Blu-ray Review: Documentary Now! – Seasons One and Two

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Created by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas, Documentary Now! isn’t your average television show. Aired on IFC, with a third season scheduled to premiere on February 20, 2019, the series spoofs popular documentary films. Bill Hader and Fred Armisen have exhibited a sharp wit over the years, so it’s not surprising that Documentary Now! would avoid toilet humor in favor of poking fun at the clichés and tricks of the form.

Presented as real, host Helen Mirren (Collateral Beauty) introduces each film, discussing it’s historical context and construction. Even the credits relate to the “mockumentary,” never acknowledging the real people who put this “fake” show together. It’s an interesting concept, and every episode runs around twenty minutes, allowing the premise to stay fresh.

The Season One Episodes

  • Sandy Passage: Albert and David Maysles’ 1975 Grey Gardens is parodied.
  • Kunuk Uncovered: Robert J. Flaherty’s 1922 silent Nanook of the North is parodied.
  • DRONEZ: The Hunt for El Chingon: The Vice News documentary style is parodied.
  • The Eye Doesn’t Lie: Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line is parodied.
  • A Town, A Gangster, A Festival: Hollywood, a 1980 British television documentary about silent film, is parodied.
  • Gentle & Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee: In what originally aired as a two-part episode, Alison Elwood’s 2013 History of the Eagles is parodied.

The Season Two Episodes

  • The Bunker: Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker 1993 documentary The War Room is parodied.
  • Juan Likes Rice & Chicken: David Gelb’s 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi is parodied.
  • Parker Gail’s Location Is Everything: Spalding Gray’s 1987 documentary Swimming to Cambodia is parodied.
  • Globesman: Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin 1969 documentary Salesman is parodied.
  • Final Transmission: Jonathan Demme’s 1984 concert film of the Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense, is parodied.
  • Runner Up: My Life As An Oscar Bridesmaid: In what originally aired as a two part episode, the Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen 2002 documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture is parodied.

While documentary fans are certain to appreciate this series the most, Hader and Armisen bring enough humor to the table for everyone to have a laugh. If nothing else, viewers can look for various familiar faces that pop up throughout: Peter Bogdanovich, Mya Rudolph, Jack Black, Darryl Hall, Cameron Crowe, and Kenny Loggins.

Documentary Now! has been constructed to give each episode a unique visual style, replicating the supposed age and appearance of a particular documentary. From grainy and worn prints in 4×3 to clean HD video in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, each episode offers up something different. This makes review the video quality in the tradition sense, a bit tricky. Suffice to say, each segment performs rather nicely, no matter the conditions.

The included LPCM 2.0 audio track handles things well, presenting clean and clear dialogue throughout. Music spreads nicely throughout the soundstage. A few modest effects add nice support to pull the viewer in.

English SDH subtitles are included.

There are no extras, though a Mill Creek digital copy code is included with the purchase.

Movie title: Documentary Now! - Seasons One and Two (2015-16)

Director(s): Rhys Thomas, Alex Buono

Actor(s): Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Helen Mirren

Genre: Mockumentary

  • (4)
  • (4.5)
  • (3.5)