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Featured TV on DVD Review: Saturday Night Live: The Best of Tracy Morgan

July 4th, 2010

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Tracy Morgan - Buy from Amazon

There have been wave after wave of Saturday Night Live Best of releases featuring great cast members from the past, and even some of the best hosts. On the 13th of this month, a Best Of for Tracy Morgan is being released on DVD. At first I figured it was volume 2, but no, it's just a re-release of the 2004 release. I guess for a lot of people, Tracy Morgan didn't appear on their radar screens till he hit it big on 30 Rock, but will going back at looking at where he got started be worth it?

For most of the time Tracy Morgan was on Saturday Night Live, he wasn't one of the main cast. You could say he was not ready to be a "Not Ready For Prime Time Player". You could say that, but I wouldn't recommend you do, because it's a bad joke.

Speaking of bad jokes...

The DVD includes too many of them. Right off the bat we meet Brian Fellow, a one-note joke that one could argue is a pre-cursor to Tracy Jordan of 30 Rock, i.e. loud, dumb, and a little insane. This is a pattern that repeats itself with most of the characters Tracy Morgan played on this show. Sometimes it works, like his appearance on Hardball as Harry Belafonte, while other times it just drags on and on and on, like Woodrow. On the other hand, his Maya Angelou impersonation is definitely against type.

Looking at the math, there are 20 skits on the main feature with a total running time of 72 minutes. About a third of them are genuinely funny, including The first Astronaut Jones , Hardball, Talking to the Stars etc. About a third have a few laughs in them but struggle to maintain themselves throughout the entire skit, like the second Astronaut Jones skit and both Safari Planet skits. And about a third make me wonder why they are included: Pimp Chat, Director's Cut of King Kong, etc.

Extras start with a 7-minute audition tape, a 5-minute dress sketch that was cut from show, 3 minutes of outtakes, two appearances on Conan O'Brien, and several skits he did as host. The audition tape is a little weak, the skit that was cut is would have been average for the show had it made air, while his appearances on Conan and his duty as host were better than most of the regular program. Combined with the regular program, there's about two hours of material here.

The Verdict

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Tracy Morgan is hit and miss, just like the show as a whole. The DVD has enough jokes that work and enough extras that fans of the his will want to check it out, but if you are more ambivalent to his work, then this release probably won't change your mind. Too many of the characters are too similar, and too many sketches overstay their welcome.

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