I kept holding onto these until I watched more TV, then I didn’t watch more TV… can’t seem to get to episode two of Underground Railroad or the second half of Only Murders or to start the new seasons of any of my current faves, just chilling with old movies for now.


Voir (2021)

I thought these would be Story of Film clip shows, but the first episode is mostly original photography. It’s about the summer of Jaws, with a reference to the spider eggs in Bubble Yum. 2: Tony Zhou on Lady Vengeance and the revenge film formulas – this one’s a total clip show with guest speakers, and is really nice. 3: we see the narrator, Drew McWeeny on lead-character likeability, from Lawrence of Arabia through The Godfather to Taxi Driver. Funny that he’s talking about the rise of obnoxious lead characters in the late 60s/early 70s the night after I watched Performance. 4: no film critic monologue here, it’s a special on the art of animated character design, featuring Glen Keane and artists from Brave and The Lego Movie. 5: Movies vs. TV, ehhh. 6: Simply about race in the movie 48 Hrs., but well thought-out and easily better than the last couple, which were more technical. This series was David Prior’s follow-up to The Empty Man, weirdly enough.


Travel Man season 1 (2015)

Tempted to watch The Souvenir Part II for a few sweet glimpses of Richard Ayoade, instead I discovered he spent eight years hosting reality TV shows, so I dug one up. Season one covers Barcelona with Kathy Burke… Istanbul with Adam Hills… Iceland with Jessica Hynes (Spaced), the best episode yet, and the place I most want to visit… and Marrakesh w Stephen Mangan (“The beauty is largely offset by fear”). More, please.

Uh oh, opens with fun goofy comedy music. This is fast-paced for Ozu – it looks like Tati and there’s a lot of cartoon farting (proud of myself for making that connection, David Cairns mentions Tati in the first minute of his extra feature).

The neighborhood adults exchange petty gossip – one mom is falsely accused of embezzling from her woman’s association to buy a washing machine, one couple is correctly accused of walking around in their nightclothes all day. Meanwhile the kids are obsessed with farting (one kid keeps doing it wrong and running home for a change of pants) until they find a new past-time: staying mute and hungry until dad agrees to buy a television. Movie’s about modernization, aging, retirement, usefulness, the point of small talk – typical Ozu topics in a fart-comedy disguise.

Collection of useful subtitles for film-twitter meme-reactions:

Atlanta season 1 (2016)

Paper Boi experiences the weirdness of semi-fame while Earn pretends to be his manager. Darius gets kicked out of a shooting range. Highlights: “Black people don’t know who Steve McQueen is,” Glover’s fake Bieber song, Jane Adams’ mistaken identity plot turning weird, white guy who loves black people at the rich party – so, pretty much all the racial-clashing material – plus every word LaKeith Stanfield says. Locations: the L5P Zesto (which just announced it’s closing). Earn tries to go on a cheap date in Kirkwood on the same block as Le Petit Marche. The Cameli’s where Blogger Zan works apparently isn’t a real location. Wonder if their calzones are still incredibly good. Van is fired from her teaching job at KIPP Vision Primary, a few blocks from the Starlight Drive-in. I can’t find whether the Primal nightclub was filmed in a real club or a set.


Rick & Morty season 5 (2021)

501: Morty’s girlfriend Jessica is a Time God, Rick has an archrival, they destroy another civilization. Was that a Matter of Life and Death reference?
502: “Someone just killed the decoy family”
503: Morty falls for female Captain Planet, Rick and Summer go on a planetary apocalypse tour
505: Hellraiser/Ferris Bueller/Transformers mashup
506: National Treasure x Thanksgiving
507: Voltron x Casino, very great
509: Morty gets into mortal combat with psycho portal boy Nick, Rick becomes obsessed with two crows. Was that a two-parter? I thought I’d remember these better than I do.

This ep wasn’t even called A Morty of Life and Death:


Nathan For You season 2 (2014)

Lately his thing is embarrassing himself about personal issues in front of clients. After defrauding people into buying souvenirs on camera using a fake Johnny Depp, Nathan has to prove to a judge that he was making a real movie with these people as actors, so he starts a film festival to win it an award and gain credibility, and hopefully cast a love interest who will agree to be his girlfriend. Nathan hires a focus group to make him more likable, sells liquor to minors, uses fear to make people lose weight, hires 40 maids to clean a house in six minutes. Towards the end of the season his business ideas start failing harder: a pregnant woman refuses to give birth in a cab to promote a taxi company, then Nathan gets kicked out of a hot dog place and ambushes the customer who messed up his plan. MVPs Fake Johnny Depp and Dumb Starbucks.


Ultra City Smiths (2021)

Watched after Tom Waits Mode since he narrates. Mostly a bust, despite it being doll-head stop-motion crime/conspiracy plot with many good actors – those star names on the opening titles are mostly for minor characters who get a few lines, and the whole thing feels like a setup for future seasons, which I’m not watching unless there are new writers. An odd repetitive rhythm to the overtalky dialogue which I wasn’t feeling. Nice to see something unique though, and Bobby Bare Jr. sings the theme song.


Sampled the first episode of a few shows… Breeders with Martin Freeman is really unpleasant, A Black Lady Sketch Show uneven, and I’m undecided on I Think You Should Leave – got some chuckles, but it’s pretty poop-centric humor. The big winners are Devilman Crybaby (my favorite anime director made a pornographic satanic hellraising series, I am psyched)… Detroiters (thought this would be sketch comedy but I guess it’s about guys who run an ad agency, less cringey than Nathan For You)… Only Murders in the Building… and Mythic Quest.

Got 10 minutes into When I Come Home, which was too loose and fuzzy for my mood that night. But I hit play by accident and it actually played even though my laptop was connected to the external monitor. Between this and the new wifi extender, it could be a new era of streaming, we will see.


Other Things Unfinished this year:
Daniel Barnett’s Science Without Substance
Spielberg’s Duel
The Chaplin Revue
The Terror
Bo Burnam: Inside (features editing humor, my favorite kind)
The Beatles: Get Back

Search Party season 4 (2021)

Dory has been kidnapped by Chip (Cole Escola of Difficult People), spends the whole season trying to escape with no help from meddling neighbor Ann Dowd (Tater Channing’s mom in Side Effects) who also gets kidnapped then quickly murdered, and no help from Chip’s aunt Susan Sarandon, sent by the family to burn down the house as damage control. Before that Chip tries to Overboard Dory into thinking she’s had a trauma and they’re a happy couple. Meanwhile in the world, Portia is portraying Dory in a movie, Elliott’s right-wing TV co-host is killed by Chantal, Drew tries to escape it all and dates theme park princess Rebecca Robles. A proper search party ensues, things kinda work out – it’s probably a step up from season 3.


Archer season 8 (2017)

Dreamland season: comatose Archer dreams himself and his friends into a noirish period piece in which he’s avenging his dead partner (the actually dead Woodhouse). Feat. Jeffrey Tambor as the gangster-type who hires Detective Figgis, Eugene Mirman as a clueless rich guy, and Maggie Wheeler as New Yawk Trinette. Highlights: Pam’s houseful of secretly rescued women, Krieger’s pack of nazi robot dogs, robot Barry with a halberd. Proud of my former coworkers for working on a good show with a JG Thirlwell score.


The Thick of It season 3 (2009)

Picking up an entire decade after I watched season two, afraid I’d have no idea what’s happening due to both my ignorance about British politics and having forgotten the first two seasons. But of course the show is just a constant stream of inventive insults, which turned out to be precisely what I needed to destress after a work day. This season was elevated by Rebecca Front as the new Minister of Whatever, and a doubling-down on Malcolm’s character, who now takes over every episode until he’s sacked at the end of the season.

Capaldi getting sacked:


Solar Opposites season 1 (2020)

Another wicked Justin Roiland animated show full of refracted cultural references (Green Room callout in second episode). Grown-up aliens played by Roiland (brainy scientist typecast) and Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) with two kids (one of whom keeps desperate shunken humans in the wall like an ant farm) and “the pupa” form a parody of a sitcom family, trying to fit in and eventually conquer (they kill a ton of humans every episode). Made me laugh, passed the time – late to the party, a third season is in the works. Andy Daly plays Tim, underdog hero of the people trapped in the wall, Alfred Molina his overlord rival, regular appearances by the usual gang of comedians and voice actors.

Terry, Corvo, Nanobots:


Moonbase 8 season 1 (2020)

How did I not hear from all corners that there was a comedy starring Fred Armisen, Tim Heidecker and John C. Reilly as would-be astronauts? Maybe because it’s just pretty good and aired on Showtime.

Reilly with Atlanta’s own Ted Parker:

Armisen in mission mode:


Tales from the Tour Bus season 2 (2018)

Just as great as season one, with more interconnections between episodes since the funk scene was close-knit, until the standalone Betty Davis finale. George Clinton, Bootsy, James Brown and Morris Day (and indirectly Prince) are covered, and if the stories aren’t all better than the country season, the music and performance footage are. Katy will attest that I had to put the show on hold for a few months to recover after getting hit hard by the Rick James story.

Still the best story:

How To with John Wilson (2020)
Painting with John (2021)

Two low-fi HBO shows made by very different auteur-Johns. Both shows seem like each episode is a new random doc segment of a John’s life, then in the final episode you realize they’ve taken you on a journey with purpose. This is my new favorite kind of show.

“I crashed seven drones.” Lurie’s playfulness extends to the filmmaking, where he shows a domestic scene then replays it with added laugh track. Unlike the fishing show in a couple major ways: no celebrity guests, and John can actually paint.

Wilson’s show loves visual puns and sidetracks following unusual characters. In an episode on improving memory, while looking for a Zagnut bar he meets a supermarket inventory system developer who is obsessed with the Mandela Effect (“I found the one place where the worse your memory was, the more people liked you”), then he stumbles into the West Side Story remake set (“for the rest of the week it was hard to tell who was a human and who was an actor”).

from How To Split The Check, which leads John to a sad referee convention:

wildlife from How To Make Small Talk:

The other John:


Central Park season 1 (2020)

Oh wow, a comedy musical with cast from Hamilton and Book of Mormon and Kimmy Schmidt and Veronica Mars… good characters and songs… would be the perfect show to watch with Katy except for its singleminded love of poop jokes. Doesn’t bother me, I’m waiting for season two.

Harassing owls:


The Venture Bros. season 1 (2004)

Show is more bizarre than I realized. The title characters are useless, all the drama happening around them, and it steals characters (the Six Million Dollar Man, the Fantastic Four) from other shows at will. Foetus music, a Lydia Lunch reference. Twist: the Venture Bros are killed in an Easy Rider season finale.

Creator Christopher McCulloch voices the Monarch and a Venture, and worked on the The Tick #1, while Tick #2 voices bodyguard Brock Samson. The other Venture is prolific anime voice actor Michael Sinterniklaas, and their dad is James Urbaniak, who shares my birthday and is from New Jersey, so we’re practically family.


Samurai Jack season 1 (2001)

Only after Primal came out did I belatedly realize I was stupid for never watching this. Demon sends samurai into an intergalactic future, what’s not to like. Wasn’t expecting the season to end with Aku telling fairy tales to kids, complete with a reference to The Shining.

Among many online concerts, i attended the quarantine edition of SF Sketchfest, which opened with a montage of famous comedians saying no to Sketchfest. Fred Armisen welcome, Reggie Watts theme song, Eugene Mirman using a flowby during intermission, Triumph vs. Weird Al. Highlights were Jon Hamm’s movie trivia, Kumail vs. Emily, and the Kids in the Hall.

Attempted to watch The Shivering Truth – really sweet puppet animation, shame it’s wasted on so many unfunny jokes. Adam Fuchs did the titles! Also walked out on stand-up specials by Yvonne Orji, Jenny Slate, Eric Andre and Tiffany Haddish. I stayed through A Steven Wright Special (1985)

Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life (2012) has some sweet puns and lots of editing humor.


Nathan Barley (2005)

“It’s bad to have a bad uncle.” Julian Barratt is a pathetic angry guy who works for terrible website Trashbat run by Barley. Dan and his sister Claire room with DJ Nathan Fielder, and all of them discover they’re no better than the dummies they’re mocking. Barley torments a young Ben Whishaw, and Richard Ayoade and Benedict Cumberbatch are hanging around. When all your characters are annoying it’s hard for the show not to end up annoying, but as an intersection of post-Brass Eye Chris Morris, pre-Newswipe Charlie Brooker, and mid-Mighty Boosh everyone else, I was gonna have to watch it.


Charlie Brooker had an early-quarantine special Antiviral Wipe, then the end-of-year Death to 2020. The highlight of both was the Barry Shitpeas quote on OUATIH: “Quentin Cappucino made a new version of that film he does.” The latter special featured some good fake celebrity commentators and websites.

A late television inventor’s missing heir is sought, and ends up being TV repairman Jerry Lewis. Unusual for Tashlin that the movie (from the writer of Pufnstuf and Lidsville) is TV obsessed but not in a negative way. Rich aunt Cecilia is Mae “Betty Boop” Questel, easily the highlight of the movie, meant to marry a thin-mustached man (Zachary Scott, sex criminal of Bunuel’s The Young One) who only wants the money. The hot house nurse is Joan O’Brien (Blake Edwards submarine movie Operation Petticoat), and Wait Until Dark baddie Jack Weston a hired killer. Also featuring robot lawnmowers, a classier-looking movie than necessary.

Park’s followup to The Handmaiden doesn’t reach the same heights as Stoker, his other English-language movie, held back by the writing and the six hours of buttoned-up spies underplaying to survive. Big actory dialogue though – by episode three I decided I wasn’t buying any of it, but it’s pretty fun so I watched to the end. On the plus side, cool sets and costumes and cars. Park can really throw light exactly where he needs to, is excellent at photographing multi-level architecture. Michael Shannon has a wonderful laugh, but we maybe hear it once, given he’s playing a tormented Israeli agent on a convoluted revenge mission. Most importantly, Florence Pugh has the most openly expressive face of any actor right now, so what’s she doing in a spy movie? Well, it’s complicated, but she plays an actress hired by Shannon to get caught up with the Palestinian bombers so they can eventually be trapped or killed. Kidnappings and love letters and multiple fake relationships as she becomes a terrorist-in-training… as far as U being who U pretend to be, I wonder if Mother Night is out on blu-ray.

Pugh dances with Alexander Skarsgård:

Pugh practices with evil mastermind Khalil:

101: Revenge

1955 was a busy year to launch a TV series while also releasing To Catch a Thief and The Trouble With Harry. Episode one was directed by the man himself. Vera Miles (year before The Searchers and The Wrong Man) is a sweetie living in a seaside trailer with her new husband, trying to rest after “a small breakdown,” when she’s found collapsed after an attack. “He killed me,” she says about a salesman she wouldn’t buy from. Some fun noir lighting along the way, but at this point I knew how it’d end, as husband Ralph Meeker (same year as Kiss Me Deadly) has revenge on his mind, and you can’t trust a woman with a history of breakdowns… she points out the man who attacked her… then another, and another. The kindly neighbor was in The Day the Earth Stood Still, the murdered man an FBI agent in Pickup on South Street. Was it the American writers or British Hitch who named the lead character Spann and had him kill someone with a spanner?

How to help a woman with anxiety:


106: Salvage

“We don’t serve unescorted ladies at the bar.” Nancy Gates (Some Came Running, the crazy-sounding Suddenly) has heard local gangster Gene Barry (a Brock in a Fuller film) is out of prison, wants to confront him about her involvement in the arrest and death of his brother, is pretty sure he’s gonna kill her. Instead he sees her desperation and helps her out, bankrolls the dressmaking shop of her dreams, waits until she’s at her happiest point – then kills her. From a writer of Too Late Blues and the director of Jack Nicholson’s feature debut The Cry Baby Killer. I wasn’t trying to watch all forty episodes this season, so I chose based on particular factors, such as the presence of Elisha Cook Jr., which paid off.

Elisha, drunk and confused:


107: Breakdown

Joseph Cotten is a shithead business leader who fires a longtime employee then drives the long way home. I was expecting a Roadwork revenge scenario, but I guess there wasn’t time for the blubbering victim to plan an interception route – instead, Cotten crashes into construction equipment and we spend the rest of the movie in his head as he’s paralyzed and assumed dead by all who come to the scene. Gave me flashbacks to another anthology episode, which research suggests was Tales from the Crypt “Abra Cadaver.” The blubbering man was a silent star, notably of The Cat and the Canary, and Cotten’s only film of the year was a West German comedy that nobody has seen since.


131: The Gentleman from America

Sir Stephen (Ralph Clanton, good at being desperate and sinister) needs money, and rich Biff McGuire (The Thomas Crown Affair) is loaded, so Sir S and his less exciting sidekick John Irving bet the guy that he can’t stay the night in their haunted castle. After a flashback ghost story they win that bet, but hard, only realizing years later that the rich guy lost all of his marbles that night. Director Robert Stevens was an anthology TV heavyweight, appropriately ending his career on an episode of Amazing Stories.

Sir S shows Biff his pistol:

TV roundup for the second half-ish of 2020


On Cinema at the Cinema seasons 1-? (201?)

On Labor Day, since I’d already seen Bisbee ’17 I watched season one of On Cinema on the Adult Swim roku app while repainting the furniture… then I drank some, and watched seasons two and three? Or maybe also season four… or just season two, I don’t know how to figure this out.


Search Party season 3 (2020)

Dory and the gang become absurd anti-celebrities during their murder trial. We know she is found guilty because of the flash-forward intro of the first episode, but this turns out to be a good fakeout – after being declared innocent, she’s kidnapped by a maniac. Not my favorite season – I’ve never loved court dramas, and the final episode is too Seinfeld, but I’m still here for whatever’s next.

Newbies: Dory’s rookie lawyer is Shalita Grant of the series You, and Drew’s lawyer is Louie Anderson. The all-business prosecutor is Groundling Michaela Watkins, lately of Brigsby Bear and Sword of Trust. Wallace Shawn is a shady businessman who gets Chantal arrested by the FBI.


Russian Doll season 1 (2019)

“This is like The Game. I’m Michael Douglas!” Writing this up is a lotta pressure because since finishing this I’ve watched time-loop movies Tenet and I’m Thinking of Ending Things and Bill & Ted Face the Music, and it seems like there are a lotta details in this four-hour existential comedy that I’ve forgotten. Natasha Lyonne keeps dying then waking up back at her birthday party hosted by Greta Lee (Inside Amy Schumer) with “Gotta Get Up” playing, and tries to discover why this is happening, then runs into fellow time-looper Alan (Charlie Barnett of TV’s You). I think it’s possible that everything gets fixed at the end, but maybe not since a second season is rumored.

The slimy-Cagney-lookin guy she goes home with is Yul Vazquez… her psychiatrist is Elizabeth Ashley of Treme… her drug dealer is Waris Ahluwalia (The Life Aquatic)… Tinfoil Kevin is a regular at the bodega run by Ritesh Rajan (Mowgli’s dad in the latest Jungle Book), and her mom in flashback is Chloe Sevigny. Co-created by Amy Poehler, directors include Leslye Headland (Terriers) and Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader).


The Tick season “two” (2019)

“Destiny is on the phone. It’s a party line and we’re all invited!”

Such good writing – even if I saw some of the season-long story endings coming, each episode is full of pleasures. Dot discovers she has powers, can see the near future, and their father-in-law Walter has been an agent under deep cover. Tick’s new nemesis/partner is a bank-robbing lobster. Aegis Commander Ty Rathbone, who has a black-hole heart, recruits Arthur and Tick and Lint to the Flag Five, which is sabotaged by Dr. John Hodgman. Superion spends a few episodes depressed on the moon deciding whether to spin the earth backwards to reverse time. Lint’s sidekick is a computers/weapons whiz named Edgelord.

Writers include original Tick comics creator Ben Edlund, two Detective Pikachu writers, two writers of teen comedy On My Block, and Kit Boss (King of the Hill). Directors include a DP of Dexter and True Blood, a Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Black-ish director with over a hundred other credits, the script supervisor of Mallrats and Dogma, the editor of Roger & Me, and an AD on Buffalo Soldiers. Flexon is on the new Snowpiercer series, the Aegis paperwork twins are in The Assistant.


Documentary Now! season 2 (2016)

The Bunker is a War Room parody, Hader doing a southern accent.

Juan Likes Rice and Chicken is a celebrity-chef doc about a difficult little restaurant that makes a basic dish but with impossibly high standards.

Location Is Everything is a Spalding Gray parody! Lennon Parham (personal advisor to Veep) plays his girl Ramona, who is onstage refuting all his stories.

Globesman is of course Salesman, which I’ve still never seen, but I doubt the original involves a rival atlas salesman who stalks and torments our protagonists.

Final Transmission is a really specific Stop Making Sense parody with Armisen as Byrne, Hader as Tina, Maya Rudolph and Jon Wurster, I am in heaven. Why did they stick a Tom Waits parody into this?

“As a bald kid with a dead dad, movies became my refuge.” Double episode Mr. Runner Up is doing The Kid Stays in the Picture, which I didn’t realize, about an awards-obsessed movie producer who’s only constitutionally able to create schlock, mostly starring his unfunny Italian comic friend Enzo.


Primal season 1 (2019-2020)

Gruesome and lovely. Caveman and Dinosaur each saw their families eaten by predators, but found each other as friends and protectors. Perfect show, with one heck of a finale – introduction of a woman with metal implements and a spoken language, collapsing even more of history together. I think of Genndy as the Dexter’s Lab/Powerpuff guy, but everyone involved in this also worked on Samurai Jack, which I probably should not have skipped.


Barry season 2 (2019)

Maybe less fun than season one, but deeper, as Barry tries to control his rages and stop killing people, and leads the acting class in experimenting with telling personal truths. In the end, of course, he falls into a massive rage and kills many people, Fuches turns on him tragically and repeatedly, and the people who cop out on personal truth and tell lies are rewarded for it.

Noho Hank’s Chechen bestie Cristobal (Michael Irby of True Detective s2) forms an unstable alliance with Ester, head of a Burmese crime family (a deadpan Patricia Fa’asua). Sally’s abusive ex Sam (Joe Massingill of Die Hard 5) returns to stalk her. Gene tries to reconcile with his estranged son Leo (Andrew Leeds of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist), and is told that Barry killed his girlfriend Janice. Janice’s ex-partner Loach (John Pirruccello, a Twin Peaks s3 deputy) tracks down Barry and gets Fuches to wear a wire. And most wonderfully, the Loach plot ends in the one time Barry and Fuches work together all season, when Loach “hires” Barry to kill the guy sleeping with Loach’s wife, a stoned Tae Kwon Do master (stunt/action regular Daniel Bernhardt) with a feral daughter.


Also sampled quite a few shows:

Star Trek Lower Decks seems bad
Central Park seems good, going to see if Katy wants to watch it (we still haven’t returned to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Black Jesus is good but I dunno if it’s got a whole season in the tank.
Infinity Train looks imaginative, but for kids, not for me.
Los Espookys seems up my alley, would watch more.


And of course I watched a pile of concerts and livestreams and other things, including Nick Cave’s Idiot Prayer, which probably would’ve gone to theaters, had there been theaters.

Waco Brothers:

Robyn & Emma:

Cave:

Pigface: