For fans that missed out on the original release of “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest!” Mill Creek Entertainment offers up an eighties oddity that entertained me when I was but a wee four year old lad on Saturday mornings. “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest” is a show in the tradition of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” that is—well—pretty much like Pee Wee’s Playhouse, except where Pee Wee Herman is a man child with a bunch of colorful friends, Vern, as played by Jim Varney, is kind of a Southern blue collared man prone to changing characters at the drop of a hat and getting in to all kinds of wacky misadventures. Varney immortalized the character of Ernest in the eighties, and he became something of an underdog hero in the late eighties to early nineties starring in various films and ad campaigns. “Hey Vern!” had a brief run as opposed to “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” but shares the same wonky attitude and surreal comedy that can be appreciated by cult audiences alike.
In fact you can pretty much watch them together in a marathon and not miss much of a beat. In the series, we meet Ernest, a man who goes through all kinds of wacky adventures in every episode of his series. Every episode has a particular theme and he spends a majority of the episode speaking to a friend named Vern who we never see in person. Along the way Ernest has a good time getting in to trouble, reveling in delivering insanely off the wall humor for what was once a Saturday morning comedy series for kids, and even has its own oddball comedy skits to boot. Some of the comedy skits involve “My Dad, The Clown” about a boy whose father is a full fledged clown and never breaks character. There’s also an episode where Ernest plans to become a movie star, and implements all kinds of weird methods to begin his career, even watching a movie in theaters.
But things don’t go as planned when a rude punk rocker begins making his experience difficult. Much like “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” there are a lot of cutaways, a ton of wacky editing, and even the use of public domain stock footage used to punctuate Ernest’s off the wall comedy. If you can appreciate weird but funny comedy, “Hey Vern!” is still quite good. This new edition of “Hey Vern!” features a new code for customers who can redeem their serial code for a digital copy of “Hey Vern!” which allows you to play the episodes on any device where ever you are. For fans of skit comedy, Time Life releases another best-of compilation on DVD of “The Carol Burnett Show” entitled “The Best of Tim Conway.” Fans of the series alike all loved what Tim Conway had to offer the series during his time on the series, and the new DVD offers up almost three hours of skits from some of Conway’s most memorable characters from the series.
Tim Conway is pretty much unparalleled in comic timing and delivery, and this new DVD is a stellar “greatest hits.” There are four featured episodes with Conway working with Martha Raye, Pat Carroll, Karen Wyman, Cass Elliot, and Steve Lawrence, and Conway tackles a lot of his famous characters and portrays some classic ones. There’s a great skit where he does an ace impression of Charlie Chan, and the classic “The Dentist” segment where Conway plays an inept dentist who flunked school and has to care for Harvey Korman who has a painful tooth ache. The skit is not only hilarious but watching Korman and Conway incapable of staying in character as they pretty much laugh through most of the gag is priceless. Featured on the DVD is a Bonus Blooper entitled “Dog’s Life” where Conway and co. have an impossible time staying in character as they laugh through most of their sketch. It’s a fine addition to the large collection of the Carol Burnett series.