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Greg the Bunny

Our nation has a terrible history of oppression. In the entire history of television, only one program dared to face this shameful secret. Naturally, for its efforts, it limped along under the wing of a courageous network, Fox, before finally getting cancelled without reaching a complete season. Yes, once again "The Man" pushed fabricated Americans back down.

Certainly the show's cancellation could have had nothing to do with it being quirky and often offensive. Those that did find it on the schedule would not have turned away in horror at its honest depiction of the sex lives of puppets in a human world. If they did, they would have completely missed that Greg the Bunny was fresh, original, and though twisted, absolutely hilarious.

Luckily, we live in the age of DVD, one that gives show creator Dan Milano hope that somehow, somewhere, he will be able to produce a second season. It worked for Family Guy; please, oh, please let it work for Greg the Bunny. If that doesn't happen, we can at least be grateful for the (to date) Complete Series compilation released by Fox this week.

By the producers' own admissions, the series is a bit uneven, though written by some top comedy guys (including Matthew Silverstein of Drawn Together). Even an off episode, though, has some terrifically twisted humor to it.

Various elements received interference from network notes as the studio tried to figure out just what they had greenlit. Originally meant to be about the puppets, a few episodes spend an inordinate amount of time on Seth Green's character Jimmy. Those end up being from just another sitcom, until, of course, one of the coarse inhabitants of the twisted children's show Sweetknuckle Junction appear.

The tinkering extended to Greg's appearance. After six episodes, his eyes switch from regular black buttons to shiny expressive ones with eyelids. In the context of the series, it's only a little odd. But clearly, it changed his personality. Appearing in the making-of featurette "The Humans Behind the Fabricated Americans," Greg has grown far more aggressive. That could be bitterness over his losing that cushy prime-time sitcom job, but I think it's the eyes.

On the DVD, Greg battles for supremacy with Warren the Ape, an erudite and callow simian forced to wear a helmet and play dumb for the children's show within the show. The two argue as menus come up, and on commentaries. Greg is somewhat respectful; Warren has the real beef, sort of a Daffy to Greg's sweet-natured Bugs.

Stealing the focus from both, however, is Tardy the Turtle (performed by Victor Yerrid), the most complex-looking of the puppets. Clearly near and dear to Milano's heart, Tardy might have become a breakout character had the series lasted longer. As it is, he stars in a short "behind-the-scenes" movie making its debut on this DVD - "Tardy Delivery." In that short, Eugene Levy gives one of the best kiss-off lines ever.

The entire package perpetuates the idea that these puppets are real, something Milano reveals has fascinated him since childhood. Most of the puppets do commentary on selected episodes, though Greg would rather watch Malcolm in the Middle. The conceit comes from the show's earliest days of public access in New York, with a few clips included, then moved on to the Independent Film Channel. One of those segments appears in its entirety.

Even the puppet auditions have that strange alternate reality to them. The man behind Count Blah, Daniel Massey, appears to have landed the job by having a shark named Gary try to masquerade in auditions as a bunny. Several audition tapes are included, and most of them have a great alternative comedy feel to them.

For a series so short, this DVD set has a wealth of extras. And so far, every one of them has proven entertaining. If you think a puppet getting aroused and saying "hey, it looks like I need a little fabric softener" is funny, then you owe it to yourself to visit the world of Greg the Bunny. In particular, we recommend the previously unseen episode "Jimmy Drives Gil Crazy." Worth every minute. Trust us.

And besides, Sarah Silverman has a recurring role. Sorry; that really doesn't fit, but it was still worth mentioning.

Greg the Bunny - The Complete Series

Derek McCaw

 

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