Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Truthiness," justice and the American Way

I feel sorry for the people who had to choose what to leave out of "The Best of the Colbert Report" (Paramount). You want it to be so much longer!
Even at almost three hours long, the single disc compilation, released Nov. 5, barely covers the reasons why "The Colbert Report" is one of the sharpest and funniest shows on TV.
Colbert, by his own admission, owes much to Bill O'Reilly, "Papa Bear," as he called him (to his face) in a fantastic interview Colbert did on the Fox News Channel last year. O'Reilly's guest spot on "The Report" is on the DVD.
But Colbert, in addition to lampooning O'Reilly's overblown sense of self-importance,
has a keen sense of comedy. His "Know Your District" series, in which he profiles all of the members of the House of Representatives, aren't composed of your usual political interviews. In his interview with Massachusetts' Barney Frank, he steps around the usual subject of interviews with Frank and says, "You like .... dogs?"
And the guy is hip, too. The final segments on the disc feature a "Rock and Awe" competition where Stephen shows his (somewhat) musical chops. He has a lot of fun lampooning both politics and rock here. (He manages to get Henry Kissinger, of all people, to kick off the competition. Amazing!)
One of the best sections of the disc is the appearance of Barry Manilow on his show. You wouldn't think a guy like Manilow would even be in the same room as Colbert, but apparently the two have a genuine friendship. Even funnier is the fact that Manilow won (Colbert likes to say "stole") the Emmy that Colbert was nominated for. When Manilow came on the show, Colbert managed to get Manilow to sign a "peace treaty" (duly notarized) in which the two would share custody of the Emmy and even sings Manilow's trademark "I Write the Songs" with him.
And when Willie Nelson comes on the show, Colbert lampoons him for Nelson's Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor competing with his. When Willie sings, "On the Road Again" at the end, Stephen, of course, joins in. Is a music CD next?
"The Best of the Colbert Report" was put out to capitalize on the current white-hot popularity of the show.
And unlike most TV compilations these days, it's very moderately priced. Colbert obviously knows his audience. And they certainly know him.

Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Five continues the tradition of the first four volumes and shows once more why these cartoons aren't just for kids. ("The Looney Tunes: Spotlight Collection, Vol. 5," released at the same time, condenses the Golden Collection to cartoons aimed at children.)
In the four-disc set, the first features Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, the second features Looney Tunes versions of fairy tales, the third spotlights the work of Bob Clampett and the fourth features vintage shorts. The special features include some of the brilliant music-only tracks that were Looney Tunes trademarks, tributes to Chuck Jones and Robert McKimson and vault rarities, including Private Snafu.
What's great about these sets is you don't have to feel guilty anymore about liking these cartoons. That's fine with us.
"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Films) is the most recent film breakdown of the buildup to the war in Iraq by the Bush Administration. The film clearly and distinctly shows how faulty reasoning played an immense part in toppling Saddam Hussein and invading Iraq. One of the most surprising, but maybe not shocking reasons, given the current situation there, is that those in the Bush administration lacking military experience pushed for the invasion and the only ones that had it -- Colin Powell and Richard Armitage -- had reservations.
"No End in Sight" comes at a time when the majority of Americans are disillusioned by the war. As a result, it probably won't change a lot of minds. But a little education can't hurt.