Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Edge Pilot Episode

If The Edge is remembered at all it’s probably remembered as the sketch comedy show Jennifer Anniston appeared on before Friends made her a mega-star. But there’s a little more to The Edge than that. To start with it launched the careers of Wayne Knight, Tom Kenney, Jill Talley and, incredibly, Charlie Kaufman. Yet in spite of this pedigree, The Edge wasn’t that good. A lot of the sketches are cheap and easy (probably due to Julie Brown’s heavy involvement with the series) and, like the current version of Saturday Night Live, it wasn’t afraid to force reoccurring characters down the throats of its audience (like The Armed Family which, luckily doesn’t appear in the episode below). Still this show isn’t unwatchable, plus it deserves bonus points for exposing Bill Plympton’s animation to a wider audience.

Two nerdy sidenotes: The Ben Stiller Show premiered around the same time as this. Also, Carol Rosenthal went on to appear in the final pathetic season of In Living Color.

The Benny Hill Street Blues

This is easily one of my all-time favorite SCTV sketches. There’s been a lot of Benny Hill parodies but this is one of the very few that have been able to capture the feel of the original show. I love Dave Thomas’ grotesque, slightly crazed take on Britain’s habitual head-slapper.

A Courtroom Sketch Sketch

I don’t want to ruin this sketch by discussing it but I will say that it aired on an episode of Alexei Sayle’s Stuff and has a damn near brilliant payoff. The British truly are masters at comic absurdity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dave Foley's The True Meaning of Christmas Specials

I’ve wanted to see The True Meaning of Christmas Specials ever since I heard about it in 2003 and like a lot of things I’ve been dying to watch for a long time it’s kind of a disappointment. The cameos (Mike Myers, Dave Thomas as Bob Hope, Dick Dale, Joe Flaherty as Bing Crosby, Andy Richter, Tom Green, Kevin McDonald, El Vez) are interesting but everything else about it is off. It’s oddly paced, horribly low key and surprisingly unfunny. Still, for all of you Kids in the Hall fans out there The True Meaning of Christmas Specials is definitely worth watching at least once.

Oh, and I love the fact that this was followed by an Ann Murray Special. Glad to see Canadian television reinforcing its most boring stereotypes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How Many of You Men Have Always Wanted to Try Oriental Dancing?

SCTV’S final, waning year on Cinemax isn’t nearly as disappointing as most SCTV fans would lead you to believe. Take for example this sketch for an escort service that has such a funny/depressing quality that it could easily run on an episode of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.

In an unrelated side note, a couple years back a there was a strip club not far from my house that was actually called “Leave it To Beaver’s”. I’m really not making that up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The TV Wheel

Airing only once after the final Comedy Central episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, The TV Wheel is generally remembered only by MST3K fans and the nerdiest of comedy nerds (I’m sorry if that was redundant). Typical of most Joel Hodgson projects, The TV Wheel was insanely ambitious. It was a sketch comedy show that was performed live - in one take- in front of a single stationary camera that was placed in the middle of a revolving stage.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all of the sketches on The TV Wheel fall flat although a good chunk of them do (too much of the humor relies on forced perspectives and in camera special effects). Nonetheless, the skewering of Scientology is fairly sharp as is the sketch about the Novelty catalog and the Thunderbirds spoof. Yet even if you hate this unsold HBO pilot you still have to admit that the cast was pretty amazing. David Cross, Paul Feig, Doug Benson, Andy Kindler, Fred Stoller, Nick Bakay and Morwenna Banks (who was also involved in Hodgson’s unfinished movie Statical Planets) all appeared in this. And if that wasn’t enough, Judd Apatow was one of the writers. Granted, The TV Wheel doesn’t live-up to its potential but given time it eventually would.

As a side note, The actual TV Wheel pilot starts at chapter 3. Chapters 1 and 2 were added to the Comedy Central broadcast in order to (over)explain the show's premise. They're kind of interminable and unfunny so you can simply skip ahead to the third chapter without really missing anything.

Monday, December 7, 2009

El Epicco Movie-O

The only thing I love more than a parody movie is a foreign parody movie. The reasons why are myriad but it’s mostly because I get to hear what farts sound like in a different country (they’re remarkably similar!) So I’m really looking forward to Spanish Movie. Like Der Wixxer (a German parody film), Spanish Movie has slight high-brow tendencies (Almodovar is mocked) so I doubt this will ever appear on our shores. And yes, that is Leslie Nielsen. I guess he couldn't find work in this country after appearing in An American Carol.

That's All I Need, A Goddamned Cake

Like most of the cast of The Young Ones, I’m not exactly sure what to think about Alexei Sayle. On the one hand his comedic persona combines the worst traits of Robin Williams and Lewis Black only louder and shriekier. But on the other hand, he has been involved in some legitimately good projects, such as the sketch comedy series Alexei Sayle’s Stuff.

As a side note, the sketch with the Banditos is actually a parody of a long-running British television series called Juke Box Jury. And just a few years after Alexei Sayle’s Stuff was cancelled The Fast Show went on to open one of their episodes with a collection of fake trailers (complete with someone off-screen pushing a fast forward button).

Here’s probably the only Ken Loach parody ever made.

This title sequence is actually an edited down version of a longer sketch. In the original sketch it’s revealed that Sayle was a cartoon character created by Walt Disney. I wish the full version was on Youtube.

Here’s a longer clip of Steamboat Fatty….

Hate Mr. Bean? Well, you’ll probably love this vicious pisstake.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blah,Blah,Blah, Unfunny Judd Apatow Parody, Blah, Blah, Blah

Yeeps. I love parody movies as much as the next retarded 14 year old but this even tries my patience. Judd Apatow can and should be mocked at this point but did we really have to do it this way? With scenes of old people humping on lawns and fake Christopher Mintz-Plasses falling into pits of diarrhea? I love the fact that they reference To Catch A Predator two or three years after it was canceled. Very timely.

Nonetheless, I will be seeing this on opening day (or whenever it’s released directly to DVD).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adam West: Lawman

The recent reality series Steven Seagal: Lawman (I realize that “Lawman” is a real word but when you combine it with the name Steven Seagal it starts to take on ridiculous connotations until it eventually sounds as stupid as Justice Pal or Man Cop or Crime Puncher) has reminded me of another show about a doughy washed up idiot with delusions of grandeur: Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel’s brilliant unsold pilot Lookwell.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: NBC chose the Friends pilot over Lookwell. This is one of the many reasons why I fucking hate Friends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase

Since the moment it was released in 1991, The Silence of the Lambs has been mocked on a consistent basis in TV shows, movies and practically anything else that’s media-based (up to and including View-Masters). Yet, in-spite of the nearly endless series of nods, references and blatant knock-offs, Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase marks the only parody of Silence of the Lambs that legitimately works. Airing as an episode of the cult British comedy series The Comic Strip, Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase is a surprisingly savage attack on the Jonathan Demme classic. It’s such a sharp satire that it actually makes its source material look hackneyed. The only complaint I have about it lies in the camcorder segments with Adrian Edmondson which seem kind of unnecessary and redundant (we already get it. The film is unrealistic. We don’t need Gregory to further hammer this point home). British comedy nerds might recognize Nigel Planer, The Day Today’s Doon Mackichan and Keith Allen (father of Lily Allen) as Hannibal Lecter.

For some reason or another you can’t embed the full episode so here’s a preview with links for the full episode below.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Part 4: