Check It Out: With Dr Steve Brule Seasons 1 & 2 (Adult Swim/ Madman)


From deep in the bowels of 80’s community television, from poorly edited videotape and confused attempts at normalcy comes Dr Steve Brule’ own series. It’s a spin off from the mildly successful Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job, where Dr Steve would appear periodically on the morning show and offer up extremely questionable health advice to the married co-hosts.
Dr Steve of course appears to be mildly retarded. It could be the result of a brain injury, early childhood trauma or perhaps some kind of psychotic break, but Dr Steve is a nine year old trapped in the body of a 45 year old. He can barely speak, but that’s the beauty of Tim and Eric’s world, the guy who needs the most help is the one dispensing health advice.

John C Reilly (Step Brothers/ Magnolia) is having a ball, all frizzled unruly sloppiness, playing a naïve buffoon, ruining intros in front of guests, getting their names wrong, and falling asleep mid interview. But it’s his own show, so though he falls over the set, never knows where the camera is, and none of the cues work properly, he’ the consummate professional, possibly because he’ too stupid to realise it’s all falling apart. Perhaps the best moments occur when the good Dr is out on location, such as getting beaten up in a Casino, getting trapped in a sauna with an evil looking random person or being violently rebuffed by an attractive guest.


The music is fearlessly, almost remarkably pedestrian, reaching the dizzying heights of a reassuring soundtrack to an 80’s infomercial. It’s music designed for segments, preset music that more often that not occurs off cue, often mid segment, or is clipped too early resulting in uncomfortable silence. The picture too is all video wrongness, freakishly amateur; scenes poorly edited together, clipped jump cuts, skipping music, dodgy video graphics and cheesy wipes.

By dispensing with the ultra conservative bland smoothness of commercial television, and allowing Dr Steve to bumble and stumble along in his own direction according to his remarkably skewed internal vision, Check It Out reinforces how insidious infotainment is. Sure we’re having the world explained to us all wrong by a semi retarded 8 year old with abandonment issues, but at least he’s not a mouthpiece for a corporation. Dr Steve is warts and all. Actually he’s mostly warts and not much all. He doesn’ have the intelligence to be much more, but at least he’s honest, and if he wants to say things like “I pulled my pee pee and milk came out,” for no apparent reason, then that’s fine. More doctors should be like that.

It’s a surreal world full of uncomfortable silences and scenes held for too long, of interviews going nowhere and really concerning self-disclosure. Dr Steve is an unwitting wrecking ball to the medical profession, but also to celebrity doctors and our desire to have the world explained to us by television. He’ also pretty damn hilarious.

Bob Baker Fish


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.