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"Workaholics" Season One DVD Review

Workaholics: Season One DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Workaholics: Season One (2011)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Kyle Newacheck, Connor Pritchard, Dominic Russo

Writers: Anders Holm, Kevin Etten, Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Kyle Newacheck, Connor Pritchard, Dominic Russo, Leila Strachan, Brian Keith Etheridge, David King / Directors: Kyle Newacheck, Chris Koch

Regular Cast: Blake Anderson (Blake Henderson), Adam DeVine (Adam Demamp), Anders Holm (Anders "Ders" Holmvik), Jillian Bell (Jillian Bellk), Maribeth Monroe (Alice Murphy)

Recurring Characters: Kyle Newacheck (Karl Hevacheck), Erik Griffin (Montez Walker), Waymond Lee (Waymond)

Notable Guest Stars: Brian Huskey (Robbie), Brandon Soo Hoo (Punk Kid), Craig Anton (Bart), Adam Paul (Clark), Michelle Glavan (Chelsea Neiderdeppi), Ally Maki (Brenanda), Marc Summers (Himself), Ptolemy Slocum (Waiter), Mikey Reid (Chef), Tom Virtue (Client), Edward Barnabell (Bradley), Mel Rodriguez (Ryan), Peter Navy Tuiasosopo (Cashier), Clint Howard (Dean), Rance Howard (Jerry), Rebel Wilson (Big Money Hustla), Laurel Coppock (Meegan), David King (Davis King), Laura Kightlinger (Sharon), Chris D'Elia (Topher), Chris Parnell (Bruce Benson), Reggie Brown (Barack Obama Look-alike), Jefandi Cato (Michelle Obama Look-alike), Olen Holm (Jason Statham Look-alike)

Running Time: 216 Minutes (10 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (Censored English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (Uncensored English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Season 1 Airdates: March 15, 2011 - June 1, 2011
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s) / Black Keepcase
Also available on Instant Video

Buy Workaholics: Season One on DVD from Amazon.com

On the subject of television comedy, the first word that comes to mind is "sitcom." So, it's weird how few of those have emerged from Comedy Central in its twenty years on the air. They've had sketch shows, fake news shows, fake talk shows, real talk shows, stand-up shows, game shows, movie-promoting shows, and a B-movie commentary show.
As far as sitcoms go, the basic cable channel has had animated ones (most significantly, "South Park"), some improvised ones (most notably, "Reno 911!"), and no shortage of reruns. But very few original things that would meet a standard live-action sitcom definition have made much of a mark. "Strangers with Candy" and "The Sarah Silverman Program" are about the only ones in Wikipedia's 93-deep Comedy Central shows category that qualify as recognizable sitcoms and both of those alternative hits were cancelled after three short seasons.

In "Workaholics", Comedy Central has a definite live-action sitcom, one made in the prevailing modern mode, with a single camera and no studio audience or laughter. The series adds to the long tradition of workplace comedies, a genre best represented in recent years by Office Space and "The Office." Of those two iconic properties, this show falls closer to the former, avoiding the wry sensibility and mockumentary format that have defined many a recent high-profile network comedy. Still, this also lacks the satirical and intellectual value of Mike Judge's movie. Basically, it's what you would expect from Comedy Central and a group of young guys.

"Workaholics" centers on these three slacker house/cubicle mates: Blake (Blake Anderson), Anders (Anders Holm), and Adam (Adam DeVine). Ders, Blake, and Adam feel a little out of place at a gathering of Juggalos, fans of the Insane Clown Posse.

The series centers on three young adult friends who both live and work together. Workaholics, they are not. None of them displays any passion or motivation for their cubicle existence at what we're told is a telemarketing company. The focal trio is played by three of the show's six creators, who no doubt draw upon their real experiences and friendships for storytelling. The stars even lend their names -- well, mild variations of them -- to their characters. Anders "Ders" Holmvik (Anders Holm) is the most cultured and tallest of the three. Adam Demamp (Adam DeVine) is the shortest and vainest. Then, there is shaggy-haired and mustachioed Blake Henderson (Blake Anderson), the pun-appreciating weird one of the bunch.

The guys are more distinguishable by physicality than personality. They're all a bit nerdy, often crude, basically harmless, and of little interest to the opposite sex. I wasn't crazy about any of the lead characters, but I didn't hate their show.

While first impressions may be lasting impressions, I never give up on a show I'm reviewing and thus I was able to discover that "Workaholics" improves from the stupid, sophomoric show it starts as. This aspires to cult status, the best a basic cable comedy can typically hope to achieve. To realize that goal, the creators write for themselves. That formula has worked for FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", now in its seventh season. If "Workaholics" can reach the same modest but passionate viewership, it has the potential for a similarly fruitful run. Its second season is already airing now, starting just three months after the first wrapped. Still, Comedy Central is less lenient than FX and "Workaholics"' voice isn't quite distinctive enough to inspire a "Sunny"-type following just yet.

Anders' (Anders Holm) push for a promotion includes wearing this wrinkled tan suit and promising a PowerPoint presentation. "Double Dare" host Marc Summers tapes an "Unwrapped" segment in a bear coat in the show's apex of early '90s cultural references.

It is apparent than "Workaholics" is most directly aimed at adults in their twenties and early thirties. The show is loaded with 1990s cultural references that this demographic will most appreciate. The first episode pays extensive homage to Die Hard, establishing 1988 as a kind of birthdate of awareness. Other references follow suit, celebrating and acknowledging things like the Nickelodeon game show "Double Dare" (complete with Marc Summers appearance), 2Pac, The Program, Rudy, "Darkwing Duck", and Cool Runnings. I'm as fond of a good '90s reference as anyone, so this ranked as the show's most appealing aspect to me.

Less appealing would be the drug content and gross-out gags with which the series is launched. The entire first episode establishes the guys as stoners. The third finds them graduating from marijuana to mushrooms.
Subsequent ones back off some on the drug use, "bro" culture, and things like vomiting and "poop dollar" (a human turd wrapped in a dollar bill) as objects of fascination. It seems like a given that a 2011 Comedy Central sitcom would be inappropriate and "Workaholics" is, though it's definitely less dark and demented than several of its cable contemporaries.

Beyond the three leads, three actors make an impression as recurring characters: apathetic boss Alice Murphy (Maribeth Monroe), her dorky assistant Jillian (Jillian Bell), and the gang's cross-eyed weed dealer Karl (Kyle Newacheck, regular director, another of the creators, and the fourth member of the stars' executive-producing sketch comedy group Mail Order Comedy).

Four weeks into the second season's airing, Season One hits DVD on Tuesday in a 2-disc set full of extras.

A close eye is kept on Adam and Anders as they urinate for the company drug test. The guys' office sleepover gets psychedelic with the use of shrooms.

Disc 1

1. Piss & Shit (21:26) (Originally aired April 6, 2011)
In an attempt to pass their unexpected workplace drug tests, the guys try to buy clean urine.

2. We Be Ballin' (21:37) (Originally aired April 13, 2011)
The guys look forward to attending a Clippers game with the company of two ladies. They just need tickets.

3. Office Campout (21:36) (Originally aired April 20, 2011)
While their home is being fumigated, the guys camp out in their office. Tripping on shrooms there, they encounter a break-in.

4. The Promotion (21:36) (Originally aired April 27, 2011)
Anders and Adam compete for the same promotion and pay raise, prompting Anders to move out.

5. Checkpoint Gnarly (21:21) (Originally aired May 4, 2011)
The guys show Alice's mentally handicapped brother (Edward Barnabell) a good time (and vice versa) with a wild Tuesday night out.

Their boss' inability to share in their half-Christmas cheer leads two of the three Workaholics to strike. Overcoming conflict, Adam's bodybuilder competition comes to host a rap performance by The Wizards.

6. The Strike (21:36) (Originally aired May 11, 2011)
When their efforts to celebrate half-Christmas are denied, Adam and Blake go on strike, while Anders tries to train in their replacements (Rance and Clint Howard).

7. Straight Up, Juggahos (21:36) (Originally aired May 18, 2011)
The guys turn to online dating to get Jillian out of the way for their young professionals' mixer. When that doesn't go as planned, they try to rescue her from an Insane Clown Posse gathering.

Disc 2

8. To Friend a Predator (21:36) (Originally aired May 25, 2011)
The guys try to bust Topher (Chris D'Elia), a pervert from an online Justin Bieber Fan Club, but instead end up hanging out with him.

9. Muscle I'd Like to Flex (21:36) (Originally aired June 1, 2011)
Adam moves into the mansion of his office building's manager (Laura Kightlinger), endangering the guys' renaissance fair wizard rap plans.

10. In the Line of Getting Fired (21:36) (Originally aired March 15, 2011)
The company CEO (Chris Parnell) offers the guys $10,000 to kill him. They do the next best thing, throwing him a party with celebrity look-alikes.

Bradley (Edward Barnabell), a.k.a. B-Rad, shows Blake how to get around a liquor curfew in "Checkpoint Gnarly." After partying with this Michelle Obama look-alike (Jefandi Cato), TelAmeriCorp CEO Bruce Benson (Chris Parnell) changes his plans for the company.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Aurally, the show offers more choice than most television DVD releases. Viewers can pick between what the menus call "rated" and "unrated" audio, which more accurately would be called "censored" and "uncensored" (since TV ratings are self-imposed). Oddly, the two soundtracks are encoded differently and counter to what you'd expect. The default mix is the Dolby 2.0 stereo, which allows every piece of profanity to be heard, including words typically reserved for films and premium cable channels.
In The other option is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which bleeps the F-word, the S-word, and other uses of profanity. It's not entirely consistent; sometimes it censors a word for male anatomy and other times it does not. You would expect that the censored broadcast audio would be the plain stereo versions and that the crisper, fuller 5.1 would let the vulgarities fly. As is, you've got to choose between cleaner, livelier audio with fewer dirty words or a basic stereo mix that shares every swear.

Video is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and it's very good. The picture is clean and the production values are quite satisfactory. Since no Blu-ray release is offered, the presentation doesn't deliver as much detail as hi-def broadcasts, but few should mind. Though the audio can be uncensored, the picture is not, leaving implied male nudity and obscene gestures pixelated, as they are obviously meant to be. In lieu of subtitles, Comedy Central only provides closed captions.

Dorky coworker Jillian (Jillian Bell) contributes to the alternate takes reel. The four members of M.O.C. (Mail Order Comedy) open up about themselves at the South Beach Comedy Festival.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Audio commentary by Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, and Kyle Newacheck accompanies all ten episodes. They're joined by writer/showrunner Kevin Etten starting with the second episode, by guest star Edward Barnabell via phone on his episode "Checkpoint Gnarly", and by the group's manager Isaac Horn on "The Strike."

The rowdy group drinks many cans of beer and offers a mix of observations, personal revelations, misinformation (CGI grass, predator research), and genuine answers to Twitter questions. The talk gets increasingly immature and vulgar as it proceeds,
devolving into bickering, loud belches, and inane discussions (like whether they'd be more willing to eat feces or perform fellatio). For the most part, they're a waste of the speakers' time and even more so the listener's. The ten tracks do their part to chip away at the show's appeal, so if you're on the fence, you might wish to avoid these.

Video extras, uniformly lacking in frame rate, appear on Disc 2.

They begin with a reel of deleted scenes (6:58), arranged chronologically and with their intended episode clearly identified. In the same vein are alternate takes (7:48), which are given adequate context and played in succession, concluding in Adam's extended muscle show flexing. This unused content is about as amusing as what has made it into the show.

In three cast interviews (6:53), taped at the South Beach Comedy Festival for jokes.com, Anderson, DeVine, Holm, and Newacheck shed some light on the series and themselves. "Meet the Workaholics" covers their friendship, "Office Survival Tips" are the guys' suggestions for making the work day more bearable, and "About Workaholics" discusses the show, its characters, and development.

Blake Anderson and Adam DeVine perform a live stage sketch at the 2011 Bonnaroo Music Festival. The guys' keg stands are caught on security cameras in one of nine short Digital Originals.

"Live at Bonnaroo" (5:58) is a stage sketch from the annual Tennessee music festival. It doesn't get much of a crowd reaction until a line is "forgotten", prompting a song about friendship.

"Extended Catherine Zeta-Jones Song" (2:26) repeats and remixes the handful of lyrics from this Entrapment ode from "Office Campout", setting them to some trippy video effects. "Extended Ders Rap" (0:50), on the other hand, merely shows us a little bit more of the embarrassing home movie than what was in that episode.

A "First Look Trailer" (1:26) previews the show's first season's April 6th premiere. TV shows rarely include such promos on DVD, but they're fun to see.

Nine "Digital Originals" (11:02) are shorts apparently made for the web. They show the guys actually working (trying to sell knives in cold calls) in addition to relaxing and reflecting on modern slang. The last, longest, and only out-of-character one of these bits captures a "Jackass"-like dare in which Adam Devine collects $500 for eating a donut dunked for a full five seconds in a toilet bowl.

Donning a fake goatee, Anders Holm offers a weirdly detailed confessional of a recent two-shart day for Comedy Central's Shart Week. The rooftop bros and brews session from the opening title sequence makes an appearance on the Disc 1 main menu montage.

Disc 2's extras conclude with three "Shart Stories" (7:12) from Comedy Central's "Shart Week." The three stars of "Workaholics" each share the gross circumstances of personal sharting experiences (Bing it if you don't know/can't figure out what that is), Anders' being the longest and most detailed.

The final bonus feature is a double-sided card inside the case supplying a unique access code to download three free songs by The Wizards, the guys' ren fair rap group: "Straight Outta Mordor", "Wizards Never Die", and "Old as F**k." They're clearly meant to whet your whistle for the full 14-song 2009 album Purple Magic available on iTunes. The download page is not live yet.

The main menu plays clips and the theme song in three frames adapted from the cover art.

The two discs claim opposite sides of a standard sized keepcase.

Blake (Blake Anderson), Adam (Adam DeVine), and Anders (Anders Holm) try to avoid notice while holding a suspiciously crouched position.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I'm not a big fan of the characters of "Workaholics" or of their bro-tastic antics, but I managed to find this show moderately entertaining in spite of that. These guys display clear wit in their writing and good comic timing onscreen, so even if you're not laughing, you're not having a bad time. There is definite potential, but it's tough to predict whether the series will meet it or even have enough time to try.

The DVD delivers quality picture and sound (albeit uncensored only in plain stereo) plus a good collection of bonus features. While I don't know if it's something I'd rewatch, the set is no doubt the best way to see the series.

Buy Workaholics: Season One on DVD from Amazon.com / Download on Amazon Instant Video

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Reviewed October 10, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 M.O.C.: Mail Order Comedy, 5th Year Productions, Avalon, Gigapix Studios, Comedy Partners,
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