This week's links are all to video clips, due in part to my breaking some other material out for later posts.
First up is a celebration of the news that Community returns to NBC this coming Thursday, March 15th. I'd call it one of the most intelligent sitcoms ever made even if that bar wasn't so incredibly low.
Its return from hiatus is being celebrated with a 3-part animated Web exclusive titled "Abed's Master Key". Part One, Part Two, and Part Three — each just a couple of minutes long, and the last with a reference to cast member and The Descendants co-screenwriter Jim Rash's 2012 Oscars moment — are online via both NBC's and Hulu's Community pages, but I've linked to Hulu since they're currently ad-free there.
While they certainly whet the appetite for the real thing, I found the "Community Returns!" trailer funnier. That's likely in part because the show is so good at subverting conventions of its medium; when other series cop this kind of style for gravitas or parody, it's a break from business as usual, whereas creator Dan Harmon and friends almost never aren't reminding us that we're watching a television show (whether or not we're doing so via television...) yet still forging emotional bonds between the characters.
You don't need to be consciously aware of how it plays with form and genre to enjoy Community, however. And if you're coming late to the game, you can watch the last five episodes to air on Hulu and with Hulu Plus dig into all three seasons of the series to date.
My hopes last week, never very strong, that Lindsay Lohan's latest hosting gig on Saturday Night Live would live up to its promo spots was dashed with a pretty lackluster entry in the SNL canon.
The bright spot of the episode was the filmed sketch The Real Housewives of Disney — placing the Disney princesses in a takeoff of Bravo's reality franchise. It didn't quite sustain the premise, but based on the behind-the-scenes/outtakes video on NBC's SNL site the ladies had fun making it. Were it not for the joke being pushed too far, Jason Sudeikis in the commercial spoof asking "Don't you love the music of the '70s?" would be 35 seconds of unadulterated genius, but its perfection was marred by reneging on the understatement at the end and then returning with a follow-up spot in short order.
At least this week's episode, hosted by Jonah Hill, had a top-notch appearance from Stefon on Weekend Update. "New York's hottest club is... Kevin?!?" might be one of the funniest things I've ever seen and the entire thing is just laugh-out-loud hilarious (even for Bill Hader himself). Hill was at his best in a couple of raunchy skits, playing a hyperverbal six-year-old and a scientist who taught an ape to speak, that were notable for neither being topical nor featuring the overexposed Kristen Wiig.
Once upon a time I'd watch Ellen just about daily, if not exactly in full. I haven't seen it at all in a few years now, though, which has nothing to do with no longer enjoying Ellen DeGeneres's friendly-sassy take on a daytime talk/variety show and everything to do with emerging from the financially forced pseudo-Luddite era during which I didn't have cable or an Internet connection; online communication and entertainment fills many hours, especially as I now watch most of my television that way by necessity, while a certain late-night Comedy Central tandem beats out Ellen on my TV-viewing platter. Anyway, I'm still alerted now and then to a choice clip, and Kristen Bell's visit from January discussing her long-awaited encounter with a sloth certainly qualifies.
Bell earned a permanent place in my heart for her terrific work on the terrific UPN/CW series Veronica Mars, but I've enjoyed seeing her since in films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and as herself on the likes of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (more recently excised from my TV habit for time). The fact that she was willing in the above-linked visit to not only share the anecdote she does but supply video evidence speaks volumes, as does the fact that she must surely be enjoying the Auto-Tuned version done up by The Gregory Brothers of Auto-Tune the News fame.
Images © 2012 their respective rights holders.