Click & Clack’s As the Wrench Turns
Directed by Tom Sito
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Running Time: 300 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: September 30, 2008
Review Date: October 1, 2008
An animated version of NPR hit advice show Car Talk showed up on PBS this year as Click and Clack’s As the Wrench Turns. These ten thirty minute episodes featuring the adventures of two lazy car mechanics who also have a weekly radio talk show in Boston accommodate a zany cast of characters who haven’t yet been allowed to be really zany. The characters are there, and there’s potential in the concept, but As the Wrench Turns gets points mostly for potential so far rather than for actual performance.
Click and Clack Tappet (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) run a garage with a motley crew of workers: elderly Crusty (Cornell Womack), dapper Fidel (Juan Hernandez), and no nonsense Stash (Manu Narayan). Most of the time these guys look for ways to avoid work, much to the continual annoyance of the brothers’ radio producer Beth (Kelli O’Hara). Occasionally they drag the host of PBS’ hit show Antiques Roadkill (Paul Christie) into their schemes or make him their innocent victim. The brothers josh good naturedly about their laziness (and annoyingly laugh at each other's jokes) despite continual harassment by Beth, their sponsors, or disgruntled customers who are dissatisfied with the quality of the work in the garage.
The series derives its plots from any innovative ways the boys can figure to get out of doing work, either in the garage or doing their radio call-in show. In one episode, they outsource their talk show to India resulting in much higher ratings and raises for them and for Beth. In another, they fail to do their part for PBS fundraising and are told to raise $5 million or consider themselves fired. Their solution: run for President so they can get free matching funds. It’s this series of silly contrived stories that propel the show. Surprisingly, despite the meandering nature of the writing (mostly by Doug Berman with others on select episodes), there are occasional bits of helpful information especially in a funny moment when Al Gore swoops down to lecture the boys on their gas guzzling maxi-van while giving a brief summation of his theories on global warming. Another episode makes good points about our reliance on petroleum products and makes serious entreaties for us to Go Green. (Their solution: develop cars which run on pasta.)
The voice work by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi is easy-going without asking them to probe very deeply into themselves to come up with anything like complex characterizations. The other voice actors seem content to do funny accents but haven’t yet started to find reserves of comic creativity to give these cute characters something a little more special and unique.
Here are the ten episodes contained in this two-disc set:
1 - Campaign
2 - Outsourcing
3 - Boston Blackout
4 - Pasta Wars
5 - Gigantic Motors
6 - Fidel Vs. Zuzu
7 - Abercrombie & Wrench
8 - A Pocketful of Motor Oil
9 - Gotcha!
10 - Casino
Despite the information in liner notes, the 1.78:1 encoding is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. Colors are fairly rich looking without over saturation, and lines are black and bold. However, without anamorphic enhancement, jaggies are certainly present, and there is an annoying tendency for the image to lose focus momentarily when the camera moves laterally. To its credit, there is no banding in the image, and it‘s very clean looking. Each episode has been divided into either 8, 9, or 10 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio track is serviceable. There are occasional music cues and some random sounds coming from the left and right channels, but the majority of the sound activity is restricted to the center channel.
There are no bonus features at all on the discs.
Not a great series yet, but a series with great potential, Click and Clack’s As the Wrench Turns needs better plotting, a cast working harder to mine the maximum out of their characters, and better jokes. Hopefully, if there are more episodes, the writers can improve on the solid foundation they have created.