Ah, pre-Sept. 11 – when the war on Christmas was more terrifying than the war on terror, President Bush was only a laughable buffoon, Saddam Hussein owned many birthday palaces and Britney Spears didn’t have any babies to drop. Things were just simpler back then, and served as the perfect forum for the first-family sitcom spoof “That’s My Bush!”: a strange vacuum where the President’s foibles didn’t result in dead soldiers showing up on TV every night.
Created by “South Park” masterminds Trey Parker and Matt Stone, “That’s My Bush!” is both a spoof of the common sitcom and its subject matter, the Bush White House. The tongue-in-cheek, “That’s My Bush! The Definitive Collection” comes in an overly serious two-disk box set that mocks other “special edition” DVD sets, and contains all eight of the show’s episodes. Each combines an overused sitcom plotline with a relevant hot-button issue and lampoons them both.
The primary cast of characters consists of President George W. Bush (Timothy Bottoms, “The Girl Next Door”), First Lady Laura Bush (Carrie Quinn Dolin), Republican architect Karl Rove (Kurt Fuller, “Desperate Housewives”), witty White House maid Maggie Hawley (Marcia Wallace, “The Simpsons”), presidential assistant Princess Stevenson (Kristen Miller, “Team America: World Police”) and their next-door neighbor Larry O’Shea (John D’Aquino, “JAG”). Each character intentionally fits some time-tested sitcom archetype, further perpetuating the show’s farcical nature.
All things considered, the show is really more of a spoof of laugh-track laden sitcoms than the Bush White House. In fact, Parker and Stone mention in the DVD commentaries that the show was going to happen regardless of who ended up winning the 2000 presidential election. Sure, the show exploits many of the president’s less impressive qualities, but it humanizes him and makes him into the Tim Allen-esque sitcom patriarch to whom audiences gravitate.
But because “Bush” tries and ultimately succeeds in modeling itself after a bad sitcom, it ends up being just that. It’s not completely terrible – it has its moments – but in the end, it’s nothing more than a novel concept. The show is funnier in theory than it is in practice and quickly gets stale, even with so few episodes.
For such a “definitive” collection, the DVD contains almost no extra features. The only content outside of the episodes are two choppy commentary tracks. The first of which, with Parker and Stone, resembles the mini-commentaries found on all of the “South Park” DVDs – five minutes per episode of the duo discussing the general motivations behind each episode and the show as a whole. The other track features most of the cast and provides little worthwhile content. Since the cast is composed of mostly no-namers, and they don’t really talk about anything interesting or funny, it’s not worth anyone’s time. The cast commentaries also end unexpectedly during the middle of each episode, but no one should notice, considering that anyone listening will stop paying attention to the commentary within a few minutes.
It’s mildly interesting to go back and watch these episodes, considering what’s transpired in the years following their original air dates – especially since Comedy Central hasn’t shown reruns for years – but after watching a few episodes, it becomes clear that this kind of spoof doesn’t have anything to stand on.
The idea of the president stealing cable TV seems funny. But ultimately, the banality of “That’s My Bush!” just shows that watching important people do stupid things is much better left to Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.”
Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
That’s My Bush! The Definitive Collection