The amazing thing about the short-lived sketch comedy The Dana Carvey Show isn't that it was canceled after just seven episodes on the air; it's that it made it to the air at all. Debuting in ABC's prime time lineup in the summer of 1996, The Dana Carvey Show was just too offbeat and edgy to ever survive -- particularly on one of the "big three" networks. America just wasn't ready for the the series had to offer.
Thanks to the good people at Shout! Factory (no joke; I just can't say enough good things about Shout! Factory), The Dana Carvey Show is finally getting its due a full 13 years after its abrupt cancellation. It's actually sort of amazing that it took that long, given the fact that the show now plays like a "who's who" of comedy: in addition to Carvey (the only real name on the show at the time), the ensemble included future stars Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and Robert Smigel and boasted a writing staff that included Louis C.K. and future Oscar winner Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), plus additional material contributed by The Office's Greg Daniels and Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show with Bob and David. Those are some names with edgy sensibilities, and their comic voices are all over The Dana Carvey Show.
From the names of each episode (poking fun at the sponsor, Pepsico, each week; each show bared names like The Taco Bell Dana Carvey Show or The Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show) to sketches including President Clinton breastfeeding puppies or the first-ever appearances of Smigel's "Ambiguously Gay Duo" cartoons (which would eventually become a hit on Saturday Night Live), there was very little that was mass-audience friendly on The Dana Carvey Show. Credit to Carvey -- who is actually the least funny part of his own sketch show -- for putting his then very marketable name on a show that was this challenging and subversive, and for giving a start to so many important names in contemporary comedy. Not every sketch is a winner, particularly after 13 years; there are a number of sketches built around the Clinton/Dole presidential race that don't hold up particularly well. But the better, timeless sketches -- such as Carell and Carvey as "Germans Saying Nice Things" ("Mr. Holland's Opus is ze feel good moo-vie of ze year!!") -- are some of the best sketch comedy of the 1990s. There's almost no way it could have succeeded, and it's actually probably better that it didnt'. In its cancellation, The Dana Carvey Show instantly achieved cult classic status.
Shout! Factory does well by The Dana Carvey Show, presenting all eight episodes (the seven that originally aired plus one that never did) on two discs. There's a good collection of deleted scenes -- most of them too racy or edgy for TV -- and a 20 minute interview with Carvey and Smigel where they discuss what was great about the show and share their experiences with a network that never understood what they had on their hands. Given the sheer number of famous names involved with the show, it's too bad that other stars like Colbert, Carell or C.K. aren't involved with any of the supplements. All the same, it's the show itself that's the real value here, and the fact that it's seeing the light of day on DVD at all is reason to celebrate.
- Release Date: May 12, 2009
- Running Time: 210 minutes
- Full Frame
- Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
- Not Rated
- Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Bonus Features
- New Interview with Dana Carvey and Robert Smigel
- Deleted Scenes
- Unaired Episode