Home Movies: The Complete First Season

Another clever cartoon sit-com that was pulled from the air before it had a chance to reach a wider audience, Home Movies was one of the most crudely animated shows to hit the airwaves in the past few years but it was also one of the more intelligent and hilarious attempts at the ever-growing "cartoons for adults" medium. The main hook of Home Movies is following the cinematic works of an aspiring eight-year-old director named Brendon Small, who is voiced by and named after the series' co-creator Brendon Small. Along with his two friends, Melissa (Melissa Bardin Galsky) and Jason (Jon Benjamin), Brendon creates mini-motion pictures in his mother's basement, but this portion of Home Movies is really just an added twist to the series. The majority of the prime comedic value comes from the everyday ramblings between the characters, and the best parts tend to involve the kid's soccer coach, John McGuirk (also voiced by Jon Benjamin), who manages to mutter this DVD's best lines, usually while blinded by alcohol or filled with rage. The first season is just as strong as the following years, which is rare for most television shows, where the inaugural run is painful to watch, as the show is still looking for its legs. But right from the first episode, where Brendon's mother dates Coach McGuirk, we see Home Movies in very strong form right out of the gates. The humour that made Home Movies so lovable wasn't found in slapstick or absurdities though; it was done solely through the improvised and laid-back conversations between the characters, and this was the key ingredient to Home Movies' success, but one you have to have a little patience with if you're not used to such deadpan delivery in cartoon form. The only downfall of the first season is its "squiggle vision," which was first adopted by the similar-looking Dr. Katz, which applies a constant and annoying motion effect to the cast — a technique that was thankfully dropped in later seasons for the more calming Flash animation. The DVD is a tad disappointing, with no real look into the making of the show, opting for 20-minute-long interviews with Small, Benjamin and co-creator Loren Bouchard. The interviews come off a little too smart-ass and boring; they could have broken them all up and made a nice featurette with more engaging footage. There are two bizarre short films by Small and Benjamin though — Small's Thor Von Clemson Advanced Fast Hand Finger Wizard Master Class shows us how to play electric guitar at speeds so fast that your fingers will catch fire, and Benjamin's Baby Pranks is a rather funny Punk'd for unsuspecting victims in diapers. The episodes are a must-see, but the extras are quite weak. Hopefully there might be far more interesting tidbits dug up in time for the second season release this summer. Plus: animation gallery and animatics. (Shout! Factory/SMV)