I know, when did Kaedrin become Buzzfeed, right? But for reals, one of the reasons I’m so behind on 2013 movies is that I’ve spent a portion of the year slowly making my way through this “Golden Age of Television” everyone keeps talking about. There’s certainly a lot to get through and I suppose I could do a list of the best TV shows I’ve watched or something, but do you really need someone else haranguing you to watch Breaking Bad? Nope!1 So here are three television comedies that are moderately to deeply obscure. And canceled. But that just makes them manageable to watch, and all three went out on the top of their game (insert lament for latter season Simpsons here). So here goes:
- Better Off Ted – Single father Ted attempts to balance his ethics with his job as head of research at a soulless conglomerate. So two things to note here. This show is: 1. Funnier than it sounds and 2. Probably shouldn’t have been released right after the financial crisis in 20082. Like a surprising number of sitcoms, the titular character, who is ostensibly our protagonist, is also the most boring character. Fortunately, he’s surrounded by absolute gold, especially Portia de Rossi as the fearsome executive and the tag team of Malcolm Barrett and Jonathan Slavin as a pair of research scientists. Brilliant and funny performances all around. It’s two relatively short seasons, but it’s mostly gold. Also: this is the only show in this post available on Netflix Instant, and it’s well worth your time.
- Happy Endings – There’s not a whole lot to describe here – it’s a hangout sitcom that revolves around a group of 6 friends. They hang out a lot and get into wacky hijinks. I was not really aware of this show until I heard about it from a canon submission on the Extra Hot Great podcast3 and those Previously.tv folks noted that VH1 secured rights to syndication and would be doing a marathon on New Years Day. I would say that my DVR is still full of episodes, but I’ve watched an embarrassing number over the past week or so. The cast is fantastic, with special notice going to Elisha Cuthbert, who shows a previously unseen comedic talent here4, Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr. as the poster children for married couples on sitcoms, and everyone else is a great too. The jokes (which are actually very funny, which I shouldn’t need to say, but given the way a lot of sitcoms are these days, actually does need to be said) come at a steady pace, the show rarely bogs down into “special moments” the way some sitcoms try to, and it’s got a perfect balance of elastic reality going for it. Ridiculous things happen from time to time, but the show remains grounded and even pokes fun at itself from time to time (reiterate lament for latter season Simpsons here). It’s not on Netflix streaming, but you can purchase it from the usual suspects (and it’s being aired on VH1, if you want to DVR it and watch slowly, but as someone who mainlined episodes this past week, I will say that it certainly holds up to such a viewing experience).
- Lucy: The Daughter of the Devil – This is one of those Adult Swim 15 minute timeslot jobbies, so the one season of 11 episodes would probably only take you a couple of hours to watch, tops. It’s the totally sacrilegious story of Lucy, the 21 year old Antichrist and daughter of the Devil. She works at the Devil’s restaurant chain (one of Satan’s many hilarious attempts to bring about the apocalypse). DJ Jesus shows up from time to time, as well as a couple priests and a nun who are trying to destroy the Antichrist, but are constantly sidetracked. H. Jon Benjamin plays the Devil, and he’s a hilarious character. He wears Cosby sweaters and devises the most obtuse ways to bring about the end of the world, which he then manages to sabotage himself because he’s the Devil and not terribly good at this whole thing. This is one of those shows that I should be offended by, but something about it just tickles me silly. Unfortunately viewing options are somewhat limited. I believe it’s on iTunes, but not Netflix or Amazon.
So there you have it. Happy watching.
1 – For the record, I did end up loving Breaking Bad, though I will tell you that I found most of the first two seasons to be a slog. It certainly picked up steam after that though, and they tend to be relatively short seasons (the first season is only 6 or 7 episodes, I believe).
2 – Talk about your bad luck in timing, though it’s nothing compared to Buffalo Soldiers!
3 – Incidentally, I also heard about Better Off Ted from EHG (back before the previously.tv days). They’re good people, and if you like TV, this is a podcast worth checking out. I have to admit that part of my newfound respect for television is thanks to their podcast…