It’s always fun to watch older television shows or movies and see actors that are popular and recognizable today. Usually they are just supporting cast members waiting for their big break. It’s also sad to see some popular stars from the past fall from the top and land in supporting roles. Less Than Perfect is filled with actors who fall into both of these categories.
A little known comedy that aired in the early to mid-2000s has finally arrived on DVD, and it had an interesting diversity to its cast. Starring Andy Dick, best known from his older Newsradio days it featured a plethora of other actors at various stages of their careers: Eric Roberts (a former martial arts action film star and main villain in both The Dark Knight and The Expendables), Sherri Shepherd (currently a co-host on The View), Zachary Levi (star of NBC’s Chuck), Andrea Parker (she had prominent supporting roles in both JAG and The Pretender) and Sara Rue. Rue, oddly enough, is best known for her role in Less Than Perfect. Definitely a very interesting mix of current stars, former stars, and career supporting stars.
Less Than Perfect is all about a group of employees who work for a New York-based fictional TV network called GNB. The central character is Claude Casey (Sara Rue), a “floater” who jumps from assignment to assignment from her home on the lowly 4th floor. She’s a homely looking woman, but she is nice and she works hard. Then, she gets her “big break” in filling in for the assistant to the GNB’s star anchorman, Will Butler (Eric Roberts) on the coveted 22nd floor. When Claude accepts Will’s offer of the permanent assistant job, not everyone shares her excitement. Her friends from the 4th floor, payroll employee Ramona Platt (Sherri Shepherd) and office supply clerk Owen Kronsky (Andy Dick), are worried she’ll change and not want to be friends with them anymore. Meanwhile two other employees who already work on the 22nd floor, researcher/news writer Lydia Weston (Andrea Parker) and executive producer assistant Kip Steadman (Zachary Levi), don’t like Claude’s cheery personality and kind soul as they both think they are better than everyone else.
This all sets up the battle between the people who think they are cool and the people who are perceived to be uncool. Will they ever get along? This series is a definite comedy. The heart of all of the jokes is everyone making fun of everyone else. If you don’t like that type of humor, you probably won’t enjoy this series. But you should know that since everyone does throw verbal jabs at each other, no one takes any of the jokes as personal attacks. They simply take the blows and punch right back. It also helps that most of the same personal jokes don’t necessarily repeat each other episode after episode. The same goes for storylines that get dropped just before they start to get old and tired.
The real reason why this show works, though, is the cast. All of the characters on Less Than Perfect are sterotypes for sure, but the great cast brings these characters to life and makes them feel brand new. Kip and Lydia are the most mean-spirited people but are inherently good people and they never go too far as a result. The real star of show is the star of the show in Sara Rue. She is probably the least known cast member today but is the perfect moral center for all the wackiness around her in the role she’s remembered for.
Even the guest stars this season, which include Jenny McCarthy, Cindy Williams, Martin Mull, Josh Braatan, Jim Rash, Vincent Pastore, Nicole Sullivan, Richard Ruccolo, former Bachelor Aaron Buerge, and former Bachelorette Trista Rehn, fit in well with the rest of the cast.
Less Than Perfect is likely a comedy most people didn’t watch while it was on TV. Despite the first season airing even years before this DVD finally made it to stores, there are plenty of faces you will recognize immediately. The great chemistry between the central cast members and the verbal sparring between each other are the highlights of this series. This might not be a comedy for everyone, especially those people that have gotten used to not having laugh tracks in popular comedy shows today. But even those that get annoyed by Andy Dick or Sherri Shepherd today, should give season one of Less Than Perfect a chance. You might be surprised on how much you like it.
Episode 1 – Pilot
Claude’s dream comes true when she moves up from temp to a permanent position as the assistant to news anchor Will Butler. But all is not quite as she had imagined when she realizes that new co-workers Kipp and Lydia will stop at nothing to sabotage her. Meanwhile Claude’s trusty friends Ramona and Owen begrudgingly help her transition from the comfort and safety of the fourth floor to the battlefield that is the 22nd floor, while Claude tries to hide her crush on Will Butler, who is just less than perfect.
Episode 2 – Queen of England
Claude thinks that Will’s irritated by the sudden constant presence of Ramona and Owen, so she winds up alienating her friends. Meanwhile, Lydia schemes to get her hands on a Prada handbag that wound up in Ramona’s clutches. Also, Ramona, Owen and Claude have a bet going on when a fellow office worker will finally change his pants.
Episode 3 – Ice Cream With Lydia
When Claude is unexpectedly asked out for dinner with Will, she quickly cancels her double-date plan with Ramona. But when the “date” turns out to be less of one than she anticipated, Claude finds solace in the company of Lydia, who assumes that Claude slept with Will. Meanwhile, Owen tries to assert authority over Kipp and the two feud over an expensive pen.
Episode 4 – Claude the Liar
When Claude is forced to lie for Will, she finds it difficult but after some mentoring from Kipp, she becomes a pro at it. Soon, however, she finds herself struggling with morality issues associated with the lies. Meanwhile, the employees attend a companywide meeting where they have to pick a “floor buddy”.
Episode 5 – The Pole
Tired of living in constant competition with Lydia over Will’s attention, Claude decides to attend Ramona’s “strippercize” class to develop her “uh-uh”. Claude quickly gains the self-confidence that she’s been lacking, so she and Ramona go out for drinks, where Claude finds herself competing for men — against Lydia. Meanwhile, Kipp asks Owen to take a good picture for his ID card, and Owen obliges.
Episode 6 – The Vacation
Ramona tells Claude she has to use her vacation days in the next few days or else she’ll lose them. Claude refuses to leave Will even for a week, and Ramona sends a memo to Will about Claude’s vacation. Forced to take a break, Claude pretends to go to Niagara Falls and sneaks around the office when she meets her temporary replacement who she thinks might take her job.
Episode 7 – A Claude Casey Production
Claude tries to make nice with Kipp by producing a demo of him showing off his anchorman capabilities… but unbeknownst to Kipp, the demo is disastrous. Meanwhile, Lydia desperately tries to remind Will of the anniversary of their fling; and Owen imitates his TV role model, Dr Phil.
Episode 8 – Future Shock
Claude inadvertantly brings down the wrath of Roz, the assistant to the network president, and when she attempts to reconcile, Claude realizes that the disgruntled assistant may be an older version of herself. Meanwhile, Kipp finds himself broke after buying an Armani suit, so he reluctantly pawns the suit to Owen… though Owen isn’t clear on the meaning of the word “collateral.” Also, Will works on his autobiography, and Lydia becomes obsessed with finding out if she’s cited in it.
Episode 9 – One Office Party Too Many
It’s the office Christmas party, and nearly everyone arrives with an agenda. Kipp intends to snag a better job; Owen intends to be a social butterfly; and Lydia plans to land a man, but she’s upstaged by belle-of-the-ball Ramona. Meanwhile, Claude thinks that she offended Will by trying to give him relationship advice, so she spends the rest of the evening trying to get into his good graces… while oblivious to the budding crush of co-worker Charlie.
Episode 10 – Meet the Folks
Claude’s parents (Cindy Williams, Martin Mull) come for a visit and are smitten with Will — until they discover that he blew off their dinner invitation. Meanwhile, Kipp falls for a college student who idolizes him.
Episode 11 – Telephone
When Will goes out of town, he leaves his apartment in the care of Claude and encourages her to invite friends over. Kipp, who blatantly stole a story idea from Claude, invites himself, much to the dismay of Claude — and himself, when he discovers his mother’s phone number on Will’s speed-dial. Meanwhile, Lydia becomes obsessed with finding a crystal gazelle that she gave to Will — and after she finds it, she spends the whole evening trying to rescue it from the fish tank.
Episode 12 – Claude the Heartbreaker
Claude goes out with Charlie from the travel department and has a wonderful time. While awaiting an invite for a second date, she winds up going out with Will’s Godson, Oliver (Aaron Buerge, “The Bachelor”), and is soon juggling the two men. Meanwhile, Kipp sucks up to the network president’s young son, in hopes of landing a promotion.
Episode 13 – The New Guy
Will’s contract is up for renewal just as the head of the network arrives, flaunting a new anchor. Fearing that Will’s job is in jeopardy and they’ll be replaced, the staff bands together to pull of “The Gum Caper” to ensure Will a new contract.
Episode 14 – Claude’s Got a Secret
Claude and Charlie try to keep their relationship a secret, but that’s difficult with Owen and Ramona around. Meanwhile, Lydia asks big shot Norma Craft to be her mentor, but she only succeeds in becoming Craft’s confidant. Jealous over Lydia’s newfound mentor, Kipp asks Will to be his mentor.
Episode 15 – A Little Love for Lydia
Claude’s brother, Bobby, shows up at the office and sweeps Lydia off her feet, though Claude learns that Bobby’s feelings may not be reciprocal. Meanwhile, Owen tells a little white lie in the office newsletter (that he beat Will at chess), thus inciting the wrath of Will.
Episode 16 – High Maintenance
Will’s got a new girlfriend, Dani, who insists on having Claude run errands for her. Ramona and Owen convince Claude to put her feet down and stop being a pushover for Dani. When she finally confronts Will’s new girlfriend, she imposes him to choose between her and Claude.
Episode 17 – Valentine’s Day
Owen falls for Deidre, the new office supply rep, but her interest is only in finding a man to father a child. Meanwhile, Claude uses Will’s office to have phone sex with Charlie, not realizing that Will’s trapped in the adjoining bathroom. Also, Lydia receives two dozen roses from a secret admirer.
Episode 18 – Picture Perfect Party
In celebration of two years in NY, Claude decides to throw a party at her place. But when Will says he’ll go, she changes her party from casual to fancy. The only thing she wasn’t counting on was Will showing up in casual clothes and turning her party into exactly what she wanted to avoid.
Episode 19 – Breaking Up
After breaking up with Charlie, Claude gets sucked into escorting Will’s fiance, Dani, to a bridal shop. When Claude has a meltdown in the dressing room, Ramona orchestrates an impromptu break-up/slumber party, led by Lydia. Meanwhile, Owen and Carl scheme to crash the slumber party across the hall; and Kipp tries to ghostwrite Will’s autobiography, but Will can’t seem to come up with any useful stories.
Episode 20 – Save the Squirrel, But Bet the Over
Will hosts a benefit dinner for a squirrel clinic, but nobody buys a ticket. Meanwhile, Carl coerces Owen into placing bets — which results in major trouble with a bookie. Also, Kipp and Lydia use Will’s name to score free merchandise from various corporations.
Episode 21 – The Umbrella
Claude’s new suede jacket is ruined because someone stole her umbrella, forcing her to go out in the rain. When she returns to the building, however, she runs into the guy who stole it and confronts him, only to find out later that he’s Ted Elliot, the new executive producer. With her job on jeopardy, Claude has a change of attitude, but Ted is such a jerk to everyone that she stands up for her morals. Impressed, Ted offers her a job as his assistant, leaving Claude with a dilemma: does she continue to work for her beloved Will Butler or does she dump him for a job with a much more promising future ahead of her?
Episode 22 – Oh Papa
Learning that Owen has “sired” a child, Claude tries to arrange a get-together between Owen and the dad he’s never known. Meanwhile, “braces guy” gets a promotion, so Kipp decides that he needs a gimmick to get noticed — he becomes bicycle guy. Also, a bad photo in the paper has Will feeling self-conscious about aging, so he recruits Lydia to make him over.
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is good considering the age of this television show. There are no major problems with the transfer to widescreen format, when it was originally shot in fullscreen.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either.
There are no extras for this DVD set, which will certainly disappoint hardcore fans of this series.
It took awhile, but this is what Less Than Perfect fans have been waiting for. Season one is finally on DVD, but don’t expect much at all. You get no extras at all, so if you only want the episodes on DVD, go out and buy this set. For those that have never seen this show before, it’s a decent comedy. The laugh track is still annoying, but is pretty funny throughout, so give it a rental if you love comedy television.
Lionsgate/ABC Studios Home Entertainment presents Less Than Perfect: Season One. Created by Terry Minsky. Starring Sara Rue, Andy Dick, Sherri Shepherd, Eric Roberts, Zachary Levi, and Andrea Parker. Running time: 464 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: September 7, 2010.