In Living Color: Season One

Sketch shows live and die by the cultural saturation of their catchphrases and in 1990, In Living Color had everyone from grade school kids to white-haired grannies spouting such lines as "Homey don't play that!" and "Two snaps up!" Not to mention that hip-hop's eventual takeover of the mainstream can be at least partly attributed to the Wayans family's variety half-hour, as oldest sibling Keenan Ivory, his much funnier (at the time, anyway) brother Damon, sister Kim (lil' Shawn manned the turntables) and the rest of the cast injected their "urban" sensibility onto network television. As one learns in the 30-minute documentary included with this first-season DVD, the pilot actually sat around for a year before Fox took a chance and ordered 13 episodes, quickly capturing the zeitgeist. But they were also lucky, hiring such future stars as Rosie Perez (as the Fly Girls' choreographer) and a then-unknown token white comic named James Carey who specialised in "physically grotesque" characters like the lady bodybuilder Vera DeMilo. Topical comedy is only as funny as its references, so the Arsenio, Milli Vanilli, Andrew "Dice" Clay and MC Hammer jokes are only faintly amusing. But there are plenty of still-hilarious sketches, such as Damon Wayans and David Allen Grier's "Men On Film" (two snap-happy reviewers who are able to find the homoerotic subtext in everything, from Karate Kid III to Great Balls of Fire), as well as the self-explanatory "The Wrath of Farrakhan," "Cooking with Salt n' Pepa," "Homeboy Shopping Network" and, of course, Homey the Clown. Not everything stands the test of time (or more likely, it wasn't all that funny to begin with) but during the current post-nipple censorship crackdown, one realises how daring and groundbreaking this politically incorrect show was and still feels. Curiously, the extras mostly feature the peripheral players. The two commentaries are helmed by also-ran Tommy Davidson, who went on to such, er, successes as Juwanna Mann and the quick Fly Girls featurette has no J-Lo, although she admittedly signed on in a subsequent season. While it's not surprising Jim Carrey failed to show up for the self-congratulatory documentary (which overly relies on the director, writer and casting agent), it also boasts no Wayans family participation. They couldn't have all been busy. (Fox)