In Living Color: Season 1

In Living Color: Season 1 (1990)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans
Extras: Commentray Tracks, Featurettes

In 1990 a new comedy show conquered America by storm. More provocative, more subversive and more politically incorrect than anything that had been on television before, "In Living Color" made its debut to roaring success while at the same time launching the careers of many of its participants.

Created by Keenan Ivory Wayans, the irreverent show always had a strong bond among the cast which created an onscreen chemistry that is infectious to say the least. Introducing Hip-Hop to the masses and mocking every American stereotype imaginable, "In Living Color" was Los Angeles’ answer to "Saturday Night Live." While both are comedy variety shows, "In Living Color" had a very different spirit. Instead of capturing the skits live, most of it was filmed – though often still performed in front of live audiences. As a result, "In Living Color" has more control over the delivery and the content and uses it perfectly to its advantage. At the same time the show always made sure to maintain the "Live" spirit and it is all too often that you see performers on the brink of breaking up, adding to the wonderful spirit of the show.

At last, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has decided to bring this marvelous show to DVD. The first season, consisting of all 13 episodes, comes in a 3-disc DVD set. It was this first season that built the foundation for the series and established a number of truly memorable characters. Damon Wayans as "Homey The Clown" – a character he is currently also turning into a full-fledged movie – or Anton the Homeless are pure gold. So is Jim Carrey as Ted Turner or Jerry Lewis. Some of the best moments however come from Damon and David Alan Grier in their "Men On Films/Art/Books" skits, or Keenan and Damon as the Homeboys. Well, in short, this comedy series oozes excellence and genius. While "Saturday Night Live" is always a hit-or-miss affair when it comes to the quality of its sketches, "In Living Color" succeeds every single time and there is not a single poor skit in any of these 13 episodes. In fact, come to think of it, I believe I have never seen any bad "In Living Color" joke in any of its four seasons.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is presenting "In Living Color" in its original <$PS,fullframe> aspect ratio. The transfer is clean and without defects, though occasionally the image appears a bit soft. Other than that, the presentation is great with full, rich colors, solid black levels and a good level of detail that far exceeds the presentation I have seen on TV before. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is also free of artifacts, making for a solid presentation throughout.

The audio on the DVDs is the original Dolby Stereo track that perfectly suits the performance, given the nature of the material. Dialogues are clear and always understandable without any distortion or sibilance. The Hip-Hop music tracks – accompanied by the dancing numbers of the infamous Fly Girls – are also well reproduced, rounding out the presentation nicely.

The DVD set also includes a number of extras, including <$commentary,commentary track>s by Tommy Davidson on selected episodes. Tommy has played a wide variety of characters on the show over all four seasons. He is also a very smart and funny guy and it is coming through very nicely in his commentaries. His observations and remarks are as insightful as they are often funny, adding immensely to the release.

Also included is a featurette on the Fly Girls in which choreographer Rosie Perez and some of the dancers take a look back at how they revolutionized TV and created a completely new dancing trend. The featurette also underscores how much of a team effort it was creating new moves and routines for every one of the shows.

Next up is a look back with the cast. While it only includes interviews with David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson, this featurette gives viewers a good understanding as to how "In Living Color" came about. From shopping around the pilot for an entire year before a network picked up the show, to writing skits and shaping characters, the two manage to bring back to life many great moments form the show. It is too bad however, that no other cast members have had their input in the featurette. A cast reunion would have certainly been a phenomenal addition to the disc, especially considering that so many of the folks working on the show have made such remarkable careers for themselves, including the Fly Girls Jennifer Lopez and Carrie Ann Inaba. Maybe for the next season DVD releases, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment could round them all up and let us also have a chance to also hear Keenan, Damon, Jim, Kelly, Jamie, T’Keyah, Kim and all the other key performers on the show reminisce about their time on "In Living Color."

Well, there you have it. What is to me the most hilarious comedy show ever to hit TV has finally arrived on DVD. Great-looking, funny as ever, and with some great extras, this DVD set is what I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait too long for the follow-up seasons to be released.