UHF (25th Anniversary Special Edition) (Blu-ray)

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Known for his songs that make light of popular culture, and often parody well known hits, “Weird Al” Yankovic, has sold more than 12 million albums since 1979. Last summer’s Mandatory Fun, which features parodies of hits by Lorde, Iggy Azalea, and Pharrell Williams, among others, debuted at No. 1, selling more than a hundred thousand copies in its first week. It’s probabably safe to say that “Weird Al” has become a cultural icon of sorts.

By the late 1980’s, “Weird Al” had scored several memorable hits—Another One Rides the Bus, Eat It, Like a Surgeon—and in 1989 he decided to try and tackle film. Written by “Weird Al” and his manager Jay Levey (who also directed), the film was a box office flop, destroyed by blockbusters including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters II, Batman, and When Harry Met Sally. In the included audio commentary, “Weird Al” says that Orion executives believed that UHF would be just the hit they needed to save the studio. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but the film has become a cult classic on cable and home video.

“Weird Al” plays George Newman, a good-natured dreamer whose vivid imagination keeps him from holding a steady job. He and his best friend Bob Steckler (David Bowe) have just been fired, yet again. Though George does have a girlfriend named Teri (Victoria Jackson), he doesn’t do right by her either. George isn’t much but a likeable screw-up until his uncle Harvey (Stanley Brock) gives him the keys to Channel 62, a no budget UHF station he won on a bet. Excited by the challenge of being a program director, George dives right in, hoping to make the station into something. Unfortunately, he and his staff of oddballs—receptionist and wannabe reporter Pamela Finklestein (Fran Drescher), dwarf photojournalist and cameraman Noodles MacIntosh (Billy Barty), an overweight cameraman (Lou B. Washington) and an eccentric engineer named Philo (Anthony Geary)—don’t make much headway. However, everything changes when he runs into Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards), janitor at rival Channel 8. Spadowski is pure magic when it comes to hosting a local kid’s show, immediately boosting ratings to previously unimagined levels.

Spurred on by newly minted success, George puts his wild imagination to work, pumping out hours of original programming as only he could. As you might imagine, Channel 62’s growing success catches the attention of grease ball Channel 8 owner, R.J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy). George and his staff must raise $75,000 to keep Fletcher from buying and destroying their station.

While UHF does have a discernible plot, the film is more a series of sketches. George’s daydreams and the TV station set up, lends itself well to the sketch genre. There’s no doubt though, you have to be a “Weird Al” fan to enjoy UHF. Yankovic has a unique sense of humor, and if you’re not on board with his way of thinking, you’ll likely see this as a ridiculous waste of time. For me, the guy is so fun and positive, I find it impossible not to smile whenever I hear his music, or in this case, watch UHF.

Shout Factory has packaged this Blu-ray in a standard Blu-ray keep case with a two-sided cover (featuring the original poster art on the inside) and a slipcover that repeats the new cover art.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer has a slight, but near constant jitter, as well as quite a bit of dirt. I don’t know if that is strictly due to the source material; though remember this was a fairly low budget project. Color is pretty well saturated, and detail is quite good. Black levels and film grain look fairly consistent. No real compression issues are apparent.

The LPCM 2.0 soundtrack won’t blow you away, but it handles the film well. Music receives the necessary heft, and dialogue is clear and concise throughout. There’s some channel separation, creating some depth without overdoing it. Distortion is a non issue.

English subtitles are included.

The following extra is brand new:

  • 2014 San Diego Comic Con “Weird Al” Yankovic Panel Hosted by Comedian Jonah Ray (51:06) Things start with a char between Ray and Yankovic. There’s some interesting stuff here, but Ray seemed to make the chat a lot about himself, and his love for Al. The audience Q&A is a highlight, as there were some truly strange questions, but some intelligent ones found their way in there as well.

The following extras were ported over from the 2002 DVD:

  • Audio Commentary with Actor/Co-writer “Weird Al” Yankovic and Director/Co-writer Jay Levey: Yankovic provides a tremendous amount of information on the cast, and shooting process. His sense of humor makes watching the film with the commentary at least once, a ‘must’ for fans. The two men discuss filming locations, and other actors that were considered for roles. At one point, they are joined by comedian Emo Phillips and Michael Richards (separately) and Victoria Jackson chimes in on the phone, late in the proceedings.
  • Deleted Scenes (19:12) “Weird Al” guides you through the scenes, his self-deprecating humor in full effect.
  • Music Video (4:30) For the theme song, “UHF”
  • Still Photos: There’s all kinds of stuff here: production stills, alternate poster art, and various promotional materials.
  • Behind the Scenes (3:39) Standard EPK stuff, interviews with Yankovic, Victoria Jackson, Michael Richards, and other cast and crew are included.
  • Teaser Trailer ( :39)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:25)