s once and future nighttime talk show comrade appears in the episode “Crazy in Rio” (I say once and future, as Andy Richter has signed on to essentially fill the Ed McMahon role on Conan’s new Tonight Show in June, with Andy serving as announcer and skit/comedy bit participant). Television legend Rose Marie appears in the episode “The Maid Man,” while actress Marilu Henner appears in the episode “Bully the Kid.” In the episode “Saturday Early Evening Fever,” June Lockhart plays Andy’s grandmother, whom the episode involves.
The packaging is extremely simple, but sometimes simple really is best. And aside from the most elaborate (and costly) types, it really is my favorite. The set is presented in two slimcases inside an outer box. The front cover features Andy smiling, happily, in front of his co-workers, all of whom are in front of a blue partly cloudy sky. The show logo is on top. The rear cover features the cast attempting to escape from a cubicle. Ha, nice try. The slimcase artwork returns us to the blue sky, with Andy in his Superman-esque costume on the cover of case 1, and Andy in a button-down shirt and tie, smiling, on the cover of disc 3. There’s something about the photo on disc 3, though I don’t know what, that makes his head look amazingly large. Anyway, disc art is your standard Paramount/CBS silver discs, with the show logo being a slightly debossed view of the actual disc surface, in the shape of the logo. Standard procedure, they probably have it streamlined at the pressing location. Episodes 1-6 are on disc 1. Episodes 7-14 are on disc 2. Episodes 15-19 are on disc 3. The episode breakdown may appear rather strange at first glance, but it actually just shows the thought put into the set: Disc 1 is the first season. (Spring 2002), Disc 2 is the aired portion of the second season (2002-03), and Disc 3 is the unaired-on-Fox component of the run. Clever!
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menu, I give props to the artwork department, is incredibly nice for a static menu. The show logo is at top-center-left (Top-left corner in 4:3 pan & scan, with the originally stated position in normal 16:9 mode), with a sheet of paper from a legal pad below it. The main options are written on the legal pad. Center-right is a shot of Andy himself. In the background is the same cloud backdrop with random office equipment in-air. The episode list keeps the same general framework, but replaces Andy’s photo with another cast member’s photo, variable by disc. Episode titles are written on the legal pad, with the episodes being selectable via the bullet points next to the titles.
Video and Audio Quality:
The program is from the HD era, and is presented here in a fairly nice 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The show has been preserved extremely well for the last 6 years, as the colors match extremely well, and there are no noticeable defects or glitches. The Stereo track is a workhorse, and while it won’t win any awards for technical achievement does the job with great adequacy. Play All functionality is available from the main menu, and chapter stops occur at the end of each act, dividing the episode into opening, main act 1, main act 2, and closing titles.
Grief Counselor: 22:12
Little Andy in Charge: 22:07
Second Episode. 22:07
Gimme A C: 21:56
We’re All the Same, Only Different: 21:36
Holy Sheep: 21:56
Relationship Ripcord: 21:56
The Show Might Go On: 21:58
Crazy in Rio: 21:56
The Maid Man: 21:56
Bully the Kid: 21:32
Duh Dog: 21:43
Final Fantasy: 21:56
Saturday Early Evening Fever: 21:51
Charity Begins in D Block: 21:56
There may be slight music related edits here and there, but there’s nothing *I* noticed and this is the most complete release you’re going to get.
It’s refreshing to see a DVD set out of CBS with special features!
There are two commentary tracks here, both on disc 1, on the episodes Pilot and Little Andy in Charge. Both commentaries are by Andy Richter and Victor Fresco. The commentary runs the gamut from talking about production to explaining the characters to poking fun at an actor’s toes...these are extremely interesting tracks to listen to. Apparently there are handsome homeless people in Santa Monica, according to Andy. Approx running time is 45 minutes combined.
There are also two featurettes, which can be found on disc 3:
“How Andy Richter Controlled the Universe” (25:06): Features new interviews with the cast and crew talking about the development and production of the show.
“What If Andy Richter Controlled the Universe?” (4:25): More original interviews, this time with Andy being asked what would happen if he controlled the universe.
It’s great to finally have the complete run of this show. It’s very funny and appeals to my style of humor to a great degree. If you’re unsure of it relative to your own tastes, I recommend a rental first -- at which point you can decide for yourself. But, I really believe that if you try it with an open mind, you’ll really like it. Highly recommended.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 03/19/09
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