Directed by Jay Karas
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 132 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 19.99
Release Date: March 11, 2008
Review Date: March 1, 2008
Presidents of the United States have always been prime targets for comic takeoffs, satire, and ridicule. Our current President gets his moment in the satirical spotlight with Comedy Central’s animated Lil’ Bush: Resident of the United States. Presuming to involve grade school versions of the current administration bumming around together during Bush Sr.’s years in the White House, Lil’ Bush might not always hit the comedy home run it aims for every time at bat, but each episode manages to produce some good shots at an easy and deserving target.
Lil’ George Bush has three loyal playmates: best friend Lil’ Chaney (who’s blisteringly angry all the time and bloodthirsty to boot), Lil’ Rummy (who gets to bear the brunt of blame for all the group’s shenanigans that go wrong), and Lil’ Condi (who worships Lil’ Bush from afar since his heart belongs to another). The quartet get into all sorts of mischief often together but sometimes separately. George, for example, gets involved in a close friendship with Lil’ Tony Blair when they become cheerleaders for their school (brother Jeb made the football team; Lil‘ George didn‘t), so close in fact that Big George and Big Barbara begin to feel some unease about his sexual orientation. Lil’ George wants to get his dad something special for Father’s Day so he and the group head to Bagdad to “bag dad something": isn’t that how it got its name?) The gang spends a creepy night in the attic of the White House finding out that it’s haunted by spirits of dead Presidents who aren’t too thrilled about what’s going on presently in Washington. They even get into a time machine hoping to enjoy the global warming that Lil’ Al Gore keeps harping about so they can swim around a flooded New York City in the future.
There are one or two big laughs in every episode, and some of them (one in particular when Lil’ Chaney goes to hell only to torment Satan to distraction) are hysterical. The animation, done in Bulgaria, is simple but effective, and the voice actors including Chris Parson (Lil‘ Bush, among others), Dave Mitchell (Lil' Jeb, Big Bush, the announcer, among others), Donick Cary (Lil’ Chaney, among others), Mara Cary (Barbara Bush), and Ann Villella (Lil’ Condi) do excellent work. The creators do indulge in their rock music interests by inserting a musical video into each episode featuring the Lil’ Bush Band. These moments are often the episode’s worst.
It’s the writing that’s the most erratic, of course. When one decides he’s going to chance satire, the results can pay big dividends or wind up falling totally flat, and Lil’ Bush has its share of storylines that don’t work (including a dreary one with a George Sr. look-alike that’s a total misfire). When it hits, though, it’s completely disarming and lots of fun. And that opportunity for fun is what keeps one coming back for more.
Here’s the episode list for the twelve installments which are combined into six twenty-two minute episodes:
1 - Iraq/First Kiss
2 - Nuked/Camp
3 - Gay Friend/Mexican
4 - Global Warming/Hall Monitor
5 - Evolution/Press Corps Dinner
6 - Haunted House/Hot Dog
The show’s 1.33:1 television aspect ratio is reproduced on this season one set. With no anamorphic enhancement, there are jaggies galore, and some color banding will be noticeable. The animation is very simple and is effective for these simple-minded caricatures. Colors are strong. Each episode is divided into chapters which vary from four to six depending on the episode in question.
The show’s Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is reproduced here and offers the expected above average aural fidelity. The music segments are loud and sometimes distorted, but all of the dialog is clear and placed properly in the center channel.
Every episode contains at least one audio commentary featuring selected members of the crew and cast talking through the episode and sometimes talking about things that have nothing to do with the episode. The commentaries are lively and very animated, often producing such laughter among the group that comments are hard to discern. There are three additional special commentaries featuring Jerry Springer (fairly uninterested in talking), Tucker Carlson (a fan of the show so he has a lot to say), and an angry, bitter, and contemptuous Ralph Nader who does nothing to disguise his loathing for the current administration. His commentary is definitely not to be missed!
An unaired episode “Walter Reed” is included on the disc, produced in the event that the Chaney in hell episode had to be ditched. It's surprising that they wouldn’t air the segment anyway since its satire on the disgraceful condition of veterans’ hospitals is so on target. It’s 13 minutes long and like all the features is presented in 4:3.
“Lil’ George’s White House Tour” is really just a 1¼-minute promo for the show which aired on Comedy Central.
“Behind the Scenes: Meet the Cast and Creators” is a nice 6-minute set of interviews with the major behind-the-scenes personnel who put the show together, but the video quality is appalling looking as if it were filmed with a home movie camera.
“Table Read” shows us the cast reading the “Hot Dog” script for the first time and getting into character as they switch instantly from role to role. Poor video and audio quality again mars an interesting 6-minute featurette.
The DVD offers previews of Comedy Central’s upcoming releases of The Best of ‘The Colbert Report,’ South Park - Season 10, and Drawn Together - Season 2.
It’s not the best satire on television, but Lil’ Bush does its part to comment aptly on the current administration’s numerous gaffes and foul-ups. The second season of the show begins Thursday, March 13, 2008, at 10:30 p.m.