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"Fishing With John" is a wonderfully hilarious television series that first ran in 1992 and still runs on the Independent Film Channel. It's a fantastic concept. Imagine a soft-spoken composer and musician who knows nothing about fishing taking celebrities who also know nothing about fishing going on journeys to some of the most incredible places in the world to test out their lack of skill. It's certainly better than it sounds. The conversations between John Lurie and his various guests are great(especially filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and Dennis Hopper.) The fun is in the lack of script; these are basically scene after scene of two people basically talking about their philosophy towards life, joking around, and maybe catching a fish or two. It's one of those shows that are very simplistic, but you can't help but watch to see what happens next on shows like the one where Lurie goes fishing in Maine in the Winter with Willem Dafoe. And some of the locations, especially Thailand, are incredibly beautiful in the backgrounds. The Criterion Disc includes the 6 episodes:
1. Montauk with Jim Jarmusch
2. Jamaica with Tom Waits
3. Costa Rica with Matt Dillon
4. Maine with Willem Dafoe
5. Thailand with Dennis Hopper(1)
6. Thailand with Dennis Hopper(2)
VIDEO QUALITY: A beautiful full-frame(it's a TV show so it wouldn't be letterboxed or anything) picture with vibrant and wonderful colors. The image is clear and fairly sharp throughout. The Thailand show, especially during the daylight fishing scenes, looks incredible with some stunning colors. There are no instances of artifacts on this dual-layer disc. I was really suprised with just how good the image quality was on this disc. A really nice job by Criterion.
SOUND: Fairly basic TV-type sound. The music score by Lurie himself sounds nicely recorded. The narration( by Robb Webb) comes through clearly and wonderfully. Occasionally, during some of the location scenes, dialogue isn't quite as clear, but I'm giving the sound a fairly good grade because in terms of TV shows, I did enjoy the quality of the sounds, especially during some of the scenes in the great outdoors where there are various wild sounds that can be heard in the environment. Definitely not much in the way of action, but certainly gets the job done and definitely pleasant.
MENUS: Another really nice job by Criterion with the main menus . Scenes from various shows play in the background of the menu options.
EXTRAS:A John Lurie music video and a commentary by Lurie throughout the episodes. The Lurie commentary is fairly relaxed and enjoyable. He mainly talks about some of the behind-the-scenes stories that we don't see during the shows, or what it was like to go fishing with the various celebs.
The Show: 95/A = (475/500 possible points)
Video: 91/A = (364/400 possible points)
Audio: 82/B = (328/400 possible points)
Extras: 85/B = (255/300 possible points)
Menus: 89/B = (178/200 possible points)
Value: 88/B = (264/300 possible points)
Presentation:86.75/B= (86.75/100 possible points)
Final Thought: I'm a big fan of the show, and I just find the idea of two people who know nothing about fishing going to the ends of the earth to fish hilarious. The humor is a little strange and some people may not enjoy it, but those who do will find it hilarious. Disc quality is really a nice job by Criterion.
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