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"Key and Peele" Season 1 Blu-ray Disc Review

(K&P) Key and Peele: Season 1 Blu-ray cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Key and Peele: Season One (2012)
Show and Blu-ray Details

Creators: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele / Executive Producers: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Joel Zadak

Writers: Sean Conroy, Rebecca Drysdale, Colton Dunn, Keegan-Michael Key, Jay Martel, Jordan Peele, Ian Roberts, Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders / Director: Peter Atencio

Stars: Keegan-Michael Key (Himself & Various), Jordan Peele (Himself & Various)

Notable Guest Stars: Matt L. Jones (Weed Guy - uncredited), Ty Burrell (Colonel Hans Muller), Larry Joe Campbell (Slave Trader), Josh Fadem (Theater Usher), Emily Maya Mills (Wife), Rob Delaney (Negraph Commercial Guy, Tea Party Campaign Advisor), Daniele Gaither (Pegasus Protestor), Anders Holm (Negraph Commercial Guy), Jerry Minor (Pegasus Fan), Cedric Yarbrough (Pegasus Hunter), Erin Gibson (Gay Marriage Reporter), Anna Maria Horsford (Maid), Ian Roberts (Crazed Spectator), Carla Gallo (Bar Patron), Ryan Hansen (A Tribe Called Quest Shirt Guy), Ken Marino (Amistad Guy), Matt Besser (Club Owner), Jamie Denbo (Sylvia Rosenblum)

Running Time: 171 Minutes (8 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

1.78:1 Widescreen / Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Season 1 Airdates: January 31, 2012 - March 20, 2012
Blu-ray Release Date: September 25, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50) / Eco-Friendly Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($19.99 SRP), Amazon Instant Video, and HD Amazon Instant Video

Buy Key & Peele: Season 1 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray • DVD • Instant Video • HD Instant Video

Neither Keegan-Michael Key nor Jordan Peele is a big enough star to warrant his own Comedy Central series. But, put the two "MadTV" veterans together and you get "Key and Peele", a sketch comedy show soon to begin airing its second season.

Even if you didn't watch Fox's answer to "Saturday Night Live" last decade, you still might recognize the tall, bald 41-year-old Key, who held a recurring role on "Reno 911!"
and has appeared in such hit comedy films as Due Date, Just Go With It, and Role Models, or the stocky, bespectacled 33-year-old Peele, whose résumé includes Little Fockers, Wanderlust, and Adult Swim's "Childrens Hospital."

The two comedians use a small but vocal live audience to perform some team stand-up banter that sets up their filmed sketches. The opening bit identifies each as biracial, which appears to give them license to laugh at both black and white people alike. It also makes Peele particularly well-suited to an impression of Barack Obama, which the President himself has acknowledged enjoying (a sticker on this Blu-ray's shrinkwrap contains an April 2012 Obama quote saying "...It's pretty good stuff.") It's a choice opportunity that Peele nearly got on "Saturday Night Live", the 2008 Writers' Strike contributing to Fred Armisen maintaining the role.

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele set up their sketches with banter in front of a live studio audience. Bar mitzvah party motivators Leonard "Gafilta Fresh" Jeffries (Keegan-Michael Key) and Marcus "Dr. Dreidel" Cunningham (Jordan Peele) discuss their calling in a documentary-style season finale sketch.

Genetics are but one factor in the versatility of Key and Peele. They can convincingly play a head of state and a hardcore rapper in the very same episode. They are entirely believable as mild-mannered nerds, which may be true to their real-life personas. But then they can accurately channel 50 Cent or a mixed martial arts fighter or an Indian American doctor. There probably isn't a better showcase for such talents than right here, with the comedy they write and executive produce able to transcend boundaries, as few other minority performers have.

The show is a little heavy on race jokes. Some of them are tired, but those that can subvert or somehow creatively meet expectations prove to be fairly amusing. Despite their mixed heritage (each comedian has a white mother), the two clearly identify themselves primarily as black, which does then raise a double standard, albeit an easily dismissed one, regarding their demeaning portrayals of white individuals.

The in-studio material never feels quite like stand-up with two men front and center. That design is a bit stagey and fake, and even borders on unintentional meta comedy at times. But Peele and, to an even greater degree, Key remain likable, good-natured, and at ease. Their anecdotes and human observations set the scene for the sketch to come without the forced or artificial nature of a Bob Saget "America's Funniest Home Videos" segue.

A dreadlocked white "Amistad" fan (guest star Ken Marino) gets between two friends (Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key) discussing "Game of Thrones" in this Season 1 bar sketch. Malcolm X (Key) and Martin Luther King Jr. (Peele) vie for audience approval in the two-act community theatre play "Lunch with Greatness."

The sketches are more inspired than expected, displaying sophistication, cinematic polish, and usually a good deal of wit. I've seen much more established comedians like Jeff Dunham and Demetri Martin stumble in this same format, floundering and being quickly forgotten despite their stars' popularity. Perhaps because it doesn't rely heavily on a single persona or famous comic voice, "Key and Peele" seems to wield more promise and deliver more laughs.

Last winter, given a Tuesday night time slot behind Comedy Central's top-rated series "Tosh.0", "Key and Peele" gave the network its highest-rated debut since 2009. After just two weeks of drawing over one million viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic, the series earned a second season renewal. A day before the first of the ten scheduled episodes premieres, Season 1 hits Blu-ray and DVD.

Here is what its eight episodes offer:

Lil' Wayne (Jordan Peele) suddenly doesn't feel so gangsta in a communal prison shower. "Modern Family" star Ty Burrell plays a Nazi colonel hunting for Jews and blacks in "Das Negroes."

1. Bitch (21:36) (Originally aired January 31, 2012)
Gender roles are reversed as a couple of henpecked husbands cautiously air their spousal grievances to each other. "Gideon's Kitchen" parodies the misdirects of reality cooking shows. Lil' Wayne asserts his badness in three prison sketches. People reveal their discovered lineage in an Ancestry.com commercial. A patient tries to get a medical marijuana prescription. President Obama introduces his anger translator Luther.

2. MMMMMM (21:22) (Originally aired February 7, 2012)
A guy turns his mother's doctor's revelations into a forum for "Yo momma" jokes.
Substitute traffic reporter Brock Favors is excitable in a helicopter. Key and Peele do their impression of white guys fighting. Girls are ashamed of their cell phone pictures of themselves. A play finds Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. sparring for audience approval. An R & B duo's performance gets awkwardly personal.

3. Das Negroes (21:21) (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Two slaves are insulted at getting repeatedly passed over at the auction block. A biracial man alternately summons his black and white sides at a fancy restaurant. Two black men use whiteface to try to elude a Nazi colonel (guest Ty Burrell) in 1942 Germany. Black moviegoers talk to the screen... about derivative, inconsistent visuals. Gangsters out to kill are set back by bodily functions.

4. The Branding (21:21) (Originally aired February 21, 2012)
A fraternity branding goes awry. A supposed pegasus sighting incites riots in a black community. New app The Negraph determines who can and cannot use the N-word. A streetwise gangster spices up a nerdy group's Dungeons & Dragons game. A record deal unites a black community. President Obama discusses his accomplishments over the past four years. Tha Incredible Mack raps about his unusual gunshot wound.

A state's legalization of gay marriage leaves this couple with differing amounts of enthusiasm. Bobby McFerrin (Peele) resorts to force in an effort to topple Michael Winslow (Key) as the King of Mouth Sounds.

5. Dueling Magical Negroes (21:11) (Originally aired February 28, 2012)
Wise old black men compete to play Magical Negro to a dejected white lawyer. A Detroit cab rider appears to only be pretending to listen to his fare. Jaden Smith hears a movie proposal. A state's legalization of gay marriage raises questions for a couple. President Obama uses lawmakers' disagreeability to get what he wants.

6. Flicker (21:21) (Originally aired March 6, 2012)
The bold style of 300 is cleverly applied to two coworkers engaged in an office prank. A man's request for old school music puzzles a DJ. A meat snob disrupts a barbecue. Two normal black bar patrons draw awkward reactions from white people. Mixed martial arts fighters psych each other out.

7. Soul Food (21:21) (Originally aired March 13, 2012)
Two diners try to outdo each other with their soul food orders. A man's friend weasels in on every woman in whom he expresses interest. Two women window shop for a dog. Bobby McFerrin (Peele) battles Michael Winslow (Key) backstage at their Kings of Mouth Sounds concert. An offhanded remark turns a working black man into the poster child of the Tea Party. An unflattering cell phone picture changes a wife's nature. Military recruiters try to trump interest at a gay club.

8. Landlord (21:20) (Originally aired March 20, 2012)
President Obama tries to show Malia what life is like in the real world. A friend is a little too open with his emotions. A couple gets a perilous tour of a house. A short documents an early '90s-fashioned hip hop duo that performs bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs. Killers disagree on the humor of a slaying. A babysitter has his hands full with a young Forest Whitaker.

Heavy style elevates an office "made ya look" prank to epic in the Key and Peele short "Flicker."

VIDEO and AUDIO

Unsurprisingly, the Blu-ray boasts terrific picture quality, with not a single concern arising here. Befitting its stars, the series is even visually versatile, often adopting the wider 2.40:1 aspect ratio with a more cinematic look to match. Other times, the series manages to skillfully capture the look of a commercial, television program, or music video. In each form, the visuals pop in a sharp, colorful, and pristine presentation.

The soundtrack is offered in both Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and plain Dolby Digital Stereo. Each format presents the show with uncensored audio, allowing frequent profanity to flow freely. (It seems like the TV-14 broadcast soundtracks could and should have been an easy, obvious alternate inclusion.) Both are crisp, substantial, and untroubled. English SDH subtitles are nicely offered.

Key and Peele's poolside interview is itself a bit of a sketch. President Obama (Jordan Peele) calms his anger translator Luther (Keegan-Michael Key) in a bonus phone conversation with Michelle.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Extras begin with audio commentaries by Key and Peele on four episodes: "Bitch", "Das Negroes", "Flicker", and "Soul Food." The two are clearly passionate about their creation and happy to talk about it. They have no trouble filling the air and often comment on what's onscreen without simply narrating. In addition to standard revelations (improvisations, shooting locations, casting guest actors, visual effects), they share scrapped ideas, their reactions from Barack Obama, their experiences with the clothing they get to wear on the show, thoughts on fan recreations of their sketches,
and their tastes for racial comedy and flipping scenes at their end. It's in the interest of anyone who enjoys the show and its stars to listen to these.

On the all-HD video side, things begin with a reel of outtakes (6:57) hailing from both stand-up and sketches. In addition to the typical crack-ups, they include some amusing ad libs.

Next comes a poolside interview (4:36), which Key and Peele perform in character as they sing, joke, answer in sync, bicker, and cry about various aspects of the show.

"Obama's Anger Translator" provides seven short clips of President Obama and Luther, only the first of which featured on the show. It's a one-joke concept, but one which remains somewhat funny in these variations, including one evidently produced for an awards show. A "Play All" option would have been nice; instead you'll have to press "Play" or "Enter" seven times to enjoy these ten minutes of content.

Key and Peele prepare backstage for their set at the South Beach Comedy Festival. A clip from "The Landlord" appears in the Blu-ray's menu montage.

Next, we get two clips from "Key & Peele Live at the South Beach Comedy Festival": faux backstage preparations for the camera (2:05) and a piece on an embarrassing synchronized onstage pants-splitting including an interview by roast comic Jeff Ross.

Finally, highlighting the show's title on the menu brings up a 49-second Easter egg in which theme song performer Reggie Watts appears as a hologram to talk gibberish to the guys during their poolside interview.

While an extended version of the theme song plays, the menu flips still poses of the stars around until settling on the cover image which it places above a standard montage of show clips. The disc does not resume playback or allow you to place bookmarks on your favorite bits. For that matter, there isn't even quick access to individual sketches, as there should be.

The eco-friendly Blu-ray case goes without insert, slipcover, and reverse side artwork.

This old copy machine repairman (Keegan-Michael Key) and the animated bluebird on his shoulder take issue with another man fulfilling Magical Negro duties. Babysitting a young Forest Whitaker (Peele) discomforts this man (Key).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Like virtually all sketch comedy shows, "Key and Peele" is a mixed bag, but the hits narrowly outnumber the misses here. The result is a series that is moderately diverting most of the time, its filmed sketches appealing more than its live audience banter. While I didn't enjoy this enough to recommend owning it, the show is entertaining enough to check out some time at your convenience.

Comedy Central's Season 1 Blu-ray is lean, but solid. It arrives at a very reasonable price, which sees it currently selling at just $2 more than the DVD. If you enjoyed this short season enough to revisit, then you can do so here without any major qualms.

Buy Key and Peele: Season 1 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video / HD Instant Video

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Reviewed September 18, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Cindylou, Inc., Monkeypaw Productions, Martel & Roberts Productions, Comedy Partners,
and 2012 Comedy Central Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.