The 2003 debut of "Chappelle's Show" on Comedy Central marked a high point for the cable channel, and now the entire, wildly creative first season can be seen, with hundreds of bleeps removed. That's not to say "Chappelle's Show" is perfect entertainment: there are too many moments among the 12 episodes here that descend into pointless scatology and booty fever. But for the most part, Chappelle, a talented comic slowly growing into greatness, is trying to push the sketch-humor envelope and succeeds at surprising us with original concepts and merciless execution.
The merely clever material includes "National Geography's Third World Girls Gone Wild," basically an update on those topless-native-women gags of yore, and Chappelle's "Educated Guess Line," in which the sage comic eschews psychic powers to logically deduce racial insights from his callers' questions. Far more wicked is an in-your-face satire on such autobiographical film fare as "Antwone Fisher" and "8 Mile", in which Chappelle plays himself ascending from street hustler to rapper-comedian to bona fide savior of America. The best thing here, however, is a parallel-universe version of "The Real World", in which the usual racial proportions on MTV's workhorse series are reversed, thrusting a token white guy into a Hoboken houseful of crazy African Americans. There are also laughs in "Ask a Gay Guy with Mario Cantoned," as well as a sketch about an "inner-thoughts cam" and a nasty piece about Chappelle's Make-a-Wish visit to a dying child, which decays into a cruel video game competition. Overlooking the series' weaker material, this is outstanding television comedy. "--Tom Keogh"