Posted: 09/15/2011

 

The Red Green Show (The Geezer Years)

(2003 - 2005)

by Joe Sanders



Now available on DVD from Acorn Media


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It’s time to return to the old Possum Lodge, where the world’s smartest idiot, Red Green (armed with his roll of duct tape – the handyman’s secret weapon) is ready to show you how to make all your hillbilly dreams come true. As long as your hillbilly dreams include making a giant clock out of an old car, or building a giant Swiss army knife, but seriously, who doesn’t have these particular aspirations?

The Red Green Show is back in this DVD set, which collects seasons 13, 14, and 15 for 55 “classic” episodes of the Canadian sketch comedy show. Although, it is difficult to classify this as a sketch comedy show. Technically it is, but try to consider a version of Saturday Night Live where every sketch features the MacGruber character, and every episode consists of the exact same five sketches with slightly different jokes.

One way this defies a traditional sketch comedy show structure is that every episode attempts to have a storyline. In one episode the gang might find some free hamburger on the side of the road and open a makeshift fast food restaurant. In the next they might be hunting down the fiend who is destroying mailboxes across town. Whatever the case may be, these storylines are ill-conceived, badly executed, and pun-tastic.

The puns are a plague across the entire show, and range from clever enough to get a laugh to having no effect to literally making the studio audience moan, which is itself kind of funny.

The best part of this show are the sketches where Red tries to show the audience how to build something. Whether we’re making our own hybrid vehicle with solar powered headlights, or a fishing boat out of 8 inch black tubing, toxic waste barrels and duct tape, these scenes are legitimately clever.

Another horrible recurrence are the silent movie sketches, which feature such cutting edge comedic situations as putting up a fence. What really makes these unbearable is Red’s Popeye-like narration of everything that’s happening in the scene. The vaudevillian slapstick comedy in these scenes might find an audience who appreciate such things, but as far as a script goes, these bits fail in every way.

Steve Smith’s performance as Red Green is the product of years of work, and he seems more comfortable in the role than any performance you’re likely to see on television today. What undercuts his characterization are the cast of idiots he surrounds himself with. Most are just shallow, indecipherable hillbillies, but the worst of all is Red’s nasally nephew Harold (Patrick McKenna), who insists on whining out his every line with bulging eyes. Smith does have the entertainment stamina to drive an entire half hour of comedy, but the rest of the cast make the show mediocre at best.

Special features (or “Extra Junk” as they are appropriately called) on the 9 disc set consist of introductions to each season by Steve Smith, and an hour long look back at the show’s history.

Joe Sanders is a playwright and college instructor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has a Master’s degree in playwriting and a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches Thought and Writing.



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