Saturday, 11 July 2015

We Need More Weird Shows, Even If They’re Not That Great

ICF's oddball Spoils of Babylon didn't seem particularly ripe for a sequel when it aired last year, but here we are: The Spoils Before Dying, a six-episode miniseries, finishes up tonight. It's overwhelmingly ridiculous, but joyfully so. I would have called it the strangest comedy of the week by a long shot — until I saw 7 Days in Hell, HBO's tennis mockumentary starring Andy Samberg. Now that's a weird comedy. Both, in fact, are very odd, reveling in hyperspecific nonsense, style parodies, appearances by Michael Sheen and a variety of SNL alumni, and a sense that these projects are probably funnier in idea than in execution. What's the polite term for "vanity project"? Spoils Before Dying is about a jazz musician (Michael Kenneth Williams), his boozy paramour (Kristin Wiig), and his ghost ex (Maya Rudolph). Explaining the plot overemphasizes its significance; mostly it's a lot of silly names and loopy characters. Hell is a faux documentary about a seven-day tennis match between a washed-up Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg, the white adopted brother of the Williams sisters), and a British dope (Kit Harington). Think 30 for 30, but more about its bizarre asides than its subject. Both programs have their virtues, and plenty of very funny pieces, but I'm guessing both were more enjoyable to make than they are to watch. And yet there's something endearing about both endeavors. Maybe it's their willingness to take premises far, far past logical extremes — how exactly did we get from tennis to a computer-animated news reenactment of Samberg's naked character running from a Swedish prison, with a four-READ MORE -

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