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You keep makin’ em, I’ll keep watchin’ em: The latest entries into the Canon of Worthy Television

February 12, 2010

I try to keep my ear to the ground on the whole TV thing. Sometimes I completely miss a great show, because I

1. Lack cable

and

2. Do not actually watch much television, outside of NBC Thursday nights.

But I make an effort to catch a whole mess of programs on Hulu or other sites. Employment of That Popular Online DVD Rental Service allows viewing of multiple programs that are not receivable via rooftop-antennae. Oh yeah.

Peep Show (BBC 4, 2003-present). I love how a randomly-appearing interview can open one’s eyes to something great. Amidst a profile of Andy Falkous, current musician for Future of the Left (and formerly of McLusky), he was asked “What TV shows do you watch?” He referenced The Thick of It, a fast-paced political satire that spawned In the Loop, and this program(me). Based on the title, I  was expecting a melancholic documentary about the escapism of Travis Bickle-types. Instead, we get a bawdy comedy that takes the The Odd Couple template and smashes a cough-syrup inspired mess in its face. Mark, a WWII-obsessed salaryman, and Jeremy (aka Jez), a live-it-up aspiring musician, share a flat in the London neighborhood of Croydon. The show’s title alludes to the camera-shots where the viewer gets to observe Mark and Jez’s madcap moments through the character’s eyes (lots of extreme close-ups). Fans of the twin pillars of American Awkwardity (Parks and Recreation and The Office) will love the multiple cringe-worthy moments. There are some great lines – when Jez tries to tell some college girls that he’s in a band, they say “You don’t merely play maracas like Bez, right?”, which makes us 24 Hour Party People obsessives laugh even harder. Another great line from Jeremy: “So finally justice is served. Well, not actual justice, just what I wanted. Which is basically the same thing.” Then there’s the clubbing and bowling episode. Just trust me.

After a few 6-episode seasons, I’ve become quite the fan of Super Hans, the “El Dude Brothers”, Big Suze, Johnson, and the whole gang. I used to hate the Harvey Danger song “Flagpole Sitta” until I saw the shows’ intro in Season 2. The images, and that chorus, it makes Peep Show feel like an event – even if you are watching it at home, alone, at 4 AM, eating cereal.

Party Down (Starz, 2008 – present). Starz has impressed me with this comedy about a Hollywood catering business, produced by Rob Thomas of Veronica Mars. Jane Lynch, the Gleeful star of Christopher Guest’s films, joins Martin Starr and a great ensemble cast in another monument to the lingering awkward occurrence. A David Brent-type boss dreams of taking his profits and purchasing a Soup R Crackers, the “fastest growing soup-based franchise in southern California.” Due to its locale, there are lots of cameos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm-level misunderstandings. And people drink. A lot.

The show works because of the crazy clients that employ Party Down Catering. Whether its a spoiled rich girl’s Sweet Sixteen, a fraudulent investor, or an over-zealous cadre of campus politicos, the crew never fails to fail – hilariously.

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