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Dilbert: The Complete Series

First published in 1989, Scott Adams' "Dilbert" slowly but surely became a phenomenon. It caught on because it was one of the first satires of the modern cubical life that nailed the inefficiency of middle management, as well as the banal tempos and inane concerns of office life. Put on by UPN in 1999 with Adams and "Seinfeld" vet Larry Charles behind it, the television show Dilbert lasted two seasons and never found the audience that the struggling network was hoping for (one assumes they were looking for the next Simpsons). It stars Daniel Stern as the voice of Dilbert, an engineer who's an everyman stuck in his binary thinking, and follows his day-to-day struggles with his workplace and his pets. The pets are the evil genius Dogbert (Chris Elliot, in a bit of inspired casting), who doesn't particularly like Dilbert but helps him when he's in a pinch, and Ratbert (Tom Kenny). His office is populated by the triangle-haired, violence-prone Alice (voiced by Kathy Griffith, whose name doesn't appear in the credits), the impossibly lazy Wally (Gordon Hunt), appropriately named Loud Harold (Jim Wise), and mousy intern Asok (Kenny), and is run by the stupid and unnamed pointy-haired boss (Larry Miller). Every once in a while the Human Resources director Catbert (Jason Alexander) will make their lives even more miserable. Like most shows, Dilbert starts rocky (the pilot is dreadful) and slowly builds into its own thing, and after the first couple of episodes the production finds its rhythm. There are some great gems along the way, and it makes for entertaining viewing, though there are ups and downs throughout. Some of the highlights include "Marker People," which has Dilbert finding out why all the dry-erase markers are missing and elf porn has been accessed on his computer — people who were let go because of downsizing have become miniature people addicted to the markers and act like hippies because of it; "The Dupey," in which Dilbert invents a cute toy named "Dupies" that become the next big phenom until they mature and get ugly by growing wings and giant brains (voiced by Christopher Guest); and the series' masterstroke "The Virtual Employee," where a search for an empty cubicle to dump their junk leads Dilbert and company to making up a fake employee named Todd to fill the office, leading to all sorts of jokes about the existence of Todd. Like The Simpsons, Dilbert is at its best when it jumps from tangent to tangent, or when its satire is on the nose, which the show hits more than it misses. Like all series of this nature, famous people show up to do guest voices, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Tom Green, Eugene Levy, Buck Henry, Chazz Palmenteri (as Leonardo Da Vinci), and Andy Dick doing the rounds. Columbia TriStar presents Dilbert: The Complete Series in full frame and DD 2.0 stereo surround. The first season is on Discs One and Two (comprising 13 episodes), while the second season is on Discs Three and Four (17 episodes). Extras are located on the first disc, with a 20-min. "making-of" (which primarily interviews Adams), four compilation reels of highlights introduced by Adams, and promos for other TV box sets. Four-DVD digipak in paperboard slipcase.

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