The setting is much like 'The Chappelle Show.' Comedians Michael Key and Jordan Peele bound out on stage in front of a live audience. They perform a few stand-up bits as they introduce the comedy sketches they have already filmed. It's a tried and true sketch show formula and it works here.
Key and Peele use their bi-racial backgrounds – they're both half-white and half-black – as a driving force in their skits, which are almost always tinged with some sort of politically incorrect race-focused subject matter. Peele provides, for my money, the best President Obama impersonation. They throw Obama into as many sketches as possible, the best being a skit where Obama is provided an anger translator named Luther, played by Key. Obama, always talking in the same tone, is in need of someone who can accurately translate his disgust and contempt. It's a really funny skit, but they have many more.
Race and its myriad of stereotypes are on constant display here as Key and Peele lampoon just about every one of them. Nothing is off limits here. Everything from the zombie apocalypse to yo-mamma jokes are fair game. There's even a skit that pits Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. against each other, in a stage play. Each one trying to outdo the other with the most insightful comments. How they think this stuff up is beyond me, I'm just glad they did.
The production value for the skits is surprisingly well done. They look extremely polished and nicely photographed. There's nothing in the show that looks chintzy or low-budget, which makes for skits that are able to really suck you straight into the scene without much hesitation.
It will remind you of 'The Chappelle Show' for sure. Its tone, spirit, and formula seem derivative of it. However, Key and Peele are great at creating seven minute skits that get right to the heart of the matter. Their set-up is smooth and the pay-off usually ends in gut-wrenching laughter. The skit of Lil' Wayne's recent incarceration had me laughing so hard I was crying. They excel at setting up a situation and getting to the punch line with ease.
If you're easily offended then 'Key & Peele' isn't for you. It's quite vulgar at times and takes as many racial potshots as possible. They offend everyone equally and often. There's even a sketch that employs white-face. Yeah, they're not really afraid to take their comedy into taboo territory.
If you're into topical humor that skewers all things political, racial, and cultural then this is the show for you.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Comedy Central/Paramount release. The first season's 176 minutes fit comfortably on one 50GB Blu-ray Disc. The season has eight 20-minute episodes included. The disc is packaged in a standard eco-friendly keepcase. It's coded for Region A use.
The 1080p video presentation looks good for the most part, but does suffer from common ills associated with digitally filmed television shows. First off, well-lit scenes feature great facial details. Textures are soft and a little non-descript though. Individual hair strands can be seen, along with brow lines and smile creases.
Depth suffers in low-lit scenes though. Shadows take over with heavy blacks covering much of the scene. This in turn leads to some pretty flat-looking scenes whenever the lights have been turned down low. Another aspect of this transfer that isn't pleasing to the eye is the noticeable banding that can be seen in gradients in many of the show's backgrounds and around the edges of the scene. Colors turn out pretty natural with skin tones appearing genuine and primaries shimmering. It isn't flawless, but it does do a few things well enough.
'Key & Peele: Season 1' has been given a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix. The show is front-heavy as you may expect. The only real rear channel action that is had is when Key and Peele are addressing their audience. The applause usually bleeds back into the back speakers. The show's theme music also finds its way into the rear channels. Other than those few instances the rear speakers remain pretty silent simply because the skits are all focused up front with dialogue.
Speaking of dialogue is always clear and delivered in the front and center channels. Most of the dialogue comes directly from the center, with directionality placing a few lines of people off screen or near the edge of the scene in the appropriate channel. Bass is solid enough. There are a few hip-hop songs on the soundtrack that need some resonant bass and the LFE provides that.
It isn't for everyone. The easily offended will, most likely, be offended. People with thicker skin that can take a joke and appreciate some well-written satire will enjoy the kind of comedy Key and Peele have to offer. Season one breezes by a little too fast (you'll be done before you know it), but you'll laugh the entire way. With decent audio and video, this one is worth a look if you're in the mood to laugh.