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"The Birthday Boys" The Complete First Season DVD Review

The Birthday Boys: The Complete First Season DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com The Birthday Boys: Season One (2013)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Scott Aukerman / Executive Producers: Bob Odenkirk, Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld, Debbie Liebling, Mike Rosenstein, Dave Kneebone

Writers: Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell, Bob Odenkirk, Chris VanArtsdalen / Directors: Jefferson Dutton, Bob Odenkirk, Chris VanArtsdalen

Regular Cast: Jefferson Dutton (Various), Dave Ferguson (Various), Mike Hanford (Various), Tim Kalpakis (Various), Matt Kowalick (Various), Mike Mitchell (Various), Bob Odenkirk (Various), Chris VanArtsdalen (Various)

Notable Guest Stars: French Stewart (Himself/Mr. Villanueva), Laraine Newman (President of the Network), Michael Yama (Tadashi Tanaka), Ben Stiller (Mr. Turner, Roger Thomkins), Frank Caliendo (Himself), Matt Besser (God, Devil), Q'orianka Kilcher (Beautiful Native), Tia Carrere (Herself), Josh Robert Thompson (Morgman Freemont), Paget Brewster (Keri), Natasha Leggero (Superintendent)

Running Time: 226 Minutes (10 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-14 on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned or Subtitled
Season 1 Airdates: October 18, 2013 - December 20, 2013
DVD Release Date: August 5, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy The Birthday Boys: Season 1 from Amazon.com: DVD Instant Video

For me, at least, IFC has managed to distinguish itself from the seemingly infinite number of deep cable options with original comedy series adhering to the channel's "Always On, Slightly Off" mantra.
The sketch show "Portlandia" and the mock talk show "Comedy Bang! Bang!" have emerged as two of the few active shows I recommend checking out. While it lacks the star power of Fred Armisen and the steady stream of "Comedy Bang! Bang!" celebrity guests, "The Birthday Boys" seems fit to join their ranks after one entertaining season of ten episodes.

This sketch show does carry the blessing of "Mr. Show" Emmy winner and "Breaking Bad" funnyman Bob Odenkirk, who not only executive produces and writes it but also appears in every episode multiple times. "Birthday Boys" also counts big time movie star Ben Stiller among its executive producers and he's involved enough to make one guest appearance as well. The clout of these two comedy veterans is more than enough to get this show on the air and from there, the "birthday boys" have more than enough to entertain.

God shows The Birthday Boys around Heaven in "The Birthday Boys."

The seven young men don't have names you'll recognize or IMDb profile photos (but they will). A number of them have written for "Comedy Bang! Bang!", but they may be best known in California for their monthly shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. Improv theatre doesn't always lend to television, but in this case it does. "Birthday Boys" is artistic and versatile. More importantly, it's funny in a slightly offbeat but generally good-natured way. The sharp sketches skewer and parody real film and TV shows good and bad, new and old. They also have fun with random witty ideas drawn from life, like a road trip of self-discovery consisting entirely of visits to a chain of casual dining restaurants, a movie that is misjudged to be something to write home about, and an underwhelming September version of Santa Claus. Full of quirky details and in-episode callbacks, the show entertains far more frequently than it doesn't.

Renewed for a second season that will premiere later this year, The Complete First Season of "Birthday Boys" hits DVD next week from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The Computer Garage Club is much more into garages than computers. Goofy Roofers get their own sitcom.

Disc 1

1. Paychecks! (22:38) (Originally aired October 18, 2013)
Way more interested in garages than computers, The Computer Garage Gang foolishly signs away the rights to their work to a Steve Jobs-type. A small car makes the long journey to the World of Pretend. Christian prankers go wild. A man writes home about Hope Floats.
The guys question the direction the show is taking...until their paychecks arrive and enable them to live large.

2. Goofy Roofers (22:38) (Originally aired October 25, 2013)
Playful, wise-cracking roofers get their own TV show at a client's request. As a furniture salesman Dean Strickler can't expel rowdy frat boys from a distant college. Two friends tour the nation, dining exclusively at TV Sports Zone Grill. A man sings about the few problems in America. Water-drinking friends speak their mind about women.

3. Catching Up on Shows (22:38) (Originally aired November 1, 2013)
Overwhelmed by his overflowing DVR, one man takes a stand and resists the show his friends recommend. "The Golden Shot" dramatizes the life of a paparazzo in search of an elusive nip slip. A group of friends is spooked by an old man in the woods and his website. A busy father makes time...for his friends.

A strict headmaster (Bob Odenkirk) disagrees with the unconventional methods of an inspiring English teacher (Ben Stiller) in a sketch clearly inspired by "Dead Poets Society." Seven brewmaker brothers take their love of beer a bit far by swimming in it regularly.

4. Rock and Roll (22:38) (Originally aired November 8, 2013)
An unconventional teacher (Ben Stiller) inspires prep school students. Rock musicians acknowledge the classics. Fredonia Fest concert tickets elude two friends despite valiant efforts. Bad boys go to Hell and Heaven.

5. Cool Machine (22:38) (Originally aired November 15, 2013)
An Amish champion used steroids. Friends invent and try out a "Family Matters"-inspired Cool Machine that turns them cool but has them treated unjustly. A drummer monopolizes a band. A convict breaks up with his judge. A man breaks up with his accountant over tax returns. Mr. Binderbender touts his contraption. A man attends his 10-year high school reunion with his wife, Tia Carrere.

6. Helpful Tips (22:38) (Originally aired November 22, 2013)
Seven brewmaking brothers swim and more in their beer. The guys offer helpful tips at golf, fishing, and so on. A $13,000 Bed, Bath & Beyond gift certificate mistaken for a marriage proposal leads to a couple's break-up. A countdown of the top ten teen comedies looks at the scandalous 1940s college classic Will You Take a Walk with Me?. A pool game won't end. A couple looks at a giant doghouse with a tiny house.

7. Skewered (22:38) (Originally aired November 29, 2013)
The guys skewer Wall Street terminology, restaurant spice level names, and more. A southern trial comes to be about the sweltering courtroom. A documentarian tries to tell the story of Pip Denny, a man who invented flight before The Wright Brothers. A sound effect innovator is celebrated.

Woosh (Mike Mitchell) brightens the birthdays of Earth children with his reassuring, personalized song. These two brothers (Mike Mitchell and Tim Kalpakis) are responsible for keeping the secret formula of Tab cola.

Disc 2

8. All Your Favorites Are Back (22:37) (Originally aired December 6, 2013)
Endless acts are announced for a variety show. An autistic high school basketball player proves exceptional. A band eludes fans a little too well. Businessmen missing a quarterly goal celebrate the possible lack of an afterlife. Scientists test out a shrink ray. A restaurant insists on diners paying. Children's party musical entertainer Woosh has a sad, lonely birthday on Mars.

9. Going All the Way (22:37) (Originally aired December 13, 2013)
Graduating seniors make a pact to lose their virginity. A man has us consider the changing definition of family. Sketch artists fail a crime investigation. The only men keeping the secret formulas of Coke, Pepsi, and Tab attend the same action movie. A father takes his stood-up son to the big dance.

10. Dumb Public (22:37) (Originally aired December 20, 2013)
Responsible cowboys scare off a fierce foe with their cow-tending practices. Their ancestors advocate the same bovine butt-wiping. The world's worst animator is remembered. A pianist plays a very long piano. September Santa visits a family to confusion. A grandfather regales youths with dishonorable tales from his past.


Picture and sound quality are what you would expect from a deep cable comedy show reaching DVD in 2014. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentations are good, but undoubtedly would stand to benefit from the added sharpness and detail of high definition, especially since the visuals get plenty cinematic at times. The Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtracks aren't anything to write home about, but they get the job done, plus English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included for those who need them.

Mr. Binderbender (Bob Odenkirk) looks over his script in "The Making of Season One." A high school boy's prom date with his father is one of six Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Birthday Boy sketches excerpted for comparative purposes.


Though the press release touts 45 minutes of bonus features, that isn't including audio commentaries. The seven writers-actors (every lead but for Odenkirk) record one commentary for every single episode, instantly doubling the set's content. I found the tracks diverting as expected, but surprisingly sincere. Taking their craft seriously, these guys don't get especially boisterous, immature, or self-congratulatory,
instead choosing to share the origins of sketches, their experiences filming them, locations, conditions, wardrobe, guest actors, stock video, music, goofs, deleted September Santa carols and a Lorne Michaels impression.

Video extras adorn Disc 2, starting with "The Making of Season One" (15:55). This featurette provides behind-the-scenes looks at the creation of many first season sketches (with outtakes aplenty) and sees multiple cast members refuse interviews.

"From Stage to Screen" (10:45) shows us clips from six sketches the troupe performed at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre over the past few years that were adapted for the show in Season 1. It's interesting to see their ideas, largely unchanged, warmly received on stage (with even the same actors playing the "cool" versions of characters.)

Good ideas like "Comedy That Has Been Done" are pitched "Inside the Writer's Room." Pip Denny (Bob Odenkirk), the ancient man who invented flight before the Wright Brothers, promotes The Birthday Boys with modest praise.

An assortment of content, some of it seemingly intended for the show but deleted, is housed under the title Bonus Video: "A Birthday Greeting from Woosh" (0:48), "Binderbender and the Town Idiot" (1:06), "Principal Bob's Graduation Speech" (2:14), "Paparazzi Poker" (1:08), "Bob's Production Companies" (1:59), "The Collected Works of Glanard Frugner" (1:19),
"Fucky Tattoo" (0:31), the amusingly tongue-in-cheek "Good Ideas: Inside the Writer's Room" (2:18), and the press conference "The Birthday Boys Accept IFC's Offer" (2:05) where the Boys' reasonable demands are announced.

Finally, we get eight promos for the series in a page that's sorely lacking a "Play All" option. Ranging from 17 seconds to 2 minutes, a number of these ads are quite creative, if not necessarily revealing of the show's content.

Disc One opens with a long promo for The Complete Second Season of "Comedy Bang! Bang!"

The static menu loops the brief theme music over a shot of the boys and Bob Odenkirk. Bizarrely, episodes are not divided into chapters, making it more challenging than it should be to find a favorite sketch.

A swinging tray enables the two discs to share a standard-sized Eco-Box keepcase, which isn't fitted with a slipcover or any inserts.

Chairman and CFO Alex Winchells (Bob Odenkirk) is joined by The Birthday Boys, who are quiet in costume heads.


If you get a kick out of IFC shows like "Portlandia" and "Comedy Bang! Bang!", you should find regular entertainment in their network neighbor "The Birthday Boys." Offbeat but witty, this versatile sketch comedy produces many laughs over the course of its first ten episodes.

Anchor Bay's DVD adds considerable value with audio commentary on every episode and an additional 45 minutes of video extras. Both the show and this release are well worth your time.

Buy The Birthday Boys: Season 1 from Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed July 29, 2014.

Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Red Hour, Principato-Young Entertainment, Birthday Boys, Absolutely Productions, IFC Originals,
and 2014 Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.