Jeffrey Malone’s 50 Favorite TV Shows of All Time

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You can learn a lot about people from their favorite television programs. TV viewing involves spending a lot of time with fictional characters and more or less forming relationships with them. Who we choose to spend our time with says a lot about our own personalities. With that in mind, here are the current standings for my 50 favorite shows of all time.

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Best Episode of the Season: Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 3

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Josh Groban & Scott Aukerman-Comedy Bang! Bang! Photo Credit:Chris Ragazzo/IFC ©2014

Josh Groban & Scott Aukerman-Comedy Bang! Bang! Photo Credit:Chris Ragazzo/IFC ©2014

“Josh Groban Wears a Suit and Striped Socks”
Scott gets conked on the head and quantum leaps into the 60’s into the body of Sullivan Hunchy, CB!B!’s version of Ed Sullivan. While he works to give Jimick Wattersmith (Reggie’s dad) a shot at the big time, the show must go on! Josh Groban stops by and proves to have an affable presence perfectly suited for Bang-in’. Josh Fadem absolutely nails the role of plate-spinning hypnotist, and CB!B! producer Neil Campbell even gets some screen time as Charlie Mills (think about it).

McLuhan’s Commonsensical Maxim Applied to Nonsensical Media

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This essay was originally written as my final paper for my Media Theory class, taught by Barry Salmon, in Fall 2013 at The New School.

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If the “medium is the message,” then what happens if the medium is the medium itself, or the anti-medium? The past few years have seen the rise of the “anti-talk show” in the alternative comedy scene, as typified by the podcast-turned-IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang!, local New York public-access cult sensation The Chris Gethard Show, the Funny or Die webseries Between Two Ferns, and Adult Swim’s The Eric André Show. These shows all consider the artifice and tropes of comedy talk shows and then ignore, analyze, trash, invert, and/or subvert them. Marshall McLuhan’s classic text is presented as a common sense formulation of how to consider any medium: “the personal and social consequences” are a result of the new “extension of ourselves” (129). So how then do we apply this commonsensical approach to a genre that is purposely nonsensical? McLuhan would surely be pleased by this trend of a genre that is strongly conscious of how the medium is the message, but an analysis of how these shows deconstruct their particular medium and genre is sure to melt your brain.

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Best Episode of the Season: Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 2

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Season Analysis: Season 2 of Comedy Bang! Bang! reached the heights of 2013 television as its absurd brand of deconstruction made it one of the best shows about putting on a show of all time.

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“Gillian Jacobs Wears a Red Dress with Sail Boats”
In playing around with the conventions of talk-based television, Comedy Bang! Bang! understands that effectiveness is achieved by specificity.  The ubiquity of Chris Hardwick hosting live recap shows is ridiculous, and it would be even more ridiculous if one of those recap shows were recapping a talk show (parody or regular).  Thus, the Comedy Talk! Talk! segment is spot-on and filled with crazy details (one of Hardwick’s guests will be Jacoby from the band Papa Roach, the winner of a Twitter-based contest will receive a “bucket of backyard bourbon burgers”).  It is not too of-the-moment, because it must be of-the-moment to effectively skewer the state of television.  “GJWaRDwSB” also gets a lot of mileage out of its parody flashback/flash-forward structure, going so far as stretching the gag out to a future beyond episode’s end, as “It Was Onions” (the in-universe name of the episode) completes the EGOT, with Adam Scott himself presenting the Tony, and then taking the flash-forward to the past, as time travelers head to the prehistoric era to present this episode for caveman Reggie Watts’ viewing pleasure.  There really is no opportunity to catch your breath with all the structure-breaking of this episode, as also exemplified by the “clip” from Gillian Jacobs’ “new movie,” which seems to be taking place backstage during this episode.  Finally, “GJWaRDwSB” is chock full of great performances, particularly from Jason Mantzoukas as vampire chef Emeril Luigi (actually Lugosi), who isn’t particularly monstrous or even a jerk.  He’s just professional and annoyed that Scott isn’t; you may think that, as a vampire, he would want your meats to be bloody, but he’s more concerned about cooking food properly, so as to avoid watery shits.

Best Episode of the Season: Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 1

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Season Analysis: Scott Aukerman has a great rapport with Reggie Watts, and a great rapport with all of his funny friends.  There are several funny segments that I assume were brought over from the podcast.  But sometimes it all gets a bit silly.

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“Elizabeth Banks Wears A Red Dress”
The most important part of comedy is the element of surprise.  So for a show as ironic and absurd as Comedy Bang! Bang!, it’s hard to continually produce good comedy when surprise is always expected.  So it was nice to have a guest like Elizabeth Banks, who more or less acted as herself instead of trying to match Scott Aukerman as he played “Scott Aukerman.”  But the real reason this wins as best episode is David Wain, who appears as television critic Gordon “The Hatchet” Thatchet.”  Wain operates on a different comedy plane than everyone else in the room (always a formula for success), as he constantly assigns star ratings to every moment of the show and tells Scott, “You’re no Johnny Carson, honey.”