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Jody Hill and Danny McBride
Danny McBride, Walton Goggins, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Georgia King
Writing Credits:

An over-protective father is obsessed with becoming a principal and competes against the popular vice principal. However, something happens that makes them work together to save the day.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 269 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 2/7/17

• Audio Commentary for All Nine Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Vice Principals: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 25, 2017)

Less than three years after Eastbound & Down finished its four-season run, Danny McBride returns to HBO with 2016’s Vice Principals. This two-disc set presents all of Season One’s nine episodes. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray menus.

The Principal: “When the principal of a high school retires, vice principals Neal Gamby (McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins) go to extremes to land the vacant job.”

As someone who has worked in education for more than 20 years, I can say this for a fact: Vice Principals bears little to no resemblance to how actual school settings work.

Of course, no one expects documentary-realism from a Danny McBride-led comedy, so I don’t fault the series for its lack of verisimilitude. I will knock off some points due to the absence of real laughs in “Principal”.

McBride plays a slightly more subdued version of Down’s Kenny Powers, and the episode simply fails to offer much humor. Hopefully matters will improve before long.

A Trusty Steed: “Gamby and Russell invade Dr. Belinda Brown’s (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) private space. A school evaluator (Danny Boushebel) spooks the vice principals.”

For a while, “Steed” starts to show potential – but then the episode goes off the rails when the VPs visit Belinda’s house. Their behavior there becomes so absurd and over the top that it sends the series down a path of ridiculousness. Again, I don’t expect realism from Vice Principals but “Steed” goes too nuts.

The Field Trip: “Gamby looks to impress Amanda (Georgia King) on a field trip organized by Mr. Hayden (Mike O’Gorman), a good-guy history teacher.”

“Trip” threatens to bring out better humor, but it doesn’t quite get there. The episode attempts to soften Neal a bit and that helps a little. However, he remains too unlikable, and not in a particularly funny way.

Run for the Money: “Gamby and Russell eye a homecoming football game as a way to further break Dr. Brown’s spirit.”

With more Belinda-oriented destruction, “Money” feels like a repeat of “Steed” in some ways. That’s not a good thing, and “Money” falls into the same traps as the prior episodes. A few mildly amusing developments result but not enough to redeem the show.

Circles: “Dr. Brown orders Gamby to lighten up on discipline. Russell copes with a disruptive neighbor (Owen Harn).”

As unrealistic as much of Vice Principals may be, it nails one aspect of educational life: administrators love suspensions – especially at the high school level. When Dr. Brown forces Gamby to work on the touchy-feely group counseling, “Circles” actually manifests some humor.

That’s a sign of what the series should do: focus on mocking aspects of the educational system. It doesn’t do that enough, but when it does, it boasts potential. Most of “Circles” sticks with the usual silliness, and those elements make it less than stellar.

The Foundation of Learning: “Amanda makes a deal with Gamby, while Dr. Brown takes a veteran teacher (Robin Bartlett) to task over a shipment of missing books.”

“Learning” broadens the series’ scope some, as it gives Amanda more development. While I appreciate any attempts to make the show about something other than Neal, the end result remains pretty lackluster. At least Ms. LeBlanc – the veteran teacher mentioned above – offers an intriguing personality, as she presents one of the few characters who actually feels like a real member of the education community.

The Good Book: “Gamby bonds with Amanda during teacher workday. Russell’s patience is tested. Dr. Brown deals with the sudden appearance of her ex-husband Dascious (Brian Tyree Henry).”

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Vice Principals really does work best when it emphasizes/mocks aspects of the actual educational system. As one who has suffered through far too many “team-building” exercises, I can relate to the silliness shown here, and those moments entertain.

Otherwise, we get more of the same. The series does seem more serious as the year progresses, but those moments don’t really make it more enjoyable. It’s still too focused on extreme attempts at comedy, few of which hit the mark.

Gin: “Gamby and Russell look to finish what they started. Gamby confronts Amanda about her relationship with Hayden.”

While I should applaud the series’ increasing emphasis on realism and drama, it just feels false and contrived. Perhaps if the show had better developed the characters, I’d care what happens to them, but I don’t. These factors leave “Gin” as an episode that amps up the narrative but not one that really satisfies.

End of the Line: “Gamby and Russell plays their end game with Dr. Brown.”

“Line” wraps up S1’s overriding themes and narrative but still leaves us with a cliffhanger to take us toward S2 – a really ridiculous cliffhanger, unfortunately. The show flushes all its attempts at realism down the toilet with a truly ridiculous finale.

Hopefully S2 will fare better than S1. Every once in a while, S1 of Vice Principals showed promise, but most of it failed to go much of anywhere. While I’ll give S2 a shot, I admit I won’t do so with enthusiasm, as the initial year lacked a lot of entertainment value.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Vice Principals appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The episodes offered good though unexceptional visuals.

For the most part, sharpness looked fine, though exceptions occurred. I noticed a bit of softness in some wider shots – nothing extreme, but enough to make the programs appear a little ill-defined at times. I saw no jaggies or shimmering, and neither edge haloes nor source flaws materialized.

Vice Principals went with a chilly, subdued palette that favored a desaturated tan impression. Though these hues didn’t impress, the Blu-ray represented them adequately. Blacks showed positive darkness and depth, while shadows offered fair clarity. In the end, this turned into a more than acceptable presentation.

Given the series’ comedic orientation, I didn’t expect much from its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, and the results remained fairly subdued. Music became the most dominant element, as the often-percussive score used all five channels in a robust manner.

As for effects, they played a smaller role but they popped to life on occasion. A scene in which a house becomes engulfed in flames used the channels nicely, and other scenes offered pretty good ambience. Not much worked the speakers actively, but the soundscapes contributed a little pep.

Audio quality worked fine. Music was bold and dynamic, so the score became the best part of the mix. Dialogue seemed concise and distinctive, while effects were accurate and tight. Nothing here leapt out of my speakers, but the soundtrack seemed appropriate for the series.

All nine episodes include audio commentaries. Here’s who we find:

“The Principal”: writer/executive producer/actor Danny McBride, writer/executive producer/director Jody Hill, and actors Walton Goggins, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Georgia King and Busy Philipps.

“A Trusty Steed”: McBride, Goggins, writer/co-executive producer John Carcieri, editor/co-producer Jeff Seibenick and costume designer Sarah Trost.

“The Field Trip”: McBride, Trost, King, music composer Joseph Stephens, and actors Edi Patterson and Mike O’Gorman.

“Run For the Money”: McBride, Hill, Goggins, Gregory, writer/consulting producer Jeff Fradley and actor Ashley Spillers.

“Circles”: McBride, Hill, Carcieri, Trost, Hoggins, Gregory.

“The Foundation of Learning”: McBridge, Hill, Goggins, Gregory, King and O’Gorman.

“The Good Book”: McBride, Hill, Carcieri, Gregory, King and Patterson.

“Gin”: McBride, Hill, Carcieri, Goggins, Gregory and King.

“End of the Line”: McBride, Hill, Carcieri, Goggins, Gregory and King.

Across these tracks, we hear about the project’s roots, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and costumes, and various production tidbits.

Commentaries for TV series tend to consist of laughter and happy talk. Plenty of those elements appear here, but the participants still manage to convey a fair amount of useful information. Though the tracks never excel, they include enough material to sustain the listener.

We also locate Deleted Scenes for all nine episodes. With a total running time of 18 minutes, 27 seconds, we find 18 clips – almost all of which come from Episodes One through Five. Episodes Six through Nine only account for four of the 18 snippets, and they run less than three and a half minutes.

In terms of the content, the scenes tend to flesh out existing concepts, and some do so reasonably well. We get extra character material and a few moderately amusing bits. Nothing great appears, but the deleted scenes add some value.

Finally, a Blooper Reel lasts four minutes, 58 seconds. It mixes the usual goofs/giggles with some alternate lines. The latter make the collection better than average.

Despite a few insightful and entertaining moments, most of Vice Principals falls flat. It mixes drama and broad comedy in an unsatisfying manner to become a lackluster melange. The Blu-rays offer generally good picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements. Given the talent involved, I hope Season Two fares better, but S1 leaves me cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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