Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Tenacious D: The Complete Master Works

In 1999, HBO ran a series of snack-sized installments of Tenacious D, a comedy about a pair of deluded, plus-sized would-be rock stars whose hapless existence revolves around appearances at an open-mic night, where the audience responds to their comically self-aggrandizing antics with indifference. Episodes generally took a goofy idea and stretched it to its illogical extreme. In the series' funniest installment, Tenacious D–actors Kyle Gass and Jack Black, playing characters named Kyle Gass and Jack Black–one-ups its most obsessive fan by stalking him. Employing a double-acoustic-guitar lineup more associated with folksingers than heavy-metal gods, Gass and Black make unlikely rock stars, but that hasn't kept them from developing a following most electric-guitar-wielding rockers would kill for. Consequently, much of the fun of the double-disc DVD Tenacious D: The Complete Master Works is derived from watching Gass and Black live out the wildest rock-star fantasies of their fictionalized television alter egos. Fueled in no small part by Black's personality and his skyrocketing popularity as a movie actor, Tenacious D went from playing a wannabe rock band to attaining all the accoutrements of pop stardom, including major-label backing, a movie deal, world tours, an epic video directed by Spike Jonze, and a successful album produced by The Dust Brothers. Now the band enjoys yet another trapping of the rock stardom it spoofs: a live concert DVD recorded in front of a large, adoring crowd that sings along to just about every song. The inspired hourlong concert and the entire run of Tenacious D make up Master Works' first disc (labeled "For Fans"). The second disc ("For Psycho Fans") collects all the duo's videos, television appearances, winningly vulgar short HBO films, behind-the-scenes footage, and a self-indulgent tour documentary. The Complete Master Works could easily have been too much D, but the group's weird sincerity keeps the joke from wearing thin, as does a knack for writing songs whose insistently catchy melodies sustain interest long after the novelty fades. The D comes to praise rock, not to bury it, and beneath their over-the-top shtick, Black and Gass obviously love the silly rock tropes they satirize. For those about to rock, Tenacious D salutes and joins you.


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