Greg the Bunny The Complete Series
Starring: Eugene Levy, Seth Green, Bob Gunton, Sarah Silverman, Dina Waters, Drew Massay, Dan Milano, Victor Yerrid
Series Creators: Spencer Chinoy and Dan Milano
After watching the whole series on DVD, I realised that I'd only seen one episode of Greg the Bunny when it was originally aired on FOX (the final episode, it turns out). It must have left a good impression, since I decided that I wanted to own it as soon as I heard that it was coming out on DVD. The show was just too funny, too original to be ignored. It was also probably too original to survive on network TV. So sad.
I think that was the problem, the fact that it was on network TV. Had it been produced for a cable network, like Comedy Central, then I think it would still be going strong, stuffed somewhere between Crank Yankers and Chappelle's Show. Sure, they probably couldn't have cast Seth Green and Eugene Levy, but that wouldn't really have been much of a loss. It's not that those two aren't good in their parts, they are, Levy especially, but the stars of the show are the puppets. The humans serve as sounding boards and straight men, so it wouldn't have mattered who was cast as Jimmy and Gil Bender (I bet Sarah Silverman could still be cast, which is awesome because she rules).
Of the mainstay puppets, Greg is actually the least entertaining. However, that doesn't mean that the focus of the show was on the wrong character, sitcoms are usually most effective when the most normal of the show's characters are the lead, with the kooky ones playing off of the lead in small doses. This helps viewers relate and keeps the supporting characters fresh. Examples of this can be shown in Seinfeld, Frasier, all of Bob Newhart's shows, and Cheers. My favourite character on the show is Warren Demontague, a boozy, arrogant, overweight ape who plays Professor Ape on "Sweetknuckle Junction", the Sesame Street-esque show within the show, who describes himself as "an actor first, a puppet second, and an ape third". His acerbic wit never failed to make me laugh. In referring to dogs, in one episode Warren said "What do humans see in these things, anyway? If I wanted someone to lick my face and poop on my lawn I'd get back together with Farrah Fawcett". That's South Park or Family Guy-type humour.
As great as Warren is, no puppet stole a scene like Tardy the Turtle. He was called Tardy cause he was slow, you see? It could also do with the fact that he was "slow". Having the courage to do something that un-PC for the sake of humour is what made this show great, but also why it could never work on network TV, even FOX. Pretty much any scene he was in, you wanted to hear Tardy say something funny (the kind of funny that you know you should feel bad about finding funny). And he always did.
Ultimately, it wasn't a perfect show. It's really low budget, and is all over the place in terms of direction and characterisation. Both are also problems that can be blamed on network interference. But it was funny as hell. It left me wishing there was more. I miss Warren, Tardy and Count Blah already. If you like the humour of the shows mentioned above, but have never seen Greg the Bunny, then I highly recommend renting this DVD. There are only 13 episodes (22 minutes each), so it could easily be digested within a normal rental period. If you have vague memories of finding it funny when it was on, I assure you that it is still funny, so you might want to go ahead and buy it.