Saturday, February 2, 2008

90s Flashback: The Dana Carvey Show (1996)

The word “outrageous” is overused but The Dana Carvey Show (1996) truly was just that. Carvey’s sketch ensemble was tasteless and funny and even today seems too edgy for broadcast. You catch episodes 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 on a new website called

Carvey does many of his old familiar characters such as Ross Perot, Paul McCartney, and Regis Philbin. He keeps it up to the minute by playing the Unabomber on an MTV dance show (the unknown Selma Blair can be spotted as an MTV hottie) and Kato Kaelin in an OJ Simpson sketch. Simpson is selling a video tape telling us how he committed the murder of his wife, exactly like the book he was hawking in 2007. Series regular Stephen Colbert does a spot-on Geraldo Rivera grilling Kaelin and Simpson.

Colbert is the breakout performer in this series and the following year he joined THE DAILY SHOW with another Carvey cast member, Steve Carell. Colbert has been in character so long on Comedy Central that after seeing Carvey’s show, it’s clear his talents as a mimic at that time were very sharp and now regrettably unused, unless you count playing “Stephen Colbert” as Bill O’Reilly. One episode of Carvey has him doing a very accurate Gregory Peck at the Academy Awards and another an eerie Oliver Stone.

I’ve watched four of the episodes and have not yet seen the infamous WIZARD OF OZ parody, featuring a song called, “If I Only Had an A%%.” This was still 1996 and the level of tastlessness on TV hadn’t reached where we are today, but it was building. If Carvey did a show like this today, it might have a shot as the threshold for bad taste is much higher, although half-hour sketch comedy shows rarely succeed (HALF THE GEORGE KIRBY COMEDY HOUR, PAT PAULSEN’S HALF A COMEDY HOUR).

Other stuff on I watched the first TODAY show from 1952 on and found it fascinating. Host Dave Garroway leads us through the wonders of live video remotes (which they explained are just like the audio remotes we were used to on the radio) and a wall that featured the major newspapers of the country flown in just for the show! I was surprised to see a news crawl at the bottom of the screen, thinking that was a more modern innovation. Great stuff.

I find good for shows that I forget or can’t watch, for instance 30 ROCK, CONAN, and THE SIMPSONS.

There are several old/new pairings on, such the two BATTLESTARs, the two KOJAKs, and the two WHAT’S HAPPENINGs.

They have MCHALE’S NAVY, of which I’m not a big fan, and I may write to to see if they can get F TROOP, of which I am a big fan. Many of the shows hulu runs are not complete seasons, which I think may be designed to protect DVD sales. There are commercial breaks of no longer than 30 seconds duration and they are unobtrusive compared to the 4-5 minute breaks on broadcast TV. Enjoy!

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