I became a shut-in over the Christmas holidays. Most of my vacation was spent in the comfortable isolation of my own home.
1. The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is a British comedy focusing on two computer nerds and their technologically illiterate relationship manager who work in the IT department of Reynholm Industries. Very little IT work ever seems to get done, however. Our main characters are always getting involved in all kinds of wacky hijinks and absurd situations, from accidentally aiding a bank robbery to volunteering to be eaten by a German cannibal.
The show manages to detach itself from reality just enough without being too over-the-top to the point of being entirely unbelievable. Think of something like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, except less yelling. For a British comedy, its form of humor is very accessible to all kinds of tastes. It’s got clever lines, hilarious banter, wacky slapstick, prominent visual humor, completely far-out plots, and awkward moments. It can be clever, but also crude. It also has some “British humor” trappings including using repetition as a joke (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”). There’s also quite a bit of nerd humor to catch without it alienating less savvy viewers.
There are truly brilliant moments, like the two IT nerds convincing their boss that the internet is a small box with a blinking light, or attending a gay musical called Gay. It even manages to make Rohypnol funny.
Take the absurd and shocking situations from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and coat it in the nerdy humor and references of Big Bang Theory. Add a British accent, and you more or less have The IT Crowd.
2. The Inbetweeners
To prove I’m not biased in favor of British comedy, I’d like to move on to a series I didn’t like so much.
The Inbetweeners is about a group of high-school social misfits struggling to gain popularity and lose their virginity. Sound familiar? Of course it does. You don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times this exact same premise has been used over and over and over and over.
It’s not a terrible formula if you can at least bring some original ideas. However, the show repeats situations you’ve seen time and time again: The guys try to impress girls with fake IDs, one guy hooks up with the popular girl only to get his heart broken, the guys go to a dance in an effort to get laid, the guys attempt to pick up girls in an ugly little car.…
It’s yet another awkward-teen-coming-of-age comedy. My advice is to just watch Freaks and Geeks again and imagine they have British accents. Done.
3. Z Nation
Yet another show about zombies. I watched one episode, and it wasn’t the worst, but I doubt I’ll be getting any further into the series.
The show takes place three years after a zombie outbreak, barely any humans are left alive, and our protagonists must make their way to humanity’s last chance at salvation while surviving through unforgiving odds and also managing group relationships…blah blah blah blah blah.
The black guy from LOST was a serviceable protagonist until, spoiler alert, he’s the first to go (unless you’re counting characters who had no more than one speaking line). There’s also the dude from The New Guy. Otherwise, the cast just feels weak.
It’s a bit too close to The Walking Dead, but in all the wrong ways. It also tries way too hard to push its “I give you mercy” slogan. Drink every time someone mentions “mercy” in the first episode and you should at least have a good buzz going.
Maybe it gets better, but I’m not grabbed. For now, I give this show mercy.
4. BoJack Horseman
BoJack Horseman is a cartoon comedy which I’m fairly sure is at least loosely based on the life of Bob Saget.
In the world depicted in this show, humans and anthropomorphic animals co-exist as equals. Bojack is a man-like horse who used to be the star of a popular 90s sitcom. Emotionally dead and past his prime, he lives in his big home alone with no one else except his burnout friend.
The premise sounds awfully depressing, yet that’s wherein the comedy lies. BoJack is a barely functioning, bitter alcoholic whose abrasive nature gets him into massive trouble, from calling the troops jerks to going on a drug-induced bender.
It’s a show that grows on you if you give it time. I did not find it as immediately grabbing as other shows such as Archer. There’s more emphasis on character development rather than shock value. It also has a lot more heart. Will Arnett and Aaron Paul do great voice acting and give their characters great personality.
If you’re just going to watch one episode of BoJack Horseman, make it “Downer Ending.” It is the trip-out episode to end all trip-out episodes. Hmm…I’d better read over these reviews to make sure I didn’t just write a bunch of Doctor Who fanfic erotica.
5. Mike Tyson Mysteries
This has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever watched, and I absolutely love it.
Each episode of this Scooby Doo-looking cartoon is only roughly 10 minutes long, and I wish they were longer. Mike Tyson voice-acts as himself in a show that pokes fun at his own stupidity.
It’s completely inane nonsense. What else do you expect from a cartoon about Mike Tyson solving mysteries with a talking pigeon (called Pigeon) and a homosexual ghost?
It certainly won’t appeal to everybody. Most of the humor is so random that it makes Family Guy seem organized (except, unlike Family Guy, this show’s funny). It’s impossible to do this show justice by simply picking out examples of jokes, like Mike Tyson repeatedly mispronouncing “Chupacabra” or Pigeon convincing him to destroy a chess-playing robot by telling him it’s a time machine containing Adolf Hitler. You have to watch an episode to really get why those things are funny.
Norm Macdonald is especially great as Pigeon, and hearing Mike Tyson stumble his way through his lines is a joy. The self-deprecating humor is great.
Now, if you don’t mind, I have to go to the moon to solve the mystery of why I keep killing astronauts…or astronomers. Trust me, it’s funny if you watch the show.