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DID YOU READ

The New Year Begins With a Less Than Stellar Start

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Happy New Year!

Today is the first day many Americans are returning to work from their holiday breaks. 2008 is over and 2009 is on. Blogs will get back to business as normal, and the search for the 10 best albums of the year begins all over again.

So here’s my question for the first cerebral day of 2009–with so much promise in the upcoming year and so much to celebrate from the previous one (though it did have its share of crappy moments), why does the start of a new year always suck?

(left: Don’t judge a year by how it starts…or finishes.)

Being the king of all letdowns–New Year’s Eve that is–I’ve lowered my expectations and have learned to not expect much during the final hours of any given year. I’ve tried to enjoy New Year’s Eve, but no matter how I fandangle it, I never come out a winner. I’ve been to parties, thrown parties, seen live music, paid really high cover charges to get inside a dance club that was so packed you could barely lift your arms to remove your coat (let alone bust a move on the dance floor), and even did the Times Square thing. None of them ever lived up to the hype.

Because I don’t enjoy starting a new slate of twelve months on the wrong foot, I now spend my New Year’s Eve in front of the television set with a few select family members, eating left over holiday food. It may not sound like a bunch of a fun, but it always lives up to its low expectations.

New Year’s Eve television is usually pretty underwhelming, but this year I found it to be more so than ever. It began with a Rocky marathon on Versus concluding with the crappiest sequel of the entire franchise, Rocky V. Want to be letdown on New Year’s Eve? How about Rocky Balboa discovering that he has irreversible brain damage, ending his legendary boxing career.

Right after Rocky lost his Philadelphia mansion, I began flipping between the various network and cable countdown shows. MTV centered their night around Miley Cyrus and featured a handful of power-pop bands I couldn’t even name. Two minutes was more than enough for me, so up next was MTV-alum, Carson Daily. He had about as much charisma as the dried-up Christmas tree in the corner of my brother’s house. It seemed like the letdown of New Year’s Eve got to him a couple hours early.

Click.

Ryan Seacrest delivered the I’m-going-to-fill-the-shoes-of-Dick-Clark-whether-you-like-it-or-not routine and FOX showcased the long-past-his-prime, Robbie Knievel, jumping over a (man-made) volcano in Las Vegas. FOX was apparently so desperate for viewers that they even featured four different computer animated scenarios detailing how Knievel would die a fiery death if he didn’t land his jump perfectly.

The music performances weren’t much better. It was great seeing the Ting Tings on network television, but awkward explaining to a living room of non-Ting Tings fans how a band consisting of only a drummer and guitar player could also produce a mysterious bass loop (I felt their pain, if I’m hearing a bass, I wanna see where it’s coming from too). The Jonas Brothers were horrible, and T.I. performed with full-on a band, making me wonder why hip-hop groups never bring their turntables on network television?

When midnight neared, we curiously turned back to Seacrest’s party to see if Dick Clark would make his annual appearance. He did. Half of the room thought it was touching, the other half thought it was silly that he just doesn’t retire.

As he’s done since his stroke (and though he can’t help it), Clark slurred the last ten seconds of his countdown making everyone in the room wonder when exactly the New Year began. At midnight my wife and I folded laundry, my brother and his wife washed dishes, and we all watched Knievel successfully jump his motorcycle over a fake volcano.

Happy freakin’ New Year!

(Trust me, 2009 will get better.)

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.