We here at the Biblioklept are not above watching TV–in fact, TV is one of our favorite distractions from getting our assigned reading done. What follows is an incomplete list of some of our favorite TV shows that are no longer on air. Some were canceled too early, others probably benefited from getting off the air when they did. All were fantastic.
In no particular order:
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2001, the Warner Brothers network (“the WB”); 2001-2003, UPN)
My dad and brother turned me on to this show. Their initial attraction had to do with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s provocative attire. For my taste, Buffy (the show) had just the right balance of pop culture savvy and teen-drama kitsch. The show got particularly good when the Scoobies (Buffy’s crew’s nickname for themselves) went to college. Speaking of college, academia in the early oughties responded to the show with a field of cultural studies sometimes referred to as “Buffy studies.” So there.
A few scenes from “Once More, with Feeling” (in this episode, the Scoobies are put under a spell where they communicate by singing Broadway musical style).
Buffy creator/mastermind Joss Whedon directed the “Business School” episode of The Office a few months ago, which was very funny. The Office is really funny, but NBC should wrap it up next year before it starts to totally suck. While I’m voicing unsupported opinions, let me also go ahead and aver that the US version of The Office is superior to the British one (no knock on Gervais).
2. TV Funhouse (2000-2001, Comedy Central)
When will TV Funhouse get a DVD release? It amazes me that all the seasons of Air Wolf got collected on DVD, but this manic treasure remains uncollected. But I digress before I begin.
Robert Smigel’s Saturday Night Live shorts are funny in their own right, but the eight episodes he made of TV Funhouse are literally breathtakingly funny. I had a small but debilitating stroke due to a lack of oxygen resulting from laughing so much at the Anipal’s mischievous antics. The show featured plenty of cartoon shorts, like the ones you can still see on SNL, and those were pretty funny, but the best bits of TVF involved the adventures of the Anipals, a gang made of puppets and real animals. The best episode was a two-parter where the Anipals went to Atlantic City, where they met Robert Goulet and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Hilarity ensues. Not for children.
Check out “Fetal Scooby-Doo” (because I couldn’t find the Anipals).
3. Wonder Showzen ( MTV 2005-2006)
“Chinese Girl Baby Atlantis”
Again, not for children. Wonder Showzen kind of upped the ante for what you could do with kids on TV. This show features some of the darkest, nastiest satire on consumer culture I can think of. The final episode of the first season is almost an art prank. Entitled “Patience,” it truly, truly tests the audience patience, occurring in three acts: the first slowed down to incomprehensible goo, the second at a normal pace, and the third sped up.
Or better yet,watch a whole episode–check out “Cooperation” from the second season, (yes that is John Oates, Devendra Banhart, Rick Springfield, and Corin Tucker singing “War Doesn’t Solve Anything”)
Later this week: Part II, in which we look at some of Judd Apatow’s beautiful flops and speculate that it was probably a good thing Arrested Development was canceled after three short seasons.