Directed by Amanda Bearse
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 174 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English stereo
MSRP: $ 26.99
Release Date: April 29, 2008
Review Date: April 27, 2008
The second season of The Big Gay Sketch Show gets off to a rousing start with the hilarious Julie Goldman playing “Super Liza,” a superhero version of Liza Minnelli. It’s a great start to a season that’s even funnier and more inspired than the first one (also available on DVD). Strangely, for such an entertaining creation, Goldman doesn’t reprise Super Liza until the last sketch in the season finale episode. Here’s hoping for more Super Liza in the seasons ahead. Surely we’ll be seeing more of the show based on the very successful episodes presented in this second season set.
Goldman returns to the series with five other castmates from the original season: Erica Ash, Stephen Guarino, Jonny McGovern, Kate McKinnon, and Nicol Paone. Newly added this season are two outstanding male contributors: Paolo Andino and Colman Domingo. Both early on add hilarious character creations which rank among the highlights of the entire season. Andino plays the hunky parcel handler Naldo who has the men and women lined up at both UPS and LaGuardia to watch his sexy, suggestive way with a package. Domingo plays Maya Angelou in a hilarious series of poem readings. Among other outstanding new sketch ideas this season is a Star Jones bull session that turns surprisingly into one of our favorite stage and film musicals. Also very funny is a preview for “Coal Miner Mountain,” the latest in a series of movies featuring gay characters played by straight actors lusting after awards that seem to follow a suspicious pattern.
Best of all, however, are the welcome returns of some of the inspired creations from season one back for more hilarious shenanigans. We have the desperate English transgendered lad Fitzwilliam (Kate McKinnon) still pining for a vagina (he even turns up at Hogwarts looking for a little magical help.). We get Erica Ash in two hysterical creations: potty-mouthed Grandma Belle and jive-talking exercise coach Latanya. Stephen Guarino repeats two of his most popular characters from season one: the former Russian KGB hit woman turned gymnast Svetlana and the airhead keyboard clacking desk jockey who insists on asking endless questions. Nicol Paone returns as Elaine Stritch (or Stritchy as she likes to be called) selling her own fragrance line and later as an airport security guard. And we get some more gay variations on hit TV shows: Dynasty, The Facts of Life, and I Love Lucy.
As always, there are some sketches that don’t work, but there seem to be fewer misfires this season than last. One added moment doesn’t work, however. Executive producer Rosie O’Donnell has rounded up her chum Chastity Bono, and they play a lesbian version of Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show at the end of each of this set’s eight episodes. They’re not funny, and saying demeaning things about the show we’ve just watched is a rather sour way to end the episode, even if this season they have added bloopers to the closing credits that are fun to see.
A few famous faces besides O’Donnell and Bono show up in a couple of episodes. Elaine Stritch faces her portrayer Nicol Paone in the season opener. Christine Ebersole brings her uncanny Little Edie Beale to the program in a parody of her Broadway success in Grey Gardens. Kate Clinton and Paul Vogt also turn up to good effect in a few skits.
The show’s 1.33:1 aspect ratio is reproduced faithfully in this DVD set. The sharpness and color saturation levels are first rate, and as the shows are only months old, there are no artifacts at all that spoil the picture quality. Picture quality of outdoor filming doesn’t match well with the studio sketches, but that’s the only negative in a nice set of TV transfers. The episodes are divided into from 8 to 10 chapters depending on how many sketches make each episode’s final air broadcast version.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is adequate to convey the verbal quality of the sketches. Laughter seems more natural and less canned in the second season set than it did in season one’s set, but these are still low budget TV soundtracks.
All extras are presented on the second disc in the set, and all bonuses are presented in 4:3.
“The Big Straight Sketch Show” is a parody episode of the series as an executive at Logo decides to go after the other 90% of the viewing public by having the series actors all play straight characters in sketches written by the gay writing staff, all of whom struggle with trying to write and perform for this audience. A fairly hit or miss episode, it runs 21 ½ minutes.
“Julie Goldman Celesbian Interviews” are two interviews with female cast members. The interview with straight cast member Nicol Paone lasts 6 minutes while the talk with gay cast member Kate McKinnon runs for 7 ½ minutes.
There are 7 deleted sketches which may be played all at once or selected individually. Together they run 22 ½ minutes.
3 extended sketches (the Dynasty parody, the Oprah/Gayle road trip, and the straight parents’ public service announcement) are included though, truth to tell, only seconds of material were cut from each one of these skits.
All eight cast members and director Amanda Bearse participate in individual interviews which detail their favorite episodes, their favorite castmates, how they got cast (in the case of the two new men in the cast), and how the first and second seasons differ from one another.
A short collection of bloopers runs 1 ½ minutes though additional bloopers can be seen running beside the closing credits of each episode (and some are repeated in this section).
“Hold My Hair When I Throw Up” and “Behind the Big Gay Scenes” are both brief behind-the-scenes vignettes showing the cast between takes, in the dressing rooms, or generally clowning around. Each of these two segments runs 2 minutes.
There are previews for other Logo series on DVD including Rick & Steve, The Big Gay Sketch Show - Season One, and Exes and Ohs.
The Big Gay Sketch Show makes a welcome return in this second season set of eight episodes. With some fun bonus features and a nice overall package (one Naldo would be proud to grab hold of), it’s recommended for fans of the series.