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Anyone familiar with the great corporate wastelands can easily relate to Scott Adams highly popular comic strip DILBERT. Now considering the popularity of DILBERT, one would think that the concept would translate into an equally popular television series. While the animated version of DILBERT did manage to eek out thirty episodes across two seasons on UPN, the show was never the runaway hit that the comic strip is. Probably part of the reason lies in the fact that what works daily in a three-panel strip, isn’t going to translate to a twenty minute TV show without some alteration. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the DILBERT TV series is fairly hilarious, but instead of the instantaneous gratification of the humor contained in the comic strip, the show builds the jokes a bit more slowly, plus said jokes need to be contained in the context of a larger story.

The basic premise of the DILBERT television series follows that of the comic strip. Set in the white-collar world of corporate America, DILBERT follows the misadventures of the title character. Dilbert is a cubicle bound engineer, who works for an ineptly run, bureaucracy-laden company that manages to stay in business, despite every corporate misstep (or because every misstep is blessed with dumb luck). Our hero is a good guy, who tries to do things the right way, but is thwarted at every turn by the corporate bureaucracy that prevents him by getting ahead. The absurd situations and even more absurd characters all ring with an air of truth; in the workplace I personally have met people very much like the characters that inhabit Dilbert’s world, as have the majority of you. Perhaps it is the universality of the characters and situations that gives DILBERT its appeal, and the reason that the humor is so hilarious.

DILBERT: THE COMPLETE SERIES ($50) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features all 30 episodes that were aired across the show’s two-year run. The 30-featured episodes are as follows: The Name, The Competition, The Prototype, The Takeover, Testing, Elbonian Trip, Tower of Babel, Little People, The Knack, Y2K, Charity, Holiday, The Infomercial, The Gift, The Shroud of Wally, Art, The Trial, The Dupey, The Security Guard, The Merger, Hunger, The Off-Site Meeting, The Assistant, The Return, The Virtual Employee, Pregnancy, The Delivery, Company Picnic and The Fact, Ethics. DILBERT features the vocal talents of Daniel Stern, Chris Elliott, Kathy Griffin, Larry Miller, Gordon Hunt, Jackie Hoffman, Jason Alexander, Tom Kenny, Gary Kroeger, Tress MacNeille, Jim Wise and Maurice LaMarche.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made all the episodes that comprise DILBERT: THE COMPLETE SERIES available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. For the most part the episodes look very good on DVD. There are little inconsistencies in the earlier episodes, but things firm up as the series progresses. The image appears as sharp and well defined as is possible with the simplistic 2D animation, which nearly perfectly replicates the look of the simply drawn comic strip. Both the blacks and the whites appear to be right on the money, plus the colors are strongly rendered, without smearing or noise. Visual imperfections in the source materials are very minimal, and digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel track decodes to standard surround and is more than adequate for dialogue driven animated fare. Surround activity is minimal- consisting of ambient and musical fill, while the forward soundstage dominating the sound mix. Voices are well recorded and the dialogue is always completely intelligible. Danny Elfman’s main title music is the sonic highlight of each episode, although all of the music comes across with good fidelity. No other language tracks or subtitles are present, although English captioning has been included.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Making Dilbert Work is a nearly twenty minute program in which Scott Adams discusses Dilbert’s development, including making the transition from the funny page to the boob tube. Performers Chris Elliott, Kathy Griffin, Larry Miller and Gordon Hunt are also featured in the program, as is executive producer Larry Charles. Scott Adams is back to introduce the following four themed clip compilations: Dogbert Speaks, You’re Not The Boss Of Me, Marketing Or Felonious Activity?, and Catbert: Feline Or Pure Evil?. A theatrical trailer for ADAM SANDLER'S EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS, plus promotional trailers for TV products on DVD close out the extras.

While the TV series doesn’t have the same "hit you over the head" effect as the comic strip, DILBERT is a fairly hilarious show. If you find humor in the workplace or read the comic strip, then you will definitely want to check out DILBERT: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD.



Dilbert - The Complete Series (1999)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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