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Andy Richter Controls the Universe

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2002-2003

Let it forever be known: "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" is one of the funniest sitcoms in history. It was too good for television; perhaps that's why Fox axed it after a mere 14 episodes. Its loyal viewers have been salivating over a DVD release ever since; the long-awaited three-disc set doesn't disappoint.

Richter, playing a guy named Andy, is a technical writer prone to Walter Mitty-esque daydreams. It helps when you're dealing with a bitchy boss (the achingly brilliant Paget Brewster) and a cast of crazy co-workers. The pilot isn't necessarily the best starting point, as subsequent eps are better. One hysterically dealing with racism reminds viewers of an early "Office," while another in which a colleague gets by on his good looks predates a recent "30 Rock."

So "Controls" was ahead of its time, yet it's aged like a fine wine "? still funny, and perhaps even funnier than it originally was. The five unaired shows are a major selling point here, and not to be missed, especially when nebbish office mate Byron (Jonathan Slavin) inadvertently becomes a pimp.

As for extras, don't miss the half-hour retrospective documentary, in which all five core cast members reassemble and heap deserved praise on one another. It's not a group back-scratching, but a worthy dose of self-deprecation, as well as reminder that America often doesn't know when it has a Very Good Thing, indeed.

"?Rod Lott

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