The Best TV on DVD

By Dalton Ross
Updated November 26, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

EW rates the best of TV on DVD


Chappelle’s Show: Season One Uncensored!
Dave Chappelle
Unrated, 4 hrs., 43 mins., 2003 (Paramount)

Sure, season 2 gets all the glory, what with ”I’m Rick James, bitch!” and the killer featurette that retrofitted Wayne Brady with thug cred and pimp-daddy swagger. But it’s the first season that laid the groundwork for Dave’s sophomore high. Right from the start he hit his mark with the genius blind-black-white-supremacist sketch, and later evergreens like crackhead Tyrone Biggums and comedian Paul Mooney’s ”Ask a Black Dude” Q&A sessions on all things Afrocentric. EXTRAS Even the faithful haven’t heard much from Dave’s partner, writer Neal Brennan, who joins Chappelle on some commentary tracks as they riff on their favorite vignettes. Also included: unaired Mooney footage and nonsensical bloopers, in which Dave finds his own body parts highly amusing and battle-raps in his 8 Mile spoof, ”Spaghetti, spaghetti, spaghetti…pasta!” ?Alynda Wheat

Freaks and Geeks: The Deluxe Collector’s Edition
Linda Cardellini, James Franco
Unrated, 24 hrs., 1999 — 2000 (Shout! Factory)

An eight-disc, 18-episode set complete with a snazzy full-size yearbook may seem excessive for a TV show that was canceled in the midst of its first season, but you know what? It’s not. Freaks and Geeks (which told the story of circa-1980 stoners and sad sacks) was the greatest coming-of-age show ever and deserves every second of what may amount to the finest DVD treatment of the year. EXTRAS Twenty-nine commentary tracks, 60-plus deleted scenes and outtakes, and hundreds of painfully hilarious moments that recall the best and (mostly) worst times of the horror that was high school. ?Dalton Ross

Strangers With Candy: Seasons 1 — 3
Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello
Unrated, 12 hrs., 43 mins., 1999 — 2000 (Comedy Central)

Throughout three twisted seasons, fortysomething ex-junkie/resumed high school student Jerri Blank (Sedaris) and her horny teachers Noblet (Colbert) and Jellineck (Dinello) proudly imparted morals. The wrong morals. They hit their comedy high and human low in the final 10 episodes?and not just when Jerri confirmed her Native American heritage by scalping a classmate. She also faced a breakup (”I’ve recently learned something about self-respect: I have none”); a bully (”Violence really isn’t the only way to resolve a conflict, but it’s the only way to win it”); and sexual harassment (”Turn yourself into a victim, and you’ll be too pathetic for anyone to consider you sexual”). EXTRAS Seasons 1 and 2 offer commentary from the three stars, while season 3 honors Candy’s entire run with a 25-minute blooper reel and a montage of the series’ signature episode-ending dance sequences. ?Mandi Bierly

My So-Called Life: The Complete Series
Claire Danes, Jared Leto
Unrated, 15 hrs., 1994 — 1995 (BMG)

The cult of ABC’s short-lived gem?TV’s most ”real” depiction of the teen experience since, like, ever?is neither freakish nor geekish but rather a melting pot for whom the show was some kind of wonderful howl. MSCL exposed the lie of the ”high school outcast.” The girl next door, the stud, the brain, the boy in the closet?all were ”different,” all hopelessly misunderstood, all the same. Born late in the grunge era, the 19 finely crafted episodes contain some of that moment’s best raw poetry. Creator Winnie Holzman’s words were notes from the teen underground; the articulation in speech and gesture by Danes was honest, unforced, and urgent. EXTRAS None, but the show speaks for itself. ?Jeff Jensen

Sports Night: The Complete Series
Josh Charles, Peter Krause
TV-PG, 17 hrs., 38 mins., 1998 — 2000 (Buena Vista)

ABC’s two-season wonder followed the behind-the-scenes relationships, workplace politics, and zingy banter at a struggling nightly recap show (think ESPN’s SportsCenter with much lower ratings). It was the TV equivalent of Bo Jackson, whacking jokes out of the park while still logging plenty of dramatic yardage. It showed that sitcoms could handle both hefty story lines and subtle humor, foretelling current critical ravefests Scrubs and Arrested Development. It gave us budding pros like Krause as a dedicated anchor, Felicity Huffman as his producer (and partner in some explosive sexual tension), and Joshua Malina as a sports-stat-obsessed staffer?not to mention creator Aaron Sorkin, who perfected his trademark wit here before taking it to Emmy fave The West Wing. And it makes sports utterly fascinating, even for a TV geek who doesn’t know a putt from a punt. EXTRAS None, but 45 episodes is plenty to keep you entertained. ?Jennifer Armstrong

Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 1 & 2, 3 — 5
Paul Reubens, Larry Fishburne
Unrated, 18 hrs., 23 mins., 1986 — 90

You don’t need to know the secret word to appreciate Pee-wee Herman, Reubens’ stridently nerdy man-child. Innocent enough for kids, whacked-out enough to enrapture adults, these two sets of his late-’80s variety show present Saturday-morning TV at its surrealistic peak. The program showcased emerging talent like a pre-SNL Phil Hartman, a pre-Laurence Larry Fishburne, a pre — Wallace & Gromit Nick Park, and, of course, Lynne Stewart’s increasingly trampy Miss Yvonne. With its bent sensibility and splashy visuals, Playhouse offered up a delightfully cynical celebration of boyhood. EXTRAS Eight never-aired episodes include Sandra Bernhard as a flirtatious phone operator and the exuberant high-heel ”Tequila” dance made famous in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. ?Bob Cannon

Popular: First Season
Leslie Bibb, Christopher Gorham
Unrated, 16 hrs., 8 mins., 1999 — 2000 (Buena Vista)

Shameless, outlandish, just plain mean in its examination of the high school caste system… yes, this was Popular, the anti — teen drama whose loyal following still rues its demise after two seasons on The WB. Funny how that happens: As creator Ryan Murphy says in a commentary, WB execs tried to dilute the show’s biting tone, not realizing it was ”written to be surreal” and ”a satire of their network.” So, borrowing from Heathers and laying the groundwork for Mean Girls, he created a freakfest: What other teen show boasted a bulimic heroine, a butch lab instructor, a cheerleading squad called the Glamazons, and characters named Emory Dick, April Tuna, and Poppy Fresh? True to form, Popular always struggled like a pimply outsider in the shadows of earnest network compadres Dawson’s Creek and Felicity. Those overachievers may have reaped the attention, but damned if the Popular crowd wasn’t having 10 times more fun. EXTRAS Lively cast commentary on three episodes; and be sure to watch the pilot’s scary opening credits, featuring a Lilith Fair-y songstress strumming in a flatbed pickup. ?Nicholas Fonseca


The Honeymooners Classic 39 Episodes
Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows
Unrated, 16 hrs., 56 mins., 1955 — 56 (Paramount)

The original blue-collar TV. Decades before Seinfeld, this seminal slice-of-life sitcom adopted the ”no learning” credo. Each week, New York bus driver Ralph Kramden made the same mistakes, whether bullying formidable wife Alice, opening his biiig mouuuth, or dragging best friend Norton?the scene-stealing Carney, playing Laurel to Gleason’s Hardy?into some get-rich scheme. As embodied by Gleason in the small-screen role of a lifetime, Ralph broke us up and broke our hearts while forever trying to hit that elusive ”high note.” Meadows’ long-suffering but steadfast Alice completed him (you had me at ”Baby, you’re the greatest”). EXTRAS An edited Honeymooners Anniversary Special, and the show’s original opening and closing, which featured plugs for series sponsor Buick. ?Donald Liebenson

Good Times: The Complete Seasons 1 — 3
John Amos, Esther Rolle, Jimmie Walker
Unrated, 25 hrs., 34 mins., 1974 — 76 (Columbia TriStar)

Before political correctness took the fun out of funny, there was sitcom icon Norman Lear. A second-generation spin-off of his hit All in the Family, Good Times gave TV watchers a feel for black life in the ghetto. While the whole country was mired in the 1970s recession, the Evans family did their best to scratch out an existence in the Chicago projects?not getting hassled, not getting hustled. Even in tough times, the clan stuck together, trading wisecracks and telling it like it was (you can hear all the Right on!’s from the live studio audience). The show went downhill in later seasons?after Amos’ beloved hothead, James, was killed in a car accident and Rolle’s Florida remarried and moved to Arizona?but that didn’t stop Walker’s J.J. from skyrocketing to stardom with one simple, enthusiastic outburst, the perfect word to describe the first three seasons on DVD: They’re Dy-No-Mite! even 30 years later. EXTRAS None. ?Nancy Sidewater

Taxi: The Complete First Season
Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito
Unrated, 9 hrs., 1978 — 79 (Paramount)

Hail Taxi. At last, this humane comedy from the creators of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is available to take out for a DVD spin. Set at the Sunshine Cab Company, the show dealt with the lives of seven stranded castaways on the isle of Manhattan. Hirsch’s salt-of-the-earth cabbie Alex Rieger was not the Skipper, exactly, but he was the anchor that kept this disparate, dysfunctional family of oddballs and outcasts rolling along. A lightning-in-a-bottle ensemble, smart, witty writing, and extraordinary characters?including DeVito’s reptilian dispatcher, Louis De Palma, and Andy Kaufman’s indeterminately foreign mechanic, Latka?gave this series the gas to earn a much-deserved Emmy for best comedy series in its inaugural year. EXTRAS No fare. ?Donald Liebenson

The Jeffersons: The Complete Seasons 1 — 2
Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford
Unrated, 16 hrs., 2 mins., 1975 — 76
(Columbia TriStar)

When blustery, bigoted dry-cleaning magnate George Jefferson (Hemsley) and his feisty yet forgiving wife, Louise (Sanford), moved on up from All in the Family Queens to a deee-luxe apartment in the sky, they also broadened the sitcom world’s horizons. Prime time’s first affluent African-American couple?with tippling Mother Jefferson (Zara Cully), sassy maid Florence (Marla Gibbs), and bumbling neighbor Bentley (Paul Benedict)?offered a real, and lighthearted, look at race relations and stereotypes: The estranged fathers of Tom and Helen Willis (Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker), television’s first interracial couple, reunited. Ever-image-conscious George was afraid to be seen carrying a watermelon into his building. The use of the N-word and casual political references (”I think President Ford will straighten it all out?as soon as somebody tells him how”) make today’s sitcoms seem spinelessly PC by comparison. The fashions and decor may be dated, but the social commentary resonates. EXTRAS None. ?Erin Richter

Cheers: The Complete Seasons 1 — 3
Ted Danson, Shelley Long
Unrated, 28 hrs., 17 mins., 1982 — 85 (Paramount)

Forgive me, Boston, but Cheers was the Yankees of sitcoms. For 11 years, Sam Malone and his bar’s lovable collection of misfits built a dynasty, racking up 117 Emmy nominations and finishing in the ratings’ top 10 for eight straight years. As Mickey Mantle once replaced an aging Joe DiMaggio in center field, Cheers had its share of famous departures (Long) and more-than-capable replacements (Kirstie Alley). Early on, the show even had its own Stengelesque sage: the dim-witted Coach (Nicholas Colasanto), who rarely understood his own wisdom yet taught us all about Albania (C’mon, sing it!). Pencil in Norm, Cliff, Carla, and Dr. Frasier Crane?a rookie in season 3?and you’re talking about one of the all-time great rosters. But most of all, the first three seasons are little ditties about Sam and Diane. Sam was the show’s rock ”from the neck up,” and Diane was a ”great cure for happiness,” but their romantic sparks defined the symphony of witty put-downs and comebacks that would quickly become the show’s trademark. EXTRAS The DVDs are crammed with goodies like character profiles, bloopers, and cast interviews, but it’s the episodes themselves that make you want to belly up to the bar again. ?Jeff Labrecque

The Twilight Zone Collections 1 — 5
Rod Serling
Unrated, 62 hrs., 1959 — 64

With more twists than Chubby Checker, this is the anthology show to which all imitators aspire. Except that usurpers to the throne can’t mimic Zone‘s key ingredient: creator Rod Serling. It was Serling’s mind that enabled the sight and sound of each episode to vary from chill-inducing (Bill Shatner flew the unfriendly skies in ”Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”) to ironic (the bookworm in ”Time Enough at Last,” Burgess Meredith, broke his glasses) to profoundly thought-provoking (a world where the definition of beauty went topsy-turvy in ”The Eye of the Beholder”). Only a true classic can withstand umpteen repeat viewings as The Twilight Zone does and manage to raise goose bumps every time. Now, if we could only get that damn theme song out of our heads. EXTRAS None submitted for your approval. ?Paul S. Katz

Dallas: The Complete First & Second Seasons
Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy
Unrated, 23 hrs., 17 mins., 1978 — 79 (Warner)

Faced with the daunting task of creating a TV franchise, Dallas creator David Jacobs turned to a tried-and-true ghostwriter. Noting the viewing audience’s fascination with the wealthy, curdled darlings of our nation (Texas oilmen), Jacobs took Romeo and Juliet (Bobby and Pam Ewing), then added a dash of Iago (J.R. Ewing) and a hint of Lear (Jock Ewing), trusting the resultant relationships to serve for sweet discourses in our time to come. In a five-episode miniseries tryout and then the show’s first full season, this formula played deliciously. Hagman’s J.R., a fiend angelical for the ages, is the main attraction, but the emotional ties between the characters (strong enough to weather slings, arrows, appalling acting, and trumped-up plotlines) are whereby hangs a tale. EXTRAS Rambling but entertaining commentary by Jacobs, Hagman, and Charlene Tilton; a 2003 Dallas reunion on an unbearable daytime show called Soap Talk. ?Kirven Blount

The Dick Van Dyke Show: Seasons 1 — 5
Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore
Unrated, 65 hrs., 20 mins., 1961 — 66

In that brief shining moment that was Camelot, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were prime time’s Kennedy- esque First Couple: stylish, sophisticated, and sexy. Comedy writer Rob Petrie’s deft and daft juggling of his glamorous show-business career and harried suburban life provided the laughs, but it was the palpable chemistry between Van Dyke and Moore that provided the heart and the heat. And that we’re supposed to believe the Petries kept to their twin beds is funnier than anything Rob, Buddy, and Sally ever wrote for Alan Brady?and that includes the ”Talking Bowling Pin” sketch. EXTRAS The archival find in these 25 discs is the failed series pilot, ”Head of the Family,” with the sitcom’s creator, Carl Reiner himself, starring as Rob. ?Donald Liebenson


Absolutely Fabulous: Series 1 — 5
Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley
Unrated, 16 hrs., 1992 — 2003 (Warner)

They are hapless slaves to fashion and fad, desperately clinging to their once-youthful, faux-rebellious, swinging-’60s selves, while sucking down/popping/snorting great quantities of champagne, Stoli, Ecstasy, and cocaine. What’s not to love about fashionista editrix Patsy (Lumley) and PR diva Edina (Saunders)? To watch these aging Brit chicks go through the motions of high-profile careers?when all they really want to do is get and stay high?is to witness some of TV history’s best knockabout farce. It’s part deliciously bitchy banter, part delightfully wobbly slapstick. And revisited on DVD, the act never gets old, whether they’re fending off bugs in rural France, selling Edina’s priggish daughter, Saffron, in a Marrakech marketplace, or pratfalling into empty graves (en route?late?to Edina’s father’s funeral). Such self-indulgent, utterly divine decadence! EXTRAS The early series feature little more than redundant outtakes, but series 4 comes loaded with goodies, topped off by ”Mirrorball,” the pilot for a show about has-been actresses that reunited Saunders, Lumley & Co. (but was abandoned by Saunders in favor of more Ab Fab). ?Michael Sauter

Degrassi: The Next Generation: The Ultimate Boxed Set
Miriam McDonald, Amanda Stepto
Unrated, 7 hrs., 30 mins., 2001 — 02 (FUNimation)

Catch up on this gem of a Canadian teen drama (currently in season 4 on digital cable/satellite net The N). The premiere brought back grads of ’80s cult hit Degrassi High for their 10-year reunion?including Spike, now a single mom to Emma, the daughter she’d had as a 14-year-old on the original show and the center of the next-generation cast. Through 15 episodes, we got drawn into the problems of Emma and her classmates’ seventh- and eighth-grade lives: first periods, first dates, student-council turf wars, and unrequited crushes. And when Emma discovered her boyfriend’s dark past, hyperactive Spinner lent basketball star Jimmy his Ritalin, or goody-goody Ashley did Ecstasy to escape her straitlaced image, we caught glimpses of the shockingly complicated world Degrassi would become in seasons 2 and 3. EXTRAS The outtakes and audition tapes are fun, especially for obsessive fans, as is the karaoke video for the catchy theme song. ?Jennifer Armstrong

The Office Collection
Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman
Unrated, 7 hrs., 30 mins., 2001 — 04 (Warner)

Meet David Brent (cowriter-codirector Gervais), the boss from hell. Monstrously self-centered but under the impression that he’s beloved and respected, he manages a sad little paper-supply company called Wernham Hogg in the desperately dull English town of Slough. His tragicomic slide from jerk in charge to victim of ”redundancy” (that fab U.K. term for layoff) is just enough material for two 6-episode series and a 90-minute special, all here in one handy package. It’s filmed reality- TV-style, yet has huge repeat value?mainly because first time around, the cringe factor makes you wince before you laugh. EXTRAS Smartly sarcastic making-of accounts, lots of outtakes with Gervais ruining everybody else’s performances, and some pricelessly honest video-diary footage of the program’s 2004 Golden Globe victory odyssey to L.A. ?Steve Daly

The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Unrated, 24 hrs., 39 mins., 1969 — 74 (A&E)

Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection
John Cleese, Prunella Scales
Unrated, 8 hrs., 20 mins., 1975 — 79 (BBC)

And now for something completely kick-ass. Circus introduced the unhinged comedy troupe Monty Python, giving us priceless bits like ”The Spanish Inquisition,” ”(Wink, Wink) Nudge Nudge,” and especially ”The Fish-Slapping Dance,” in which Palin repeatedly slapped an expressionless Cleese in the face with two small fish, until Cleese whipped out the enormous fish he’d been hiding all along and used it to knock Palin for a loop. EXTRAS Include live versions of ”Crunchy Frog” and other hits, plus Montykaraoke, where you can sing along to Python standards like ”Sit on My Face.” Further hilarity ensues in Gilliam’s wacky animated menus and the zany Pythonesque sound effects.

In Fawlty Towers, Cleese played Basil Fawlty, a hotel proprietor irascible enough to scare off Norman Bates. Rounding out the cast were Scales as Basil’s shrewish wife, Sybil; Andrew Sachs as Manuel, the bumbling waiter from Barcelona; and Connie Booth (Cleese’s first wife) as Polly, the hotel’s one sane staffer. In ”The Germans,” one of television’s funniest half hours ever, Basil returned to work after a bump on the head and couldn’t stop referencing World War II to some German guests. When they requested a prawn cocktail and pickled herring, he offered a ”prawn Goebbels” and ”Hermann Goering,” and later treated them to a Hitler impersonation (complete with a manic, goose-stepping variation on Circus‘ ”Ministry of Silly Walks”). EXTRAS Interviews with Cleese, Scales, and Sachs?whose real-life British accent trills in stark contrast to Manuel’s heavy-handed Spanglish?along with brief but brilliant outtakes. ?Leah Reisman-Senes

The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Mega-Set
Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg
Unrated, 16 hrs., 39 mins., 1961 — 69 (A&E)

A perfect mix of kinky high jinks and old-world derring-do, Britain’s cult series about two agents avenging ”extraordinary crimes against the people” was a quirky humdinger of a show. With Macnee as the imperturbable John Steed and the delicious Rigg as his second and most infamous partner, Mrs. Peel (others included Honor ”Pussy Galore” Blackman and model Linda Thorson), the do-they-or-don’t-they couple were the epitome of ’60s cool crossed with vintage Etonian style. Gracefully disposing of villains both whimsically absurd (cybernetic assassins) and uncomfortably real (world-domination-obsessed Soviets), the duo never missed a beat (Steed on extirpating a man-eating artichoke plant: ”I’m a herbicidal maniac, didn’t you know?”) and kept their tongues in cheek for six glorious seasons. EXTRAS Assorted production stills of each episode. ?Michelle Kung

The Prisoner: The Complete Prisoner Mega-set
Patrick McGoohan
Unrated, 14 hrs., 44 mins., 1968 (A&E)

Sometimes a TV show can be too ahead of its time. Case in point: this trippy, 17-episode Brit series that starred Patrick McGoohan (Secret Agent) as a government worker who was kidnapped and whisked off to a mysterious seaside town called the Village, inhabited by other former government employees. Under the ever-watchful eye of ”Rover,” a giant, menacing balloon, escape was seemingly impossible. Though ostensibly a weekly cat-and-mouse exercise in which McGoohan’s prisoner tried to suss out his captors’ identities and intentions, the smart, often wry scripts addressed such topics as conformity (”I am not a number, I am a free man!”), politics, and psychology. Heady stuff for the telly, but put across with such snappy cinematography and editing and groovy set design (Bondian gadgetry! Lava lamps!) that decades later it’s still absolutely fab. EXTRAS An alternate version of the ”Chimes of Big Ben” episode, interviews, and an interactive Village map. ?Tim Purtell


Family Guy: Volume One: Seasons 1 & 2
Voices by Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein
Unrated, 10 hrs., 24 mins., 1999 — 2000 (Fox)

Someone had to stand up and reveal the irate inner workings of Bert and Ernie’s closeted affair, and try to find the funny in Tiananmen Square protests?within the milieu of a domestic sitcom at that! The DVD-driven resurrection (in conjunction with a slot on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup) of the subversively witty and totally tasteless ‘toon is one of TV on DVD’s more remarkable successes. Canceled by Fox in 2002 after three seasons, the smuttier second cousin of The Simpsons went on to become a top-selling DVD in 2003, compelling Fox to commission new episodes for next spring while airing marathons this past summer. EXTRAS They run bare, but given the previous unavailability of this once-axed exercise in hot-damn hilarity, we’re not complaining. The silences during some commentaries may not reveal deeper nuances (if there are any), but at least we get to hear aspiring absolutist baby Stewie struggle with his sexuality. ?Timothy Gunatilaka

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volumes 1 and 2
Voices by Dave Willis, Carey Means
Unrated, 5 hrs., 37 mins., 2000 — 03 (Warner)

There are, no doubt, classically trained Disney draftsmen rolling in their graves at the idea of Aqua Teen, a barely animated Cartoon Network series about a self-obsessed milk shake, a sleeve of french fries that talks like a black high school principal, and a shape-shifting wad of meat (named, of course, Meatwad) who sort of get around to fighting injustice if it doesn’t get in the way of fighting with one another. Totally absurd, totally immature, and totally awesome?watching it is like a college dorm room contact high. EXTRAS Commentaries from the creators on selected episodes, deleted scenes, music videos, documentaries?all just as screwy as the series itself. ?Marc Bernardin

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Voices by Peter Robbins, Tracy Stafford
Unrated, 25 mins., 1965 (Paramount)

Forget Frosty, Rudolph, and just about every perpetually perky TV special you’ve ever seen brimming with silver bells, Santa’s elves, and holly-decked halls. Charlie Brown knows that holidays aren’t all sweetness and twinkle lights?and he isn’t afraid to admit it. ”I know nobody likes me,” he moans. ”Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?” It takes a tiny tree?as wilted as Charlie Brown himself?to finally bring him (as the choir sings) happiness and cheer. EXTRAS Good ol’ Chuck has shed his seasonal affective disorder in the bonus feature, 1992’s It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. The 23-minute show brings in sassy Peppermint Patty and smarty Marcie, but it lacks the simple sweetness of the original. ?Melissa Rose Bernardo

South Park — Four Season Pack: The Complete Seasons 1 — 4
Voices by Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Unrated, 24 hrs., 28 mins., 1997 — 2000 (Paramount)

The Passion of the Jew
Unrated, 66 mins., 2004 (Paramount)

Fearless, filthy, and?most importantly after 100-plus episodes?still f — -in’ funny, South Park remains cable’s loosest cannon, firing equally on what everyone’s talking about (The Passion of the Christ, hate-crime legislation, the Elian Gonzalez raid), and what no one’s talking about (whether the handicapped go to hell, what Charlie Manson’s doing for the holidays, NAMBLA). Why own the show on DVD when Comedy Central’s always airing it? Because sometimes you just need to see 8-year-old Eric Cartman denying a starving Ethiopian child a pot pie; patrolling the streets on his tricycle; persuading Confederate Civil War reenactors to rise again; directing Helen Keller! The Musical; or dressing like the Tooth Fairy. Immediately. EXTRAS A half-serious look at the story behind the series on season 2 and mini-commentaries from cocreators Parker and Stone on seasons 3 and 4 often prove as entertaining as the episodes themselves. ?Mandi Bierly