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Chappelle's Show: Season One

One of the brightest and most talented comics working today, Dave Chappelle has appeared as comic relief in numerous movies, and even got a movie (Half Baked) to star in. But — like most comedians — he finally found his niche in TV with the appropriately titled Chappelle's Show. A sketch comedy/variety show (there are occasional musical guests) that airs on Comedy Central, it began in 2003 (making this a quick DVD turnaround). Chappelle's Show: Season One collects the initial 12 episodes in an uncensored DVD version that doesn't bleep the swearing or blur out the nudity. Like most first seasons of any show, it has numerous weak spots (in this case, the middle episodes have some dead weight), but no episode is without merit and many of the sketches are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Perhaps Chappelle's best creation for the series is reoccurring character Tyrone Biggums, a crack addict who gives a motivational speech to a class of children that ends up teaching them how great he thinks drugs are. Another amusing sketch is the "Popcopy" training video, in which a well known copy shop is taken to task for the rudeness of their staff. Chappelle's sense of humor is often boundary-breaking in a childish way, with much of the comedy revolving around potty- and sex-related humor, but some of Chappelle sharpest and best material is about pushing race buttons. The first episode has a "Frontline" interview with Clayton Bigsby (Chappelle), a blind white supremacist who doesn't know he's black (nor do his fans), while "Mad Real World" flips the scheme of MTV's "The Real World" by having an all-black cast with just one white person who is horrified at his new living condition. But other bits are just nonsensical and goofy; "Blackzilla" has Chappelle running around a Godzilla-styled set and causing trouble. While still others offer commentary on the day's events, like the hilarious fake R. Kelly videos that play up Kelly's (alleged) scatological sexual proclivities. Paramount's two-disc set presents Chappelle's Show: Season One in full frame and in Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Though the box claims it's uncensored, music rights issues have cut some of the musicals guests out completely (which also leaves some episodes closer to 15 minutes than the standard 22). Extras include 30 minutes of outtakes that feature a commentary by Chappelle and co-writer and co-creator Neal Brennan. The duo also provided commentary on five of the episodes, and Brennan dominates most of the tracks, while Chappelle mostly just chimes in every once in a while. Also included is the uncut footage from the sketch "Ask a Black Dude with Paul Mooney" and snippets from other Comedy Central shows. Dual-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcase.
—DSH



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