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Serial (1980)

Martin Mull , Tuesday Weld  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

Price: $23.49 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Martin Mull, Tuesday Weld, Christopher Lee, Tom Smothers, Sally Kellerman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0019UGYCI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,849 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Serial" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


1980's Serial disappeared quickly from theaters but found its place on the new cable TV outlets that swept the nation. It's an excellent example of a minor film wanted very badly on DVD by a small but loyal group of customers. [...]

The film was sourced from a 1977 book by Cyra McFadden: The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County which itself started as a 52-part serialized satire of the problems of affluent proto- Yuppies in one of the richest parts of California. The permissive, socially progressive times gave birth to a population of self-directed people fascinated by sex, no-fault marriage, encounter groups and meditation gurus. Serial lampoons the trendy folk of Marin county with a constant barrage of one-liners, starting with a flaky marriage vow in a ceremony presided over by a guru-like minister: "Thank you for inviting me to participate in your life, for I am an a--hole. And being an a--hole is neither good nor bad. It just is." Audience surrogate Harvey Holroyd is always ready with a sarcastic quip: "These are exciting times aren't they? Gas is over a dollar a gallon, and it's okay to be an a--hole." Wife Kate thinks Harvey needs to mellow out: "Such rage, Harvey.

The price of gasoline joke is as dated (or nostalgic) as the rest of the humor, which is often hilariously funny and on target. Much of it is tasteless, which makes it seem even more contemporary. The film's advertising logo expresses its level of comedy -- a plastic 'feel good' heart transfixed by a big metal screw.

[...] Serial is a black comedy in love with its punch lines. The people are funny cartoon characters, and almost every line of dialogue is a setup for a smart laugh, usually at somebody's expense. If it weren't for the reasonably warm characters played by Martin Mull, Tuesday Weld, Bill Macy and a couple of others, the show would collapse in pointless caricature. We're invited to jeer at a certain sector of upscale California society. Make that a gross exaggeration of a particular sector. Condensing the 52 chapters of the book into ninety minutes makes most of the characters seem narcissistic decadent airheads who hide their miserable selves behind feel-good psychobabble. One family dog is named Elton John; a rebellious kid has been given the name Stokely by his politically conscious parents.

[...] One can't just conclude that Serial has something to appall everyone, and let the subject go. It is frequently hilarious, and compared to the gawd-awful witless smut that passes for comedy today, it's downright charming. But the show grossly exaggerates its Marin County lifestyles, just to have a bigger target for its humor. If you don't mind a degree of heartlessness and opportunism in comedy, Serial is highly recommended.

[...] Legend Films' DVD of Serial is a satisfactory transfer of this forced but funny comedy. The audio seems a bit distorted at times, or perhaps just a bit compressed, but all dialogue is clear. The score by Lalo Schifrin is topped by Michael Johnson's vocal on the apt title song, It's a Changing World. [...] --Glenn Erickson of

Product Description

Harvey Holroyd (Martin Mull) is a Marin County resident who is surrounded by strangeness. His family, neighbors and co-workers all seem consumed by the fads and trends of 1980, and it's getting to be too much to take. Sex, drugs, psychobabble and health food - it's enough to drive anyone insane! Tuesday Weld, Christopher Lee and Tommy Smothers help make up a wacky all-star cast. Serial is a biting and hilarious satire of 1980 California life that seems eerily prophetic three decades later.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the land of fruits and nuts.......... June 28, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Great movie about life in Marin county in the late seventies. Martin Mull just wants to lead a normal, middle-class life. His wife (Tuesday Weld) and friends won't let him. They try to drag him into every fad and fashion of the 70's and early 80's, from drugs and free sex to wacky "therapists" and cults. Very funny and prescient movie, with very good performances, and great lines- especially from the supporting cast.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Methinks the previous reviewers did not actually SCREEN Paramount's DVD reissue of "Serial"? Otherwise, I don't think they would actually be THANKING the studio for releasing this bootleg quality abomination.

Don't get me wrong-I love this film; it's a precursor to Michael Tolkin's 1994 satire, "The New Age", a similarly savage send up of California trendies (another great film still M.I.A. on DVD, BTW). But... as for the disc quality?

Gosh, where shall I start?

1. OK, fine-"1:78 wide screen", but DEFINITELY not anamorphic.
2. Horribly tattered print; no better than my studio released VHS copy.
3. Muffled audio; turning it up and/or trying to adjust EQ doesn't help.

I wasn't expecting the Criterion treatment, but come on-this film has enough of a cult following to warrant a little more respect to those who are eager to plunk down their hard-earned cash. Inexcusable, after waiting so many years for this sly satire to appear on DVD, simply inexcusable. Caveat emptor, my friends.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great spoof of new age awareness! May 18, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Martin Mull stars in this comedy about upper-middle class life in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The movie is a good adaptation of the book by the same name and pokes fun at the "mellow speak" and new age fads of the late 70's. Contains lots of funny dialog you'll be quoting back to your friends, just like a Monty Python skit.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An obscure movie everyone should see June 7, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
It's about life in Marin County, California in the late 1970s. All the hippies have grown up and are so desperately trying to convince themselves that they're still hip that they've become a horrible parody of themselves, living in a world of pop psychobabble, open marriages and narcissism. In the center of all of this is Harvey Holroyd (Martin Mull) and his wife Kate (Tuesday Weld). Harvey is the sane man in an insane world, normal by every standard, but Kate is caught up in all the lunacy and keeps trying to drag him into the bizarro-world.

Don't let the movie's late-70's look fool you; it is absolutely *hysterical*. Look for Tommy Smothers as a "priest" (though in what church, I've no idea) who thinks everything is beautiful and Christopher Lee as a hard-ass businessman during the week who has a secret about what he does on weekends. There are so many plot twists, you'll never keep up with them all, but the whole movie is a laugh riot from start to finish. Be aware; this is a hard movie to find, but if you have an opportunity to get it, do not pass it up.

I suppose it's even funnier for me because my own parents were living out in San Francisco in the early 1970s and they say the film depicts almost exactly how people out there actually were. I've a hard time seeing my dad (who'd just gotten out of the Marines) and my mom (a strict Catholic and a Navy nurse) living in such a mad place.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yuppie Parody October 4, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Just over the Golden Gate from San Francisco lies the county of Marin with it's artistic atmosphere where, if you have enough money, you can be an artist too! Brilliant parody of the lifestyles of the "ME" generation.
This is a dated comedy about a time when the Moonies, Pop Therapy Encounter Groups and Sex Clubs made up the wave of recovery in the post-Vietnam era of selfishness.
Extremely funny, well timed comedy. It does, however, require an appreciation of good writing and subtle humor.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Marin County Line July 27, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Forgetting for a moment that this DVD looks mediocre at best, with poorly balanced and muffled sound, I've still got to recommend it.

Everything about this movie is pure catnip for me - the ferry boat, making dates for the orgy, the Volvo, Preacher Tommy Smothers' New Age emasculating wedding vows, communes, hot tubs, Mill Valley shrinks, coke, my Hollywood High School classmate Tuesday Weld as the aspiring New Age Marinite, and Christopher Lee with his fleet of gay bikers.

I can get dizzy singing the praises of this movie - Sally Kellerman at her mandala-positioned sex focused best, early-onset hatred of the 60s in everyone's kids, and all the pre-Aids hook-ups you can eat.

Martin Mull surprises with his steadiness in this film - his performance grounds the plot and gives the ending believability, yet his unique delivery is everywhere an advantage. And there are tons of great little moments - from a jilted Nita Talbot screaming at Bill Macy "you're going to have a coronary" to the cultists chanting "We love you Joanie, oh yes we do..."

I was in the music and film business and lived in Marin for 30 years, including the new age 70s, and though it's populated by different beings now, this film, more subtle than originally noticed, will forever bring it to life for everyone - especially those wondering what "Mellow Marin" meant?... or why we needed a Rainbow Tunnel, or how perfection seemed to settle like a mist on this special place on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good satire, could be better.
I'm going to say three stars, but would make it three and a half if that were an option. Not that it means anything precise, anyway. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Notvinnik
5.0 out of 5 stars Great social commentary. Enjoyable movie.
This movie is a riot. One of the best comedies about new age wacos that I've ever seen. It's somewhat similar to Semi-Tough, but I think it's quite a bit better. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Robert Boren
4.0 out of 5 stars glad to have found this movie again...
O.k., so this movie is way out of date for most, but I still love it some 35+ years later. It allowed for Martin Mull to play some of his best/cynical humor against Tuesday Weld (a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robert e. Lee jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars You will enjoy this
I was a videographer fora dating compnay in Sausalito. This film gave creditabily to what I was video taping, 25-30 singles a day, 6 days a week.
Published 2 months ago by William L. Horn Jr.
1.0 out of 5 stars dreadful
I don't mind period films, and I really like Martin Mull ... usually. But this is such a dreadfully cliche movie that I couldn't even watch the whole thing.
Published 3 months ago by aRt qUeen
5.0 out of 5 stars a MUST see
not many people appreciate the textured interplay between actors, material and expression.
this film sums up the best aspects of all these three dimensions AND ADDS... Read more
Published 3 months ago by GCD
5.0 out of 5 stars Best movie ever
Me and my buddy watched this for the first time after 20 years. Most people hate it but me and my twisted friends love it! Wow the late 70s were lame!
Published 5 months ago by Phil Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Had not seen this movie in ages. Sure lived up to what I remembered. Fun to watch film. Great stars.
Published 6 months ago by Brian A Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
It's great to be able to write a positive review for something....and this is truly a classic American comedy. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Da Vinci
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun
While set more than 20 years ago it still rings true today. Great fun and laughs. Martin Mulland crew at their best.
Published 10 months ago by Hugh E. Kline Jr.
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