In Living Color - Season 2 Review

It was clear to 20th Century Fox early on during Season 1 of In Living Color that the series was deserving of a second one, being as huge and widely talked about as it was. Before the show's thirteen episodes were done and dusted season 2 was commissioned and aired mere weeks following the end of the first, in the same month of September 1990. Keenen Ivory Wayans, his friends, brothers and sisters were now given twenty-six episodes to shine and during this time new characters emerged and familiar faces returned to our screens.

Season 2 goes on to be just as entertaining as the first, with each actor having honed and perfected their own skills and trademark characters. This would be the first time that we would see our favourite cast sans a performer - Kim Coles, who left at the end of season 1.


Season 2 is a lot more interesting this time around due to several reasons. The characters that received the most praise and attention during season 1, such as Homey D. Clown, Vera DiMilo and Men on Films are back, but this time we see more of them. The producers knew who were the most marketable by this point and placed ongoing pressure on Keenen to feature them more often. Refusing to do so in his belief of keeping the characters fresh, Keenen decided to feature them more but in irregular doses. While audiences waited for their favourite character to reappear a host of new ones entered the fray, many of whom became just as popular, if not instantly memorable.

By now Jim Carrey had wowed viewers with his amazing physical comedic skills and as such he was given the option to devise new characters for himself, in collaboration with the writing staff. Carrey had invested a lot of time and effort into season 2 and it shows. You'll be hard pressed to forget the likes of Fire Marshall Bill - a hideously disfigured man who has been scarred in more fire related accidents than he has prevented them. So grotesque was his original appearance that later on in the season it had to be toned down, thus the character suddenly gaining a hair piece. Carrey goes on to shine big time by bringing back Vera DeMilo, featuring in several film spoofs such as "Veracosa: Mistress of Destruction" and "Pretty Buffed Woman". Johnny Abdul - Saudi Rock Star, hilariously performed is one of his bigger treats and his brief appearance as a Clint Eastwood look-a-like host for a game show "Do You Feel Lucky" is marvellous.

Not only is Carrey well into his stride here but so is Damon Wayans, who returns with his classic performances of Homey D. Clown (soon to be a major film production) and Anton. As well as teaming up with the brilliant, David Alan Grier for "Men on Film" he also partners up with his older brother Keenen in the hilarious "The Head Detective" - a sketch so ludicrous in concept that it ends up working so well purely on the delivery. The first sketch sees Keenen offering all the money he has left to the doctors, in order to save his wounded partner. With roughly $50.00 all they can muster up is Damon's head, attached to a pair of feet, with arms sticking out of his head - like some kind of Mr. Potato Head. This was always the first of my two favourite sketches as a kid, when I used to watch this on SKY TV.

The second, also featuring Damon that would make its debut in season 2 is "The Adventures of Handy-Man". Here Damon plays The Justice Legion of America's latest recruit, Handy-Man - a disabled superhero who heeds the call of the handicapped in trouble. This is the first time that the series had faced its toughest task, drawing the line between taste and political incorrectness and yet despite its content it became loved by many handicapped societies, who were thankful that they had finally been included in the satirical show. As it stands, Handy-Man truly is a hero and a smart move by the writers and Keenen who were brave enough to make it.

Like season 1 this is the key to the show's success. It did what no other show had done or likely ever will again. It was unafraid to tackle important issues and make fun of all races. Today with political correctness this just wouldn't happen as freely, and as I said in my review for the first season it is a show way ahead of its time. Curiously though there are a couple of moments of censored material, most notable during a "Men on Film" sketch, where two of Damon's lines are bleeped out. It's obvious what he is referring to but the nature of its specific content for a show that was aired at 8pm on a Sunday meant producers forced cuts if needed. Sadly these cuts remain for the DVD release.


As the show grew bigger so did its list of guest stars. This season features appearances from several high profile musical performers, notable appearances being Queen Latifah and Ice Cube, again serving up the rap/hip-hip element that the show has always thrived on. Thanks to Rosie Perez who secured various tracks, weeks before their release date the series stays fresh in terms of musical entertainment, for a show that was indeed a forerunner in black music culture that opened it up to a wider audience.

The Fly Girls routines are noticeably more complex and entertaining, with some excellent choreography, thanks again to Rosie Perez. Toward the end of this season a new member joins the group, taking the tally up to six.

In addition to these performers, several well known actors came onboard to fuel various parody sections, for example Billy Dee Williams showing up in an episode of "I Love Laquita" that sees a Billy Dee Williams impersonator worming his way into houses and robbing them, played to perfection by Keenen, who incidentally manages to steal every scene he's in for almost every appearance he makes.


The DVD

20th Century Fox provide season 2 on 4 discs that come in thinkpak cases, housed in a card slipcase. Like season 1 each cover features various photos of cast and characters, which is all very colourful.

Picture
Much like season 1 things here are generally acceptable. The series has an overall soft look, probably a result from having been filmed on tape and the sources here seem to be from tape masters. Colours are fine and there is a decent amount of detail to be seen, though episode 24 has some colour issues, with shifting levels.

Sound

The original English mono track is present and it does the job adequately. I can’t big-up things any more than that. The only noticeable flaw and issue is that which I stated earlier, with regards to two particular words being censored during a "Men on Film" skit.

Each DVD comes with optional and easy to read English subtitles for the hard of hearing.

Extras

The following extras do not have any subtitles.

Selected Commentaries by Kim Bass and Buddy Sheffield
Spread over the 4 discs, two of the writers speak about their time on the show, addressing certain issues and speaking of how well the series has held up over the years. Some of the more controversial sketches get commentaries, which are very interesting, especially upon hearing that the series was never really dogged for some of its more over the top content, the reason being that it was always about respect.

Season 2 Overview
At approximately 36-minutes this presents us with the views of several cast and crew members. David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson return for this retrospective look at season 2, as does Rosie Perez and many of the writers and producers. Again it is a shame that none of the other actors involved could join in but what we get should be enough behind the scenes information for fans.

Appreciating In Living Color
This takes a look at In Living Color's importance within black and white communities and how it played with racial stereotypes in order to get its point across and make us realise just how stupid the world was (and still is) when it came to judging appearances.

Notorious In Living Color characters
This short piece of roughly 10-minutes takes a look back at some of In Living Color's most loved characters.

Trailer - Bill Cosby as Himself
A typical Fox trailer to promote one of their other products; it is of no relevance here and doesn't deserve to be in the special features section.


Overall

In Living Color is well into its stride now and interestingly it leaves the viewer with a couple of cliff-hanger episodes. Will Homey D. Clown continue to be a sell-out? And will Blayne Edwards recover from his accident and turn gay again? Find out in season 3, which I only hope comes out real soon. Here's looking forward to that and more - "My Left Foot of Fury" anyone?

Film
9 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

8

out of 10

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