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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Weird Al Show: The Complete Series (review)

I’m not sure precisely when and how it happened, but starting somewhere in the 1980s and stretching for a glorious decade into the late 90s, Generation X’s refusal to grow up resulted in a brief, shining moment in entertainment history when Saturday-morning TV was a wonderland of snark, smarts, wit, and weirdness designed to appeal as much — if not more — to those over 18 as to those under 8. From the live-action loopiness of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Beakman’s World to the cartoon lunacy of Pinky & the Brain, Animaniacs, and Freakazoid, there were reasons to get up early on the weekend. This wonderfully demented example came at the end of that splendid golden age of grown-up juvenilia, which perhaps explains its lamented briefness — only 13 episodes were ever made of the strange and goofy adventures of musical satirist Weird Al Yankovic and his pal, Harvey the Wonder Hamster (and they’re all here). It’s not that this isn’t as fine an example of the genre as can be imagined, replete with animated interludes, visits from superheroes, and tons of twisted humor, all of which sends up what Saturday-morning TV had once been and is now again — it’s just that a generation can only keep up the hard work of cynicism for so long, and by late 1997, sleeping in on the weekend was looking more and more attractive. The show’s roster of guest stars reads like a who’s who of cult oddity — Judy Tenuta, Fred Willard, Dr. Demento, Barenaked Ladies, and many more — and the extras are chunky with crazy goodness, from commentaries on every single episode by Al himself to the theme-song karaoke, and more.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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