Last week NBC did something awful. Truly the most heinous act committed in television history. They cancelled Community. Okay that’s a bit over the top but honestly I was pretty sad to hear it was cancelled; more than most TV cancellations. It was an amazing show whose worst season was still better than most shows on network TV today. But I’m not here to mourn the loss of Community. No I am here to praise others. To let you know that despite NBC’s idiocy there is great comedy out there. Comedy that, like Community, deserves your love and attention. So let’s took a look at 5 shows that can hopefully fill that Greendale shaped hole in your heart. Or at the very least show you some shows that are totally fat dog (totally not made up).
It’s easy to dismiss The Goldbergs at first glance. A Wonder Years-esque show set in the 80’s is easy to overlook. But after the first couple of episodes The Goldbergs really found its groove as a show. While funny people like Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey are great it’s really the kids who carry the show. Who would have thought that the bratty kid from Pineapple Express could have the greatest run ever? While it can sometimes rely too much on the whole “Look! It’s the 80’s!” gimmick it has managed to find that sweet spot where sweetness and hilarity that makes The Goldbergs worth visiting every week.
Comedy Bang! Bang!
Starting in 2009 as a radio show Comedy Bang Bang! (then Comedy Death-Ray) has become not only one of the best comedy podcasts going today but also one of the funniest shows on TV. An adaption of the podcast it’s a weekly talk show where we not only learn about how the Cake Boss gained the second sight but also how you balance work and family. Spanning all corners of comedy what makes it work, for me anyway, is how fun the set feels. Every gag, whether it hits or misses, has a playfulness to it that can sometimes be lacking in TV comedy today. It also helps that the celebrity guests are more than willing to get in on it. Where else are you going to see an orphan threaten to stab Bill Hader? Entering its third season on IFC and two seasons on Netflix Comedy Bang! Bang! is definitely worth checking out.
Speaking of Comedy Bang! Bang! I had first heard the creators of this show on the podcast as Marissa Wompler and Miss Listler. Two years and a prematurely cancelled NBC show later Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham are back with Playing House. It’s the story of Emma (St. Clair) coming back to her home town to help her best friend Maggie (Parham) with her pregnancy after her husband is caught having an affair online. In a year lacking a lot of good new shows this midseason show on USA really sticks out. Mostly due to the stars/creators St. Clair and Parham. The best friends have amazing chemistry and are great playing off each other. The show isn’t solely dependent on them though. We also have an amazing supporting cast including Keegan-Michael Key, Zach Woods and Jane Kaczmarek. While we’re still early in the show’s run it has been a fun ride so far.
The Birthday Boys
Recently to fill a time slot after Parks and Rec ended their season NBC had a special featuring their digital shorts. What struck me was how safe SNL has gotten. For every Sad Mouse or exploding whale we have dozens of Lonely Island knock offs or game show parodies. As much as I can like SNL it really feels formulaic right now. Luckily IFC have The Birthday Boys. Produced by Bob Odenkirk The Birthday Boys the kind of sketch comedy SNL used to be. Just going out there and doing something weird and cool and different from other comedies on TV. They’ve only had one season and we’ve already had the makers of Tab, goofy roofers and the most heart breaking birthday alien you’ve ever seen. It’s weird and different and the perfect alternative to the generic comedies on network TV today.
Review with Forrest MacNeil
While listed last it certainly isn’t the least. In a pretty good pilot season Review has come out as my favorite new show this year. Based on the Australian Review with Myles Barlow we follow Forrest MacNeil, the star of Review which is a POV/mockumentary style television show. But he doesn’t review food or movies. No he reviews something more important, life. Whether it’s eating 15 pancakes, being a racist or eating 30 pancakes he will review it and tell you how it is. That isn’t the story of the show though. No the real story is Forrest’s dedication to the job. How deep he will get into his requests and how it affects his life. Hint it doesn’t go very well. Andy Daly, of Mad TV and Eastbound & Down, is absolutely perfect as the mild mannered MacNeil. He is able to play the chipper and happy host with insanity waiting to come out beautifully. Helping Daly is a crew of writers who have written for Late Night with Conan, Comedy Bang Bang, The Onion and Jon Benjamin Has a Van. They have this amazing ability to make the most absurd and heartbreaking stuff hilarious. One second you’ll be laughing at Forrest’s eagerness to quit a job the next your heart will be broken as he berates an old man against his will. While the season has just ended I believe it is on Hulu and I urge you to watch it. If for no other reason to see a man do the impossible and eat 45 pancakes.