- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he sketch comedy team known as the Upright Citizens Brigade is a compact group of theater veterans Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh. The UCB brought its outrageously funny and ingenious show to Comedy Central and introduced viewers to the intelligence organization dedicated to creating chaos in society, peering into the lives of the seemingly ordinary people who influenced its sketches.
Each sketch features only the four players in major roles, with some of the actors filling as many as three or four different roles in a few of the skits. The release of the first season two-disc box set contains all 10 originally broadcast episodes, with six episodes appearing on disc one and the remaining four on disc two. The “UCB” stood as one of the funniest sketch comedies on TV since “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” but the show was cancelled after just three seasons despite the high praise it received from critics and fans.
The UCB fights its ongoing war by implementing its own ideals on society, such as an investigation into the secrets of the Bucket of Truth, a bucket that reveals the onlooker’s horrible future, or the introduction to the fastest working defense mechanism on the planet, the Poo Stick, an ordinary twig with a piece of poo attached to the end. Other episodes that appear on the first-season DVD release include “Children’s Revolution,” “Cyborgs” and, my personal favorite, “Power Marketing.”
Along with the show’s featured episodes, the box set is jam-packed with more extras than you can handle in one sitting. An array of audio commentaries with the comedy team appears on disc one’s “Bucket of Truth” and “Power Marketing” as well as disc two’s “Cyborgs” and “The Little Donnie Foundation,” and an alternative commentary for “The Little Donnie Foundation” also is included, starring the episode’s characters, Little Donnie and his parents.
Also featured on the second disc are two exclusive commentaries for “Time Machine” and the show’s pilot, recorded in front of a live audience at the UCB theater with a follow-up Q&A session. All seven commentaries give great insight into the making of the show and provide plenty of improv between the actors, but the live commentaries are comparably better, offering fans the chance to ask their own questions in addition to the back-and-forth discussion between the actors.
Other less enjoyable extras on disc two include a version of the pilot taped in front of a live audience, a deleted scene that deserved to be cut, live theater versions of the songs “Little Donnie” and “Andre the Giant,” and two original trailers for the show. While these aren’t exactly A-grade material, all the special features will surely keep you busy on more than one rainy day.
The “Upright Citizens Brigade” can be pretty disgusting at times, but this group usually is right on target, keeping it classy enough to make you laugh and not feel bad about doing so. If you’re a real fan of sketch comedy, or just looking for something on TV that’s actually funny, pick up a copy of “Upright Citizens Brigade: The Complete First Season” on DVD.