All-New Interview with Dana Carvey and Robert Smigel
Saturday Night Live veteran Dana Carvey puts a wildly hilarious spin on politics and pop culture in this mind-blowing
but short-lived sketch comedy series. The Dana Carvey Show included the comedic talents of Steve Carell (The Office)
and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) before either was a household name. Robert Smigel (SNL, TV Funhouse)
was the executive producer along with Carvey - and also appeared in the cast. The creative staff
included Louis C.K., legendary writer-director Charlie Kaufman and Dino Stamatopoulos (Moral Orel)
From this extraordinary pool of talent came some of TV's funniest moments. In addition to Carvey's legendary
impressions and characters, Smigel introduced his now-famous "Ambiguously Gay Duo" on this show. Carvey
and Carell had a running bit as two pranksters, and send-ups of The Beatles were consistently spot-on.
Carvey's unmatched humor and talent attracted many surprise guests who made unexpected appearances
in the episodes.
The Dana Carvey Show may have hit the airwaves "a moment too soon." Only eight episdoes were made - and only seven of those
were broadcast before it was cancelled. Here you can see why the show has maintained an enthusiastic
following among those lucky enough to have seen it in 1996.
Show History / Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The Dana Carvey premiered on ABC on March 12, 1996. It aired following Home Improvement on Tuesday
nights at 9:30-10:00pm. The cast regulars included Dana Carvey, Steve Carell, Bill Chott, Louis C.K.,
Stephen Colbert, Elon Gold, Chris McKinney, Heather Morgan, Peggy Shay, Robert Smigel
and James Stephens III. The writing team also included many future talents, such as Charlie Kaufman, Louis C.K., Dino Stamatopoulos, Spike Feresten,
Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Bob Odenkirk and Robert Smigel. The first six episodes featured the name of the show's sponsor (usually a PepsiCo, Inc. product)
in the show's title. Dana Carvey wanted this as an homage to variety shows of the 1950's and 60's that had their sponsors' names in their titles.
Despite decent ratings and reviews at the beginning (it premiered with almost 14 million viewers), the show was
canceled after only 7 episodes aired due to sponsors pulling out and declining ratings.
Two episodes stand out over the others. They got off to a strong start with the premiere with Dana Carvey as President
Bill Clinton introducing his plan to nurture the nation. It also featured the first installments of Leftover Beatle Memories and Stupid Pranksters.
The final and unaired episode had some funny sketches, including one of Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw
anticipating the deah of former President Gerald Ford. They would later re-use this segment almost word for
word when Carvey hosted Saturday Night Live in October 1996.
Here is a listing of the 8 episodes, the sketches and the notable guest stars/cameos:
1. The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show (03/12/96) - President Bill Clinton: Mother and Father to the Nation, Show Open and Monlogue,
Leftover Beatle Memories, Stupid Pranksters at Drive Thru, Nightline Checks in with the Republican Party,
Drow-z-boy Commercial, Nighline Checks Back in with the Republican Party, Germans Who Say Nice Things, Stupid
Pranksters at a Gas Station, An Important Announcement, The Church Lad's Top Ten, Closing and Credits
2. The Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show (03/19/96) - Entertainment Headlines Examines the O.J. Prosecutors, Show
Opoen and Monlogue, Comedy Central's Under Five, Charles Grodin, Hockey Perfectionist, Entertainment Headlines
Looks at at Filmmaker Oliver Stone, The Ambiguously Gay Duo, Charles Grodin, Leftover Beatle Memories, Celebrity
Bloopers and Dark Sides Featuring Paul Hogan and Casey Kasem, Closing and Credits
3. The Mountain Dew Dana Carvey Show (03/26/96) - Phil Hartman does an impression of Larry King.
Academy Awards Sketch, Show Open and Monologue, Larry King Live Welcomes Ross Perot, The 11 O'clock News
That's Easy to Take, Mountain Dew Looks Like..., Bob Dole's Announcement of A V.P. Running Mate,
Susan Sarandon and Gregory Peck Present the Foreign Language Academy Award, Grandma the Clown,
Closing and Credits
4. The Diet Mug Root Beer Carvey Show (04/02/96) - Jan Hooks appears as Kathie Lee Gifford. David Letterman
and Paul Schaffer appear as themselves. Carol Channing also makes a brief cameo. Show Open and Monlogue, Regis & Kathie Lee, Geraldo with Kato Kaelin
and O.J. Simpson, Germans Who Say Nice Things, President Bill Clinton and Wife Hillary Roasted by Howard Stern,
Germans Who Say Nice Things, Closing and Credits
5. The Pepsi Stuff Dana Carvey Show (04/09/96) - Jay Leno Interviews Quentin Tarantino, Show Open and Monologue,
A Companion-finding Service for the Insane Commercial, Stupid Pranksters Joke at a Movie Theater / Residence,
Rich Little's All Rich Little One Man Easter Promo, Waiters Who Are Nauseated By Food, Meanwhile At Fabio's House,
Nixons, Stupid Pranksters Call on a Prostitute, A BBC Report on the Seperatation of England's Royal Couple,
Closing and Credits
6. The Szechuan Dynasty Dana Carvey Show (04/23/96) - Selma Blair reportedly appears in an uncredited
non-speaking role in the Singles parody. World News Tonight: Bob Dole and Clinton Physically Prepare,
Show Open and Monologue, Technofuture, Entertainment Headlines on MTV and the Unabomber, Discovery Channel
After Dark, Skinheads from Maine, Entertainment Headlines Looks at Madonny, Skinheads from Maine, Grandma
the Clown, The Food Network After Dark, Peter Jennings on the FBI, Pied Piper and Freeman's Siege at a
Montana Ranch, Jenny Promo, C-Span After Dark, Closing and Credits
7. The Dana Carvey Show (04/30/96) - Regis Philbin appears as himself in the audience. Newt Gingrich: Washington
Pay Its Own Way, Show Open and Monologue, The Kennedy Memorabilia Auction, The Cutting Room Floor Remembers
If I Only Had An Ass, Peter Jennings Gives Anonymous Interviews, Famous First Ladies As Dogs, The Chicago
Bulls Quest for the NBA Championship, Streyhound Bus PSA, World Leaders and Their Baths: Jordan's King Hussein,
Closing and Credits
8. The Dana Carvey Show (Unaired) - Charles Grodin, Show Open and Monlogue, Bob Dole Undercover, Germans
Who Say Nice Things That Come Out Wrong, Stupid Pranksters Head for the Bowling Alley, David Schwimmer PSA,
Tom Brokaw Anticipates the Death of Gerald Ford, Mark Twain Tonight Starring Stomp, Overly Anxious Dinner
Conversation, Stupid Pranksters Go to a Photo Booth, This Week with David Brinkley, Stupid Pranksters
Win the Lottery, Closing and Credits
The 2-disc contains all 8 episodes (including 1 which ABC never aired) of the short-lived comedy
series. The packaging is your basic Amaray movie-style black case. Dana Carvey is sitting on a chair on the front cover.
There are photos of Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert with a puppy, Dana Carvey as The Church Lady, The Ambiguously Gay Duo
and Dana Carvey lying across a chair on the back cover. There is a synopsis of the show and a listing
of the special features. A 4-page booklet is included inside the case that has the same photo of Carvey
as the DVD case. This has the original episode titles
and airdates and details some of the highlights and performers of each episode. There are more photos of Carvey on the back
and a listing of the cast and DVD credits. A plastic holder in the center holds Disc 1. Disc 2 is
an embedded holder on the back of the case. The discs are very basic with a red or blue colored bar
with the show logo in the center.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are pretty basic and easy to navigate. There is a series of trailers (3:46) for some other Shout! Factory
releases such as SCTV, Spin City, Upright Citizens Brigade: Asssscat! and Mike Birbiglia: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing - Tales From My Secret Public Journal
on Disc 1 which you can play or skip. The main menu has an intro for The Dana Carvey Show that leads to a series
of still images and audio clips from the show that loop after about 25 seconds. There is a rotating red The Dana Carvey Show logo and disc number
below the still images. A light teal background with stars is used on all of the menus and music is played on the
main menus. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for Play All, Episodes and Extras (only on Disc 2). There is a red star next to the option you highlight
that turns black upon your selection. There is a short "Dana Carvey" transition song between menus.
When you select Episodes, it takes you to a sub-menu where there are photos of the cast at the top.
The episode titles are listed and you can either play the episodes or choose Sketches which leads you to
another menu where you can play the individual sketches. The Church Lady is featured on the Extras menu.
There are chapter stops at each different sketch within the episodes.
Video and Audio Quality:
The show was videotaped at the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th Street in New York City. They would announce that it was from
the ABC Broadcast Center in New York and cover up the CBS Eye logo with the ABC logo.
The video quality generally looks pretty good. Episodes are in their original broadcast order and full frame 1.33:1 ratio. The show was shot on tape, so it looks similar to the mid-1990s Saturday Night Live episodes.
Colors are bright and there are no major problems with the video. The picture is generally clean. Some additional skits appeared to be shot on film, and those were shown
to the audience for their reaction. Most of the episodes run around 22 1/2 minutes in length. The first episode is only 21:07. I noticed an abrupt cut
in a Robert Smigel segment near the end where he is playing an ABC executive, but the running times are consistent with the episodes available online so hopefully
everything is here. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any music was replaced or that the episodes were otherwise edited.
For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is one one for Brillstein-Grey Communications and several for Columbia Tristar Television.
The audio is your standard Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand.
They shot in front of a studio audience, so the laughter is real. There's nothing on the packaging to indicate that the episodes are closed captioned. Subtitles
aren't available. The packaging does indicate that the set is not rated and contains some adult themes.
Here is the breakdown by disc, including the original airdates and running times:
1. The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show (03/12/96) (21:07)
2. The Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show (03/19/96) (22:28)
3. The Mountain Dw Dana Carvey Show (03/26/96) (22:27)
4. The Diet Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show (04/02/96) (22:28)
5. The Pepsi Stuff Dana Carvey Show (04/19/96) (21:59)
6. The Szechuan Dynasty Dana Carvey Show (04/23/96) (22:28)
7. The Dana Carvey Show (04/30/96) (22:28)
8. The Dana Carvey Show (Unaired) (22:28)
We get over 30 minutes of special features on Disc 2. Over 12 minutes of deleted scenes are available. There is a
21-minute all-new interview with Dana Carvey and Robert Smiegel. Thes interview give a good overview and
history of the show. I would have liked to see more cast members interviewed. There could have been a few audio commentaries.
Some bloopers/outtakes also would have been nice to see.
Deleted Scenes Reel (12:18) - These were likely cut because of time or content. It would have been interesting
to hear some commentary on why exactly these scenes didn't make the final broadcast. I counted about 13 different scenes.
I think they made some wise decisions on cutting most of these.
Here is a list: Leftover Beatle Memories, Steve Rockefeller (Colbert) and animal testing, Mad Cow Disease (3 short skits),
Area Bowl cashed, Carl Sagan's house, World Leaders and their Baths, Technofuture, Celebrity Bloopers & Dark Sides -
Yakov Smirnoff and Richard Dawson, Profiles in Bravery, News Break with Ling Ling the panda, Germans
Who Say Nice Things.
Interview with Dana Carvey and Robert Smigel (21:18) - An all-new interview with the executive producers, writers and cast
members on the series. They talk about the idea for the show and how they wanted to do a primetime variety show. I
didn't know that Dana Carvey had been offered a latenight show that eventually went to Conan O'Brien.
They talk about Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Heather Morgan, Bill Chott and Elon Gold and how
they were cast. Then they discuss the writers on the show, which included Charlie Kaufman, Dino Stamatopoulos,
Louis C.K and Robert Carlock. I'm a little surprised that they didn't mention Spike Feresten or Bob Odenkirk.
The next section is on Dana's impressions and they show clips of him doing Tom Brokaw, Charles Grodin,
Ted Koppel and Ross Perot. The Teats Thing focuses on the first Bill Clinton sketch with him breastfeeding
a baby, puppies and a kitten. They talk a little bit about the controversy and how they wanted to put a disclaimer
at the start of the show. I thought they could have went into a little more detail about the controversial skits
and how the sponsors eventually dropped out. Finally, they give some closing comments and talk about the legacy of the
show. They seem proud of the show and that they didn't compromise anything and they did exactly what they wanted.
Unaired episode (22:18) - I'm not sure if they are counting this as a special feature or not. ABC never
aired it. It's interesting that they had basically a whole new background for the set and the seating was different
for this episode. Some of the sketches
were eventually re-written for Saturday Night Live, including Tom Brokaw (Carvey) taping some spots anticipating
the death of former President Gerald Ford.
I remember watching the premiere episode 13 years ago. I'm surprised how vividly I was able to remember
the scenes re-watching them on this DVD. The show got off to a big start with almost 14 million viewers, but
eventually the show's ratings declined and ABC canceled it after only 7 episodes aired. After a few controversial
segments in the first couple of episodes, they started to tone things down a bit. This show probably would
have been a better fit on HBO or Comedy Central or as a latenight variety program. It seemed a little too
edgy for network primetime tv. The highlights to me were the Stupid Pranksters (Carvey and Carell), the sketch of Carell practicing
playing hockey goalie by himself and the nauseated waiters (Carell and Colbert). Dana Carvey's impressions were great, as they were on Saturday Night Live. The rest
of the ensemble cast that were mostly unknowns at the time did a fine job as well. It was fun to see Carell and Colbert before they hit the big time. The show was topical,
but it is surprisingly not that dated. They did anywhere from 7-14 sketches per episode, so the rapid-fire
rate made any that missed more tolerable. There were very few sketches more than a few minutes in length.
Shout! Factory has done a decent job with this release. I was hoping for a few more special features, such as audio commentaries and
bloopers/outtakes. It would have been interesting to hear other cast member's memories of appearing on the show.
This show has been widely available for free online viewing on sites like Hulu, Joost, Netflix and YouTube for the
last few years, so if you haven't seen an episode before you may want to check one out first. This was a nice post-Saturday Night Live
vehicle for Dana Carvey. Hopefully we see him in more comedy specials and tv shows in upcoming years. Recommended for all Dana Carvey,
Saturday Night Live, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert fans.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 05/08/09
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