British television has become an obsession of mine lately. This probably dates back to my childhood, when I would spend hours strangling the rabbit ears on my father’s TV set, desperately trying to tune in Doctor Who on PBS. Nowadays almost every obscure overseas program can be either rented, streamed or downloaded. You can say the floodgates have been opened. More Anglophile ranting
Archive for the Comedy Category
“Here is a list of incorrect things” – M.E. Smith
I’ve managed to see some really great shows lately. Urge Overkill was last week. Sloan and Swervedriver each play in June, so I couldn’t be happier.
I’m obsessed with Psychoville, the new show from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton of League of Gentlemen. Why isn’t this available legally in the U.S.? Stupid Limeys. Just kidding!
Film-wise, I’ve been enjoying the work of Enzo G. Castellari. His films are laughably bad at times and quite brilliant at others. At his best, he is a master of combining striking visuals with dissonant music. He’s directed films in several classic genres including spaghetti western, giallo, Italian crime or “Poliziotteschi”, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and even Jaws rip-offs. I love how he uses the same character actors in many of his films. His most famous work is probably Inglorious Bastards, due to the remake. I haven’t watched that one yet, because frankly I’m tired of World War II. I finally watched Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, so I’m done.
A chance trip to the liquor store yielded the latest issue of Horror Hound, which is all about the greatest year in horror films, 1981. Totally worth the newsstand price.
Well, today is The Rapture. I’m off to crack open a beer and watch the ascension! Catch you heathens later.
I was so caught up in my righteous defense of Treme that I forgot to mention what is probably my favorite show on TV right now: Party Down. The premise, about a catering team that has to work various obnoxious functions in L.A., never ceases to amuse me. It also opens the door for guest appearances by various comedians and character actors (Steve Guttenberg, J.K. Simmons, and lots of funnier, lesser-known folks).
The catering staff themselves are all struggling actors or writers, of course. I guess I can relate to their plight, as someone who has lived in L.A. for awhile and worked some questionable jobs. But the show wouldn’t work if the writing and cast weren’t spot on. Martin Starr (Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks) and Ken Marino (The State, Wet Hot American Summer) were the big draws for me, but the other actors do a good job of rounding things out. Adam Scott is sympathetic as the guy who gave up his dream to pay the bills, and Lizzy Caplan‘s character is a refreshing turn from the psycho bitch she played on True Blood.
The whole mess is written by some guys who previously worked on Veronica Mars: John Enbom, Rob Thomas, and Dan Etheridge, along with actor Paul Rudd. This show is so good that I’m actually considering watching Veronica Mars. I know, it’s crazy.
In other TV comedy news, The IT Crowd is back on the air in Britain. Or at least online – I think it premiers next week. I’m not sure how I’m going to watch it over here (“the service is not available in your area,” mocks the Channel Four website, in what I can only assume would be a haughty British accent if it could speak).
This show is amazing, especially considering that it’s filmed in the old school studio audience sitcom format. The plot concerns the adventures of the IT department of a large company run by an insane pervert (Matt Berry from Darkplace and Snuff Box). Show writer/creator Graham Linehan (Father Ted, Big Train) is a comic genius (and huge Guided By Voices fan), and I’m itching to see what he’s got lined up for this season. Hopefully I can use my own IT skills (slim to none) to hack into their mainframe and stream me some Britcom. Or, just wait for it to show up on IFC…
As my interest in Canadian horror films and slashers has started to dovetail, I’ve begun to recognize some of the character actors who worked steadily in films during the late 70s/early 80s era of cinema gold in the Great White North.
I’ve also been surprised to find out that certain films were Canadian productions. For example, Meatballs (1979). If you are from my generation, you probably grew up with this movie in one way or another. Personally, I never saw the whole thing all the way through until recently. But I can recall watching parts of it on TV since I was a kid. In honesty, I was traumatized by the pranks that were pulled on the geeky characters Fink and Spaz. I figured this was the fate that awaited me once I became a teenager. Thanks to Meatballs, I had an irrational fear that girls were going to take my pants off and run them up the flagpole to humiliate me. (It didn’t take long for me to realize that most women had no interest whatsoever in taking my pants off, for any reason.)
Here’s another one I just thought of since I was talking to my friend Logan (who plays “Eugene”). This was all improvised, obviously. All the actors did a terrific job. I especially love the dialogue between Ken and Ellen. The date says “2010” but it was probably closer to 1998.