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Surprise! Senate hearings rarely make for good TV (or movies).

Surprise! Senate hearings rarely make for good TV (or movies). (photo)

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The problem with the Elena Kagan hearings are that they’re boring as hell. Almost, anyway, as Orrin Hatch discovered yesterday when — during a moment of reproof from Pat Leahy — he responded “We have to have a back and forth every once in a while otherwise this place would be boring as Hell. And by the way, I’ve been informed that Hell is not boring.”

It would have to be more interesting than the perpetual stalemate of the hearings, whose moments of comedy were wan, to say the least, with the inexplicable exception of Senator Amy Klobuchar sharing her thoughts on “Twilight: Eclipse”:

Oh, for the glory days of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, a peril-fraught three-day ordeal begging for a dramatic re-enactment. The complete transcripts combine giggle-inducing sexual testimony with sheer ’30s drama corn from Thomas supporter J.C. Alvarez, who announced “I have seen an innocent man being mugged in broad daylight, and I have not looked the other way. This John Q. Public came here and got involved.”

06302010_ironman2.jpgAnd yet most hearings are — Orrin Hatch or no — “boring as Hell,” which is why they don’t get much screen time. As AV Club commenter emeritus ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER noted in his disappointed appraisal of “Iron Man 2,” “potential ownage” was deferred “WHEN ROBERT DOWNEY JR SHOWS UP FOR SENATE HEARINGS THAT ARE BORING AS FUCK AND GO ON FOREVER.”

And those were some of the more entertaining ones, no less, thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s capacity for inspired riffage out of nowhere.

The best depiction of a senate hearing is in Otto Preminger’s 1962 “Advise and Consent,” with its level-headed, ahead-of-its-time depiction of the mechanics of Washington process. There was also “The Contender,” whose plotline greatly upped the sexual risque-ness factor.

06302010_point.jpgThese, though, are fictional hearings. There’s only one set of real hearings I’m aware of that provided top-notch drama: Emile de Antonio’s 1964 compilation documentary “Point of Order,” a scathing reduction of the Army-McCarthy hearings, that make the Thomas-Hill affair look like a joke.

Is it fair to lambast pro forma hearings for being boring? Assuredly not. But are they dramatically lacking? Absolutely, even when senators are trying to be sparky. Is there a reason there aren’t more confirmation hearings on screen despite their seemingly inherent potential for drama? Apparently so. Onwards and upwards, Ms. Kagan. In the meantime, here’s a clip of de Antonio talking about how a Beat Generation movie led him to make “Point of Order”:

[Photos: “Twilight: Eclipse,” Summit, 2010; “Iron Man 2,” Paramount, 2010; “Point of Order,” Continental Distributing, 1965]


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.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

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:


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.


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!


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.


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.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.