Knowing Me Knowing You

The 'Knowing Me Knowing You' two-disc set comprises all six episodes of the show, one of the most hilarious satirical comedies in recent memory. and is loaded with special features

DVD Watch

Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge: The Complete Series

BBC Warner, $29.98

Alan Partridge thinks his chat show should be the most popular in England. On that point, he is grievously mistaken. That Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Par-tridge should have had the same exposure and success stateside as The Office, however, is undeniable. The mock chat show, which ran on BBC2 in 1994 and '95, represents the early, not-quite halcyon days of fictional TV and radio personality Partridge, an invention of comedian/actor Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People, Coffee & Cigarettes). Partridge is, quite simply, the worst chat host ever, a monstrous amalgam of all that is cheesy, behind-the-times, insipid, and egoistic about the genre. Given to woefully overextending metaphors, offending viewers with bizarrely inappropriate remarks, and wrenching anecdotes out of his guests with methods only slightly less painful than medieval tooth extraction, Alan Partridge is even more lovably hateable than David Brent. His utter inability to roll with the punches thrown by live television is causing him and his show, as one commentator on the DVD suggests, to go down in a "blazing stream of shite." The result is one of the most hilarious satirical comedies in recent memory.

The series – which included such appealing segments as Up Alan's Sleeve; Alan's Big Pocket; and Knowing Me Alan Partridge, Knowing You Another Alan Partridge (featuring the ceremonious bestowal of Alan Partridge Tie & Blazer Badge Combination Packs to other Alan Partridges) – didn't make it to second season. In fact, Alan Partridge's career spiraled into ignominy after the first season, as chronicled in the BBC's subsequent behind-the-scenes series I'm Alan Partridge. Though the fictional Alan Partridge drew a short straw in life, his character was wildly popular in Britain and still is. Partridge ranked just before Ali G. at No. 7 in the Top 10 of English Channel 4's One Hundred Greatest TV Characters, and Alan Partridge: The Movie is slated for release in 2007. So, why have most Americans not heard of him? Perhaps it's because, back in the mid-Nineties, television executives doubted the ability of an American audience to "get" – or indeed, tolerate – the schadenfreude-fueled, cringe-makingly awkward humor so intrinsic in BBC comedies. We were robbed, but the recently released two-disc set of the series more than makes up for it.

The two-disc set comprises all six episodes of the show and is loaded with special features, some of which are more valuable than others. The second disc includes Knowing Me, Knowing Yule, a Christmas special, during which Alan justifies the outrageous cost of building a model of his house in the Television Centre by wagering, "If the British public were asked whether they would prefer an Alan Partridge Christmas special to 14 kidney dialysis machines, the response would be unanimous." Though Alan might be misjudging the leaning of the unanimity, the special is painfully funny and worth watching, even through your fingers, if need be. The same goes for the pilot run of the show, and the spots Coogan did in character for Comic Relief, all on the second disc. Other features are less exciting, such as "Stillalan," which is simply a slideshow of photographs from the series, and text cast biographies that would have been far more interesting as video interviews. The DVD commentary is entertaining at first, with a variety of cast members speaking in and out of character, but far less worthwhile than the show itself, and the commentators seem to realize this. During commentary on the first episode, for instance, one of the actors begins a tangential conversation and, when reminded of the task at hand, says, "No one ever listens this far in, surely. ... After 10 minutes you think, 'This is tedious!'" Quite. A behind-the-scenes documentary would've been a bonus, as would more involvement on the part of Steve Coogan, who seems conspicuously absent from the commentary. Still, the series itself is comic genius, and the DVD set does it justice. Just try to contain your anger when you realize we could've imported this show instead of Coupling.


Also Out Now

Jurassic Park Adventure Pack (Universal Studios, $26.99): Here's your chance to buy the last two Jurassic Park movies, before they're donated to the fossil collection at the Museum of Ill-Conceived Sequels.

The Muppet Movie: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition (Walt Disney Video, $19.99): Kermit's not so green anymore, but the first Muppet movie is still the best.

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Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge:The Complete Series, BBC Warner

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