Bring Home Comedy Greats From Shout Factory

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wkrp_mst3k_beanOdds are if I’m reviewing a Blu-ray or DVD, it likely came from Shout Factory. Especially with regard to things like classic television comedy, the Factory seems to the home of everything I want to see. Need proof? Look no further than its March release list.

Mid-month saw a television classic returning in a single-volume format. If you missed last year’s release of the WKRP box set or if you were simply being cautious and waiting on an individual season release, your time has come. Cincinnati’s biggest little radio station arrives with (most of) its original music intact and all of the laughs you remember. Season one includes all 22 original episodes on three DVDs, including the initial story arc concerning the arrival of Andy Travis and the station’s sudden format change.

It’s all here, folks: a Thanksgiving promo gone horribly awry, hoodlum rock sensations Scum of the Earth, a (seemingly) unwinnable radio contest, and flagrant use of the word “booger.” Admittedly, there’s some less-than-perfect video quality in several of the earliest episodes–given it was filmed in the late 1970s I can certainly let that slide–but the fact that Shout Factory took such care in including as much of the original music and scenes as possible (as opposed to the much-maligned previous DVD releases) more than makes up for it. Cheap at twice the price, WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete First Season is a must-buy!

Just last week Shout Factory gave us not one but two other fine multi-disc comedy collections. The first is another of their epic Mystery Science Theater 3000 sets, specifically Volume XXXII. As expected, this one is beautifully presented, complete with each individual film in its own slimline case and all four presented in an illustrated cardboard outer sleeve. There are also bonuses galore including introductions by TV’s Frank (Conniff), new featurettes, and even exclusive mini-posters.

Of course, it’s still really all about the film’s themselves, and XXXII does not disappoint. Space Travelers (the only Academy-Award-winning film to ever be lampooned on MST3K), highly radioactive ’50s stinker Radar Secret Service, and made-for-TV-movie San Francisco International are solid enough submissions, but the crown jewel of this collection is surely schlocky Steve Reeves sword-and-sandals epic Hercules.

TL;DR This is another great collection for fans new and old.

Lastly, and my personal favorite, is a joint venture from Shout Factory and Fabulous Films–Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean 25th Anniversary Collection. This four-DVD set contains all 14 Mr. Bean episodes and lots of great extras.

Including missing scenes and a pair of never-aired skits, a 72-minute “The Best Bits of Bean” highlight reel, and a truly engaging mini-doc entitled “The Story of Mr. Bean,” this 25th anniversary collection explores Rowan Atkinson’s iconic role from its very inception. (As an aside, there is some brief nudity–from the opening of Not the Nine O’Clock News, a ’70s sketch show that featured Atkinson–included in the “The Story of Mr. Bean,” so beware.)

While I would’ve loved to have seen more than just the trailer for the wonderful Mr. Bean: The Animated Series included and the packaging isn’t quite up to par with many of Shout’s other releases, Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean 25th Anniversary Collection is practically as perfect a package as any fan could want. Moreover, it’s an ideal way to share all that glorious slapstick with a new generation of viewers.

Review materials provided by: Shout Factory

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