7 Cult Comedies That Need to Be Released on DVD

Despite the overabundance of TV shows available on DVD, including quite a few that seemingly no one was clamoring for, there are still plenty of great, less-popular shows that are only accessible in clips of questionable quality on YouTube. Here are seven cult comedies that ought to be let out of the vaults as soon as possible.

'Get a Life'

There are two out-of-print, slapdash DVD sets of this show, but it really deserves a comprehensive release to showcase its hilariously bizarre take on sitcom conventions. Its basic high concept, with Chris Elliott as a 30-year-old paperboy who lives in his parents’ garage, takes off into increasingly surreal territory, subjecting the main character to grotesque humiliations (including, on numerous occasions, death), all in the name of very dark comedy.

'Norm'

The Norm Show
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Norm Macdonald’s bone-dry sense of humor has always been an acquired taste, and probably reached its apex during his time as the host of Saturday Night Live’s "Weekend Update" fake-news segments. But this ramshackle ABC sitcom (also known as The Norm Show) was also a pretty decent showcase for Macdonald’s patented I-don’t-really-care-if-I’m-on-TV shtick. He played a degenerate gambler stuck doing community service, tossing off understated sarcastic barbs at everyone he came in contact with. Norm wasn’t as purely nihilistic as its namesake’s stand-up comedy, but it was a refreshing infusion of cynicism into the traditional sitcom form.

UPDATE: was released on DVD on September 7, 2010.

'Parker Lewis Can’t Lose'

Parker Lewis Can't Lose
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Originally appearing to be little more than a rip-off of the classic John Hughes movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this clever teen comedy developed into much more than that, putting forth its own quirky, cartoony style and making high school into a world where coolness was less about popularity than about how confident you were in yourself. Plus, it’s a wonderful time capsule of early-’90s culture; where else could you hear the catchphrase "Synchronize Swatches"?

UPDATE: Parker Lewis Can't Lose: The Complete First Season was released on DVD on June 30, 2009.

'Roc'

This uncommonly thoughtful and engaged family sitcom became increasingly concerned with both social issues and formal experimentation as it went through its three seasons. Star Charles S. Dutton brought gravity and heart to his portrayal of a Baltimore garbage man, and the show never shied away from depicting the real struggles of the lower middle class. Each episode of the second season was broadcast live, a first for American scripted television since the 1950s. In a way this old-fashioned dedication to craftsmanship may have been the show’s undoing, but one thing it never did was compromise.

'The John Larroquette Show'

After his stint as boorish prosecutor Dan Fielding on the courtroom sitcom Night Court, Larroquette took center stage in this darkly funny show about the late-night denizens of a bus station. The show dealt seriously with Larroquette’s character’s struggles with alcoholism, as well as all the funny but tragic circumstances of the people who worked or simply hung around the station in the wee hours. Network tinkering eventually brightened many of the dark elements (even as the show’s creative team struggled mightily to maintain its integrity), but the early seasons at least deserve another look.

'Andy Richter Controls the Universe'

Andy Richter Controls the Universe
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Poor Andy Richter; the former Late Night With Conan O’Brien sidekick has had seriously bad sitcom luck, but this one, the first of his three failed post-Late Night series, should have been more successful. Richter combined the sort of aw-shucks naiveté he honed on Late Night with a dreamy, creative whimsy in this show about a technical writer with an overactive imagination.

UPDATE: Andy Richter Controls the Universe: The Complete Series was released on DVD on March 24, 2009.

'The State'

The State
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Here’s a partial list of the projects that members of the troupe The State have gone on to create since their sketch-comedy show ended its brief run on MTV: Reno 911!, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, The Ten, Balls of Fury. Thanks to those projects alone, this twisted, hilarious and fervently adored series ought to be on DVD. Music-rights issues and network foot-dragging have kept it away from fans for years, during which time it’s built up a Monty Python-like reputation that deserves to be experienced firsthand.

UPDATE: The State: The Complete Series was released on DVD on July 14, 2009.