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Blu-ray Review: UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT: THE COMPLETE SERIES

Feb 18 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) has spent the past 15 years of her life living in an underground bunker in Indiana. When she was just 14, she was lured into a van and taken by self-proclaimed messiah Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) and made a part of his apocalyptic cult. She, along with three other young women, was told that the world had ended in a nuclear blast, that there were no more living things on Earth, and that the Reverend had saved them. However, when these Indiana Mole Women were found 15 years later and brought to the surface, they discovered the truth. Cyndee Pokorny (Sara Chase) was the Reverend’s first abductee, followed by willing participant Gretchen Chalker (Lauren Adams), Kimmy, and finally, Spanish-speaking maid Donna Maria Nuñez (Sol Miranda).

After the Mole Women are interviewed on The Today Show, the other women are ready to head back to their old lives in Indiana, but Kimmy decides that she wants to stick around in New York City for a fresh start, and to pursue her goal of seeing the world. Kimmy finds an apartment, meeting oddball landlord Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane)—an activist with a mysterious past and a strong desire to keep her neighborhood undesirable. Lillian tells Kimmy she can be the roommate of her current tenant Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), an aspiring Broadway actor who is constantly failing to come up with the rent. Kimmy also lucks into a job, working for rich socialite Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), serving as a babysitter for her young son Buckley (Tanner Flood).

Kimmy only has an eighth grade education, and has been out of the loop pop-culture wise for the past 15 years. She is like a wide-eyed child seeing the world for the first time. Despite her past ordeal, Kimmy primarily sees the world as glass half full, finding the positive in all of her experiences, which rubs off on those she comes in contact with, no matter how jaded they may have become.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a cleverly-written, fast-paced comedy. The story is quite serialized, and over the course of the four seasons, we really see these characters grow and change, becoming more of a nontraditional family. At the same time, the individual episodes usually have some self-contained arc as well. The series was originally produced for NBC, but ended up airing on Netflix. So in the later seasons, the episodes get longer, and the language gets a bit more adult.

As the series progresses, the show does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters with some wild and crazy backstories. We learn that Jacqueline was actually Jackie Lynn from South Dakota with Native American parents; Titus was born Ronald Wilkerson and became Titus Andromedon when he ran away leaving bride Vonda at the wedding reception before their first dance; and that Kimmy was born in a roller coaster, and that her roller-coaster enthusiast mother didn’t look for her when she went missing—instead she married the dim-witted Sheriff in charge of the investigation and had a new daughter named Kymmi. We also learn more about what went on in the bunker during those 15 years, and what the Mole Women are up to now.

A general rundown of the seasons (some spoilers):

  • Season 1 (2015):
    During the first season we meet the ever-cheery Kimmy who starts her new life in the big city with roommate Titus and boss Jacqueline. Jacqueline is in a bit of denial about her crumbling marriage and ever non-present husband. Kimmy tries to help Jacqueline see the brighter side of life, and this makes her see Kimmy as her one true/best friend. Kimmy tries to keep her past a secret from Jacqueline, but Jacqueline’s angsty 15-year-old stepdaughter Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula) notices that there is something off about Kimmy, and things eventually come out. Meanwhile, Kimmy gets along great with her boisterous and flamboyant roommate Titus, who is always looking for his big break, or has some sort of scheme going on. In the first season, Kimmy joins a GED program, and explores several relationships, including tutor Charles (Andrew Ridings), veteran Grant, GED classmate Dong Nguyen (Ki Hong Lee), and Logan Beekman (Adam Campbell). The season comes to a close with a multi-episode arc following the trial of the Reverend.
  • Season 2 (2016):
    As the second season opens, Kimmy is still hung up on GED classmate Dong, we learn about Titus’ life as Ronald Wilkerson and how he became Titus Andromedon, and Jacqueline revisits her Native American roots in South Dakota. Later in the season, Jacqueline tries to live off the meager $12 million she got in the divorce, and keep her “poor” status from mean-girl socialite Deirdre (Anna Camp). She starts looking for a new sugar daddy, starting up a relationship with the wealthy owners of the Redskins, brothers Duke (Josh Charles) and Russ Snyder (David Cross), despite the name being offensive to her own heritage. Meanwhile, Titus starts a relationship with newly-outed construction worker Mikey (Mike Carlsen) and creates a one man show about his past life as a geisha. And Kimmy tries out several new jobs, including working at a year-round Christmas store and becoming an Uber driver. She also starts seeing ever-drunk therapist Andrea Bayden (Tina Fey) and we meet Kimmy’s roller-coaster junkie mother, Lori-Ann (Lisa Kudrow), and her step-father and step-sister. As the season comes to a close, the Reverend contacts Kimmy and reveals a big shocker about their relationship.
  • Season 3 (2017):
    As the third season opens, Titus is auditioning for Sesame Street and has an awkward interaction with a puppet, and Kimmy is dealing with the Reverend’s request. Kimmy completes her GED and starts looking at colleges. She and Titus start picking up odd jobs via the TaskRabbit app. One of these jobs sends Kimmy to Columbia University where she sees Xanthippe, and her experience turning the crank in the bunker makes Kimmy a natural for crew, landing her a full scholarship. And Titus gets an odd-job that has him recording the hit internet radio song, “Boobs in California”. Meanwhile Lillian runs for city council, and meets Artie Goodman (Peter Riegert). This season also finds Kimmy learning what Gretchen has been up to since the bunker, Kimmy becoming a crossing guard, Jacqueline taking care of friend Mimi (Amy Sedaris), and Titus recording his own Lemonade-like music video.
  • Season 4 (2018-19):
    As the fourth season opens, Kimmy is now working as the head of HR at the new tech startup Gitzoob, founded by former Columbia classmate Zach (Noah Robbins). When she witnesses some sexist behavior at work, Kimmy writes a children’s book to teach boys the proper way to treat girls, and starts looking for a publisher. Meanwhile, Jacqueline commandeers one of the empty offices to start her own talent agency, White Talent, but finds herself in competition with another agency run by Eli Rubin (Zachary Quinto). And Titus finds out the truth about Cats on Boradway, and finally gets his dream job, but is also desperate to fix his relationship with his dream man. The season includes a some really creative episodes, including some opening title credits sequences that resemble those of 80’s and 90’s TV comedies, a fake episode-long documentary by DJ Fingablast (Derek Klena) about his childhood hero, DJ Slizzard, and a double-length Sliding Doors episode that looks at how the lives of the characters would have changed had Kimmy not got into the Reverend’s van. The season ends with a satisfying extended-length series finale that does a nice job of providing closure to the the characters.

I really enjoyed revisiting/catching up on this series. I had forgotten just how much I used to enjoy this series when I watched the first couple seasons on Netflix before falling behind. In addition to the quick, clever writing, and physical humor, the series makes use of fun cutaways to emphasize punchlines, and also to relate Kimmy’s experiences in the bunker to something that is happening in the present. The cast is so much fun—Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess are pure delights—and I found myself laughing out loud constantly. There are also so many great, recognizable guest stars, including Greg Kinnear (playing himself), Kenan Thompson, Martin Short, Bobby Moynihan, Dave Hill, Ray Liotta, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Goldblum, Rachel Dratch, Jim Gaffigan, Richard Kind, Joshua Jackson, Mark Linn-Baker, Ice-T, Billy Eichner, Nick Kroll, Tina Fey, and more.

That said, a few of the the jokes feel a bit dated or haven’t quite aged as well—such as Matt Lauer interviewing the Mole Women in the pilot, appearances by fake Robert Durst (Fred Armisen) and Donald Trump (Anthony Atamanuik), or references to Mayor Blooomberg. I also found the needless adding of cursing in the later seasons (just because they could) to be a bit jarring and off-putting at times.

Only the first two seasons had previously been released on DVD in the US, so this is the first time the complete series has been available on any media, let alone Blu-ray. Mill Creek has released this complete series on both Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray looks excellent, with a clean, detailed picture and bright, beautiful colors. The audio track also provides clear dialogue and a somewhat immersive viewing experience. I really had no complaints. The four seasons are spread across 8 Blu-ray discs, with 2 discs for each season. Each disc offers a Play All option and optional English subtitles. The discs are housed on trays in a thick 8-disc Blu-ray keepcase, which is placed inside an outer cardboard slipcover. Unfortunately, there is no bonus material included.



What’s Included:

Episodes: (25:14:41)

  • All 51 episodes of the series:
    • Season 1 (2015, 13 eps) (5:24:37):
      Disc 1: “Kimmy Goes Outside!”, “Kimmy Gets a Job!”, “Kimmy Goes on a Date!”, “Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!”, “Kimmy Kisses a Boy!”, “Kimmy Goes to School!”, “Kimmy Goes to a Party!”
      Disc 2: “Kimmy Is Bad at Math!”, “Kimmy Has a Birthday!”, “Kimmy’s in a Love Triangle!”, “Kimmy Rides a Bike!”, “Kimmy Goes to Court!”, “Kimmy Makes Waffles!”
    • Season 2 (2016, 13 eps) (6:37:54):
      Disc 3: “Kimmy Goes Roller Skating!”, “Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!”, “Kimmy Goes to a Play!”, “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”, “Kimmy Gives Up!”, “Kimmy Drives a Car!”, “Kimmy Walks Into a Bar!”
      Disc 4: “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”, “Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!”, “Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!”, “Kimmy Meets a Celebrity!”, “Kimmy Sees a Sunset!”, “Kimmy Finds Her Mom!”
    • Season 3 (2017, 13 eps) (6:48:29):
      Disc 5: “Kimmy Gets Divorced?!”, “Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!”, “Kimmy Can’t Help You!”, “Kimmy Goes to College!”, “Kimmy Steps on a Crack!”, “Kimmy is a Feminist!”, “Kimmy Learns About the Weather!”
      Disc 6: “Kimmy Does a Puzzle!”, “Kimmy Goes to Church!”, “Kimmy Pulls Off a Heist!”, “Kimmy Googles the Internet!”, “Kimmy and the Trolley Problem!”, “Kimmy Bites an Onion!”
    • Season 4 (2018-19, 12 eps) (6:23:41):
      Disc 7: “Kimmy Is… Little Girl, Big City!”, “Kimmy Has a Weekend!”, “Party Monster: Scratching the Surface”, “Kimmy Disrupts the Paradigm!”, “Kimmy and the Beest!”, “Kimmy Meets an Old Friend!”, “Kimmy Fights a Fire Monster!”
      Disc 8: “Kimmy Is in a Love Square!”, “Sliding Van Doors” (2 parts), “Kimmy Finds a Liar!”, “Kimmy Is Rich*!”, “Kimmy Says Bye!”
  • 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH

Extras:

  • There is no bonus material included.

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Episodes:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Highly Recommended

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a hilarious show that holds up quite well, and easily lends itself to repeat viewings. It stars an incredibly talented comedic cast, and features some amazing guest stars over the course of the four seasons. Mill Creek’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds great and is priced very nicely, but unfortunately doesn’t include any bonus material. This release still comes highly recommended for any fan of the series, or anyone looking for a fun comedy to check out.