Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks

“Stick around if you don’t mind a little cream in your jeans,” so proclaims Tenacious D in their new DVD compilation, Tenacious D: The Complete Master Works. Proudly (and in my opinion pretty accurately) labeling themselves the greatest band in the world, the D has only really gained popularity in direct proportion to the rising stardom of half the band, Jack Black. That’s puzzling and probably dangerous, since fans of Jack should be wary before trying out the D.

Me, I’m one of those “fan come latelies” who stumbled upon the D only with their newest album release. I don’t have HBO, so I missed out on all their brilliant episodes, which (due to typically tenacious content) could only ever be aired there. Thank god for this DVD, because those episodes are all here as part of the ultimate Tenacious D fan collection. The real meat of The Complete Masterworks is in fact the HBO episodes, and they take up the largest (and most pleasant) portion of disc number one’s running time. Filmed originally as a series of half-hourish HBO specials, each chronicles the misadventures of Tenacious D as they struggle to bring beautiful rock to the masses. Each episode is a mixture of comedy sketches and mind-blowing rock and roll played by two really fat guys with kick ass guitar skills and decent singing voices. Those guys are Kyle Gass on lead guitar and Jack Black on lead vocals.

The sketches and the singing all sort of blend together as part of one story, as each week Jack and Kyle start out at a reluctant club, singing about sex supreme or exploding brains. From there we follow them in backstage sketch antics or in flashbacks where we watch them struggle to hammer out an act for the following week. For Tenacious D, the writing process involves things like trips to Jesus loving cults, acid trips, and rock and roll karate fights. In the end, things wind up back at the club with the D rocking out with hilarious music inspired by the week’s events.

The five HBO episodes included on the disc are nothing short of brilliant. They’re edgy, disturbed, over the top, maybe even pretty sick, but also brilliant. Not only are Jack and Kyle superb rock musicians who make killer music with only their voices and a pair of acoustic guitars, but they managed to create a totally unique kind of disturbed, self-aggrandizing comedy centered around their rocking too.

The rest of the D’s Complete Masterworks disc doesn’t turn out nearly so well. The concert footage included is GREAT for a fan like me who’s honestly just as in to them for their music as I am into them for their love of Satan. It’s a pleasure to watch them rock out, and the behind the scenes concert documentary they throw in is a great treat as well.

Where the disc falls flat is a series of screwed up short films which aren’t exactly “A” game D material. Tenacious D is always sick, abrasive, and disturbed. They curse constantly and engage in totally inappropriate behavior, often while semi-nude. That’s why I’d say folks who only know Jack Black from his film career, or perhaps his great performance in School of Rock should probably stay far far away. But the collection of short films included on this disc exceeds even the normal levels of Tenacious D disgustingness. Mostly, they simply detail various ways in which Jack and Kyle can get at each others sperm. Maybe that sounds funny, but I take no pleasure from watching Jack uh... “milk” Kyle, nor do I enjoy watching them lug gallons of their stuff around sloshing it in front of the camera. Typical Tenacious D grossout is great, but this seemed to be something else. I realize they love Satan, but I don’t think even he would approve. Technically speaking, the set is solid if uninspired. It comes in a nice little case with the words “PARENTAL ADVISORY” emblazoned on the front. If there was ever a time parents might want to heed that, this is probably it. Inside are two discs, the first of which contains the fantastic HBO episodes mentioned above, as well as a lot of concert footage from London.

Disc two is much more fractured and disturbing and is thus correctly labeled, “For psycho fans only.” This is where you’ll find the sickening short films I mentioned, as well the GREAT on the road documentary of their journey from concert to concert, and then Tenacious D’s three killer music videos, one of which may involve hot demon nudity. Also mixed in there are some useless Tenacious D TV appearances.

Presentation-wise, this is all about what you’d expect from a set like this, the only real surprise being the menus, particularly the one for disc one which prominently features Satan, who takes an active role in your choice. Disc two’s menu has some gratuitous demon farting and peeing, but then that’s what you should expect from the much raunchier disc two.

I’d recommend The Complete Masterworks ONLY to people already familiar with Tenacious D and somewhat prepared for what they're getting in for. Even then, if you’re smart, you’ll heed the packaging advice and stick to disc one alone, unless you’re a psycho fan. This set taught me that while I am a fan, I am not a psycho fan. It’s doubtful that disc two will ever get re-watched, but I’m already wearing disc one out.