Action (1999)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Jay Mohr, Illeana Douglas, Jarrad Paul, Jack Plotnick, Buddy Hackett, Fab Filippo
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Interactive Dictionary

"Action" was a TV show that aired during the 1999-2000 season and sadly, it was rather short lived. After 13 episodes, the show was cancelled. Not because it wasn't good, but because it clearly hit too close to home.

"Action" details the tribulations of Peter Dragon (Jay Mohr) a hot-shot movie producer in Hollywood. Sadly in Hollywood you're only as good as you last film, and Peter's last movie was a flop. So he desperately struggles to create another hit. Along the way we see him using and abusing the people around him, we witness him put on his "Fantastic" smile to all the boring crap he's being fed, and we see him kissing ass to studio bosses. Peter Dragon is the epitome of a lying sleaze bag who will do anything to get his way. And, with his money, manipulation and sex, the backstabbing phony usually gets what he wants – one way or another.

Let me say this first, "Action" is very funny. However, unlike many other viewers, I do not view this to be a satire. It is a mirror, actually. While much of what you see in this show may appear freakish and outlandish, let me assure you that it reflects Hollywood quite appropriately – extreme as it may appear.

The show serves up constant innuendo and makes references to people we know and also features a few guest appearances during the first few episodes. Sometimes these hints are very direct and easy to pick up – think of the Rothstein brothers in the final episode for example – while at other times they may not be quite as overt and undoubtedly could be applied to any number of figures in the biz.

The film also nicely shows how skewed the view of the world is sometimes in Hollywood, how some people in the biz are further removed from reality than politicians. It shows us the underbelly of Hollywood, the side we don't really want to see because it destroys the illusion and the "magic." I have no doubt that finally seeing what the job of a screenwriter really encompasses will disillusion many aspiring writers who are not really cut out to be Hollywood material. Seeing what a production assistant's duties really entail, seeing how perceived titles are stomped in the dirt, will clearly turn off many people. Fortunately the show manages to present it all with a constant wink of an eye and some serious comedy moments, making it lighthearted and enjoyable throughout.

I was really disappointed when the show abruptly came to an end after 13 episodes, halfway through its story arch. There would be so much more life in this show, so much more hilarity and so much more dirt to expose. Seeing how close to the wire it go, however, I am not surprised that certain powers pulled certain strings to put an end to this show.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is dishing out "Action" on a 2-dis DVD set, presenting the show in its fullframe aspect ratio. The image is generally clean but it suffers from some minor problems. Grain and noise is evident in a number of shots, throughout the episodes and color balance seems off on occasion as well. Black levels are solid but many shots appear too dark, giving the presentation a murky, dated look. I am sure more could have been done to make this transfer look right but for the time being I'm glad Sony decided to release the show at all.

The audio on the release is coming as a stereo presentation that serves its purpose but is undramatic. The music seems a bit overmixed at times, taking over the entire presentation. Dialogues are clear and understandable. Sadly no subtitles of any kind are included on the release.

Commentary tracks are provided on selected episodes offering a closer look at the production of the show and the issues it touched upon. A brief making of featurette is also provided, as well as an interactive dictionary, which uses excerpts from the show to drive its vocabulary point home by example.

"Action" is funny as hell but it can be equally offensive, depending on your stance. The show is uncut and unbleeped on this DVD release but for some reason, bare breasts are still blurred out, which is kind of ridiculous given the overall maturity of the material. If someone gets through Dragon's verbal flatulence, I am sure they wouldn't feel offended by a few auditioning bare breasts. But, oh well, it's Hollywood, isn't it?