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Chappelle's Show: Season 2

For Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show, the first season was well regarded and liked. Not an out-of-the-box success, it developed a following that steadily increased. And word kept growing, to the point that when Paramount released the first season on DVD, they quickly sold out their first pressing; it went on to become the best-selling television DVD of all time. But if the first season was appreciated, it was the second season that turned the show into a phenomenon. Pop culture so quickly embraced the 13 episodes of Season Two that creator and star Dave Chappelle began to publicly kvetch about people approaching him to shout the season's most overexposed (though not funniest) catch-phrase — "I'm Rick James, bitch" — even if he was with his children. Nonetheless, in television comedy, there is no greater metric of success than catch-phrases, and anyone who caught the initial run could repeat several: "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?"; "Darkness"; "Cocaine's a hell of a drug"; "The milk's gone bad!"; "Skeet Skeet Skeet!" — all reverberated through the popculturesphere. Chappelle thought he was done after his second season, but because of his show's huge following, he and writing partner Neal Brennan inked a $50 million deal for two more seasons. Originally, this third season was to start in February 2005 (with a similarly timed release of the Season Two DVD), but word leaked of creative struggles, and both the discs and the third season were postponed until May of 2005. But when that date approached, Chappelle and company blinked again; as of this writing, rumors circle the show's fate.

Chappelle's Show: Season Two begins with a sketch featuring one of Chappelle's most famous impressions, Samuel L. Jackson, and his new beer line. Coming out swinging, the first episode features such classic bits as how much cooler the world becomes in slow motion, and a racial draft in which Tiger Woods is decided to be all black, Colin Powell is made white, and the Wu Tang Clan becomes Asian. But what really launched the show was episode four, which is almost entirely "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Story," in which Eddie Murphy's brother recounts his strained relationship with Rick James (played in flashbacks by Chappelle, and with then-current interviews of the late James). This was followed by the only other "True Hollywood Story," wherein Charlie plays Prince at basketball and loses, only to be served pancakes by the Purple One. As is the staple with sketch-comedy shows, there are recurring characters from the first season, and the best of the bunch is crack addict Tyrrone Biggums, who wins an episode of "Fear Factor" through the benefits of his addiction, while the Playa Hatas take a trip in a time machine. And the second season creates recurring bits of its own — with the most famous being Chappelle's take on rapper Lil' Jon, who mostly speaks in screeched words like "What!" "Yeah!" and "Okay!" Other episodes consist mostly of one major sketch, with the best of those being when Wayne Brady takes Chappelle's show over and then gives Dave a memorable night on the town, casting Brady as Denzel Washington's character in Training Day.

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At its best, Chappelle's Show mixes social observation (usually withering) with pop-culture parodies, and with an eye towards the scatological — the humor is a constant mix of high- and lowbrow. Though some of the jokes may be a bit diluted by their overexposure, each installment is raucously funny, even if a bit was repeated by friends or coworkers before it's viewed. There are some weaker bits and jokes, but the highs here are so high that the season launched Dave Chappelle into the pantheon of great television performers. Chappelle got his start in stand-up at age 14 and made various attempts at the spotlight, with an aborted sitcom (Buddies), starring roles (Half Baked), and supporting parts (Con Air, You've Got Mail), but his breakthrough has the same quality of a young, impossibly inventive Eddie Murphy on "Saturday Night Live" circa 1982. The series also benefits from utilizing only one voice, that being Chappelle's, offering a consistency missing from most sketch-comedy formats. As an adoring public waits to see if Chappelle can meet his contract (he's commented that his newfound fame has made it to difficult to get honest feedback), he at least can rest assured that his legacy in sketch comedy is guaranteed.

Paramount presents all 13 episodes of Chappelle's Show: Season Two in full-frame transfers with Dolby 2.0 stereo audio in a three-disc set. The first disc includes the first seven episodes, with commentaries on the first four by Chappelle and writer Neal Brennan, sneak previews of other Comedy Central DVDs, and full sketches from "South Park" and "Reno 911." The second disc contains the remainder of the season and one commentary for episode 12. Disc Three offers the bulk of the supplemental material, with the first up being "Dave's Extra Stand Up" (17 min.), which consists of Chappelle doing bits for the live audience. Also included are 19 deleted scenes (71 min.) with optional commentary that runs an additional minute to allow Chappelle and Brennan to thank their crew. "Charlie Murphy's Rick James Memories" is an uncut interview with Charlie Murphy about Rick James (15 min.), while "The Rick James Extended Interview" is James's rebuttal (21 min.). "Charlie Murphy's Additional Hollywood Stories: I Want More" talks of a bleeped comic who was a friend of the Murphy clan (19 min.), while "Charlie Murphy's Additional Hollywood Stories: That's My Brother" has Charlie talking about his more famous brother Eddie and the trouble he got into in the early '80s (10 min.). Three-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcover.

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