Other Sellers on Amazon
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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 DVDSavant.com
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It's Martin Mull at his peak, and be warned, even his most lighthearted comedy can be very dark and cynical. This is no exception.
I can't say enough good things about this movie and it's all star cast.
Sit back and watch an everyday kind of guy try not get swept away in a time of sexual revolution and new found social awareness. Join Harvey on his encounters with desperate housewives, gay outlaw bikers, pill popping shrinks, free love hippies, religious cults, and teenagers who know everything!
My only disappointment is that this movie is not available in DVD.
2012 Update: I recently purchased this movie in DVD format (I'd previously bought a VHS version at a much higher price). It's also available to rent, if you'd rather not commit to a purchase.
First, about the disc quality, I found the video acceptable if not great. The audio was a worse issue, not just muffled but sometimes a bit jumbled. And if you wanted subtitles or closed captioning to help pick up the gap, sorry, not on this DVD. It was understandable, though, with the volume turned up louder than I normally have it.
And no DVD extras. I tend to skip over those anyway, but it shows they're trying, and at least it's a talking point for the disc costing as much as it does. Or would be, if it had them.
But about the movie itself. It is good, if not quite as clever as I remembered. Seeing it as a satire just of this one community in California might miss the point. The fads shown here are part of larger cultural trends which have only grown and spread since. There's the trendy spirituality which claims to respect all beliefs, but resists difficult questions, difficult answers, or being pinned down on actual meaning. There is the psycho-babble jargon used to justify almost anything one wants to do as "healthy" and "normal". There are the new-agey beliefs about diet, mental, and physical health, accepted with little actual regard for evidence. And there is the complete self-absorption and smugness of people who can't imagine that they might actually be in the wrong, or that there even might be such things as right and wrong. The film says what it has to say, with some clever little observations along the way, but it just seems that it have could have been more. Maybe it's the acting, with a cast that seems as if it would have been more comfortable making a TV "Movie of the Week". Maybe it's the writing, which is heavy on quips, not so much on extended intelligent dialog. My three stars is a good rating, and this is certainly worth seeing once, particularly if someone releases a better edition.