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"The Jim Gaffigan Show": Season One DVD Review

The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season One DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season One (2015)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Peter Tolan, Jim Gaffigan / Executive Producers: Jim Gaffigan, Jeannie Gaffigan, Seth Gordon, Alex Murray, Sandy Wernick, Jeff Lowell, Tony Hernandez, Michael Wimer, Peter Tolan

Writers: Jim Gaffigan, Jeannie Gaffigan, Peter Tolan / Directors: Steven K. Tsuchida, Todd Biermann, Peter Lauer, Seth Gordon

Regular Cast: Jim Gaffigan (Jim Gaffigan), Ashley Williams (Jeannie Gaffigan), Michael Ian Black (Daniel Benjamin), Adam Goldberg (Dave Marks)

Recurring Characters: Tongayi Chirisa (Father Nicholas), Caitlin Moeller (Elizabeth Gaffigan), Cameron Seely (Mary Gaffigan), Wolfgang Jackson Lacz (James Gaffigan), Vanessa Aspillaga (Blanca), Macaulay Culkin (Himself), Janeane Garofalo (Eve), Dave Atell (Himself)

Notable Guest Stars: Fred Armisen (Dr. Weiss), Chris Rock (Himself), Lea Delaria (Herself), Jon Benjamin (Kevin Ferguson), Jon Stewart (Himself), Rachel Maddow (Herself), Lawrence O'Donnell (Himself), Jim Cramer (Himself), Lewis Dodley (Himself), Maria Celeste Arraras (Herself), Don Lemon (Himself), Keith Olbermann (Himself), Nancy Grace (Herself), Jake Tapper (Himself), Mika Brzezinski (Himself), Joe Scarborough (Himself), Glenn Beck (Himself), Judy Gold (Herself), Lizz Winstead (Herself), Larry Pine (Art Benjamin), Meghann Fahy (Maria), Mariska Hargitay (Herself), Hannibal Buress (Himself), Esther Ku (Herself), Ali Wentworth (Herself), Colin Quinn (Himself), Artie Lange (Himself), Tom Papa (Himself), Eddie Peppitone (Himself), Aparna Nancherla (Herself), Morgan Murphy (Herself), Bonnie McFarlane (Herself), Rich Vos (Himself), Damien Lemon (Himself), James Adomian (Himself), Robert Smigel (Cory), Bill Burr (Himself), Judah Friedlander (Himself), Jimmy Fallon (Himself), A.D. Miles (Himself), Questlove (Himself), Steve Buscemi (Guardian Angel/Himself), Alec Baldwin (Himself), Nathan Lane (Himself), Matthew Broderick (Himself), John Mulaney (Himself), Whitney Cummings (Herself), Gilbert Gottfried (Himself), Jeannie Gaffigan (Herself - uncredited)

Running Time: 232 Minutes (11 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-PG on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired / Not Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $26.98 / DVD Release Date: May 10, 2016
Season 1 Air Dates: July 15, 2015 - September 23, 2015
Two single-sided discs (1 DVD-9 & 1 DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season One from Amazon.com: DVD Instant Video

So much of stand-up comedy is crude and mean-spirited. There must be demand to support that supply, but I can't claim to be part of it. I like to laugh as much as anyone and appreciate countless comedy movies and TV series. But the crude and mean-spirited stuff has to be funny and it rarely strikes me as that.
On the flip side, you've got comedians who take pride in avoiding profanity and vulgar content who fail to entertain. Then there are those who get it right, like Jim Gaffigan, whose material amuses you without immediately realizing he is keeping his act relatively clean.

Gaffigan's jokes about food and laziness have resonated with enough people to make him quite successful. His success has lent to funny appearances in an array of movies and television shows, including personal favorites like "Flight of the Conchords", "Portlandia", and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (where he introduced "Pale Force", a series of animated shorts featuring him and Conan as the palest of superheroes). Doughy, bearded, and balding, Gaffigan, who will turn 50 this summer, is not the leading man type, which may explain why he's never gotten movie opportunities like an Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller or Tim Allen. But if Louis C.K. can become a TV icon, why can't Gaffigan?

That must have been the thinking behind "The Jim Gaffigan Show", a scripted, single-camera TV Land sitcom I looked forward to upon its summer 2015 debut. That it was a TV Land production was some cause for concern. The basic cable network's biggest hit, "Hot in Cleveland", was a deliberate throwback sitcom with laugh track and aging former TV stars. It was okay, but seemingly tailored to the network's primary audience of middle-aged women. It's not that you'd expect or want a Gaffigan series to be edgy. You'd just hope it to be genuinely funny, which "Hot in Cleveland" never seemed remotely capable of being. Unfortunately, "Gaffigan Show" adds to its star's famlification. It's that same process that made Gaffigan's bestselling 2013 book Dad Is Fat quickly unbearable even in audiobook form.

In a Las Vegas hotel, Jim Gaffigan eats an entire red velvet cake by himself in his underwear in Season One of "The Jim Gaffigan Show."

There's nothing wrong with fatherhood and it would seem to pose a wealth of opportunities for comedy in line with Gaffigan's sensibilities. But "Gaffigan Show" is lazy and unimaginative in its depictions, prompting hardly a chuckle. I gave up on the show after two or three episodes last summer, but the upcoming Season One DVD gave me reason to give it another chance to impress.

As in C.K.'s "Louie", Gaffigan plays a variation of himself: a New York-based comic who is married and has five young kids. The large Catholic family shares a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
Like a CBS sitcom, Gaffigan's wife is significantly younger, thinner, and better looking than him, although so is the woman she is based on: the real Jeannie Gaffigan, a writer, executive producer, and season finale cameo-maker here. The TV show Jeannie (Ashley Williams) keeps Jim in line and puts up with his lazy lifestyle and love of food.

The core cast includes Michael Ian Black as Jeanie's gay ex Daniel, the family realtor who has been trying to find the Gaffigans a bigger new apartment for years and Adam Goldberg as Dave, Jim's womanizing best friend and edgy fellow stand-up. Gaffigan uses his connections to get a ton of notable guest stars, from a slew of fairly recognizable fellow comics to a host of television news personalities to some respected New York-based actors, all playing believable versions of themselves. For some reason, Macaulay Culkin recurs, too, in cameos that prompt Jim to wonder if it's really Macaulay Culkin.

Despite the lack of a laugh track and the use of real locations rather than sets, the series still has an old-fashioned sitcom mentality to it, with a number of obvious jokes you see coming that don't show much imagination or wit. If one didn't know how funny Gaffigan has been in other situations, whether in scripted form or on stage, they might not experience the same disappointment here.

The DVD presents the episodes completely out of original airdate order, perhaps in the order they were actually meant to be seen. There is zero continuity from one episode to the next, so you could choose to watch them randomly or in airdate order without incident.

Jim Gaffigan finds himself targeted by angry mobs in every direction in "The Bible Story." Jim and Jeannie's romantic anniversary hotel outing does not go at all as planned in "A Night at the Plaza."

Disc 1

1. Pilot (21:05) (Originally aired July 15, 2015)
Jim contemplates getting a vasectomy after Jeanie thinks she might be pregnant again.

2. Super Great Daddy Day (21:07) (Originally aired August 12, 2015)
Jim makes a mistake while running a number of errands around the city, submitting one child's drawing of his penis instead of his daughter's application to an exclusive Catholic school.

3. The Bible Story (21:02) (Originally aired September 9, 2015)
When he is spotted carrying a Bible, Jim gets outed as a Christian, drawing varied job offers and mixed reactions, a situation he makes worse trying to fix.

4. In the Name of the Father (21:07) (Originally aired August 5, 2015)
Jim gets roped into dining and drinking with Daniel and his father (Larry Pine).

5. Maria (21:07) (Originally aired September 16, 2015)
Jim and Jeannie spy on Dave's date with Jeannie's sister (Meghann Fahy), who is in town from Wisconsin.

6. A Night at the Plaza (21:07) (Originally aired July 29, 2015)
Jim's romantic anniversary night at The Plaza Hotel goes awry in many ways.

Jim has reservations about taking Father Nicholas (Tongayi Chirisa) to the stand-up comedy club. Steve Buscemi is the Clarence to Jim Gaffigan's George Bailey in the "It's a Wonderful Life"-themed season finale "Wonderful."

Disc 2

7. Superdad (21:06) (Originally aired September 2, 2015)
A Time Out New York article overstates Jim's fathering prowess and underplays Jeannie's involvement in raising their kids.

8. Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday (21:07) (Originally aired August 19, 2015)
Jeannie wants her birthday downplayed, while Dave, who shares the same birthday, throws himself a party.

9. Red Velvet If You Please (21:07) (Originally aired July 22, 2015)
Jeannie gets on Jim to eat healthier
after he ate a whole red velvet cake by himself in Las Vegas, which is tough when he takes his daughter to a Central Park birthday party where the only food served is red velvet cake.

10. My Friend the Priest (21:07) (Originally aired August 26, 2015)
To Jim's distress, the family's parish priest Father Nicholas (Tongayi Chirisa) attends Jim's sets at the comedy club and his appearance on "The Tonight Show."

11. Wonderful (21:07) (Originally aired September 23, 2015)
After wishing he never got married or had kids, Jim gets to see how things would turn out that way, It's a Wonderful Life-style, with Steve Buscemi as his Clarence. This finale perfectly illustrates where the series lets me down: it has fun ideas that just do not add up to something funny. Even with some meta touches, it's just too middlebrow.

While Jim Gaffigan bites into a bagel, his wife Jeannie (Ashley Williams) reads about the man Time Out New York calls "Superdad!"

VIDEO and AUDIO

Being shot on video and with a handheld camera gives "The Jim Gaffigan Show" a decidedly different look than many sitcoms. The DVD's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers are just fine, offering an unblemished standard definition version of what airs in HD on TV Land. Similarly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are A-OK, getting the job done without getting your attention for reasons good or bad. Rare bits of profanity from Chris Rock, (uncharacteristically) Gaffigan, and Dave remain bleeped as on air.

No bonus features are found on either disc of The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season One DVD.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Strangely, no bonus features of any kind are offered here.

The silent, static menus employ cover art imagery and design.

The two plain gray discs share a black eco-friendly keepcase with a swinging tray. No slipcover or inserts are included.

Jim's friendship with edgy womanizing fellow stand-up comic Dave Marks (Adam Goldberg) may not make sense, but it gives him someone to talk to and a reason to go outside for New York walk and talks.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"The Jim Gaffigan Show" fell short of my high hopes, but it's a passable present-day sitcom that almost offers enough diversion to give it your time. Paramount's DVD is a basic affair that you can imagine selling for very little very soon.

Buy The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season One from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed May 6, 2016.



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