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Bill Cosby: ...Far from Finished Blu-ray Review

Bill Cosby: ...Far from Finished (2013) Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Bill Cosby: ...Far from Finished
Special & Blu-ray Details

Original Airdate: November 23, 2013 / Running Time: 95 Minutes (Extended) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

Writer/Performer: Bill Cosby / Director: Robert Townsend / Executive Producers: Bill Cosby, Darryl M. Bell, Robert Hartmann, Judi Brown-Marmel, Stu Schreiberg

1.78:1 Widescreen / Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Blu-ray Release Date: November 26, 2013 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50) / Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($16.99 SRP), Amazon Instant Video, MP3 and CD ($9.00 SRP)

Buy Bill Cosby: ...Far from Finished from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video MP3 CD

Bill Cosby is probably the most revered of all comics living today, but he hasn't been actively entertaining in a very long time. "The Cosby Show" signed off over twenty years ago and neither of his subsequent television vehicles, the single-season crime drama "The Cosby Mysteries" and the four-season sitcom "Cosby", approached its success.
His children's series "Little Bill" has been off the air for nearly a decade. There's apparently also been a web series, but I'd never have known about it without consulting Cosby's IMDb filmography.

Though to many people under the age of 40, Cosby will forever best be known as Cliff Huxtable, his comedy legacy extends much further than that and Fat Albert and Picture Pages and Jell-O Pudding Pops. Cosby rose to fame and became a legend in the world of stand-up. But as that format has gotten edgier and far more ubiquitous, both airing on television and being adapted for it, Cosby has been missing from the scene, more apt to deliver a keynote speech or accept an award than to make crowds laugh at length. Now, at age 76, the comic gives us his first new stand-up special in thirty years in Bill Cosby: ...Far from Finished, a recent Comedy Central broadcast that's now available in extended DVD and Blu-ray editions.

Cosby addresses his unlikely union with Comedy Central, a cable network known for racy, colorful humor and he being an entertainer for whom the only F-word is "funny." Gladly, it's Comedy Central doing the bending to fit Cosby's clean act and not the septuagenarian adapting to the times. Technically, this is not a stand-up special but a sit-down one. Cosby remains seated for almost the entire show, a fact the cover art seems to try to hide and one set up by an opening gag in which a stagehand keeps downgrading the seat until arriving at a simple folding chair.

Bill Cosby uses his fingers to illustrate the change from girlfriend to wife in "...Far from Finished", his first comedy special in thirty years.

A man with a career as long as Cosby's deserves to sit and this special requires little of the physicality and mobility that some comics employ. With his thin, receding white hair and slow pace, Cosby certainly looks and sounds his age. His appearance takes a little adjusting to and there is some fear that we could be getting an old man out to prove he's still got it, even though it's plain for us to see he does not. Happily, that is not the case here. Cosby hasn't lost his touch, timing, or unique outlook on life. He used to be the Dad everyone wished they had and now he is the Grandpa. A Grandpa with witty stories to tell and relatable experiences to share.

Filling a 90-minute timeslot last month, ...Far from Finished runs 95 minutes on Blu-ray and DVD, gaining around thirty minutes after accounting for commercials. The rare Comedy Central disc not advertised as "uncensored", Cosby remains as family-friendly as always, never getting close to a dirty word or crude topic. He clearly doesn't need to, either, despite the profession increasingly venturing to dark, outrageous places.

In the hands of another performer, Cosby's act could probably be condensed to an hour-long show without losing a word. His slow manner of speaking is a big part of his avuncular charm, nonetheless. Much of the show he spends discussing married life. He uses his fingers to illustrate what happens when a girlfriend (the pinky) becomes a wife (the ring finger). The fun beer-drinking, sports-watching girlfriend suddenly evolves into something of a keeper, a warden, and a mother (but not a friend). Cosby makes married life sound miserable, but in an entertaining way. Marriage is obviously the central force in his life; he and his wife will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next month!

Bill Cosby pops his eyes to comic effect in Comedy Central's "Bill Cosby: ...Far from Finished."

He compares marriage to chess and relays a long anecdote about his encounter with his home security provider in which he had to admit he doesn't know his "code name" (but his wife does).
While that story may not hit close to home for everyone, others very well might. He describes riding in a car with another couple and having to hear his wife's friend echo everything uttered by a GPS device to her husband. He recalls driving his kids to school and having them ask him to drop them off from a distance to avoid classmates' comments. He discusses calling a friend to help when his car broke down in the middle of the night.

Probably the highlight of the show and seemingly its longest segment has Cosby retelling with childlike delight the time he slipped one past the wife and her nutritional concerns, as while dining at a restaurant he used a bathroom break to sneak into a bakery next door to score two chocolate chip cookies that are "bigger than Famous Amoses, smaller than Mrs. Fields." It's all in Cosby's delivery, as you could try repeating the story to someone else and almost certainly not even get a smile. But the Cos, taking at least ten minutes to paint a thorough picture, tickles you deeply.

...Far from Finished may not be the great triumph you'd like, but it's more enjoyable than most of today's stand-up specials. It's a show that leaves you feeling good even if you're not there in attendance at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and not adding to their regular laughter from the comfort of your couch. This special, which feels more like an isolated attempt than a career revival, ushers Cosby into Bob Newhart territory, remaking him as a wise, elderly figure with mild yet certainly entertaining observations about old age and unending marriage you can appreciate now and hope to one day experience yourself.

Astute viewers may notice Comedy Central star Daniel Tosh in the front row of the theater. A bonus feature comment explains that he is one of a number of young, admiring comics who were seated in the first few rows.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Blu-ray delivers a flawless high definition presentation of this special. The 1.78:1 widescreen picture is sharp, vibrant, and untroubled, giving us clear looks from various angles of Cosby in his salmon dress shirt and freshly-pressed khakis and the blue curtains on the stage behind him. Sound is offered in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and plain Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. I listened to and enjoyed the former, for its fitting distribution of audience reaction while Cosby's monologues are crisp and clear in front. Not always a certainty for the studio, English SDH subtitles are kindly provided.

I'd like to think that Nelson Mandela had and wore this same T-shirt. Bill Cosby meets with director Robert Townsend and other crew members in "Behind the Scenes."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Seemingly recognizing the rare stature of Cosby, Comedy Central gives the special more substantial bonus features than usual,
all of which the Blu-ray presents in HD.

First and most significantly is a Cosby interview (48:45) conducted by the special's director, accomplished actor-turned-filmmaker Robert Townsend. This long chat offers invaluable insight and perspective from Cosby, who discusses his entrance into comedy and long career in it, deconstructs the special's chocolate chip cookie sequence, compares his craft to playing basketball, acknowledges his lack of profanity and bad taste, and contemplates his legacy. Looking and sounding younger and livelier than he does in the show itself, Cosby also confesses taking a joke from George Carlin, recalls experiences with detractors, and weighs in on Lenny Bruce.

Next, "Behind the Scenes" (5:02) lives up to its title with crew members discussing the thrill of working on this special.

Bill Cosby gives a double-fisted approval to the band recording the special's opening theme music. A family of five and others leaving the show voice their appreciation for the Cos and do Fat Albert impressions.

"Gangbusters #1" (2:24) shows us the making of the special's opening music, with Cosby humorously directing the band recording it.

Finally, "Fans" (2:51) collects exit testimonials from those leaving the Cerritos Center pleased,
at least some of them referring to bits that may have been done at a performance other than the one preserved here. Others do Fat Albert impressions.

The menu animates the cover art images into place and then the twinkles on the title while a bit of that "Gangbusters" score plays. Though the Blu-ray doesn't let you set bookmarks for your favorite moment, it does kindly resume unfinished playback the same way that a DVD does.

No inserts or slipcovers accompany the blue keepcase. Why would they? It's Bill Cosby. What more do you need?!

Bill Cosby sits on stage at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, next to a nightstand holding a water bottle and a box of tissues.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

...Far from Finished reveals that Bill Cosby has still got it. This new feature-length Comedy Central special lets us reconnect with the legendary comic and discover his knack for storytelling remains intact into his old age. Though not quite uproarious, this pleasant outing makes for a highly enjoyable alternative to faster and edgier contemporaries. Cosby's leisurely-paced anecdotes make for a fast and fun viewing. The Blu-ray presents the show with the utmost technical quality and a strong hour of substantial bonus features. Whether here or on DVD (which seems to offer all of the same content), it's a platter easy to recommend to Cosby's countless fans.

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Reviewed December 6, 2013.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Pan Out Productions, Levity Entertainment Group, Comedy Central Home Entertainment,
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