Comedy Central Roast Of William Shatner (TV)
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Jarrod Baker (23rd April 2007).
The Show

In becoming the latest victim of a Comedy Central Roast, William Shatner joins a list of previous roastees that includes such luminaries as Denis Leary, Pamela Anderson and Jeff Foxworthy. That's right. It's THAT big a deal.
For those unfamiliar, a "roast" basically involves a group of friends and colleagues getting together to make fun of (read: tear strips off) a guest of honor, often a celebrity. In the 60's and 70's, Dean Martin turned a series of these celebrity roasts into TV shows, broadcasting them to a wider audience.
Comedy Central's roasts are the spiritual successors to Martin's earlier works, and as such they attract some top notch talent. Among the many "stars" showing up to roast Shatner were Andy Dick, Jason Alexander and Betty White.
Okay to be fair they also had Shatner's "Star Trek" (1966-1969) co-stars George Takei (Sulu) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), which was pretty cool. And to be even more fair, Betty White gave one of the funniest speeches in the roast. But even their presence : nor the presence of some quite talented comedians that you've probably never heard of : helped to dispel the impression that this was strictly a B-List affair. And while Shatner has had numerous flirtations with the B-List himself (as his roasters were happy to point out) you couldn't help feeling that perhaps he deserved better.
Nevertheless, there are some truly hilarious moments in this roast : although those of a sensitive disposition might disagree. Suffice to say that if you enjoyed "The Aristocrats" (2005), you'll probably find a lot to laugh at here. There are plenty of "I can't believe he/she just said that" moments in the program : especially when almost any of the roasters refers to George Takei's homosexuality or Nichelle Nichols's race. Betty White's contribution features a particularly hilarious example of the latter.
Roughly the first half of this roast is laugh-out-loud funny. Unfortunately from there it hits a few bumpy patches : Farrah Fawcett's and Andy Dick's contributions being particularly weak : and never fully recovers. Making matters worse there are some obvious and clunky edits in this "extended and uncensored" edition : mostly around the apparently addition of some quite unfunny material that perhaps would have been better off staying on the cutting room floor. And while Betty White's foray into racially charged humor is successful, some of the other comedians manage to come across as bigots : there's a specific unsavory recurring theme which develops in relation to comments about Lisa Lampanelli which is fairly borderline.
The roasters could also have spent more time roasting Shatner himself : as it is, the guest of honor only really gets a small percentage of the abuse, with much of it being reserved for the other roasters (George Takei, Andy Dick and Lisa Lampanelli in particular). And about half of them take the sting out of their insults by closing with a line about how much they actually love and respect Shatner : Takei being a notable and hilarious exception.
Ultimately, Shatner himself sums it up well at the end : suggesting that with the amount of material he's given them over the years, the roasters should have been much funnier. Still, the good bits do make it worth watching : but probably not more than once.

Video

Presented in the show's original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1 this full screen transfer is a decent effort from Paramount. Aside from the various film and TV clips they show during the roast the image is fairly sharp and detailed. Colors are well balanced and vivid, most skin tones appear natural but some appeared a little on the organe side, I also found that the black levels were a bit flat. Some very minor compression artefacts stop this transfer from being a complete knockout but overall it's a very solid looking image.

Audio

A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is included and this may very well be the show's original broadcast audio. This is a very dialogue driven showcase with nothing else to offer by way of surround activity so this stereo track is the perfect choice, anything else would have been a waste. The dialogue and musical cues are clear and distortion free which all one could really ask for in this front heavy sound mix.
This show does not include any optional subtitles.

Extras

First up is the "Red Carpet" interviews which runs for 8 minutes 57 seconds and hosted by Jessie Kline asa she interviews Jason Alexander, Andy Dick, Greg Giraldo, Lisa Lampenelli, Patton Oswald, Kevin Pollak before the show, they talks about being a "Star Trek" fan and what they think of Shatner. She also does some interviews after the show (appearing quite drunk) along with Lampanelli and Jeffery Ross.

A series of "Behind-the-Scenes" footage is included and runs for 4 minutes 9 seconds, this shows the roastee and roasters before show backstage getting ready as well as footage from the rehearsal session.

A "Making Of The Roast" featurette is also included and runs for 2 minutes 30 seconds, this is basically footage of Shatner and producers sitting in an office talking about various aspects of the show and booking Farrah Fawcett. As far as "making-of" clips go this is a poor effort.

Next up are a series of 3 "Comedy Central" quickies, these are short highlights from other shows on the network and include:

- "The Colbert Report: Fart Jokes" which runs for 1 minute 50 seconds.
- "Drawn Together: 'Roids" which runs for 1 minute 20 seconds.
- "Reno 911!: Police Tek 2000" which runs for 1 minute 27 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are some bonus trailers for:

- "Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson" which runs for 1 minute 51 seconds.
- "South Park: Season 9" which runs for 2 minutes 2 seconds.
- "Reno 911!: Most Wanted" which runs for 1 minute 38 seconds.
- "Mind Of Mencia: Season 2" which runs for 1 minute 20 seconds.

Overall

The Show: C+ Video: B Audio: B+ Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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