With Halloween finally over, we can collectively stop watching horror flicks and now return to something lighter, something more uplifting, something more fun. Shout! Factory’s latest round of comedy releases is the perfect pill for anyone left in a candy coma, or battling a minor bout of seasonal affective disorder. Speak to your doctor first, though.
First up, we have a real legend of comedy who is practically unknown by today’s cutting-edge, fast-paced, dick-and-fart-loving alterna-funny sycophants: Phil Silvers. Airing from 1955 to 1959, his Sgt. Bilko was one of early TV’s first smash hits. It brought a new type of comedic originality into homes, courtesy the scheming Bilko and his crew, which was always ready to try to strike it rich with him. Sgt. Bilko: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory) features all 142 episodes on 20 DVDs that are filled to the musket with bonus features. It’s a great step back into a mostly dead comedic art-form that today's comics should find worthy of some study.
Fast-forwarding a couple of decades, Shout! Factory has done the world a great service by finally releasing a pair of “Weird Al” Yankovic classics: the first-ever DVD release of mockumentary The Compleat Al and the Blu-ray special edition of his foray into motion pictures, UHF. In 1985’s Compleat, we comically trace Al’s life from accordion-playing child to global star, the mastermind behind hits including “Like a Surgeon” and “Dare to Be Stupid.” While definitely dated, the corny jokes and infectious music videos will transport adults of a certain age back to being 10 years old.
UHF was Al’s ill-fated 1989 attempt at trying to break into the movies. He stars as George Newman, a dead-end jobber who inherits a UHF television station and, through his innovative programming — Wheel of Fish, anyone? — manages to turn it into the biggest thing in town. Of course, corporate entities try to shut him down, in a classic snobs-versus-slobs battle. Mostly used as a vehicle for numerous parodies and skits, UHF is a comedy classic that, like Compleat, is dated but charmingly goofball.
Finally, the gang from Mystery Science Theater is back with a special holiday-themed collection in MST3K: The Turkey Day Collection (Shout! Factory). Back in its original run, every Thanksgiving MST3K would air a special “Turkey Day” episode, highlighting an especially bad flick. This collection is no exception, containing Jungle Goddess (wherein a missing heiress becomes a jungle ruler); The Painted Hills (a particularly maudlin Lassie movie); The Screaming Skull (of course, about a screaming skull) and Squirm (featuring electrified killer earthworms invading a town and wreaking havoc).
Nuke a Swanson’s Hungry Man turkey dinner and plop yourself in front of the tube with this collection on Thanksgiving for a real holiday change of pace. You'll guffaw those lonely tears away.