Back in the early days of FOX, the network took a chance with Get a Life, a frequently bizarre, transgressive, self-reflexive sitcom with a morally and intellectually bankrupt lead character played by the inimitable Chris Elliott. Long before Louis C.K. tried deconstructing the sitcom with Lucky Louie or Dan Harmon stretched the limits of the form while simultaneously paying homage to them in Community, Elliott, David Mirkin and Adam Resnick made Get a Life, a show whose two seasons and 35 episodes seem like kind of a minor miracle in retrospect.
Shout! Factory has put together an impressive complete series collection for the cult favorite, presenting all 35 episodes uncut and with their original music cues, including R.E.M.’s title song “Stand.” Get a Life isn’t always side-splittingly funny (although if you’re an Elliott fan, it frequently will be), but it’s nearly always fascinating. The comic rhythms seem at first glance to be thoroughly sitcommy, based on tried-and-true multi-cam convention, but the more you watch, the more off-kilter everything becomes. Elliott, whose manic, self-deluded comic persona is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, plays a big part in this; the very fact that this guy is a sitcom protagonist makes the entire series something pretty unexpected.
Elliott stars as Chris Peterson, a 30-year-old who still lives with his parents and still holds the same paperboy route he’s had since childhood. To call him developmentally arrested would barely scratch the surface. In addition to his stunted lifestyle, Chris is also an unrepentant narcissist, thoroughly convinced of his own physical beauty and unquestionable genius — a perfect showcase for Elliott’s delightful oblivious blustering.
Perpetually pajama-ed parents Fred and Gladys (real-life dad Bob Elliott and Elinor Donahue) hide their contempt for their son behind a placid surface of disinterested platitudes and increasingly less-veiled requests for Chris to move out. Best friend Larry (Sam Robards) envies the freedom Chris has, while Larry's shrewish wife Sharon (Robin Riker) loathes Chris with every fiber of her being.