ABC's early-1980s late-night sketch-comedy series Fridays finally debuts on DVD on Tuesday in a 16-episode Best of Fridays package.
Pieces from the show had previously appeared in other DVD collections.
John Moffitt, executive producer of the show, says in the new set that the delay was "for various reasons which we won't get into." In 2006, he told me that some performers had clauses in their contracts forbidding release of their work on home video. Other accounts have named Michael Richards or Larry David as the roadblock.
On the DVD, Moffitt says that things changed after a reunion of cast and crew, including David and Richards. Now there is a selection from the series, which aired on ABC from 1980 to 1982, including the series premiere and a notorious episode with Andy Kaufman in which the comedian appeared to rebel against the content of a sketch and began a live, on-camera brouhaha.
Most of the cast — Richards, Melanie Chartoff, Mark Blankfield, Darrow Igus, Brandis Kemp, Bruce Mahler and John Roarke — gathered to discuss the show, which is an extra on the DVD. Cast member Maryedith Burrell is interviewed separately. David is not involved. Another extra has writers talking about their work, and there is a segment on the Kaufman saga (which comes up in the cast discussion).
The DVD is an interesting historical document, but the show itself is only intermittently engaging. The first episode faced head-on, but not particularly in a deft way, the comparisons that would be made to Saturday Night Live, which had premiered five years earlier.
Richards, later famous for his work on Seinfeld, had some memorable turns, and David's grumpy-guy persona, later honed in his off-camera work on Seinfeld and his performances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, is evident. Roarke was a terrific impressionist, and Chartoff — now better known as a voice actor — did well. The show also argues for its inventiveness in the extras and the episode selection. But many sketches were theoretically interesting yet flat to watch, and sometimes they weren't even that interesting.
These DVDs were released this week:
Films: The Company You Keep; The Big Wedding; Olympus Has Fallen; Emperor; The Hot Flashes; 3 Geezers!; The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (2010, France); The Damned (1947, France); The Odd Angry Shot (1979, Australia); Super Eruption; A Werewolf Boy (South Korea); Super Storm; The Guillotines (China); From This Day Forward (originally aired on Gospel Music Channel).
TV series: The Office: Season Nine; Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season; The Mindy Project: Season One; Girls: The Complete Second Season; Family Ties: The Seventh and Final Season (1988-89); Perry Mason: The Ninth and Final Season, Vol. 2; Bill Moyers: Faith & Reason Collection (six-disc set); Southland: The Complete Fifth and Final Season; Enlightened: The Complete Second Season; Time Team: The Team's Favorite Digs (U.S. debut of British science-reality series); Combat!: The Complete Fifth Season (1966-67, eight-disc set); Trial & Retribution: Complete Collection (18-disc set of British drama series); The Amazing World of Gumball: The Party.
THE WASHINGTON POST