Sunday, October 9, 2011

DVD Review: SNUFF BOX - THE COMPLETE SERIES (2006)



SNUFF BOX - THE COMPLETE SERIES (2006)
DVD/CD
LABEL: Severin Films
RELEASE DATE: October 11th 2011
REGION CODE: 1 NTSC
DURATION: 168 mins
AUDIO: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
VIDEO: 16:9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
DIRECTOR: Michael Cumming
CAST: Matt Berry, Rich Fulcher

SNUFF BOX was a short-lived British cult comedy series starring Matt Berry (THE IT CROWD) and Rich Fulcher (THE MIGHTY BOOSH) which premiered in the UK on BBC3 in 2006 and though it ran only briefly has garnered a loyal cult fan base via YouTube clips and word of mouth.

The series follow the exploits of the High Executioner to the King of England Matt Berry and his American assistant Rich Fulcher as they spend their down time at the exclusive Hangmen’s Club. The two occasionally venture out into the world make strange attempts to charm the opposite sex, stab each other in the back and randomly burst into song, which is usually a variation on the shows main theme composed and sung by Matt Berry.

A bit if a odd sitcom that devolves into warped sketches which are strange, bizarre and plenty offensive with a heavy sprinkling of words like "fuck" and "cunt" thrown in to pepper the warped sketches. The paunchy leads are acerbic, dark and often mean-spirited to each other with Berry stealing most of Fulcher's romantic pursuits .
The sketches run together like a foul-mouthed Lynchian nightmares punctuated by re-occurring bits like Matt Berry's "Boyfriend" sketch in which he meets attractive ladies, befriends them performing some chivalrous act and then at the mention of a boyfriend literally drops (or kicks) what he's doing, mutters "fuck off" and walks away. Their are also musical sketches like Rich Fulcher's YouTube sensation "Rapper with a Baby", Matt Berry's "Suicide IV" which riffs on the Edgar Winter group (of "Frankenstein" fame) and the offensively awesome "The Fuck Song".

The show doesn't readily feel derivative of anything but sitting here watching the show and reveling in my discovery of it I am reminded of a time a friend handed me two VHS cassettes marked MR. SHOW sometime in the late 90's which I took home and for two days straight laughed myself stupid with the genius of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, it's a lot like that.
DVD: Severin's DVD contains all six half-hour episodes presented in 16:9 widescreen (1.85:1) and it looks good if not overly sharp. I would imagine that the series is an PAL-NTSC conversion and that may account for some of the image softness and lack of detail. The Dolby Digital stereo audio does it's job well and dialogue, effects and Matt Berry's score come through winningly.

The sets bonus content is nearly as lengthy as the entire six episode run  beginning with Taking Control of Your Body (31:47) featuring appreciations of the series and it's creator's from Paul Rudd (KNOCKED UP), Rob Schrab (THE SARAH SILVERMAN SHOW), Simon Pegg (SHAUN OF THE DEAD) and "Weird Al" Yankovic (UHF) among others, the series definitely has a strong following.

Locations Walking Tour With Berry and Fulcher (12:36) features the shows stars returning to the East London streets where five years previously many of the series sketches were filmed. The street tour is fun with Berry seemingly not able to recollect much through the fog of intoxication aside from the location at 29 Hamburg St, where Annie Chapman, Jack the Ripper's 2nd victim, was killed over a century ago. Along the way they visit an art gallery where they shot one of the sketches, Fulcher pulls alongside a gallery visitor and asks of she's aware of the show, embarrassingly she is not.

Inside the Snuff Box (17:58) is nearly eighteen minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the series with lots of Python kissing, rehearsing the "Rapper with a Baby" musical sketch among others.

The Score With Matt Berry (4:50) features the musician slash writer/actor speaking about the composition of the series main theme and breaking it down into it's two main chords then performing it. I find this song so addictive that I've slipped it into several of my iPod playlists of late.

Testimonials (14:58) is a collection of riffs in the series from Andrew Daly (YOGI BEAR) who sumbits the idea that Rich Fulcher's mere presence may be a turn off to American viewers and should therefor be edited out of the show altogether and replaced via green screen with Daly, of course. Steve Agee (SUPER) offers up series specific trivia including the nugget that the show is based on the German sketch comedy program "Ich Bein Asshole" and Jeaninie Garafolo goes into a spiel on why her star has fallen since the 1990's and her soft midsection before praising the show's genius. It's a fun, sarcastic bit of promotion.

Rounding out the well-stuffed disc are Outtakes (7:54) and three audio commentaries from Berry and Fulcher for episodes one, two and six which offer some insight into the show's particular brand of humor as well as just being funny in and of itself. Aside from the fun testimonials the sets' best feature is a separate disc featuring 23 tunes and incidental music from the series including the toe-tapping main theme, "Rapper with a Baby" and "The Fuck Song".

EPISODES:
1."Rich's Mother"
2."Matt's Diary"
3."Punchline"
4."Oh Brothers"
5."Love Triangle"
6."Wedding"

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Taking Control of Your Body Exclusive New Interview Featurette With Simon Pegg, Paul Rudd, Noel Fielding, Rob Coddry, Rob Schrab, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Paul Scheer And More! (31:47) 16:9
- Locations Walking Tour Exclusive New Featurette With Berry and Fulcher (12:36) 16:9
- The Score Exclusive New Featurette With Matt Berry (4:50) 16:9
- Inside the Snuff Box Featurette (17:58) 4:3
- Testimonials Exclusive New Featurette With Janene Garofolo, Steve Agee And More! (14:58)16:9
- Outtakes (7:54) 16:9
- Commentaries For Three Episodes Featuring Berry, Fulcher And Director Michael Cumming
- Easter Egg (1:30) 16:9

BONUS DISC: CD Of Music From The Show (23 songs, 36 mins)

VERDICT: SNUFF BOX just does not seem like a series that could ever have been greenlit let alone unleashed upon late-night TV audiences but somehow through a confluence of timing, place and impeccable taste it did in fact air on BBC 3 for six week in 2006. Like most great things it went away far too quickly but it's here on DVD where it's cult status will continue to grow. Definitely not for everyone but if you enjoy the irreverent and warped comedy of MR. SHOW and THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMAN this short-lived series will reward repeated viewings for years to come. A classic cult-comedy series and a high recommend for you comedy-cunts out there.

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