I have to admit that I really miss seeing new episodes of Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central every week. Because let's face it. Not only was that some seriously funny shit — it was also, more often than not, absolutely dead on in the way it made you laugh at the great racial divide which apparently still exists in America.
For that reason alone, I am grateful for this new DVD box set. Set to hit your local video store on November 20, this assembles everything from that great show together in one package.
With Chappelle's Show: The Series Collection, what you get is six discs total, encompassing some six and a half hours of viewing if you were to sit down and try and watch it all at once. Don't try this at home. The box set brings together everything from the first two seasons, as well as the short-lived third season of so-called "lost episodes," where Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings tried to carry the ball after Dave took his own and inexplicably went home.
There are also loads of extras here, ranging from audio commentary on several episodes, to previously un-aired bloopers and even a couple of bonus readings of those great Charlie Murphy Hollywood Stories.
Watching as much as I could of the six hours here tonight got me to thinking though. I'm still not sure what exactly happened with Dave Chappelle. I mean was it ever really totally explained? How does the guy who was offered the world on a silver platter in the form of a contract extension worth a reputed $50 million simply get up and walk away?
There are some hints offered here, particularly in those three final "lost episodes" that constituted the ill-fated third season of Chappelle's Show. In one sketch, Dave goes face to face with the mother of all Hollywood TV executives — a Wizard of Oz type figure — who shows Dave a future of breakfast cereal branding, and appearances on shows like MTV's Cribs. In another of these sketches, the newly filthy rich Chappelle uses his newfound fortune to seek revenge on those who have wronged him in the past.
It's funny stuff, and you can also see flashes of the brilliance of the first two seasons in sketches which imagine a black Howard Dean, and a series of "pixies" representing the conscience of several races. To fully appreciate this stuff, you simply have to see it.
But what is most clear watching these final sketches featuring Chappelle himself, is that maintaining his credibility meant far more to him than the huge paycheck Comedy Central was dangling in front of him. When you watch the episodes on these DVDs in sequence, it actually starts to make sense.
Which is probably the single biggest reason I can recommend this box set.
The best, and most well known of Chappelle's sketches from the show — mostly drawn from those first two seasons which broke down so many boundaries — can certainly be found less expensively on DVDs like The Best of Chappelle's Show. But for Chappelle fans who loved this show as much as I did, this box set is the one place where you get it all in its original completely uncensored glory.
From Chappelle's hilarious takes on Rick James, Prince, and Lil' Jon, to his original characters like crackhead Tyrone Biggums, lilywhite newscaster Chuck Taylor, and the all-white "Niggar Family," it's all here.
I mean, who could ever forget a line like the immortal "I'm Rick James, bitch"?
There are also some great musical performances from folks like Kanye West, Wyclef Jean, and Erykah Badu. What you also get here is some insight into just why Dave Chappelle walked away from it all. And why he is so missed.
Chappelle's Show: The Series Collection will be in stores on November 20.