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4.1 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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(Jul 01, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

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.


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

Special features


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:
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0019UGYCI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,533 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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