Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE - THE COMPLETE SERIES

Another imaginative Fox sitcom that was unappreciated and briskly canceled by the schizophrenic network, ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE (2002) featured the former Conan O’Brien sidekick in a workplace ensemble comedy that was rife with fantasy and great characters.

Richter plays Andy, a technical writer for a megacorporation that makes weapons for the government as well as a wide variety of consumer products. He shares his office with a neurotic but lovable illustrator (Jonathan Slavin), his handsome, charismatic best friend (James Patrick Stewart), his attractive, abrasive supervisor (Paget Brewster) and the cute receptionist (Irene Molloy) he has a crush on – for about three episodes. Andy gets through the days with the help of his overactive imagination and the support of his friends.

I loved the show when it aired back in 2002, and was disappointed when Fox unceremoniously dumped it. Now the entire 14-episode series, including five previously unaired episodes, is on DVD from CBS/Paramount, and I found it just as good as I remembered.

(I just have to mention that I became completely obsessed and freaked out with the sudden realization I had while re-watching the series that John Patrick Stewart, who plays Richter’s best friend, was the kid who played Doctor Zee on GALACTICA: 1980! That should definitely establish my geek cred…)

CBS/Fox presents the series in its original full-frame format, with the 14 half-hour episodes spread across three discs. The transfers are pristine, but this show isn’t very old, so that’s to be expected. What is surprising is that the studio did spring for several entertaining bonus features, including commentary tracks on selected episodes by Richter and creator Victor Fresco, and a retrospective documentary that features all the original cast in on-camera interviews.

Unfortunately, much of the original music and songs have been replaced. Some of the new, cheaper choices are less effective, but it's not fatal to the enjoyment of the show.

With it’s fun characters, smart writing, bouts of broad comedy, and flights of fantasy, ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE is a comic gem awaiting rediscovery. Recommended.

BUY: Andy Richter Controls the Universe: The Complete Series