Hey, I remember this one, it had some bright colors in it. Not like Bridgerton-bright, but pretty nice. According to the ol’ blog, I watched another adaptation of this with Katy 13 years earlier, which neither of us remembers.

Cowritten with Simon Blackwell (Veep, Breeders) and Charles Dickens (Scrooged, Oliver & Company). Dev Patel starred, Ben Whishaw the villain, Hugh Laurie and Benedict Wong were in there somewhere.

“I’m exhausted, I can’t remember who’s alive and who isn’t.”

Following The Road Movie, here’s another Russian dark comedy with segments that went over my head (because I didn’t try very hard to keep track who was who). The first thing I noticed is that this is a real movie, with a proper script and professional-looking camerawork and editing. I point this out because In The Loop felt like a big-screen version of a Thick of It (or Parks & Rec, etc.) episode, loose mobile cameras, cutting only for laughs and covering (sometimes badly) for dubbed lines and alt takes. Now that we get what I’ve been craving, an Iannucci movie with proper lighting and fancy sets, I guess I’ll take the In The Loop version after all. Great performances in both, but if that fake-documentary style is what’s needed to keep the comedy sharp and constant, then so be it.

This still might end up being the funniest movie of the year, with ringers Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor as members of Stalin’s inner circle who start jockeying for position the moment their feared leader has fallen, having choked while laughing at hate mail sent by musician Olga Kurylenko (To The Wonder). The ringers are joined by Paul Whitehouse of The Fast Show, army leader Zhokov (Jason Isaacs of the first Resident Evil), Simon Beale (Rachel Weisz’s older husband in The Deep Blue Sea) and some others, and eventually Stalin’s idiot son Rupert Friend (Homeland) and daughter Andrea Riseborough (who also costarred with Olga K. in Oblivion).

Stalin’s children:

I’m not gonna recount every humiliation and double-cross (though Beale does end up dead and on fire) because that’ll take some of the fun out of watching this again in a few years. The blatant criminal behavior by weak-minded, disloyal men in high government offices didn’t remind me of anything in particular, no sir, just a bit of fun.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 2 (1990)

This season included three episodes of Bela Lugosi in The Phantom Creeps, and the first appearance of Mothra. Favorites: Sidehackers, Jungle Goddess and First Spaceship on Venus. Also great: Wild Rebels & Hellcats

Sports Night season 2 (2000)

We finally made it. Katy was not romantically satisfied with the ending, except of course for Sabrina Lloyd and Joshua Malina ending up together again. The “show” is saved last-minute by Agent Coulson, but the show was not saved, and Sorkin moved on quickly to West Wing. Of the Sports Night directors, Don Scardino did a lot of 30 Rock, Marc Buckland made TV movies with Ken Marino and Jane Lynch, Dennie Gordon made Joe Dirt, Alex Graves works on Game of Thrones, Robert Berlinger made a Dukes of Hazzard prequel and Thomas Schlamme made So I Married an Axe Murderer and Spalding Gray: Terrors of Pleasure.

Man to Man with Dean Learner (2006)

The laugh track wrecks the deadpan comedy, but as with most laugh tracks, you learn to ignore it after a while. Dean’s first guest is, of course, author Garth Marenghi, followed by a racecar driver, a prolific sci-fi actor, a folk guitarist, and a psychic, all played by Matthew Holness. The final episode reminds of Look Around You s2, bringing back the whole cast (all the Matthew Holnesses) for a memorial to the would-be-sixth guest, downward-spiralling star of the film Bitch Killer. I love how Dean blatantly mistreats his guests, sometimes to disfigurement and ruination, through flashbacks and insinuation and even live on the show.

The Day Today (1994)

Based on a radio show called On The Hour, this show saw the brilliant debuts of Christopher Morris (Jam, Brass Eye, Nathan Barley, Four Lions), Armando Iannucci (Time Trumpet, The Thick of It, Veep), Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge character, Rebecca Front (Big Train, Nighty Night), producer Peter Fincham (Ali G, Look Around You, Smack the Pony), and weirdly, writer Patrick Marber (Closer). And I’m going to assume it inspired Charlie Brooker as well, since it’s a fake news show, but instead of making fun of current events, it’s mocking the manner in which they’re generally presented – so it’s still relevant and hilarious twenty years later.

My Life in Film (2004)

Starring the blond guy from Love Actually (the one who picks up American girls with his cute British accent) as a self-described “independent low-budget filmmaker”. He never gets around to making any films, but each episode is in the style of a different classic (I loved the driving-school homage to Top Gun). Fake-hitchcock cameo in the Rear Window ep by Ron Burrage (Double Take).

The Sarah Silverman Program season 1 (2007)

Hadn’t watched this in a while.
Co-created by Sarah and the guys behind Community and Heat Vision & Jack
It costars Brian and Jay from Mr. Show, Sarah’s sister Laura (of Dr. Katz/Home Movies) and Steve Agee (Cyberslut Killers in the Hollywood Hills) with guest spots by Zach Galifianakis (as Sarah’s homeless ex-classmate), Jill Talley (as a ghost), Doug Benson, Jimmy Kimmel, Ron Lynch, Rachael Harris, Scott Aukerman, Tig Notaro, Paul F. Tompkins, and Tucker Smallwood as God.

Important Things With Demetri Martin season 2

Man this was such a brilliant show.
And Jon Benjamin!

Metalocalypse season 2 (2008)

I can never keep straight which ones Malcolm McDowell and Mark Hamill play.
The other thing I can’t keep straight: the entire plot, or any non-band-member characters.
But is that so wrong? I’m enjoying myself.

Revenge of the Subtitle (1992)

Short public-access series in which comedians take clips from foreign films and maliciously re-subtitle them. Hoy!

AD/BC: A Rock Opera (2004)

A 1970’s-style nativity musical from the innkeeper’s perspective, mashing up the casts of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh. Not a lost masterpiece, but cute enough. Next Christmas I will see if Katy will sit through it.

more shows to find: Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle and Horrificata Illuminata.

Dollhouse season 1 (2009)

Whedon’s project before Cabin in the Woods.
I love this show.
Ends with a motherfucker of a leap into the future.

Echo (Eliza Dushku, Arnold and Jamie Lee’s teenage daughter in True Lies) is lead doll, alongside exotic-looking Sierra (Dichen Lachman from Nepal of a recent nuclear submarine drama series) and Victor (Enver Gjokaj, billed below Harry Dean Stanton in The Avengers – side note: Harry Dean Stanton was in The Avengers?!).

DeWitt (Olivia Williams, Rosemary Cross in Rushmore) runs the place with techie Topher (Fran Kranz, great in Cabin in the Woods), security guy Dominic (sinister-looking, eyes-too-close-together Reed Diamond of Homicide: Life on the Street) and Dr. Saunders (Amy Acker, in the Cabin in the Woods control room), later revealed to be a doll. Harry Lennix (of Titus) is a major part of the early episodes, later takes over Dominic’s job.

Meanwhile, clueless pawn but sweetly determined FBI man Ballard (square-jawed canadian Tahmoh Penikett, Stanley Kubrick in Trapped Ashes) tries to expose the place and protect his too-perfect neighbor Miracle Laurie who is, of course, a doll. Bonus baddie: Alpha (Alan Tudyk, pilot of the Serenity and voice of King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph)

The staff writers moved on to Spartacus: War of the Damned, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Agents of Shield and Undercovers. Directors include Tim Minear (Firefly), Dwight Little (Halloween 4), Elodie Keene (The Wire season 2), Felix Alcala (Criminal Minds), James Contner (Buffy/Angel, TV movies She Woke Up Pregnant and Hitler’s Daughter), David Straiton (Hemlock Grove), Allan Kroeker (three different Star Trek series), Rod Hardy (the David Hasselhoff Nick Fury movie), David Solomon (Buffy) and Joss Whedon (Buffy/Angel/Firefly)

Veep season 1 (2012)

The Thick of It in the USA, wonderful. Veep Julia Louis-Dreyfus is ably assisted by blonde Amy (Anna Chlumsky, star of My Girl), red haired Mike (Matt Walsh of Upright Citizens Brigade), Tony “Buster” Hale and dark handsome careerist Dan Egan (My Boys).

Also great: receptionist Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) and white house go-between Jonah (Timothy Simons of an upcoming Kevin Costner baseball movie).

Created by the great Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It) with cowriting by In The Loop collaborators Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, Time Trumpet writers Sean Gray and Will Smith, and Peep Show creator Jesse Armstrong. Directed by Iannucci, Christopher Morris (The Day Today) and Tristram Shapeero (Community).

United States of Tara season 1 (2009)

Diablo Cody’s gift for snappy, hilarious dialogue and Toni Collette’s adeptness at her multiple-personality role made this a joy. Let’s see, she plays herself (harried mom mostly cleaning up after her own messes), “T” (sex-crazed teenager), Buck (alpha-male biker), Alice (perfect housewife), and mysterious unnamed poncho-wearing monster.

Tara’s married to patient John Corbett (Northern Exposure), has sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt, title character in Rachel Getting Married) and kids Marshall (Keir Gilchrist, star of It’s Kind of a Funny Story) and Kate (Brie Larson, Scott Pilgrim‘s rocker ex-girlfriend). Also great: Nate “Rob’s brother” Corddry of Studio 60 as Kate’s boss and Patton Oswalt as Corbett’s coworker.

Directors include Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), Mark Mylod (Ali G Indahouse, The Fast Show), Brian Dannelly (Saved!), Tricia Brock (Killer Diller), Tommy O’Haver (Ella Enchanted) and John Dahl (Rounders)

Look Around You season 1 (2002)

Suppose I first looked this up because Edgar Wright plays one of the scientists. Faux-vintage science program. I kept watching since the episodes are only ten minutes each, and got more into it as the concepts and experiments grew more absurd (“Ghosts” was a highlight). Cowriter/star Peter Serafinowicz played Shaun of the Dead‘s uptight roommate, and director Tim Kirkby is working on Veep. It’s probably worth looking up The Peter Serafinowicz Show.

Jon Benjamin Has a Van season 1 (2011)

I guess this isn’t coming back… Benjamin getting his own absurd live-action comedy show was too good to last. A well-assembled self-aware sketch show that worked at least half the time.

Jon’s cowriters: Leo Allen (of Slovin & Allen), Nathan Fielder (who got his own show Nathan for You this year) and Dan Mintz (voice of Tina on Bob’s Burgers), all of whom wrote for Important Things.

Kristen Schaal: Live at the Fillmore (2013)

Weirder and more conceptual than I’d expected. Lots of sex jokes, an extended parody of The Vagina Monologues, a couple of skits. Mostly a miss, but I loved her Sally Jesse Rafael impression and her fake meltdown, repeatedly stumbling over the word “airplane” and requesting a glass of water.

Holy Flying Circus (2011, Owen Harris)

Opens with a fart joke then a sweary joke, and never gets funny, throwing out faux outrages and pained Python references in place of jokes – but it features Mark Heap wearing a beret, so that’s something. Lots of speech-impediment humor: stuttering and tourettes are hilarious. I suppose Life of Brian, which this movie is defending, scores laughs from Pontius Pilate’s lisp, though. Builds to a reenactment of an infamous talk show appearance pitting pythons against clueless religious types – since the dialogue quotes from the actual talk show, it would’ve been nice to just watch that instead.

From a writer on The Thick of It/In the Loop/Veep and a Black Mirror director. Fake Cleese was in Smack the Pony and Hippies, Fake Chapman played something called “Top Hat” in Van Helsing, and Fake Palin is Edie’s newspaper editor in Downton Abbey. I did enjoy the sword/lightsaber puppet duel.

A couple of TV shows I watched after finishing The Wire but before starting The Prisoner

Time Trumpet (2006)

It’s one of those stupid look-back-at-a-certain-year half-hour entertainment-news shows – but set in the distant future, “looking back” into our near future, and created by Armando Iannucci. Brilliant. Talking-head interviews with Charlotte Church, Tony Blair, and “an increasingly erratic Tom Cruise.” Surprisingly good visual effects throughout. Highly enjoyable, even to a non-Brit like myself who missed more than half the references. An IMDB reviewer warns that it’s “an enquired taste.”

Look, Dean Learner!

Human Giant season 2 (2008)

What a great show. I miss it already.

Huebel is on Childrens Hospital now, Scheer on NTSF:SD:SUV and The League, and co-creator Jason Woliner (who was on Shining Time Station as a kid) on Players and Eagleheart. Must watch all of these.

Look, Omar!

The Mighty Boosh season 3

The one in which they work for Naboo at his shop. I liked this and season one better than S2 – it helps to keep the nonsense somewhat grounded with the workplace location. But it’s a minor quibble, and altogether quite a great show. Except for the moon.

Apparently the Boosh did some specials and a live show I’ve gotta find. Also, I keep thinking getting confused by this Richard Ayoade fellow – he played Saboo, not Naboo. Who was Saboo? Anyway, he stars in The IT Crowd, directed the movies Submarine and AD/BC: A Rock Opera and made the shows Man to Man with Dean Lerner, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Nathan Barley, all of which sound good, and some of which co-star Howard Moon and/or Vince Noir. Howard also starred in Edgar Wright’s Asylum – and what’s this: Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge! Must find.

The Thick of It season 1

Even if the rest of the show had been useless, this would be worth watching for Malcolm’s daily, creatively profane insult spree. His first line in the series is “He’s as useless as a marzipan dildo.” But it’s a brutally good show all around, as I’d suspected, having seen the film version In the Loop a couple times. Hugh Abbott, minister of social affairs (his predecessor got sacked in the first episode) bumbles into various minor media scandals with help from his staff Glenn, Terry and Ollie, while trying not to be yelled at by Malcolm. It’s exactly how I assume government actually works. Hugh (Chris Langham, a writer on The Muppet Show) didn’t return, but the other main actors made it into the movie. Peter Capaldi (Malcolm) wrote/directed the short Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, has appeared in a couple other things I’ve seen (like Neverwhere) but I wouldn’t recognize him from this unless he was swearing up a storm.

Arrested Development season 1

I can’t believe all that was only one season. Seems like four or five years’ worth of plot twists crammed into one. I mean, if they’ve already followed at least two incest plot lines, produced a long-lost identical twin brother, resolved a number of love affairs and hangups and family members moving in and out, sunk the family yacht, burned down the banana stand, broken out of jail a couple times and adopted a Korean kid, what’s left for the next two seasons? Creator Mitch Hurwitz also wrote Running Wilde with Will Arnett, an animated show full of Arrested Development alum called Sit Down Shut Up, and coincidentally, an unaired American remake of The Thick of It, with Oliver Platt as Malcolm. Iannucci says that was awful. Series directors included the Russo brothers (You, Me and Dupree), Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers).

Mr. Show season 1

Obviously I’ve seen this all before, but I was hurting for some comedy to half-pay-attention-to whilst sorting receipts and other junk on my floor and realized I’ve never played the DVD commentaries all the way through. And now that my floor is half clean and I’m only four episodes into the series’s 30-episode run, it’s clear that I never will.

Still super funny: Ronnie Dobbs, all appearances by Jack Black and Brian Posehn, incubation pants, the hated milking machine, limberlegs, bag hutch, “dear globochem, somebody is trying to kill me.” I know they think it didn’t work, but I love that the early episodes each had interwoven sketches with thematic connections. It was really ambitious for a cheap sketch show shot in a restaurant.

Semi-related shows I still need to watch – there are so many – Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Tim and Eric, more Aqua Teen, Ben Stiller Show, Running Wilde (again), Freak Show, Tom Goes to the Mayor, Breaking Bad, Funny or Die, Pity Card/Derek and Simon, more Sarah Silverman Program, Bob’s Burgers, Jon Benjamin Has a Van, Moral Orel, State of the Union and Bored to Death.

The Armando Iannucci Shows (2001)

Sadly there was only one season, but I guess he tackled every major issue that humanity faces in these eight episodes (Time, Reality, Work, Twats), so why make more? Aired in September 2001 so I imagine it could have been overlooked. I have no idea if it was, though, since here practically all British television is overlooked. I sought this out after loving Iannucci’s In The Loop. Still looking forward to The Thick of It and Time Trumpet.

All vaguely thematically-tied sketch comedy, a la the first two seasons of Mr. Show, mostly (but not limited to) starring Armando as himself, or his stand-up persona.

A poem from the show:

As she grimly walked away
“I’m leaving you,” she said
And I had nothing new to say
Like the second album by Portishead

30 Rock seasons 3 & 4

Remained funny/good over two more seasons. Less stand-alone-episodic, more season-long plot threads. Until netflix gets more episodes, there’s no other show we can easily agree to watch together – contenders have included Parks & Rec, Louie, Slings & Arrows and Arrested Development.

New writers & directors: Steve Buscemi (!), Todd Holland (director of the Fred Savage classic The Wizard), Ron Weiner (writer of one of my favorite Futurama episodes), Tricia Brock (made a 2004 Fred Willard movie), 15-year SNL writer Paula Pell, and the show’s music composer directed an episode.

Oh, the guests!
The cast of Night Court, Oprah (my favorite guest spot), J. Aniston, Steve Martin, Peter Dinklage, John Lithgow, Alan Alda, the Beastie Boys, Jon Glaser, Betty White, the voice of Gilbert Gottfried, Al “should not be allowed on television” Gore, Buzz “ditto” Aldrin, James Franco, Will Ferrell and Matt Damon, and semi-regulars Elaine Stritch, Salma Hayek, Jon Hamm, Michael Sheen and Juliane Moore.

This is a spinoff movie from a series called The Thick of It, which also starred Peter Capaldi as the terribly insulting PR guy, and which I must watch soon. Tom Hollander as the wishy-washy but morally secure minister and his head staffer Gina McKee (of MirrorMask) are new to the movie, but Tom’s assistant Chris Addison was in the show playing a different character. Kinda surprising, that, since in the movie he’s the new guy (and kinda our main character).

One lucky break: the new guy/main character isn’t a bland, naive kid who leads us insultingly through the situation, a conceit used by so many crappy movies. Everyone sorta knows what they’re doing here, and even though our guy is a fuckup (misses a major meeting, his girlfriend leaves him for cheating), he knows his way around his job. Anyway, movie follows these government guys as they trade secrets and rumors, fiddle with their publicity, and ultimately start an international war for the stupidest reasons possible – and it’s damned hilarious, and I’ve forgotten every joke so I must watch it again after catching up with the show.

Of course it’s not a british comedy without a Steve Coogan cameo (The Boat That Rocked, therefore, was not a british comedy). Here he plays Tom’s neighbor who starts a PR stink over a crumbling garden wall. I wouldn’t say it’s a non-comic role, but he has less funny dialogue than anyone else in the film, which seems odd.