Rating: Not Rated
Walter Williams as Mr. Bill/Sluggo/Mr. Hand/Spot
Exclusive Interview with Mr. Bill’s Creator Walter Williams
Mr. Bill’s 20th Anniversary Special
G-Rated Versions of the Mr. Bill episodes
“Mr. Bill’s 30th Anniversary Scrapbook”
“Mr. Bill’s Bloopers”
“Mr. Bill’s Disasterpiece Theater”
“Mr. Bill’s SNL promos”
“Mr. Bill Votes”
“Mr. Bill’s World Of Sports”
Running Time: Mr. Bill Does Vegas 94 Minutes, Mr. Bill Classics 80 Minutes, Mr. Bill Christmas Special 120 Minutes
This DVD set contains three discs – Mr. Bill Does Vegas, Mr. Bill Classics, and Mr. Bill Christmas Special.
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Bill, he was a clay character that starred in a series of short films featured on Saturday Night Live in the early 1970’s. Each episode of Mr. Bill featured the high-pitched-voiced character and his dog, Spot, being tormented, abused, and eventually dismembered or squashed by Mr. Hand or Sluggo. Over the years Mr. Bill became more and more of a pop icon before eventually fading back into obscurity. This DVD set celebrates his 30th anniversary.
Mr. Bill’s Disasterpiece Theater is unrated.
As a kid, what I remembered most about Mr. Bill was trying to stay up late one night in order to catch a glimpse of the character on Saturday Night Live. All my friends talked about Mr. Bill and imitated his signature line, “Oh nooooo!” So it was quite a treat for me to be able to stay up well past my bedtime and see a Mr. Bill film. I remember thinking what a masterpiece it was.
Thirty years later, I watched the Mr. Bill DVD and wondered what I was thinking way back when. I started watching the old Mr. Bill videos and after about 10 minutes of his high pitched voice and repetitive jokes, I was thoroughly sick of Mr. Bill. I’ve rarely seen a single joke spread out for so long. Somehow this character getting smashed has gone on for an incredibly long time and it still remains popular.
I can appreciate now what Walter Williams accomplished with Mr. Bill back then. In much the same way that young filmmakers hit the big time with home made internet movies (ala South Park) Williams did just that with a Super 8 camera and a letter to Saturday Night Live in the 70’s. It’s a phenomenon that still happens today, just with better technology. I think that also explains the appeal of Mr. Bill. When you see something funny like this, you pass it on to your friend who passes it on to another friend and so on until you have a pop culture event. I saw this happen firsthand with TROOPS on TheForce.Net. I think the sense of finding an underground video or piece of entertainment makes the movies seem better than they may really be. That would explain why we see a Mr. Bill video today.
On the “Classics” DVD, all of the old Saturday Night Live shorts are featured. Other rare clips are also included here. Mr. Bill’s Christmas Special shows a bit more production value as you see Bill tortured to Christmas themes. The 20th Anniversary Special is also included on this DVD and features Mr. Bill himself hosting old clips (many of which are seen on the other DVD). The final disc features Mr. Bill going to Las Vegas and meeting celebrities who flatten him. They include Wayne Newton, the Smothers Brothers, Jenna Elfman, Bobcat Goldthwait, Father Guido Sarducci, and others. Also included on the DVD is Mr. Bill Goes To Hollywood.
In the end, this DVD is only for fans of Mr. Bill. Even then, some fans (like myself) may be slapped in the face with the reality that Mr. Bill wasn’t that great after all and that they’ve just been stuck with a $30 DVD they aren’t thrilled with.
Though I was unimpressed with Mr. Bill after all these years, I do have to admit that there are an impressive number of extras included on this DVD. About everything a Mr. Bill fan could ask for is included in this set.
The most interesting extra for me was the interview with Mr. Bill writer / director / actor Walter Williams. He talks about how Mr. Bill was created, how he got the film on Saturday Night Live, and how his career took off from there. It should be an inspiration for aspiring filmmakers that now use the internet for their movies. I was a little surprised to hear that SNL didn’t even pay Williams for the first 20 episodes or so.
There’s also an amusing extra on the “Classics” DVD. You can choose an option to watch the G-Rated versions of the films. On these versions, “happy pictures” pop up on the screen any time violence or mayhem takes place. The pictures are random and often rather funny.
Some of the SNL promos included on one of the discs feature the Blues Brothers, Chevy Chase, and others. For that reason alone some SNL fans may want to check this out as well.
There are a ton of other DVD extras that I haven’t mentioned, but it’s safe to say that the Mr. Bill archives have been thoroughly raided for this set.
The Bottom Line:
Mr. Bill was fun back in the 70’s, but it may be better for him to stay there. Approach this DVD with caution.