Tuesday, January 8, 2008

DVD Review: Rob & Big - Season 1 & 2 (Uncensored)

Rob & Big: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 (Uncensored)
Starring Chris Boykin, Rob Dyrdek
Paramount Home Video
Available Jan. 8, 2008
Come on, you know the words. Sing along with me:

“My Buddy, (my buddy)My Buddy, (my buddy)Wherever I go, he goes…”

From the equally annoying yet perfect opening theme song, the MTV comedy reality series Rob & Big crams the idea of friendship down our throats with such force you almost turn away in disgust. The show follows the lives of professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek and his best friend and head of security Christopher “Big Black” Boykin. The premise of the show is simply to follow them around and document their antics, of which there are many.

YO! MTV Raps, The Headbangers Ball with Riki Rachtman, Remote Control, Liquid Television — these are the shows I think of when I think MTV. Or at least MTV as it was when I watched it regularly. I guess you could say I am one of those people who stopped watching “when they stopped playing music videos.” It just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I probably swung back during the initial Jackass craze, but for the most part I have, dare I say, outgrown MTV. But for all the new MTV programming that has been lost on me in the last 5-10 years, this show is different.

For starters, Rob & Big is watchable. That seems like a simple idea but think about it, MTV is, at the very least, partially responsible for the demise of the American attention span. The oft-tired, quick-cut, Ridley Scott-style of editing was damn near invented by MTV. So to say this is watchable says something different from the jump. Along with its watchability, the show is funny. Not the typical flash in the pan, “watch this guy take a bat to the nuts” funny; it is “sit by yourself after a hard couple of days and laugh out loud” funny. That these two are best friends is apparent from the beginning, but once you start watching the show, you see how genuine their friendship is, and that comes through in how funny the show is.

The guys end up in various locations (Montreal, Vancouver, Florida, Mississippi, and Ohio). And yes, they get into some really random and ridiculous situations (Big Black comes out of male-stripper retirement as Black Lavender; the guys attempt to start Fitness Week; they attempt time travel), but the parts of the show I liked the best were the quieter, less manic moments — the moments where the two of them are just sitting around the house talking or playing with Meaty, the house bulldog. Those are the moments that strike the truest picture of the friendship these two have forged and they are usually the funniest. Not because of anything in particular that they get involved in, but because that is when the realism shines through. Like you and your friends sitting around and laughing about nothing of any substance but think it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard.

Just listen to Rob talk to Big. Oftentimes Rob has such a sense of exasperation in his voice; a restrained delivery that is very genuine and comes off as very funny. Don’t believe me? Watch the Special Feature on Disc 4 where they feature Rob & Big on MTV Cribs. On that show, they are doing their best “keep up with the Joneses” impression of other people that has ever graced that show, pimping out their gear and doing their best to convince everyone how hard they are. Then watch the show on the rest of the discs. They drop the act and we get a glimpse into their real life. Or as real as life can be when you are a rich, professional skateboarder that has no discernable job.

Even on a show as funny as this, there are gems that stand out. Black Lavender #2.5, “making it rain” $1 bills on a crowd at a skate competition after winning a $5,000 bet against a friend, Tampa #2.6, Big Black’s eccentric Uncle Jerry in Mississippi #2.3 & Bobby Light #2.7, and the Bobby Light video shoot #2.7. But hands down the funniest episode of BOTH seasons is Meaty & Mini #2.1, where the guys pick out and take home the newest addition to their family: a miniature horse named — what else? — Mini Horse. I laughed myself to tears watching this episode. “It’s gold, Jerry, gold.”

Rob & Big – The Complete Season 1 & 2 (Uncensored) is 4 discs with all 16 episodes from both seasons 1 and 2 with the standard special features: deleted scenes, additional footage of Meaty, Mini, Uncle Jerry, a few skate tutorials, and the “Dirty Girl” music video. There is nothing too spectacular in the Special Features, but this DVD set isn’t about the extras — it’s about the show. Rob & Big isn’t a show setting out to prove anything. The guys don’t take the typical approach, or should I say they don’t do what you would expect a skateboarder from the Midwest to do when he gets rich at a young age and decides to live in Hollywood. They don’t go and party a lot and they don’t appear to be living “the lifestyle.” That’s not to say that they haven’t or they aren’t, but isn’t it refreshing that the creators don’t feel it vital enough to its success to make it the focal point of the show? Hmm… maybe MTV is, dare I say, finally starting to outgrow itself.

And there’s the rub.

Season 1: *** out of ****
Season 2: *** ½ out of ****
Special Features: ** out of ****

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