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June 23, 2010

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Ben Owen

Thanks so much for bringing this before my eyes. I love the AV Club but rarely read their TV stuff. Clearly a mistake. This show is weird gold. I'm not sure if I'd actually be able to watch through the preceding seasons to get to the batshit freakout, but if you do, 99, please report back. It seems like something strange on the level of the Neon Genesis Evangelion finale.

99

Ben, you've stumped even me...Neon Genesis Evangelion?

And, yes, I will likely take the bullet for you guys. Because I care that much.

Ben Owen

I appreciate your dedication.

And Neon Genesis Evangelion... well you can and probably should read read the story on Wikipedia or the like (and then get the show out on Netflix), but to summarize: it was a wildly popular anime series from the 90s, the final two episodes of which were bizarre, semi-coherent blocks of weirdness. I cannot do justice to how odd they were, and how drastically they differed from the preceding episodes, which were a dark and paranoid, but in formal terms were a standard narrative, a sci-fi drama about kids who controlled giant robots. The final episodes were only narrative in a much looser sense, and brought in all sorts of avant garde bits--they used recycled art from earlier episodes, and abstract shapes, and existentially questioning voiceovers, and at a certain point there was a re-imagining of the premise of the show as a high school comedy. I can't really say what it would be like--imagine tuning in for the final episode of LOST and finding that it was modeled after the final sequence of 2001. Something like that. A lot of people were very angry about those episodes, to the point where they later made movies that redid the ending in a manner more in line with the rest of the show. But a bunch of people, including me, regard them as the very best kind of television.

cgeye

Dude, a three-word explanation: DVD Box Set.

It's like a season-long Easter egg, a grasp toward a post-show cultural longevity. If we were a more subsidized media culture, this would happen more often in the US -- it sounds like something the BBC would back, innit?

Anne Moore

I, too, am an AV Club devotee, especially their TV coverage. I read this coverage of 'Til Death with the same level of excitement--although I will say renting them all doesn't hold the same appeal to me as just running across a rerun late at night on syndication (in much the same manner in which I used to watch shows like "It's a Living" or "Forever Knight"). Because as tripped out as that clip was, it wasn't funny, exactly. Do you know what I mean? I feel like watching that show might be a pleasure that can only be appreciated by accident, not design.

But don't get me wrong, I think *you* should watch it, and then tell us about it :)

99

That's what's weird about it: it's not exactly funny. Not by a long shot...but it is kind of fascinating. I love the idea of all of these people working on a show that they know is reviled and unwatched, so they can kind of do anything...except make it any better.

I got through about 2 minutes of the season three clip they posted as well and it's the same kind of thing: it's almost anti-humor. No one is really saying anything funny or doing anything funny, but they're acting as though they are and the laugh track says they are, so you get a cognitive dissonance headache.

Lord help the channel that actually picks this up in syndication. Even as 3 a.m. filler between infomercials. Why do I suspect that network might be TBS, though?

Ben Owen

I agree with the striking not-funniness of the Mayim Bialik clip, and the really uncomfortable anti-funniness of the season 3 clip. I don't think I could watch much more of the latter--it's too uncomfortable. But I could probably watch more of the former, ideally in the kind of setting Anne describes, on late night syndication (perhaps on TBS, after I'm done watching three episodes of Supernatural). That would remind me of the glory days of my late night TV watching, when I treasured things which were not necessarily funny but were defiantly odd, like that episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast that's principally nine minutes of static, or the heavily-edited Z grade softcore on USA Up All Night, or that hits of the 60s infommercial featuring Davy Jones, or the Australian parody of 70s cop shows Funky Squad.

99

Late night television has become a bleak wasteland of Seinfeld and Frasier these days. The best you can hope for is a bad action movie on FX or Spike or maybe an odd Caroline in the City or something. I often resort to whichever flavor of CSI is available.

Did you ever watch Wonder Showzen? That was some trippy, trippy shit, man.

Ben Owen

Never saw Wonder Showzen, but I will give it a look some time. Ditto Tim and Eric's. For a while in the early to mid aughts I watched a bunch of Adult Swim, and gradually the weirdness began to seem routine. But it's perhaps now time to dive back in.

And there was one summer where I watched A LOT of Caroline and the City on British Satellite TV--the Paramount channel, I believe--at about 2:30 every morning. I remember nothing of it.

99

You're one of the lucky ones. I've only watched a little, but it's etched in my memory with acid. Bad comedy acid.

Wonder Showzen is a good time, but can be a hard watch. One episode, at the halfway mark, they started playing the entire episode backwards. I've never done acid, but I'm reasonably sure that the experience wouldn't be much different.

The big thing about Wonder Showzen, though, was its use of kid actors. It was one of those shows that skirted remarkably close to watching child abuse.

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