June 26, 2005
Men Who Tableaux
I highly recommend Comedy Central's new series Stella which premieres this Tuesday night at 10:30. The brainchild of Michael Ian Black, David Wain and Michael Showalter (formerly of The State), Stella, thankfully, is not another sketch show -- rather it's format is more like the cartoons and Three Stooges one-reelers of yesteryear. Back in the day, it was no problem to see characters you knew acting in a completely different situation with each film. ("Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard"...wait, weren't they plumbers the last time we saw them?!? Okay. No problem. As long as they still hit each other.) John Kricfalusi once told me how a Nickelodeon executive almost killed the classic Ren & Stimpy episode "Space Madness" because the exec couldn't understand how the dog and cat could live in a trailer in one episode and suddenly be space cadets flying around in a rocket ship the following week. He...couldn't...under...stand. He's probably since failed upwards to an SVP position somewhere.
Judging by the pilot for Stella, the former Nick guy does not appear to be running things at Comedy Central. The show I saw wonderfully made zero sense and felt very much like a human version of an old Ren & Stimpy cartoon, taking it's sweet time with preposterous gags and seemingly made with no audience in mind except for Michael Ian Black, David Wain, Michael Showalter and their (talented) friends (my favorite kind of self-indulgence). Some of the gags miss but there are plenty of hits (the tableau scene above was a personal fave). Black, Wain and Showalter have promised that their three characters will be in completely different situations each week, just like the Stooges and The Marx Brothers. I hope they make good on that promise. I remember back in the '80s telling anyone who would listen that this is exactly what Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis should do instead of making Ghostbusters 2. Obviously, no one listened and we ended up with another dreadful, uninspired sequel. If only I had had this blog back then...