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Da Ali G Show The Complete Second Season Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Da Ali G Show – The Complete Second Season
HBO Home Video
MPAA rating: Not Rated
starring: Sacha Baron Cohen
TV broadcast year: 2003
DVD release year: 2005
film rating: Four Stars
sound/picture rating: Three Stars
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

I fear that the best days may be over for “Da Ali G” show. Not because brilliant comic Sacha Baron Cohen has lost his comedic way, ala Dave Chappelle, but because he may have become too well-known to effectively corral as many unsuspecting people on the street. Cohen has gotten into hot water thanks to his funniest character, a Kazakhstani television reporter who travels the, as he says, “U S and A” to interview local yokels and learn about different areas and American traditions mostly in the Midwest. This anti-Semitic, misogynistic character uses his ignorance and broken English to get away with making comments that are sometimes jaw-dropping, but seeing that Cohen is actually Jewish, it’s obviously all done in fun and to point out racism that still exists around the world, but the country of Kazakhstan does not appreciate the joke.

The show is very fast-paced and the episodes fly by very quickly. The way the DVD is laid out makes it very easy to plow through the episodes and simple to find a skit that you find particularly funny if you want to show it to a friend. Each episode usually consists of four primary segments, an Ali G one on one interview, an Ali G roundtable discussion, a Borat in USA section and a Bruno fashion segment. The same little filler segments and titles from the first season are back in season two and these little pieces like Ali G smoking pot with George Bush, as well as Ali G’s face being carved into Mt. Rushmore, are a little worn out at this point, but they are short and keep the show going.

Each episode is named after the concept that Ali speaks about with his roundtable audience. These titles are quite funny, as they are spelled out the way that Ali G would pronounce the word. Disc 1 contains the episodes titled Respek, Rekognize and Peace. Disc Two contains Realize, Jah and Realness.

The beauty of Season 2 is that Cohen had really hit his comedic stride and is ultra-confident in what he is doing, yet he hadn’t gained the level of notoriety that would make doing these skits impossible. He will always be able to find unsuspecting victims in the Midwest without cable TV or a DVD to do his Borat shtick on, but word has gotten out around Washington, .D.C that if a producer wants you do an interview for a British hip hop social issues show, chances are it’s the fictitious Ali G. It kinda spoils the fun if people are in on the gag.

If you are hip to Ali G already, chance are you’ve already seen all of the episodes on this season, so the question for you that remains is, is there enough quality bonus footage on this disc to justify the purchase? It is hit and miss, as the long-winded Harvard commencement speech that Ali G somehow arranged to give is a little sterile and lacking the edge that I had hoped for. It seems pretty obvious that many of the decision makers there are fans of the show and extended Ali G the invitation, so with everyone in on the joke except the confused parents and grandparents in the audience, the result is not as funny as it could have been.

On the other hand, the never before seen Borat and Bruno clips are vintage. In one particularly funny segment, gay Austrian fashion correspondent Bruno is meeting with a psychic in Hollywood who claims he can contact the dead. Bruno uses this as an opportunity to get in touch with his now-deceased former lover. He asks the psychic if he can kiss his lover and the psychic describes how the spirit of the loved on is in the room. Bruno stars French kissing the air slowly for a few minutes and its some of the funniest TV I have ever seen. Bruno then decides that he wants to make his ex-lover jealous by trying to talk the psychic into pretending that they are now lovers. The awkward exchanges where Bruno takes things too far is what makes for classic Ali G episodes.

In my absolute favorite Borat episode, which also just so happens to have not been included on the regular show but is here on the bonus footage, Borat speaks to a group of elderly Republicans in Arizona. They welcome with his open arms to their political rally and allow him to speak. In his extremely broken English with his ‘70s porn star moustache, body odor and blue suit that has never been washed, Borat gets up in front of the crowd, thanks for them allowing him to speak, then asks for 10 minutes of silence to honor those who died in a terrible incident in Kazakhstan history. No one in the room has any idea what he is talking about, but they are gracious hosts so they all bow their heads. About two minutes into this moment of ridiculously long silence, someone lets out a cough and Borat announces they are going to start the 10 minutes over. Time-lapse footage passes and shows the wandering eyes and the confused looks of these senior citizens who are trying their best to be accommodating but are at the same time baffled as to what is going on.

After the break, Borat then goes on to talk about how he is so excited to be in a room full of people that are into politics. He then says that it is nice to see women in the room, because in his country, the only women who are allowed into political meetings are prostitutes for the men. The place erupts in laughter and more confused energy. You start to see the leaders of the meeting wonder what they heck they’ve gotten themselves into, but one woman, just to Borat’s right, is laughing hysterically and that makes his speech even funnier.

This two-DVD set does not feature spectacular sound or picture quality, but it is passable enough for what it is. The sound is just stereo and the video is a mix of in-studio stuff that looks pretty good to hand-held stuff that has a range. The Bruno stuff looks like MTV with bright vivid colors and the Borat stuff is intentionally washed out so it really looks like a micro budget show from Russia.

The way that Cohen mixes political satire with his Ali G character, points out our countries problems with racism using Borat and exposes some of America’s homophobia with Bruno is absolutely brilliant. The show is not operating at a low level mentally as you might suspect. It brilliantly lets ignorant people who hate gays and Jews and would hunt endangered animals for sport make fools of themselves on camera. If you are the kind who supports this type of hatred, though, you better watch out. Ali G may be interviewing you some day when you least suspect it.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Unseen and uncensored bonus material: Ali G gives a commencement speech at Harvard, interviews Noam Chomsky, and visits an historic naval vessel; Borat learns American football in Texas, gets a hunting lesson and lunches with the Arizona Republican Party; Bruno dishes gossip with a Hollywood stylist and visits a psychic
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Integra DPS-10.5
receiver: Integra DTR-10.5
main speakers: RBH WM-24
center speaker: RBH WM-24
rear speakers: RBH MC-615-70 In-Ceiling
subwoofer: Revel B12
monitor: 61-inch JVC H-DILA HDTV

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