The Adam and Joe DVD Review
Before they got carried away with promoting endless "reality" shows and US sitcoms Channel 4 hosted an interesting series of British made programmes that aired as part of their 4 Later slot, with many of the better shows no longer with us, notably Bits, Vids and The Other Side. Prior to some of these popular series was The Adam and Joe Show - a fine example of British, budget film making at its best that spawned from the experimental Channel 4 series Takeover TV. Written, directed and edited by best friends, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish the series takes place from a bedroom set above The Body Shop in Brixton.
Adam and Joe managed to carve out four successful, award-winning series before the plug was pulled and they moved out in 2001, but in that time they made a name for themselves, producing some of the most memorable, experimental late night pieces to grace British TV screens.
Armed with only a video camera Adam and Joe set out to cause chaos and anarchy both in their room and out on the streets, ready to cause humiliation to themselves and the general public in a mixture of clever satirical jabs at the media, popular television and movie phenomenon's.
Perhaps they are most famously known for their toy movies, which involved film recreations featuring a variety of stuffed animals, or their series of Star Wars parodies that did more to parody other television shows and movies than it did the franchise from which it borrowed from. The Toys series is a brilliant collection of short films that do everything to show us just how ridiculous some of the best loved, Oscar winning movies actually are, acted by toys that manage to bear quite a resemblance to the actors they're lampooning. From American Beautoy (a take on American Beauty, a film that I personally had many problems with) and its pretentious drivel about bags and clichéd character twists, to the silly antics of Furends with its annoying characters who over react more than any human on the planet and talk with infuriating speech tones, each film is a perfect send up and makes us think about why these films and shows are loved so much.
The show isn't without its share of celebrity fun-poking and the funniest of these would have to be the "Late Night Toy Review", hosted by Humpty Lawson with guests Tony Peanuts, Alison Porcine and Tom Tortoise. They take a look at "Jo Whooley's Chat Show" that makes fun of her guests, with Moby's meanderings, Fran Squealy's ludicrous musical philosophies and Moosey Gray's absent minded warbling. Jo herself (who is based on Radio 1 presenter Jo Whiley) shows little interest toward her guests and makes the show all about herself as she disregards what it is they have to say.
The show continues by reviewing "Loose Woollen" (a take off from Loose Women), a show presented by and for women. Presented by Janine Runtle and Munty Cakes, the emphasis is on sexual attitudes. Another personal favourite would be "Scene by Scene", presented by Mark Cousins' Tortoise as he interviews Guy Richtoy about his latest film "Twat", starring Brad Pish. The Mark Cousins character is uncannily accurate; surely one of the most annoying critics around whose poncey discussions will send you to sleep within seconds. And at this point it must be noted that unless you are familiar with British TV and radio, old and new, there is a lot here that will go over your head.
Taking their old collection of Star Wars figures they poke fun at several of Britain's most popular television shows with gems such as Chew've Been Framed (featuring home made videos with violent content that the audience inevitably finding morbidly hilarious), Star Wars in Their Eyes and Chew Wants to be A Millionaire, hosted by Chris Tyrant (The Emperor) who continually annoys contestants by asking them if they're sure about their answer and beating around the bush, but all he really wants is to get the chance to kill his contestants. I'm sure the reader can figure out the shows that are being parodied with ease. It's a shame that more were not included on this DVD, with personal favourites of mine being The Jedi Springer Show and Crystal Maze feature. Perhaps in the future we’ll get to see more of these, as there is a lot of fun to be had from seeing a perpetually drunk Obi Wan Kenobi and other assorted characters that have been placed outside of their respected universe.
As mentioned earlier, when not doing parodies, Adam and Joe take to the streets and investigate shoddy marketing ploys and store policies. In series one they go undercover to a grocers, whereby they decide to test out just how free those free bits really are. Adam, with his camcorder begins to films Joe as he takes a 10% free bite out of a Galaxy bar, before going on to gorging 20% of free cornflakes and then pouring 20% of free Go-Cat in his shirt pocket before finally drinking 15% of free Ribena and being caught by the shop assistants who proceed to tell him that he is a bit thick. The resulting argument is carried out in a hilarious, genial fashion, with the abusive assistants who haven't a clue what is going on coming out as the real fools.
The brilliance continues as in series 2 Joe becomes frustrated with Adam while trying to shoot a link, where he tells him that he's useless and couldn't organize a piss up in a brewery. Adam challenges him by doing that very thing, infiltrating a real brewery with his friends and partying in the fermenting room.
Another fun challenge is that of the street artist. Convinced that there aren't any good street artists Adam and Joe take it upon themselves to masquerade as talented professionals, setting up their easels in Covent Garden. Undercutting the competition they invite members of the general public to sit down and have their portraits done. The pay off is seeing just how silly these victims are as they're willing to fork out cash for their grotesque depictions that oddly share some resemblance but are the ultimate surreal scare fest. I'd love to gone on but these few shining examples are just part of a very consistent run of skits that make the docu-style features so worthwhile.
Another memorable addition to the series is the inclusion of Adam's father, Nigel who regularly appears as the show's youth correspondent in the piece known as Baaadad. Nigel's role is to review the latest in pop culture and events, from visiting Glastonbury to Ibiza, chatting up young girls who seem to take a liking to him and participating in a lot more than most peoples' dads would be willing to. He's a good sport who enjoys most of what he does and is quite a charming character trying to get involved in a generation far removed from his own.
The Adam and Joe Show also showcases the pair’s talent for musical comedy that had been established early on in their television and film endeavours. 1998's "The Footie Song" from series 2 is one of their most popular tunes that was intended to be released for the 1998 World Cup, and had it been I don't doubt that it would have been a huge hit. The song is a lot of fun, written by two guys who don't even follow the sport but simply come up with a series of silly rhymes.
"The Bobby De Niro Calypso" is a nice little homage to the famous actor that has Adam don his fake mole and dress up as various characters throughout De Niro's career. It's a bizarre little song that has enough charm to actually work, with Adam putting in a fine impression. This and many more including their TV spoofs, making up new lyrics for shows such as Furends and Ally McSqueal keep the show fresh.
This collection features all of the "best bits" from the four series as follows:
02. Shakeycam Link
03. Baaadad Review
04. 20% Free
05. Chew've Been Framed
06. Candle Fiddles
08. Home-Made Compy Guide
09. Space Dust Link
01. The Toy Patient
02. Colds Survival Link
03. Room 4 Change
04. The Footie Song
05. TFI Star Wars
06. Street Artists Challenge
07. Gig Survival Guide
09. Microwave Tricks Link
10. Star Wars in Their Eyes
12. Behind the Scenes Link
13. Piss-up in a Brewery
01. Saving Private Lion
02. Beanz Advert
03. Street Mime Challenge
04. This Morning with Han & Chewie
05. The Bobby De Niro Calypso
06. Ally McSqueal
07. Dr. Spankle's Wax-O-Rama
08. Shakesbeare in Love
09. Record Store Guide Pt.1
10. Chew Wants to be a Millionaire
11. Record Store Guide Pt. 2
12. Stuffed Trek
13. Song for Bob Hoskins
14. Quantum Leap Outro
01. Buffalo G Intro Link
02. The Imperial Family
03. People Place - Cineplex
05. American Beautoy
06. Media Chaos Collective
07. Adrenalin Junkie Link
08. The Late Toy Review
09. Omniken Profiles Handy Andy
10. Director's Commentary Link
11. NEWsic* with The Beta Band
12. People Place - Motorway Services
13. Scene by Scene - “Twat”
14. The 1980's House
15. Viewer's Messages Outro Link
VCI’s release of this "best of" collection is a rather commendable one, having a nice selection of extras and great care put into it.
The DVD has some cracking menu screens with many newly recorded commentary tracks to accompany them. They're very amusing and alternate between three or so different tracks that play for the main menu. The extras menu has a deliberately annoying song that makes a point about many DVD menu screens that have annoying sounds and animations, while this theme is continued by Adam and Joe supplying their own silly looking but well done collection of screens for the disc.
The transfer presentation is generally good. Series four was filmed in wide screen and understandably appears in a Non-Anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio. The first three series are presented in their intended full frame ratio. Adam and Joe filmed a lot of the series on a standard camcorder but the footage has held up well and has been transferred to DVD with a lot of success. The series progressively improves with the fourth looking the best, given that they were given a greater budget to work with.
Overall the picture is detailed with solid colours, but there is some variation depending on the shooting style and deliberate effects added. Some grain can be found on selected sequences while some natural tape degradation is noticeable, but acceptable given that the series looks as good as it did on TV. Though quite difficult to score this properly I've given high marks because each series looks as good as it possibly can on DVD.
There are also optional English subtitles that are very good but occasionally omit certain words from time to time in order to shorten a sentence. This should not be considered as a major deterrent for those who require subtitles.
The sound is also a difficult one to score, mainly because the provided stereo track varies in quality but does a very good job overall in reproducing the effort Adam and Joe put in to creating sounds for their films.
Note: All extras have optional English subtitles.
The Story of Adam and Joe
This runs for 40 minutes and tells the story of the two friends who met in 1983 and immediately started to make movies. There's no narration but instead old video footage and text commentary. There's some interesting stuff to be had but the early years footage is of little interest. My favourite addition to this feature is unused material from their TV show including "Adam and Joe's World of Shame", where Ken Korda goes to a bar and verbally abuses customers for no reason in an attempt to show that in order to make a good movie you must employ the language of the streets. This is hilarious just to see how far he goes in antagonising the public in a very real situation. Another neat addition is footage from when Adam and Joe spent time in Los Angeles where they wanted to investigate shops with signs that say "You break it, you pay for it". In predictable fashion they set about breaking shop goods, much to the female assistant’s curiosity. They return to England and do the same thing in a china/glass/hardware store until a kid calls the police and they never attempt anything like it again. There is a good amount of behind the scenes footage that provides a few laughs and insights also.
Adam and Joe's World of Sound
This is a collection of sound bites and songs, some from the series, others are archive material. There are 17 tracks in all that include "The Footie Song", Zac Sandler's songs and prank radio calls, "Please please hold the line" (from Ken Korda: Making the Band), Radio 1 pilot show recordings, "Tetris Song" and my favourite of all - Ken Korda making a phone call to DreamWorks where he hopes to speak to David Geffen about making Playbus: The Movie, The Keith Harris project, Heart Beat: the Movie - starring Vanilla Ice and more. The assistant on the other end becomes considerably annoyed by him and threatens to have him arrested as a trespasser, should he try to enter the premises.
This was a regular feature on the series and involves Adam and Joe dressing up as police officers and checking out celebrities' record collections. This feature runs for almost 7 minutes and has the police visiting Gary Numan, Thomas Dolby, Alexis Arqette, Marc Morris, Frank Black, Ray Manzarek and finally The Fall's worryingly strange Mark E Smith.
Nigel Buxton recalls fondly his experiences working on the series. He voices both his initial concerns and fulfilment from taking part in a series that gave him moderate success that continues to this day. He seems very proud to have worked on the show and his achievements that came from it which include starring in one of Frank Black's music videos, rapping with Coolio and being likened to David Attenborough on a course for TV presenters.
Here you can choose to view all the toy movies in one place. With the exception of Toytanic they all appear on the series' collection. These are: Toytrainspotting, Showtoys, The Toy Patient, Furends, Saving Private Lion, Shiney, Shakesbear in Love, Ally McSqueal, Stuffed Trek, American Beautoy, Toy Review and Twat.
Star Wars TV Spoofs
Like the toy movies these can viewed all in one go here. They are: Chew've Been Framed, TFI Star Wars, Star Wars in Their Eyes, This Morning with Han and Chewie, Chew Wants to be a Millionaire and The Imperial Family. Interestingly the menu for this plays the audio for one of the Jedi Springer shows but sadly doesn't have an option to watch it.
Ken Korda: Making it in the Movies
This was one of my favourite moments from the series so it is nice to see that it's been included as part of the extra features. It runs for just over 8 minutes and has Adam playing the movie director as he takes us through the stages of making a film, in this case "Speeding on the Needle Bliss" - a film about two lesbian jungle DJ's who are addicted to heroin and become involved in a bum drug deal. It's very funny stuff particularly as Ken tries to buy Charlie and acid from a chemist and a shotgun from a small hardware store. The casting sessions are hilariously bad, with Ken employing the worst possible actors for his shitty little film set in Brixton.
Ken Korda: Making the Band
Another excellent Ken Korda moment. Here he ventures into creating a megastar pop-combo out of four unknown people with little talent. Naming them 1471 after the call back service he then gives them ludicrous nicknames and has them record their first single, before sending them out on a live performance, sacking them all at the end after making tonnes of cash.
There are three commentaries present. The first one is for Making it in the Movies and has Ken Korda talking about the making of his first movie - "Speeding on the Needle Bliss". With Adam in character as Ken the commentary in fun. The second commentary is for Making the Band and likewise it raises a few smiles.
The final commentary is for "Toytanic" by Mark Cousins and Joe Cornish. Adam does his brilliant Cousins impression and nails the part. He comes across as a critic who talks bollocks and tries to find meaning that isn't really there as he forces words into Joe's mouth.
The Adam and Joe Show holds up very well after all these years. Some of its moments will likely become obscure as time passes by as certain celebrities are soon forgotten but for the time being it is a brilliant satire on what just about makes Britain and America so rubbish at times. There is a lot of variation that makes the series enjoyable and I would like to see the entire series get a DVD release. This is perhaps just wishful thinking but if this compilation sells well enough then I hope series sets will be considered, for now you can enjoy many of the best laugh out loud moments from this superb series.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 12:15:44