DVD Review: ‘Andy Richter Controls the Universe: The Complete Series’ Finally Available

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HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 5.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – When I hear about shows that were “brilliant-but-canceled” one of the first series that comes to mind is the great “Andy Richter Controls the Universe”. Developing a cult following through cable repeats over the years, the complete series has been one of the most requested-but-unavailable titles since the show left the air over five years ago. Andy fans, your day has finally come. Rejoice.

“Andy Richter Controls the Universe” never had a chance. This quirky, clever workplace comedy with a great ensemble and some of the best half-hour TV writing of the ’00s might have worked on cable but just didn’t click with FOX audiences. Andy Richter has bad TV karma, moving on to two more failed sitcoms - “Quintuplets” and “Andy Barker, P.I.” - after this one before recently announcing that he was re-joining Conan O’Brien as the announcer for “The Tonight Show” when his old friend debuts there.

Andy Richter Controls the Universe was released on DVD on March 24th, 2009.
Andy Richter Controls the Universe was released on DVD on March 24th, 2009.
Photo credit: Paramount

Richter shines as a bored writer of instruction manuals with a vivid imagination. He spends his work hours daydreaming about alternate possibilities to the boring world around him, which includes his best buddy Keith (James Patrick Stuart), boss Jessica (Paget Brewster), gawky co-worker Byron (Jonathan Slavin, now on “Better Off Ted” from the same creator, Victor Fresco), and his secret crush, receptionist Wendy (Irene Malloy).

“Andy Richter Controls the Universe” is so consistently creative that I don’t think FOX or audiences knew how to treat the show. How do you advertise an episode where the gang thinks their obnoxious boss (a great turn by Jon Cryer just before he came back with “Two and a Half Men”) might be faking his cancer to get sympathy? How do you put together a quick spot for the episode where Andy struggles with whether or not he wants to dump his gorgeous new girlfriend who happens to be a raging anti-Semite?

“Andy Richter Controls the Universe” was one of the best sitcoms of the ’00s. It’s a shame we only got 19 episodes but it’s better than nothing and you’ll find more comedy and quality writing in these seven hours of television than you will in most complete series sets for shows that were on for years. If you own “Arrested Development,” “Freaks and Geeks,” and some of the other now-beloved but initially ratings-challenged comedies of the last ten years, there’s a new set to add to your collection.

The complete series set of “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” includes all nineteen episodes (including five that never aired in the show’s initial run) on three discs in 16x9 widescreen with a standard stereo track.

Special features include a commentary by Richter and Fresco on the pilot and “Little Andy in Charge” and two featurettes - “How Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and “What If Andy Richter Controlled the Universe?” It’s not an overwhelming collection of special features but the episodes themselves are special enough that you just won’t care.

‘Andy Richter Controls the Universe’ is released by Paramount Home Video and stars Andy Richter, Paget Brewster, James Patrick Stuart, Jonathan Slavin, and Irene Malloy. It was created by Victor Fresco. It was released on March 24th, 2009. It is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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