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RUNNING TIME: 600 Minutes
The best neck on planet Earth gets his own talk show, but not one geared towards skits and promoting the flavor du jour but discussing controversial topics without a net and showcasing musical acts that deserve the attention.
Henry Rollins. Heidi May. Guests include: Oliver Stone. Jeff Bridges. Matt Dillon. Kevin Smith. Eddie Izzard. Bill Maher. Werner Herzog. Musicians include: John Doe. Thom Yorke. Slayer. Aimee Mann. Ben Folds. Jurassic 5.
I love Henry Rollins more than salt and I really like salt. I can't say I was one of the guys who was on board since the Black Flag days but by the time The End of Silence came out I was on board for life. Through great stuff (Weight, Come in and Burn) and not so great stuff (Nice). Through a ton of terrific spoken word CD's and shows [dumb me, I gave him a Dead Squirrel T-Shirt back in '92] and feature films roles both fun and not so fun.
Of all the people in the world who deserve a talk show, he's at the top of list. This is what a Henry Rollins talk show is like.
Each half hour show is divided into a few parts. First, Henry delivers his monologue to the camera, a ferocious, funny, and often dead-on statement about something that's irking or amusing him. The polish the man has accrued over three decades in the business is most evident here as he accomplishes his most lucid and streamlined ranting. This is sharp stuff, and Henry's animated demeanor and concussive punctuations really set the stage for what he and the IFC promises to be uncut and uncensored commentary. The next segment is the interview portion, followed by a humorous bit or collection of people on soapboxes or animated Rollins bit. The show culminates with a live performance by a band and it's the most polished and sonically appealing live stuff you'll hear on a talk show. Rollins knows his shit and the acts on display tend to reflect a diverse and esteemed lot. These performances sound like album cuts. Really solid.
Sadly, the interviews segment of the show is a bit of a letdown. There's a lot of emphasis on how unrelenting and raw these things are but in a business where one eye is always on the public image and the next job there's only a few people to count on in regards to matching Henry's style and going out on a limb. Besides, there's no shortage of "Fuck George Bush" sentiment around. There has to be more to be discussed. Some of the interviews are really nice conversations that cover a nice gamut of topics and some are rather trivial ones which focus more on the guest's recent project. During those it seems just like any other talk show, and while Rollins is certainly a gifted conversationalist, he's best used being the dominant force in the conversation. A few of the guests are simply too long winded or not compatible enough to the format to make it work. Eddie Izzard surprised me a bit since he's so engaging normally. He rambles along and not much really gets said. That said, I cannot stand Patton Oswalt, but his interview may be the best of the bunch with Chuck D., Werner Herzog, Penelope Spheeris, and Bill Maher coming across quite well.
At the core there's always Henry and it's refreshing to see how enthusiastic he is with his guests, whether fawning over their work, trying to get them to discuss issues, or just enjoying them discussing their craft. There's a very free and no-bullshit vibe on the show and that's 100% Hank.
The same applies to the musical acts, though I'd have preferred if they interacted with Rollins as well. As it stands, the few musicians he has on his show don't perform (aside from Billy Bob Thornton and Rollins himself. The performances range from terrific (Jurassic 5, Aimee Mann, Slayer, John Doe) to hilarious (there is a member of Damian Marley's way too huge band whose responsibilities begin and end with waving a flag) to being a gateway to shitty music (Dashboard Confessional). I cannot help but wish this way a straight talk show because while some of Henry's animated shorts and ruminations are very entertaining, this show could be a terrific portal to something that defies the humor of The Daily Show and the propaganda of Bill O'Reilly. As it stands, it's a nice diversion.
The format is limiting. Just when a discussion shows the potential to escalate it's over. The time being spent is balanced in a way that prohibits the show from achieving greatness. Were the shows an hour long or whether the musical stuff were exised, it'd have a better chance of crossover success but thanks to the personality of its star The Henry Rollins Show is a definite show to watch based on his merit alone. It just isn't a classic.
There are no special features on the discs.
7.5 out of 10