This collection brings together all eight episodes from the brief Comedy Central run of this naughty faux kids’ show, spun off from the “Saturday TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts that creator Robert Smigel still makes for Saturday Night Live. The format features dopey host Doug (Doug Dale) and his Anipals, animal puppets who are crude both in construction and demeanor. They blow off Doug for gambling, drinking, drugs and whores, while he stays behind in the Funhouse to offer completely offensive and inaccurate educational presentations. Interspersed are the kind of pop-culture-skewing cartoons that Smigel excels at on SNL.
- Commentary by creators Robert Smigel and Dino Stamatopoulos and host Doug Dale
- Deleted scenes
- Segments from The Daily Show and the Rob Reiner Friars Club Roast featuring Smigel creation Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
- Short video commentary by some of the Anipals
- Outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage
- Comedy Central promos
TV Funhouse is one of those shows that’s been long-beloved in memory primarily because people haven’t had the chance to watch it since it first aired in 2001. While Smigel often does hilarious work in short-form segments on SNL and Late Night With Conan O’Brien (home of Triumph), 22 minutes each week of his gross-out shtick hosted by a moronic Mr. Rogers wannabe gets old quickly (apparently Comedy Central viewers felt the same way). Although the bonus features make it clear how much painstaking work went into creating the world of the Anipals, especially when the puppets mingled with actual animals, the results still often look cheap and haphazard.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some pretty funny moments in these episodes, mostly during the short cartoons and live-action segments. Mr. Show’s Bob Odenkirk does a great takedown of a pompous but clueless PBS host in a bit called “What Do We Know?,” and a few of the cartoons achieve a sort of surreal genius. Those are outnumbered by the bits that beat a single joke into the ground, though, and the main Anipals storylines are usually pretty strained and crass. There are only so many times that cute animals taking drugs, having sex and excreting bodily fluids all over the place can be funny before just becoming tiresome.
The Bottom Line
Good enough in small doses, preferably late at night when not all of your brain cells are working properly.