As star/creator "Weird Al" Yankovic, producer Thomas F. Frank, and director Peyton Reed recount with gallows humor and unmistakably adult cynicism on fascinating audio commentaries to The Weird Al Show on this DVD set collecting the entire run of the short-lived Saturday morning series, the show was hamstrung by FCC regulations requiring it to be educational. No big deal, right? Lots of kids' shows have unobjectionable messages of varying degrees of subtlety. But CBS demanded that The Weird Al Show's messages be placed at the beginning of each show, then hammered home repeatedly through dialogue and Billy West's narration. Needless to say, stopping at regular intervals to deliver ham-fisted messages didn't help the show's comic momentum. And since the series' network-mandated "educational" arc required Yankovic to screw up dramatically so he could learn convoluted lessons by the end of each show, he ended up behaving like an inconsiderate, abrasive jerk rather than his charmingly goofy self.
"Inspired" by Pee-wee's Playhouse the same way Oasis may have been influenced by The Beatles—the shows even share a set designer—The Weird Al Show casts the parody king as an cave-dweller who learns a series of valuable life lessons alongside such pals as Bobby The Inquisitive Boy, a second-rate, sexually ambiguous superhero named "The Hooded Avenger," a sexy female spy, and a stunt hamster. Meanwhile Yankovic's predilection for watching lots and lots of television presents a perfect venue for clever parodies of television commercials and insipid children's programming.
It's impossible to understate Pee-wee's influence Weird Al, but some of Al's single-camera segments wouldn't feel out of place on Mr. Show, either. With so much working against it, it's remarkable that The Weird Al Show wasn't an outright disaster. But as this terrific DVD release reveals, Weird Al was quirky, smart, and fun, albeit not quite the masterpiece it might have been under more ideal circumstances. Even with the educational directive weighing it down, The Weird Al Show still treated children with respect, which is probably why it was cancelled so quickly.
Key features: Karaoke, storyboards, galleries, and essential audio commentaries on every episode.