Tanner '88—Criterion and Tanner on Tanner—Sundance Channel Home Entertainment
If last year's contentious presidential race wasn't enough to demonstrate how ridiculous politics can be, Tanner 88 and Tanner on Tanner should drive the point home.
Writer Garry Trudeau and director Robert Altman conceived the mockumentary, deciding to have an actor play a presidential candidate and put him on the campaign trail. Michael Murphy plays Jack Tanner, whose fictional run for the White House puts him in the path of real political figures, like Bob Dole, Kitty Dukakis, and Jesse Jackson. What unfolds is a razor-sharp satire about the people and the process.
The two-disc Criterion edition provides all 11 episodes of the 1988 series, each with a new introduction from original cast members playing their characters looking back on Tanner's campaign. And the extras on the sequel, Tanner on Tanner, do a great job of tying both projects together and putting them into a context.
Both sets feature a 1.33:1 aspect ratio (these were created for TV, after all), with a hyperreal-looking color palette. Tanner 88's picture tends to lean toward the overly red, fuzzy side, but that is probably a function of being shot on video in the '80s. They both employ Dolby Digital two-channel audio (Tanner 88's is two-channel mono), which is more than adequate for the dialogue-heavy soundtrack.