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Dan Vs. The Complete First Season DVD Review

Dan vs.: The Complete First Season DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Dan Vs.: Season One (2011)
Show & DVD Details

Creators/Co-Executive Producers: Dan Mandel, Chris Pearson / Executive Producers: Dan Angel, Jay Fukuto / Supervising Producers and Directors: Matt Danner, Brian Sheesley

Writers: Chris Pearson, Dan Mandel, Kirill Baru, Eric Zimmerman, Tom Saunders / Directors: Bill Kopp, Brian Sheesley

Regular Voice Cast: Curtis Armstrong (Dan Mandel), Dave Foley (Chris Pearson), Paget Brewster (Elise Pearson, Mr. Mumbles, Madame Zelda)

Recurring Guest Voices: Grey DeLisle (Supermodel, Shakespeare Theatre Owner, Hortence, Delores, Moose, Assorted), Dan Mandel (Skip, Vice Commissioner, Mime, Cop, Talking Sandwich, Assorted), Eric Bauza (Ninja Dave, Paramedic, Assorted), Carlos Alazraqui (Lifeguard, Maurice, Assorted), Jeff Bennett (George Washington, Assorted), John DiMaggio (Barber, Assorted), Tom Kenny (Crunchy, Assorted), Patrick Falvey (Cop, Boss, Assorted), David Kaye (Canadian Announcer, Assorted), Meredith Baxter (Elise Sr.), Michael Gross (Don), Bill Kopp (Baseball Team Manager, Assorted), Matt Danner (Assorted)

Single-Episode Guests: Mark Hamill (Dr. Pullum), Henry Winkler (Helicopter Hal), Fred Tatasciore (Hippie Captain), Kevin McDonald (Barry), Harland Williams (Hiram), Cree Summers (Becky Barber), Rene Auberjonois (Chef Purée), John C. McGinley (Fake Dan), Daran Norris (Colby), Kevin Michael Richardson (Jeremiah Burger), Tara Strong (Timmy)

Running Time: 482 Minutes (22 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-PG on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Hi-Def Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned
Season 1 Airdates: January 1, 2011 - July 9, 2011
Suggested Retail Price: $14.98 (Reduced from $26.98) / DVD Release Date: July 17, 2012
Three single-sided discs (2 DVD-9s & 1 DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Instant Video HD

Buy Dan Vs.: The Complete First Season DVD from Amazon.com

There has been such a movement in recent years for television programming to be dark and edgy that it's kind of refreshing to encounter "Dan Vs.", an animated series much too tame for Adult Swim and Comedy Central.
It's a show that might have fit in during Warner Bros.' mid-1990s after-school cartoon boom, possessing the irreverence of "Animaniacs" and "Freakazoid!" without the ugliness and satire of a "South Park" or "Family Guy."

You are certainly less likely to have heard of "Dan Vs." than any of the other aforementioned series. That is because it airs on a digital cable and satellite TV channel called The Hub. Broadcast on Saturday afternoons with a TV-PG rating before '90s "Goosebumps" reruns and after younger-skewing 'toons like Hasbro's current Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony (the network's most popular draw) series, "Dan" draws less than 200,000 viewers on a good day. On such a niche channel, that is enough of an audience to earn second and third seasons. Now, shortly after the airing of Season 2's finale, The Complete First Season has come to DVD in a 3-disc set from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Every episode of "Dan Vs." gives Dan reason to throw a fit and seek revenge. Dan and loyal best friend/accomplice Chris don't notice the crazed ax-wielding outdoorsman coming their way in "Dan vs. Technology."

The DVD case touts that this series hails "from the animation studio that brought you 'The Simpsons' and 'King of the Hill'", a claim that perhaps speaks more to the appropriateness of the content than to any value. Television differs from the film world, where a handful of powerful companies have their own distinct brands and unmissable output. Film Roman, a subsidiary of Starz taking its name from founder and longtime Peanuts director Phil Roman, has produced a wide variety of cartoons over the past twenty-five years, from "Garfield and Friends" and "Bobby's World" to certain recent Marvel cartoons and last year's "Beavis and Butt-Head" revival. None of that means much for "Dan Vs.", a Flash production that isn't strong enough for you to wish it reached a larger audience.

The title establishes the show's formulaic design, in which irritable man-child Dan Mandel (voiced by Curtis Armstrong, better known as Booger from the Revenge of the Nerds movies) seeks revenge on whomever he perceives as wronging him this week.
Helping him on the vengeful quests are put-upon best friend Chris Pearson (voiced by Dave Foley of "NewsRadio" and "Kids in the Hall" fame) and Chris' wife Elise (Paget Brewster, "Criminal Minds"), who keeps her life as a covert agent secret. Each episode pits two or more of the three leads against a specific target. There is no serialization or growth. Just as Phineas and Ferb always try to make the most of summer vacation and their pet platypus always dabbles in espionage, Dan and, begrudgingly, Chris try to settle a score in a grandiose way.

The show is the first major work of creators Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson, whose character names and storytelling suggest a fair amount of autobiography. That lends some personality, but it takes back seat to stories that never quite sizzle. These off-the-wall, rage-fueled misadventures rarely produce more than a light chuckle and in anything resembling mass viewing prove extremely difficult to stay invested in.

Dan identifies the first target of his wrath: the sneakered Wolf-Man he believes scratched his car. Elise gets to unleash her secret badass as her feud with a Japanese ninja is reawakened.

Disc 1

1. The Wolf-Man (22:04) (Originally aired January 1, 2011)
Dan seeks revenge on the wolf-Man he believes has scratched his car.

2. New Mexico (21:39) (Originally aired January 1, 2011)
Elise joins Chris and Dan, as they aim to disrupt New Mexico's hot air balloon festival.

3. The Dentist (21:55) (Originally aired January 8, 2011)
When Chris can't extract Dan's chipped tooth for him, Dan has to visit the dentist he hates.

4. The Ninja (21:37) (Originally aired January 15, 2011)
Dan's cookies are stolen by a ninja holding an old grudge from Elise's time in Japan.

5. The Animal Shelter (21:56) (Originally aired January 22, 2011)
Dan's attempt to get revenge on the nearby animal shelter keeping him awake at night results in Chris eating poisoned meatloaf.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic enrages Dan in "Dan vs. Traffic." Chris explains the presence of a Batboy in "Dan vs. Baseball."

6. Canada (21:58) (Originally aired January 29, 2011)
After an accident leaves him covered in maple syrup, Dan looks to get back at Canada.

7. Traffic (21:45) (Originally aired February 26, 2011)
Los Angeles gridlock causes Dan to try to eradicate traffic altogether, with help from a traffic reporter (voiced by Henry Winkler).

8. Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre (21:45) (Originally aired March 5, 2011)
Enraged by a lousy dinner theatre performance, Dan plans revenge against the company.

9. Baseball (21:54) (Originally aired March 12, 2011)
A television pre-emption and broken rearview mirror inspire Dan to take on baseball with a visit to the World Series and a commissioner's kidnapping.

Chris and Dan try to dissuade beach usage. For some reason, Dan is not happy with the haircut he gets in "Dan vs. The Barber."

Disc 2

10. The Salvation Armed Forces (21:58) (Originally aired March 19, 2011)
After his car is mistakenly donated, Dan takes on the Salvation Armed Forces.

11. The Beach (22:01) (Originally aired March 26, 2011)
Dan tries to turn people against the beach by staging a shark attack.

12. George Washington (22:02) (Originally aired April 2, 2011)
Dan believes a still-living George Washington is responsible for the tree that fell atop his car.

13. Technology (21:46) (Originally aired April 9, 2011)
In attempting to avenge technology, Dan and Chris run into a crazy outdoorsman.

14. The Barber (21:58) (Originally aired April 16, 2011)
Dan seeks revenge on the main who gave him an awful haircut prior to his big date.

Anyone associated with art should steer clear of Dan in "Dan vs. Art." There are two Dans, but the blue-eyed one on the left is an impostor.

15. Art (21:59) (Originally aired April 30, 2011)
After his car is decorated to his disapproval, Dan seeks retribution against the entire art community.

16. Elise's Parents (22:02) (Originally aired May 14, 2011)
To Dan's dismay, Elise's parents (voiced by "Family Ties" stars Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross) visit and ruin his plans.

17. The Fancy Restaurant (21:50) (Originally aired May 21, 2011)
Dan hatches a plan to ruin the upscale restaurant that has replaced his favorite sandwich shop.

18. Dan* *Impostor (22:02) (Originally aired May 28, 2011)
Dan plots against the calm-tempered man who looks just like him and has stolen his identity and lifestyle.

Dan's family camping trip intrusion is upstaged by a genuine chainsaw-wielding maniac. Dan learns enough magic to levitate on stage as part of a battle.

Disc 3

19. The Family Camping Trip (22:01) (Originally aired June 4, 2011)
Dan looks to disrupt Chris and Elise's camping trip with her family.

20. Burgerphile (22:01) (Originally aired June 18, 2011)
When Dan can't get a refund, replacement, or apology for a misfilled order, he protests a fast food burger joint.

21. The Magician (21:57) (Originally aired June 25, 2011)
After a magician makes Chris' necklace for his grandmother disappear, he and Dan plot revenge.

22. The Lemonade Stand Gang (21:58) (Originally aired July 9, 2011)
Kids selling lemonade bully Dan, prompting a plot for payback.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Picture quality is as perfect as standard definition allows. The simple 1.78:1 Flash animation lends to clear lines, solid colors, and clean, vibrant images, which the DVD has no trouble presenting. I noticed rare minor lip sync issues which I imagine reproduce what went on air. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also good, providing clear dialogue and music and a fitting amount of channel separation.

The DVD's one bonus feature plays "Burgerphile" in animatic form. Each disc's menu poses the cover's irate Dan against an orange rendering of his apartment complex, Casa Paradiso.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The set includes just a single bonus feature: an animatics version of the episode "Burgerphile" (22:19).
The simple black, white and gray drawings provide the animation's key frames with sound effects, without music, and with some red marker dialogue start/end points and three running counters above. It's interesting to see the episode in a work-in-progress state, although like storyboard-to-film comparisons, the novelty wears off quickly.

Disc One opens with a dated ad for the cancelled Starz original series "Party Down."

The static, silent menus feature character images.

The three discs are packed in a standard eco-friendly keepcase with a swinging tray and topped by a glossy foil slipcover, which like the artwork below takes the unusual step of using a parents' content guide's misgivings as a back-handed endorsement.

Dan's appetite for retribution almost always demands the reluctant involvement of Chris and Elise.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The animated comedy "Dan Vs." is obnoxious and its design too narrow to want to see more than a few episodes of. If you disagree, then, Anchor Bay's DVD is for you and arrives with pleasing picture and sound. Rather than buying blindly, I'd advise either downloading an episode or, if you have a cable, catching one on Hub to first see if this is at all to your tastes.

Buy Dan vs. from Amazon.com: Season 1 DVD / Instant Video / Instant Video HD

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume 4 • Ugly Americans: Volume One • The Tick vs. Season One
Phineas and Ferb: The Daze of Summer • Freakazoid! Season One • Kim Possible: The Villain Files
The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season • The Best of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
Dave Foley: A Bug's Life • Prep & Landing • NewsRadio: The Complete Series

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Reviewed July 26, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Film Roman, The Hatchery, and 2012 Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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