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.

Arrested-Development-Season-5

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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.

mcluhan

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 of The Chris Gethard Show 2013

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Best Episodes
1. #109 – “The Beef Off 2” – “The Beef Off 2” holds a special place in my heart because it was the first episode that I brought friends along to.  And it was probably the best possible introductory episode, as this celebration of the lathered-up, beefy male form in all its glory had them instantly hooked.  I may be a bit biased here, as my brother is the two-time Beef Off champion, but I am also a fan of bizarre physical contests (as long as all the participants are fully committed to the ridiculousness).  What was up with Hot Dog’s hesitation at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge?  Oh, the mysteries of Andrew Parrish.

2. #112 – “TCGS Half-Hour and Saddle-Bee Neigh-t Hive” – Comedy that makes fun of comedy is one of the best forms of comedy, even if the comedy being made fun of is already pretty funny.  I love SNL, but it can get annoyingly hacky.  Interestingly enough, its transformation into full-hacky mode by TCGS looked good.

3. #99 – “Lookin’ at Dicks in the Dark: A New Low” – This episode also holds a special place in my heart as it was the first one I attended live at MNN.  A celebration about sexual openness and plowing on through technical difficulties – a couple of Gethard hallmarks.

4. #95 – “The Hour Long Song” – The John Coltrane of TCGS episodes, with perhaps the best “it was all a dream” ending in entertainment history.

5. #115 – “Open for Delivery” – If surprise is the most essential element of comedy, then how about a whole night of surprises?  It is all wrapped up with some b-boying, and surprise b-boying is the best form of b-boying.

Best Musical Guests
1. Zs – Described as “post-no wave, death prog” (apparently Zane the music booker was joking, but that is a perfect description), Zs deserved the praise from Gethard having “literally never seen anything like that in [his] entire life.”  A wild, but beautifully contained, free jazz fusion, the music of Zs is impossible not to get affected by.  No surprise that Rob Malone, the World’s Greatest Dancer, was inspired by them unlike anything else in a while.
What did Bananaman think of them? “Spiritual!”

2. Quitzow – Quitzow’s first song was “Cats Are People Too,” and her brand of synthpop is probably what the cat pictures of the Internet would be if they were to turn into a musician.
What did Bananaman think of her? “Equal rights message!”

3. Ceramic Dog – Perhaps the most lyrically thoughtful of TCGS’ 2013 musical lineup, Ceramic Dog provided a headbanger that got you thinking about copyright law, as well as an instrumental piece perfectly tuned for getting you into a groove.
What did Bananaman think of them? “I’ll admit I haven’t heard them before.  They’re amazing, I’m gonna buy all their stuff.”

4. The World/Inferno Friendship Society – Wikipedia genre-izes The World/Inferno Friendship Society as “punk cabaret,” “circus punk,” and “anarcho-punk.”  Indeed, their brand of fancy, fiddling rocking is a carnival of the high and the low.
What did Bananaman think of them? “FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!”

5. Ghost & Goblin – The most elaborate act of 2013, Ghost & Goblin was the first musical guest to die on The Chris Gethard Show.
What did Bananaman think of them? “The shit that Gimghoul will play at their castle, but in a good way.”

6. Crazy & the Brains – The most playfully demanding band of the year, insisting that the audience take a nice nap break in the middle of the song.
What did Bananaman think of them? “The best episode of Saturday Night Live I’m gonna watch!”

The Chris Gethard Show #112 Half-Hour Special Recap/Saddle-bee Neigh-t Hive Recap October 16, 2013: Griffin Newman/The Unlovables

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“I’m a Manson man.”
“Kool-Aid is delicious, I don’t know.”

Mystery Boxes
“All right, don’t be fucking cool about it, man.”
I was in attendance at this episode, and I was really hoping Bethany would cut my hair.  It’s getting a little long, and I’m easy (just a buzz all around), so I’m sure it would have worked out.  Oh well.  This was quite the efficient segment (a statement rarely applied to The Chris Gethard Show), making for a fun, frenetic time. B+

God Is Real And Will Make Us Rich And Also Please Kill Me Right Now, I Beg You! Promo
Any unexpected mention of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a big plus in my book. B+

Scrapbook Sundays Promo
The Writer Who Was Fired From the New Yorker For Being Too Pretentious is one of my favorite TCGS characters, but unfortunately here I found her a little shouty.  But fortunately, the Malcolm Gladwell scrapbook was a delightfully pretentious idea, and the tipping point bit was an excellent turn of phrase, pretentious or no. B+

The Unlovables perform “Today’s the Day”
In general, I’m not a huge fan of pop punk, but when you hit on a solid pop punk anthem, it works out for everybody.

Cold Opening – A Message From the Presidents of the United States
I was worried that this was going to your typical staid political cold open, but then the horse and bee puns were delivered with a glory worthy of the presidency.  Highlights included “the Gallup poll,” “black, white, Kentucky Derby,” and the one-two punch of “honeycomb laude” and “one equestrian on everyone’s mind.” A-

Opening Montage
Daivd Alan Grier was credited but did not appear.

Griffin Newman’s Monologue
The “cast members walk out to the stage and give the host a (fake) hard time” is quite the played-out monologue routine, but you can’t pass it up when gifted with a host with a name like “Griffin” “Newman.” B+

War Ship
Chris was more enamored with the audience than would typically be a good idea for a sketch show, but that girl was sound asleep. B

Beekend Uphorse
-The Jokes: Beekend Uphorse served as the best evidence of the night that Horse and Bee have enough material to do this on a regular basis.  Bee’s highlights included “yellow jack-it” and Buzz Aldrin.  Horse’s highlights included “thorough bread company” and the football medley. A-
-Andrew “Hot Dog” Parrish: I didn’t have a good view of this segment live at the studio, so it was much better re-watching at home, when I could see the tension between Hot Dog and Horse and Bee boiling over. B+

The Unlovables perform “Dance Party for 2 (Your Room, 3 A.M.)”
This wasn’t quite as anthemic as “Today’s the Day,” but it still had us dancing.

For Bee-ter or For Horse
“I really do like you and I think you’re the glue of this show.”
This started as your typical SNL-esque game show parody, but then it took a turn, and it was a twist I should have seen coming, but somehow it caught me by surprise, and it was of course the perfect way to end the episode. B+

Overall
Despite Chris’s constant warnings, the Horse and Bee special was far from a clusterfuck.  In fact, I would have loved to have seen another half hour of Saddlebee Neigh-t Hive.  And indeed, I would have also loved another half hour of Mystery Boxes.  This is easily one of the best episodes of the year.