Monday, August 05, 2013

The Best of Fridays DVD review

Likely to appeal mostly to the over 40 crowd, The Best of Fridays brings to DVD for the first time 16 episodes of the short-lived subversive sketch comedy series that from 1980 to ‘82 set out to give Saturday Night Live a run for its funny. Noteworthy for jump-starting the careers of cast members Larry David and Michael Richards, the Los Angeles-based Fridays mirrored its New York cousin in nearly every way. Musical guests include The Clash (their network TV debut), KISS, Devo, Dire Straits and The Cars. Short films – some of which are made by and star Mike Nesmith – pepper the show’s perimeters. Friday Edition, featuring Melanie Chartoff, is the show’s newsy Weekend Update. Among the numerous special guests (the Fridays equivalent of guest hosts - who don't start appearing until the second season) are Billy Crystal, William Shatner, Karen Allen, and Andy Kaufman. Kaufman made Fridays history by staging a breakdown in the middle of a sketch and engaging in fisticuffs with announcer Jack Burns (the moment was recreated in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon starring Jim Carrey). The bit brought the series so much attention, he returned the next week for an encore. Both episodes are on this set.

As with SNL, the sketches are the real meat of Fridays, and though they sink as often as they swim, many remain pop cultural signposts of enormous nostalgic value. The Best of Fridays,” which includes over two hours of cast and writer reunion interviews, is the only place to find a jaw-droppingly elaborate, 15-minute Rocky Horror parody lampooning the Reagan administration, entitled, of course, “The Ronny Horror Show, featuring the late president in drag. Or how about a mash-up of Star Wars and Woody Allen, featuring Larry David as Han Solo and Michael Richards as Darth Vader, entitled Star Wars Memories? Yes, if you're of a certain age bracket, this collection is an instant trip in the way back machine to a time that you've all but forgotten, mostly because you were high on so many drugs - another topic Fridays revels in and is famous for. 

Larry David as Han Solo