DVD Reissue: Serial ***1/2

By Dennis Hartley

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Serial – Legend Films DVD

Well, there’s good news and bad news here. The good news, of course is that this 1980 comedy gem starring Martin Mull and Tuesday Weld has finally been released on DVD. The bad news is that after the interminable wait, the releasing studio has done a less-than-stellar job with the transfer. The picture is adequate (and enhanced for 16×9) but really not that much of an improvement over previous VHS versions; the audio could have stood at least a minimum of EQ tweaking (it’s a bit muffled and thin). So why am I still recommending it? Because it’s a truly hilarious satire of California trendies, featuring a crack ensemble of screen comedy pros (Sally Kellerman, Tommy Smothers, Peter Bonerz, Bill Macy).

Based on Cyra McFadden’s 1977 book, the film is a pre-cursor to Michael Tolkin’s excellent 1994 L.A. satire, The New Age (which remains MIA on DVD, much to my chagrin). Serial takes a brisk stroll through California Yuppie Hell, with its barbs aimed at the late 70s Marin County crowd. Psycho-babblers blather, hot tubs gurgle, and razor-sharp one-liners are dispensed between gulps of white wine and bites of Brie. Almost worth the price of admission alone: the great Christopher Lee as  the president of a gay biker gang!

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