TV on Disc: ‘Steve Martin’ on TV

Steve Martin: The Television Stuff (Shout! Factory/SOFA Entertainment) collects all six Steve Martin specials made for cable and broadcast TV, from his 1976 stand-up special “On Location with Steve Martin” (recorded for HBO) to the 1984 “Homage to Steve,” a video special featuring his Oscar-nominated short film “The Absent-Minded Waiter” (co-starring Buck Henry and Teri Garr) and a 1979 stand-up performance. While it’s great to have his stand-up act preserved, the gold is in his freewheeling network specials and the surreal sketches he spins without worrying about filling out a feature film narrative, from acting out the story of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” with a cast of monkeys and elephants (in “Comedy is Not Pretty”) to the commercials of “All Commercials” (look for pre-Pee Wee Paul Ruebens in the cast) done like a live TV variety show (complete with ridiculous production numbers). They were all shot on video and mastered from videotape, so don’t expect high fidelity here. These are as good as thirty-some year old magnetic video will ever look.

A third disc features Steve Martin appearances on other programs, from “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” to “Saturday Night Live” to “The Late Show with David Letterman,” plus select award shows, and each disc features new interviews with Martin. Three discs in a box set of three thinpak cases, plus a booklet with an essay and menus. DVD only.

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Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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