Andy Richter Controls the Universe: The Complete Series

Andy Richter Controls the Universe: The Complete Series
Erstwhile and future Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter has embodied TV's latest clichés — critically acclaimed, low rated, cancelled — in several short-lived sitcoms. Richter is a sitcom natural but Controls the Universe was simply ahead of its time — it took the office-setting premise and added absurd flights of fancy and surreal flashbacks (Richter wears a suit made of puppies so people like him) that look perfectly normal to viewers of Scrubs, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother or Family Guy. Richter's supporting cast — notably Paget Brewster as Jessica the office boss and Jonathan Slavin as nervous office-mate Byron — are terrific, especially in later episodes as the ensemble gains confidence and chemistry. (Slavin is currently doing terrific work as part of another office-based duo on Better Off Ted, the newest offering from Controls the Universe creator Victor Fresco; it's been critically acclaimed but low rated so...) For its forward-looking approach and consistent laughs, Controls the Universe has maintained a strong cult following that should finally sated by the release of this long-awaited set. Its greatest gift is of course, more of the show: five unaired episodes of Richter hilarity finally see the light of day. That these "lost eps" come from throughout the show's run (the eighth ep made is among them) and points to some significant manipulating on the part of the network — changing timeslots, jerry rigging the show's unusual feel, trying to steer it in a more "accessible" direction —are usually the bellwethers of a short run. Still, five more episodes of a delightful, beloved cult show are a treat indeed. Plus: making of. (Paramount)