Perhaps not quite as fundamentally bizarre as its parent show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, but often plenty transgressive and unsettling enough, spinoff Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule is a worthy showcase for John C. Reilly’s Dr. Steve Brule. The bits of nonsensical advice the character pitched during Awesome Show’s “Brule’s Rules” segments are 30-second comedy gold, and I’m happy to say the bit works just as well stretched out to 12-minute episodes.
Part of what makes Brule so funny is how aggressively cartoonish he is — impossibly naïve, unabashedly grotesque and completely unable to pronounce anyone’s name even remotely correctly — but Reilly’s performance adds unexpected dimensions of naked vulnerability and a childlike fear of a world he doesn’t understand. Sure, it’s funny, but it can also veer pretty close to unbearably sad — a hidden emotional strength that can sometimes get obscured by the overtly outré flourishes.
Adult Swim’s single-disc DVD collects all 12 episodes from 2010’s season one and 2012’s season two, in which Dr. Steve Brule is unleashed upon the 4:30 a.m. time slot on Channel 5, self-producing a talk show where Brule investigates a particular topic. Episodes range from considerations of topics like food, family, pleasure and boats. Inept interviews and bumbling field reports by Brule are punctuated by recurring weather reports, movie reviews and advertisements that only seem like slightly exaggerated versions of something you might see on late night cable access. Tim and Eric’s married news team Jan and Wayne Skylar show up from time to time as well.
While each episode’s bevy of intentional technical problems — poorly spliced segments, incorrect footage, unsynced audio — becomes a bit of an overused stylistic flourish, the overall effect is a show that genuinely feels like the product of a well-intentioned but incompetent self-styled newsman, whose journalistic approach is driven by maybe the most genuinely curious (and cracked) mind you’ll ever see. Reilly’s creation is inspired, prompting laughs borne out of both delight and genuine discomfort.
The Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule DVD presents all 12 episodes in their production order rather than their original air date. Special features include a fairly extensive collection of deleted and extended scenes, running about 45 minutes in all.