|That's My Bush: The Definitive Collection (2001)
Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Carrie Quinn Dolan, Kurt Fuller, Marcia Wallace, Kristen Miller, John D’Aquino
Director: Jeffrey Mellman
Given that “South Park” was, is, and probably will continue to be one of the most cutting-edge comedies on television, it might be a bit surprising to find that the next attempt by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create a TV series only lasted for eight episodes…unless, of course, you’ve actually seen “That’s My Bush!”
When the 2000 Presidential elections rolled around, Parker and Stone declared that, no matter who won, they’d be doing a satire based on the winner. In a perfect world, we’d be reviewing “Everybody Loves Al,” but the ways things worked out, we ended up with “That’s My Bush!” Even those with decidedly Democratic leanings, however, have to admit that the series probably works better with George W. Bush (played by Timothy Bottoms) as the star of the show, given that the premise was to take the First Family and present them as if they were the stars of a hackneyed sitcom. Bush gave them the perfect “loveable lug” character…and, ironically, Bottoms’ performance as the President makes Bush seem far more likeable than Bush’s own performance in the role.
“That’s My Bush” had all the standard sitcom clichés and conventions in place for maximum mockery. You’ve got your sassy White House maid, played to perfection by Marcia Wallace (“The Bob Newhart Show”). There’s the wacky neighbor, Larry (John D’Aquino), who always has a really, really awful joke to accompany his arrival…
Larry: Hey, George, it's your favorite neighbor! Say, you got some snoo on your lawn.
Bush: What's snoo, Larry?
Larry: Nothing, what’s snoo with you?
…as well as Bush’s sexy assistant, Princess (Kristen Miller), whose onscreen appearances in unbelievably tight outfits are invariably greeted with hoots from the audience. In the episode where Barbara Bush (Marte Boyle Stout) visits the White House, she’s painted as the typical know-it-all mother-in-law who doesn’t agree with anything the First Lady (Carrie Quinn Dolan) does.
Although Karl Rove (Kurt Fuller) is a regular character on the series, there’s virtually no cutting-edge political humor; even the potentially controversial subjects of abortion, the war on drugs, and the death penalty are almost completely muted by the intentionally over-the-top sitcom stylings of the show. The gun control episode, for instance, exists almost entirely to have a joke about arming bears – yes, there’s an actual bear in the episode – rather than bearing arms. There are spot-on parodies of the “Three’s Company” misunderstanding plots, as well as some of the other premises required by law in every mainstream sitcom, like having old college buddies come to visit, or having George try to get free cable and accidentally firing missiles at Austria in the process. (Okay, that one might be exclusive to sitcoms set in the White House.)
“South Park” fans who called the show “dumb” just weren’t clever enough to get it. It’s essentially a one-note joke, but it’s one that the writers made the most of for the eight-episode run of the show. Parker and Stone still manage to work their enjoyment of low-brow comedy into the scripts, with fun things like projectile vomiting and spontaneous feline urination making it into plots. Even if Comedy Central hadn’t made the decision that it was cost-prohibitive to keep the show going, however, continuing it for much longer would’ve been impossible; the face of political comedy was changed by the events of 9/11…and, besides, how much more could’ve been done with the show? Eight episodes were just about right for “That’s My Bush!” (If you’re one of the ones who didn’t get the joke, go ahead and subtract seven from that.)Special Features:
The only special features are two commentary tracks per episode, one with Parker and Stone, the other with the cast. Both are illuminating, but if you’re familiar with the commentaries on Parker and Stone’s other series – “South Park” – you might already be aware that they don’t actually go on for the entire episode. They go on for five minutes, tops – the one for “Mom ‘E’ D.E.A. Arrest” (wow, what a terrible joke) lasts for less than a minute! – and while the cast commentaries last slightly longer than those by the creators, they still rarely hit the ten-minute mark. Presumably, the goal is for them to end before the commentators find themselves watching the show rather than discussing the events on the screen; in truth, however, it’s far more annoying to have them only last for a few minutes.