Upright Citizen's Brigade: The Complete First Season (1998)

Genre(s): Comedy
Paramount || NR - 220 minutes - $26.99 || September 18, 2007
Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2007-09-19


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): NA
Cast: Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Original Pilot Episode w/ Optional Commentary
  • Original Live Versions of 2 Skits
  • Cast Commentaries on Fan Favorite Episodes
  • Alternate In-Character Commentary
  • Comedy Central UCB Promos


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

"From the dawn of civilization, they have existed in order to undermine it. Our only enemy is the status quo. Our only friend is chaos. They have no government ties and unlimited resources. If something goes wrong, we are the cause. Every corner of the earth is under their surveillance. If you do it, we see it. Always. We believe the powerful should be made less powerful. We have heard the voice of society, begging us to destabilize it. Antoine. Colby. Trotter. Adair. We are the Upright Citizens Brigade."

That is the opening narration to Comedy Central's series The Upright Citizens Brigade. It ran from 3 seasons from 1998 to 2000 on and, as I recall, usually came on right after "South Park". Oddly enough until I had the opportunity to view this DVD, I had never seen the show and never had any interest in seeing it. Other than “SNL”, “In Living Color”, and to a far lesser extent, “Mad TV”, I'm not huge on sketch comedy. And when I first started watching this show, my mind hadn't changed... at first. By the end of the DVD set, I was hooked.

For the uninitiated, the UCB are a comedy troupe led by members Matt Besser, Amy Poehler (famous for being on “SNL” now), Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. The troupe originally performed in their own theatre for a live audience for years and in 1998 they got a chance to take their show to the small screen. The basic structure of the show is that the four members play some kind of anti-establishment secret organization that exists to cause chaos and disrupt society in comically silly ways. The scenes with the UCB are mostly nothing but framing devices though as the bulk of the show is the 4 playing tons of other characters in a variety of sketches that their UCB characters are keeping an eye on.

The first few episodes and really most of the first disc are weak. For example, there's a sketch about a struggling songwriter pitching goofy songs to Disney for a new Disney animated feature which is funny in concept but executed poorly and the first episode in general is especially poor. A little bit before the second discs we're treated to an nonstop array of sketches that not only deliver but are some of the funniest sketches I've ever seen. Sketches involving Cyborgs (which is the all around best and funniest episode on the set), a weird coffee shop girl, Asspennies, and a weird guy with a time machine are some of the highlights. The biggest and most controversial standout is by far, the Little Donny Foundation. It was the show's season finale and it was shot as a mock-umentary. It also introduces the hilarious Titte' brothers sketch. Very funny stuff.

The show is not for everyone. It's very tongue in cheek and perhaps goes a bit too wacky for it's own good at times but I'm definitely a fan now.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

- Original Pilot Episode with Cast Commentary: Pretty good but very different from the final version of the show. There's a laugh track there that's distracting and not present in the final version of the show and Ian Roberts UCB character of Antoine is differently designed. He's got a shaved head here and not sporting his trademark eye patch. The commentary is no different from the others, which I will mention more in a minute.

- Cast Audio commentaries on Fan Favorite Episodes: These are by far the best feature on the set. You get very in depth and funny commentaries from the cast here as they tell exactly how each sketch came together, which ones don't work that well, and lots of funny set stories. At one point, an actual argument between Matt Besser and Ian Roberts breaks out about whether or not Roberts character was a cyborg. It got somewhat tense a few times and Walsh and Poehler had to calm them down. A couple of the episodes have an alternate live audio track where fans get to ask them questions about the shows as they watch along with the cast.

- Alternate In Character Commentary on "The Little Donny Foundation": Very, very funny. The little Donny character was a stroke of genius and I dare you not to laugh at the "Tuvok has to go home!" stuff. That sketch was so good; I wish I had come up with it.

- Original Live Versions of Andre the Giant and Little Donny Sketch: This was a cool feature especially if you've only seen the show as you get to see what the live versions of some of the sketches are like.

- Comedy Central UCB Promos: Just commercials Comedy Central used to advertise the show.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The picture was fine but a little grainy during the original pilot. Might be just due to it's age though. Audio was also acceptable.



.::OVERALL::.

"Upright Citizens Brigade" Season 1 is a must buy for fans and I think it's definitely a rental for everybody else to see if they like it. It's a very unique show and it's not for everybody, but it made me a fan.