Lassie’s got nothing on Manson

Ten years ago, Ben Stiller did an experimental sketch comedy show for Fox that was cancelled after airing 12 episodes. Later that year, the show won an Emmy for comedy writing, something it richly deserved. Fox put the show in a suicidal time slot, up against CBS’s 60 Minutes, and it routinely finished dead last in the ratings. This two-disc set provides the chance to see the series in its entirety (including the unaired 13th episode). Stiller, who has hit a momentary pothole in his movie career, got to run wild here, assembling a monster cast (Janeane Garofolo, Andy Dick and Bob Odenkirk and David Cross of Mr. Show fame). Perfectly directed spoofs of movies and TV shows abound, including Manson, with Odenkirk’s Charles Manson replacing Lassie in a black and white recreation of the show. This is one of the funniest TV shows that you never saw.

Special Features: There are enjoyable commentaries including much of the cast for select episodes. In one of the commentary sessions that Odenkirk is absent from, he has provided a tape of himself giving stock observations like “Funny is as funny does!” and “Can I say something here?” Outtake footage includes a look at failed concepts for the original pilot and some unaired sketches. One, featuring Stiller’s bizarre portrayal of actor Ron Perlman, was good enough for the show.

Show: A

Special Features: B

Geek Factor: 8