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The Goode Family: The Complete Series DVD Review

The Goode Family: The Complete Series DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com The Goode Family (2009)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky / Executive Producers: John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky, Michael Rotenberg, Tom Lassally / Co-Executive Producers: Jonathan Collier, Jace Richdale, Dave Jeser, Matt Silverstein

Writers: Dave Jeser, Matt Silverstein, Jordana Arkin, Franklin Hardy, Shane Kosakowski, John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky, Jonathan Collier, Chip Pope, Howard Kremer, Leila Strachan, Gene Hong, Owen Ellickson, Jace Richdale / Directors: John Rice, Jennifer Coyle, Anthony Chun, Seth Kearsley, Wes Archer

Regular Voice Cast: Mike Judge (Gerald Goode), Nancy Carell (Helen Goode), Linda Cardellini (Bliss Goode, Shelly), David Herman (Ubuntu Goode, President Kent Jensen, Treyvon, The Average Guy, Kevin, others), Brian Doyle-Murray (Charlie)

Recurring Guest Voices: Gary Anthony Williams (Ray Johnson, Mr. Alvarez, Duncan, Franklin, Officer Bowles, others), Julia Sweeney (Margo Jensen, Trish, Ms. Rossiter, others), Lori Nasso (Penny, Amber, others), Laraine Newman (Mo, Isabelle, Anya, Declan, others), Amy Hill (Kiki, Jacki), Dee Bradley Baker (Che, Gutterball, others), Phil LaMarr (Principal Whitmore, Solosolo, Joaquim, Maffew, others), Cree Summer Francks (Souki, Tanya, others), Howard Kremer (Mr. Heelo), Toby Huss (Clyde), Adam Carolla, Rini Bell

Single-Episode Guests: Mo Collins (Lucy, Checker), Scott Klace, Bob Odenkirk (Brian Kennedy), Carlos Alazraqui (Miguel), Susan Chuang (Mahkinkin), Nick Jameson (Esteban, Professor Montoya), Grey DeLisle (Jenn), Elvis Costello (Professor Mead), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle), David Koechner (Cranky), Diedrich Bader (Jeff, Lane), Tara Strong (Dawn, Mrs. Glavin), Kevin Nealon (Irwin), Andy Richter (Fred Ridley), Dax Shepard (Steve), Johnny Knoxville (Dean), Jerry Collins (The Aryan)

Running Time: 280 Minutes (13 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-PG on air)

1.33:1 Fullscreen; Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
Season 1 Airdates: May 27, 2009 - August 7, 2009
Suggested Retail Price: $22.97 / DVD Release Date: January 8, 2013
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s) / Clear Keepcase

Buy The Goode Family: The Complete Series DVD from Amazon.com

Since the early 1990s, television has been a nearly constant home to Mike Judge comedy. Judge rose to prominence when his crude short Frog Baseball became "Beavis and Butt-Head", which then became one of the defining works of the so-called MTV Generation. As that animated series came to an end in 1997, Judge's next gig, "King of the Hill" began. That Fox show would run a staggering thirteen seasons in primetime,
during which Judge also found time to direct three live-action feature films, most notably the beloved workplace comedy Office Space, adapted from his cartoon shorts that "Saturday Night Live" aired in the early '90s.

As "King of the Hill" began its final laps, Judge leapt to another adventure, creating "The Goode Family" with "King" writers/executive producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. This ABC program would snap Judge's streak of iconic and successful animated satire, getting cancelled after its thirteen produced episodes debuted in the rerun-driven summer months of 2009.

That brevity is one of the chief reasons that "The Goode Family" becomes Judge's first television series released to home video in its entirety. The copyright hurdles posed by music video commentary as well as Judge's embarrassment towards certain episodes have severely limited Beavis and Butt-Head's DVD appearances. Meanwhile, Fox shelved home video releases of "King of the Hill" after six season sets, citing unsatisfactory sales figures. Though that show has maintained a prominent afterlife in syndication and has been completely made available via Netflix and Amazon streaming and iTunes downloads, more than half of its substantial run has eluded DVD. By contrast, "Goode Family" hits disc legally this week in The Complete Series, a two-disc DVD from Shout! Factory, the small studio that specializes in fan-friendly releases of television programming popular enough to generate profits but not on the scale that the big studios expect.

"The Goode Family" title logo features a Goode Family pose. Having forgotten her reusable bag at One Earth, Helen Goode extends her hand to carry her healthy food purchases.

Actually, it might be a bit of a stretch to apply the word "popular" to "The Goode Family." Just two days away from its debut, the DVD wields a lowly sales rank in the 20,000s on Amazon, a far cry from even next week's Blu-ray + DVD combo pack of the early '70s cartoon "The Jackson 5ive." "Goode Family" debuted late May 2009 to approximately 3.93 million viewers and saw its viewership drop to as low as 1.63 M,
ranking dead last among network primetime programming for entire weeks by August, when it was promptly cancelled.

The limited appeal then and now isn't hard to understand. You can argue that no show will prosper in the uncompetitive wasteland that is Friday nights in the summer, but that more than twice as many people opted to watch reruns of "Ghost Whisperer" and "Southland" has to reflect somewhat poorly on "The Goode Family."

Whereas "Beavis" skewered teenaged idiocy and those forced to deal with it and "King" poked gentle fun of a conservative Texas family, "Goode" sends up a family of tree-hugging liberals. The Goodes are vegetarian environmentalists who strive to be politically correct in every way. Effete father Gerald (voiced by Judge himself) drives a hybrid car and is an administrator at the local community college. Mother Helen (voiced by Nancy Carell) is a free thinker who buys organic and tries to keep up on minority groups' preferred terminology. Deep-voiced, inarticulate teenaged son Ubuntu (Office Space's David Herman) was adopted from Africa (South Africa, that is; he's white). Sassy teenaged biological daughter Bliss (Linda Cardellini, "Freaks and Geeks", "ER") is an academic achiever often embarrassed by her parents' quirky ways. Rounding out the family unit is Helen's father, Charlie (Brian Doyle-Murray), an old-fashioned, politically incorrect tree from whom the apple falls far.

The biggest problem with "The Goode Family" is that it's just not very funny. Those who can relate to the Goodes' heightened social consciousness aren't likely to be amused by the depiction, nor for that matter are those opposed to such an organic lifestyle. Whereas something like "The Colbert Report" manages to entertain viewers on both sides of the political spectrum, "The Goode Family" is unlikely to do much for either demographic. It's sending up present-day sensitivities while simultaneously embodying them. The result is something almost entirely inoffensive and unappealing.

The show holds contemporary relevance while exhibiting restraint in the types of allusions and pop culture references favored by such institutions as "Family Guy" and "South Park." But it's not very comfortable with its characters or confident about where the comedy is. Judge and his writers (only a few of whom followed him from "King" or to 2011's "Beavis" revival) are too seasoned in animated comedy for there not to be the occasional laugh. Thus, the show doesn't provoke a strong negative reaction. If not toothless, it's basically harmless satire that tries too hard to find humor in current politics, issues, and values.

Gerald and Bliss have second thoughts about the father-daughter purity ball they've attended. Football barbarism throws Ubuntu into a moral dilemma in "Pleatherheads." Grandpa Charlie takes to Gutterball, an unusual-looking animal that is not a dog.

Disc 1

1. Pilot (21:36) (Originally aired May 27, 2009)
Helen and Gerald have different reactions to Bliss becoming intrigued by an abstinence group. Ubuntu gets his driver's license.

2. Pleatherheads (21:35) (Originally aired June 3, 2009)
Ubuntu is allowed to play football, to Gerald's reluctance and the reawakening of Helen's sports-centric upbringing.

3. Goodes Gone Wild (21:31) (Originally aired June 3, 2009)
The Goodes adopt a messy pet named Gutterball on behalf of Helen's uncharacteristically interested father.

Ubuntu gets into Bingo with next-door neighbor Ray Johnson. Gerald and Helen welcome the input of a Freegan Heinrich Mueller in "Freeganomics." Helen uses stealthy graffiti art to teach her daughter a lesson.

4. Helen's Back (21:31) (Originally aired June 12, 2009)
With help from some reluctantly hired migrant workers and Helen's old third world pen pal, a Myanmar refugee, the Goodes prepare for an Organic Gardening Club tour.

5. A Tale of Two Lesbians (21:29) (Originally aired June 19, 2009)
Helen befriends a lesbian couple as a way to break into Greenville's Art Council. Ubuntu plays Bingo with next door neighbor Ray.

6. Freeganomics (21:32) (Originally aired June 26, 2009)
A German Freegan advises the Goodes on how to make their block party even more environmentally responsible.

7. Graffiti in Greenville (21:33) (Originally aired July 3, 2009)
Helen uses the kids' high school's community service requirement to instill values in Bliss.

Gerald protests the ribs joint that fed him chicken via their "Meatless Chili." Helen and Gerald try to reach these tough at-risk kids with art. Bliss Goode attracts the boy she likes with nonchalance.

Disc 2

8. A Goode Game of Chicken (21:24) (Originally aired July 10, 2009)
Gerald tries to get restaurateur Cranky to remove the chicken from his "Meatless Chili."

9. After-School Special (21:24) (Originally aired July 17, 2009)
While Helen and Gerald try to reach at-risk urban teens with art, their kids look for another way to occupy themselves at home.

10. Public Disturbance (21:32) (Originally aired July 24, 2009)
Gerald tries to bring public radio to Greenville. Bliss helps Ubuntu try to get a girl he likes.

A One Earth manager declares Helen a shoplifter and bans her from her favorite health food store. Gerald tries to set hatemongers right over dinner. Gerald uncovers his masculine side in an effort to impress a butch lesbian couple who didn't want his sperm in what wound up being the series finale.

11. Trouble in Store (21:27) (Originally aired July 31, 2009)
Helen is accused of shoplifting and banned from One Earth, the much-frequented organic grocery store where Ubuntu has begun working.

12. Gerald's Way or the Highway (21:32) (Originally aired August 7, 2009)
The Goodes adopt a highway that they must work to clean up alongside hateful prison inmates.

13. A Goode Man Is Hard to Find (21:34) (Originally aired August 7, 2009)
Gerald questions his masculinity after
lesbian couple Mo and Trish don't want him as their sperm donor.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Unusual for such a recent production, "The Goode Family" appears in 1.33:1, an aspect ratio known as "Full Screen" though it is unlikely to fill your current television screen. (That outmoded ratio was used even more recently on Judge's "Beavis" revival.) The picture quality is seemingly as perfect as standard definition allows it to be, looking sharp, vibrant, and clean throughout. Sound is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and plain Dolby Stereo. Aside from the burst of life in the show's opening titles, neither offers a noteworthy experience, but the recordings are as crisp and clear as you'd like. Sadly, like many Shout! Factory DVDs, this one lacks subtitles. Thankfully, closed captioning is provided, although those will be inaccessible to those whose player is connected with an HDMI cable.

Cranky and Gerald square off in one of the set's many deleted scenes presented in story reel format. Scripts for three unproduced Season 2 episodes are offered in PDF format on Disc 2. The three creators talk up their new series in the ABC promo "Meet the Goode Family."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Shout! may regularly disappoint the hearing impaired,
but they also reward the supplementally inclined. "The Goode Family" gets a nice collection of bonus features well beyond what you'd expect such a short-lived show to get from one of the big studios.

First, a few minutes of deleted scenes are supplied for each and every episode on the same disc that the episode appears (a "Play All" option might have been nice). They are mostly presented in black and white story reel animatic, with a few bits being fully colored and animated. The countless short clips add up to a lot of content (50½ minutes across the two discs), but it isn't often terribly different from what aired.

Audio commentaries by creators/executive producers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky are offered on four episodes: "Pilot", "Goodes Gone Wild", "A Tale of Two Lesbians", and, on Disc 2, "A Goode Game of Chicken."

On the pilot, they discuss the series' conception, production challenges, disappointing scheduling, and reviews. They also share regrets they have over Ubuntu's revised design. The other tracks are a bit more specific to episode storylines, but remain mindful of the big picture, touching on unusual Standards & Practices battles, ABC's marketing missteps, the work of their collaborators, the series' depictions, and losing viewers with certain political convictions. It's unfortunate that Judge doesn't participate, but these have value nonetheless.

Additional text and video-based extras are found on Disc 2.

Three Unproduced Scripts give us a taste of what might have been a second season had "Goode Family" not been so swiftly cancelled. Each is presented as a 50-page document in the PDF format, which means you will need to use that DVD-ROM drive you've quite possibly been neglecting.

"Meet the Goode Family" (4:06) offers a promotional look at the series and behind the scenes with remarks from the creators and voice cast.

Groove Addicts take the show's themes to heart by using bagel headphones and sunflower microphones for their recording of The Goode Family theme song. Nancy Carell (née Wall) discusses the family matriarch she voices in "Getting to Know Helen Goode."

"Behind the Music" (3:28) looks at the work of Groove Addicts (now called Groove Worx), a music house that specializes in jingles who explain the "organic" sound they brought to the show's theme song and incidental music.

An animation test (0:15) briefly plays with the dimensionality of characters and settings.

"'Trying Hard' Promo" (3:02) sells the series with comments from the three creators about their characters and universe. "Getting to Know Helen Goode" (2:13) gathers thoughts on the family matriarch from the woman who voices her: Nancy Carell, wife of Steve.

An unaired PSA introduces the world to the Goode Family's environmental living. The DVDs' main menu makes use of a wider rendition of the cover's colorful artwork.

Finally, an unaired PSA (1:30) profiles the Goodes and their environmental living in story reel format. Your guess is as good as mine as to where this was intended to be seen.

The static 16:9 menus (the main of which is initially accompanied by the sunny theme song) make further use of the cover's character poses. Episodes are divided into a fitting number of chapter stops, usually six.

The clear keepcase has no inserts, but no need for them either, as it displays episode synopses and guest star credits on the other side of the cover artwork.

The family that picks up trash on the side of their adopted highway together... doesn't stay on the air very long. Gerald and Helen try out a cooler look to be accepted into Greenville's art scene.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The least popular of Mike Judge's animated TV series gets the most satisfying DVD treatment in Shout! Factory's complete series release of "The Goode Family." This show is never as funny or entertaining as you want it to be and as it should be, based on Judge's strong track record. While it's true that its summer broadcasts gave it less than a fair chance to succeed, there is little of note or promise to the thirteen episodes produced.

If you feel differently, then by all means, do not hesitate to pick up and enjoy this DVD. Doing so rewards Shout! for their fine efforts here and confirms a demand for giving considerate presentations to short-lived shows with few commercial prospects. Both of those causes seem more admirable than anything the intermittently diverting "Goode Family" tries to do.

Buy The Goode Family: The Complete Series DVD at Amazon.com

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Reviewed January 6, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009 Ternion Pictures, 3 Arts Entertainment, Media Rights Capital, and 2012 Shout! Factory.
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