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The Norm Show: Complete Series

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The Norm Show: Complete Series
By John SemleyJust like any good Western, sci-fi or slasher movie, it's always exciting to see (or revisit) a really good sitcom. Nowadays, shows like Arrested Development, The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm have ditched the laugh tracks and nurtured a more nuanced style of TV comedy, and that's all well and good. But there's nothing quite like seeing a great show operating within the strictures of the more traditional sitcom format, wiggling around to try and define its sensibility while being contained on all sides by convention. Norm McDonald's short-lived ABC sitcom, The Norm Show (shortened to Norm during its second season), is one such show. The brainchild of McDonald and Drew Carey Show producer Bruce Helford, The Norm Show features McDonald at his acerbic best as Norm Henderson, a disgraced NHL player forced to take a job as a social worker in exchange for a commuted prison sentence. Buoyed by McDonald (whose couldn't-give-a-shit attitude comes off as a welcome affront to the sitcom format's intrinsic eagerness to please), The Norm Show was a great sitcom. Sure, in latter seasons it gets a bit wacky ― including dated Pokemon battles, kooky premises and more and more guest stars ― but McDonald's presence serves to ground it all. The supporting cast, including co-workers Laurie (Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf) and Danny (Drew Carey's Ian Gomez), Norm's half-brother Artie (Artie Lange) and chinless boss Mr. Denby (Max Wright, aka Willie from Alf), are also stellar. Like so many non-Seinfeld sitcoms, episodes tend to wrap up with too-happy endings. But in the rare occasions when the show gets really gloomy or macabre, as with the episode where Laurie films a commercial of herself dancing on a political rival's grave, only for him to drop dead, the potential of The Norm Show begins to rear its head. It's too bad the show got cancelled. But at least now it can warrant a re-evaluation on DVD. Special features are light, amounting to little more than a few commentaries by McDonald and Helford, and some sparse liner notes.
(Shout! Factory)
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