Last left off with the Master of None spring roundup, and besides the shows below I’ve also watched a couple miniseries, some Black Mirror and all of Neon Genesis Evangelion since then. It’s been a televisiony year.


Archer seasons 1-4 (2009-2013)

Addictive escapist comedy. I watched season one for two weeks this summer, then the next three seasons in just a few days after the election. Kinda crazy about the show, and it helps that some of my former coworkers helped make it. Nice bookending Bob’s Burgers and Sealab references in season 4.

I knew Archer (Jon Benjamin) and his mom (Jessica Walter of Arrested Development) and Cyril (Chris “Dr. Leo Spaceman” Parnell). Cheryl is Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Jurassic World, Tomorrowland), Pam is Amber Nash (Frisky Dingo), Lana is Aisha Tyler (kickstart-directing a movie called Axis), Ray is show creator Adam Reed. Dave “Meatwad” Willis plays Barry and Other Barry. R.I.P. George Coe, who played Woodhouse.

Most of the cast:

Standoff:


BoJack Horseman season 1 (2014)

It takes a lot for me to start watching a new comedy show: years of increasing acclaim and/or recommendations from an unusual source like Cinema Scope. I finally, grudgingly, checked out the show about the former sitcom star who is a horse and the wreck of his current life, and it’s good.

I skipped the last season of Arrested Development then watched all the shows by its former cast members, so Will Arnett plays BoJack. With Amy Sedaris as an agent/cat, Paul F. Tompkins as an actor/rival/dog, Alison Brie (Community) as the dog’s/horse’s shared human love interest, which sounds gross out of context, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) as BoJack’s roommate and Kristen Schaal as his TV daughter.

And Patton Oswalt as a publisher:


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 (2016)

A bit too much Tina Fey – is it okay to say that? And sometimes Tituss can be overwhelming. These are minor gripes about a nearly perfect show. This year Jacqueline dates David Cross, Lillian fights against gentrification, Kimmy’s bunker-mates make regular appearances, and Tituss dates construction worker Mikey.


Horace & Pete (2016)

I appreciate the concept very much, taking old fashioned ideas of television and making them brand new, and embracing silence and stillness in a unique way. And Louis has lined up a dream-come-true cast, so the acting is always a pleasure to watch. He has also written a relentlessly grim show that ends with his character’s murder at the hands of his psychotic brother, with some suicide and cancer and cheating and abandoned children and drunkenness and depression along the way. For every weirdly wonderful scene, like David Blaine being berated and thrown out for doing magic tricks, or Steven Wright quip, there’s fifteen minutes of everyone feeling lousy. Complaints aside, I’ll buy anything Louis sells, and more promptly next time.


Delocated season 2 (2010)

Yay, Jerry Minor. But for the most part, this show is juuust barely maintaining my interest, and I think I’ll probably check out a bunch of other things instead of continuing. For instance, the guy from Review was in a few episodes – I wonder if season two of his show is online anywhere.

Eugene Mirman works on becoming a stand-up comic whose jokes revolve around vodka so his big brother Sergei (Steve Cirbus, 89th billed in Bridge of Spies) takes over the threats and the killing. Zoe Lister-Jones has the thankless girlfriend role, Mather Zickel takes over as bodyguard, and Todd Barry plays himself.


Girls season 4 (2015)

I’ve become more ambivalent about watching this show about aggressively self-involved young white people… still into it, but I’m also reading The Brooklyn Wars and can’t pretend I’m not noticing the problems. But hey, Ray is joining the city council so there’s hope for more socially-aware content in the future, and I heard season five is really good, though I might take a break.

What else is happening? Hannah’s writer’s retreat thing didn’t work out, she becomes a teacher and dates a coworker, Marnie breaks up Desi’s engagement, Caroline gives birth, everyone seems frustrated with everyone else (or maybe that’s me?).


W/ Bob and David season 1 (2015)

Well, after expectations so absurdly high that I couldn’t bear to even watch this for almost a year, that was… not bad. Wish I’d known that the fifth “episode” was an hour-long behind-the-scenes thing – I kept thinking it was a self-reflexive joke and would turn into more comedy. Special guests Key & Adsit are a nice touch, and Tom Kenny’s appearances are always highlights. More episodes now, please.


Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2016)

One of the few things keeping us sane these days.


Also watched some standup comedy:

David Cross – Making America Great Again
Ali Wong – Baby Cobra
Michael Ian Black – Noted Expert
Todd Barry – Crowd Work Tour
Barry Crimmins – Whatever Threatens You
Brian Posehn – Criminally Posehn
Doug Stanhope – Beer Hall Putsch

And saw Louis CK live in Omaha.

Didn’t take notes on any of these, but enjoyed ’em all.

I think we watched four episodes of Key & Peele, so that’s half of season one. Haven’t fully invested yet in Enlightened, Lady Dynamite, Documentary Now or Steven Universe. Abandoned Shameless and probably a couple others.

After Love & Friendship in the early afternoon, I was gearing up for a night of comedy. Checked out the first episode of Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite (featuring Patton Oswalt), then watched Patton Oswalt’s great new standup special Talking For Clapping. Patton is super funny, but whenever he mentioned his (recently deceased) wife or their daughter I got a little sad. Deciding to follow that up with something lighter, I put on the great Bobcat Goldthwait’s documentary on his comedian friend Barry (which of course also ended up featuring Patton), forgetting that Bobcat movies are never light, unchallenging fun. So when Cindy Sheehan showed up, and Barry appeared at a Senate hearing shutting down an AOL lawyer, and none of this is funny (but it’s a hugely better film than I imagined it’d be), I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Barry Crimmins goes way back with the director. Barry used to call himself “Bear Cat,” so as a spoof, some of the young comedians who frequented his club nicknamed themselves “Tomcat” Kenny and “Bobcat” Goldthwait, and one of these names stuck. For a comedian I’d never heard of, he has some powerful fans: Marc Maron, David Cross, Steven Wright, Louis CK. But you don’t think of comedians and artists as literal heroes… sure, Lenny Bruce went to jail and George Carlin and Frank Zappa went to court to protect freedom of speech, but Crimmins made a different sort of legal impact, getting the ball rolling on prosecution of online child pornographers, a pet issue of his since surviving child abuse. So the movie goes to very dark places and comes out cathartically on the other side. I loved it.

I looked up whether Barry’s got any stand-up specials, and there’s one being taped three hours away a few days after I watched this movie… hopefully I won’t regret skipping that (couldn’t get anyone to come along, can’t spend the night because of birds, and that’s a long way to drive alone) but I’ll buy the video version the minute it hits Louis’s site.

Back to straight comedy the next day, I watched Hannibal Takes Edinburgh. I was more listening than watching, but I kept looking up to see if Buress visited any locations I recognized, distractedly forgetting until halfway through the special that I’ve never been to Edinburgh.

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.

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.

I think I liked it better than Katy did, but then, she’d seen The Princess and the Frog so I had lower expectations – the most recently-produced Disney animated movie I’d seen was Atlantis (and before that The Lion King). Didn’t find it as edgy and Shrek-like as the poster and trailer promised (which is a Good Thing), just a perfectly-paced, well-animated classic adventure story.

Backstory: the kingdom’s magical rejuvenating flower is used to heal the pregnant queen, so her daughter’s hair takes on the flower’s powers. Evil stepmom witch kidnaps the young princess so that the hair will keep her forever young (by that logic, why doesn’t Rapunzel’s own hair keep her from growing past the age of five?) but Rapunzel yearns to escape in order to see up close the lanterns released in the kingdom each year in memory of the missing princess. That accounts for the classic fairy-tale part, then the thief, a royal guard’s white horse, Rap’s pet chameleon, and the tough bar patrons who wish to be mimes represent the hyperactive post-Aladdin Disney.

Actors: I didn’t recognize Southland Tales star Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, nor the Voice of Chuck as the thief, nor Doc Ock’s wife in Spider-man 2 as the old witch, nor Ron Perlman as the thief’s twin thug associates, nor Pixar regular Brad Garrett, nor Jeffrey Tambor, etc, etc.

Pedigree: One of the directors did Bolt, the writer worked on Cars, and supervising animator Glen Keane (the Family Circus author’s son), who sounds like the main man behind the look of the film, has been a Disney guy since the 70’s.

“They say the hardest part of rollerblading is telling your parents you’re gay.”

Finally, a post-Mr. Show sketch comedy show that I love. Did Paul recommend this one? I think he did. Thanks, Paul.

Ringer guests include Brian Posehn, Jon Benjamin (as Bruce Willis), Patton Oswalt, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kristen Schaal (of Valentine’s Day fame) and Jay Johnston.

Written by the main dudes plus Jon Glaser (not Jon Glazer) and some Funny or Die / Drunk History.

Maybe I should also check out: Parks & Recreation, Childrens’ Hospital, Players, and possibly The League though that one may rely on over-my-head football jokes.

Is it just me, or did a late episode repeat entire sketches from an earlier episode?

“If things could talk…”

Our hero Lily Rabe, doing something quirky:
image

Mona (Lily Rabe, a little Drew Barrymorish) is on the run from her mom, dealing with mysterious strangers and memories of her deceased father who used to play a Calvinball version of tic tac toe with her on the beach. A boy finds her wallet, uses her cash to take piano lessons from teacher Kevin Corrigan (Jerry Rubin in Steal This Movie). Five animated commentators (including the voice of David Cross) play a game involving the plot and props of the movie.

D. London on guitar:
image

Mona likes elevator operator Daniel London (the guy who isn’t Bonny Bill Oldham in Old Joy) but they have a falling-out when Jane Lynch (of A Mighty Wind, possibly my favorite performer here) spills beer on Mona. The cartoon characters intervene, causing the woman who hired Mona (to sort through and retype mysterious papers) to have a seizure in order to reunite Mona with the elevator man and reconcile her with her mother. Possibly.

Cartoon gramma torture:
image

A quirky indie drama, not realistic in the slightest, but the animation and the digital tomfoolery let us know that’s intentional. Playful and childish and full of cameos (John Sayles is Mona’s landlord, Eugene Mirman is the night elevator man, Jon Benjamin is a cop, and Jon Glaser is an open-mic performer named Toooot). The first voice we hear is Robyn Hitchcock, appropriately as a train conductor.

Jane Lynch (Role Models, Smiley Face) poses next to Hubley artwork:
image

Hubley’s first feature, very good as far as Sundancey indies go.
Yo La Tengo provides a chill soundtrack (and connections to half the guest stars).

Watercolor self-images by Jeff Scher, whose short films I’ve been enjoying:
image

More of a kids movie than I’d expected, after Looney Tunes was more of an adult movie than I’d expected. Has the kids-in-charge feeling of Explorers, but the kids are more horny, troubled teens than young dreamers. The movie, with its innocent toy creatures threatening a whole town and all its makeshift inventions, references its own debt to Gremlins by throwing the word “gizmo” around as David Cross’s computer password.

Sets up a fight between the military-chip-implanted Commando Elite (voiced by Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Dern and the cast of The Dirty Dozen) and the peaceful alien Gorgonites (Frank Langella and the cast of Spinal Tap), joined by a frankensteined group of mutant barbies (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Christina Ricci).

Purple whirling Gorgonite reminds of the Tazmanian Devil and one of the Twilight Zone creatures:
image

I admit the barbies were my favorites:
image

Dick Miller, making his umpteenth Dante film appearance, plays the twinkle-eyed adult who connects with our young protagonist (and gives him the devil toys).
image

Robert Picardo doesn’t get mentioned enough in these pages. He’s appeared in nine Joe Dante movies, most memorably as the cowboy in Innerspace.
image

Apparently it got somewhat-screwed with its PG-13 rating but still made a tidy profit, and probably helped get Dante Looney Tunes: Back In Action, which probably killed his career for a few years. Dedicated to the great Phil Hartman, murdered a month and a half before its release.

image

Katy told me Jack Black was in a depression after this movie failed, so I felt bad for skipping it and thought I’d rent it to cheer the guy up. Maybe it’s director Liam Lynch who’s in a depression… if your feature debut bombs, do you get a second chance? I hope he’s at least working on a second album (and more music videos).

The celeb cameos are as good as you could hope for – meaning the film isn’t weighed down by the awkward injection of whichever actors would say yes, but they actually have funny parts that work with the movie. Amy Poehler as a waitress: (“do we have to pay for all these refills?”, “No, you’re so pretty you get everything for free.”), Neil Hamburger gets about one line, Dave Grohl was apparently the devil, Tim Robbins is surprisingly good at silly comedy under lots of makeup – only Ben Stiller is a problem as a prophetic Guitar Center employee, and even that is only because his scene goes on too long.

After an outstanding musical intro (a kid who is perfect as a young Jack Black with Meat Loaf as his metal-disapproving father), the D members meet and perform open mic nights, but in order to win the big open-mic grand prize they’ll need the titular pick made from satan’s horn. It’s a mix of some original episodes (biggest fan Lee is in the movie; they borrow then trash his car) and music videos (the final scene is basically the “Tribute” video with a less catchy song, and there’s a hilarious shroomy Sasquatch sequence). Kept me entertained.