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What to watch tonight: Will Eisner’s and Frank Miller’s “The Spirit”

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Will Eisner’s dazzlingly dark graphic novel “The Spirit” comes to life in a stunning stylized manner. Directed by Eisner’s comics world colleague, Frank Miller, “The Spirit jumps off the screen to engage the viewer. It’s not a surprise, though, as Miller uses the same green-screen method that brought “Sin City” to life. Miller earned his directorial bona fides when Robert Rodriguez brought him on to co-direct “Sin City,” which was based on Miller’s graphic novel. Miller put his “Sin City” experiences to good use in “The Spirit” bring the characters to life on the silver screen while remaining true to their comics roots. In “The Spirit” he creates a stark and highly stylized film noir world in the vein of “Batman Begins” or “Dark Knight Rises.”

The film stars Gabriel Macht as a rookie cop who is brutally killed, but because this is a comic he is mysteriously brought back to life. He then assumes the guise of The Spirit — a masked crime fighter who prowls the shadows of Central City on a supernatural mission to keep the urban landscape safe. As with most superheroes, The Spirit has an arch nemesis, The Octopus, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson. The Octopus is determined to live forever even if it means wiping out the entire population of Central City, so The Spirit has no choice but to stop the diabolical villain from achieving his cold-blooded plan. But even with his unique powers, the brave masked crusader faces deadly challenges from the treacherous beauties that inhabit Central City, including the sweet girl next door Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson), spitfire secretary Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson), wraithlike siren Lorelei (Jaime King), seductive policewoman Morgenstern (Stana Katic), and thee black widow Plaster of Paris (Paz Vega) who all set out to seduce The Spirit. Then there’s the Angel of Death who’s determined to claim the only man who ever somehow escaped her grasp. Even when he’s in the arms of his true love, Sand Saref (Eva Mendes), our hero isn’t safe.

Watch the trailer and be sure to tune in tonight at 8/7c for “The Spirit”:

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“The Spirit” airs tonight at 8/7c and at 10:15 PM ET/9:15 p.m. CT; Saturday, Nov. 24 at 8:00 PM ET; and Sunday, Nov. 25 at 3:00 AM ET

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Welcome to the Automat: The Larry Sanders Show

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Before Girls or Curb Your Enthusiasm or Flight of the Conchords, there was The Larry Sanders Show. It was the seminal HBO comedy in the 90s filled with razor-sharp satire that skewered Hollywood while letting everyone in on the joke. It starred Garry Shandling as the vain and neurotic talk show host Larry Sanders with Jeffrey Tambor as his hapless and somewhat clueless sidekick Hank. The satirical sitcom focused on the behind-the-scenes action of running a hit late night TV show, including the writers (Jeremy Piven, Sarah Silverman), producers (Rip Torn), bookers (Janeane Garofalo, Mary Lynn Rajskub), and agents (Bob Odenkirk). Among the show’s many highlights are the celebrity guests who stop by the set to play self-parodying versions of themselves, including Farrah Fawcett, Janet Jackson, Robin Williams, Drew Barrymore, Beck, and Jerry Seinfeld. The show is truly great, which is why we’re excited to be airing it during The Automat, the DVR-friendly early morning time slot. Tune in tomorrow to The Larry Sanders Show at 5 a.m. ET/4 a.m. CT and check the schedule for other showtimes.

But why take our word for it? Here are Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, and Judd Apatow on what made the Larry Sanders Show so great:

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Sarah Silverman

Andy Dick

Judd Apatow

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The Larry Sanders Show airs tomorrow at 5 a.m. ET. Check the schedule for other showtimes.

What to watch on IFC: November 12-18

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If you still have an election hangover or are just anxiously biding time until Thanksgiving we have all the movies you’re going to need to help get you through. From “The Spirit” to “Edward Scissorhands” to “Transporter 3″ we have something for everyone.

Here’s what to watch this week on IFC:

Monday

Start the week out right by staring deep into the limpid pools of Nicolas Cage’s eyes. We’re showing “Lord of War” at 8/7c and you can make eyes at Cage as he plays an arms dealer who is trying to stay one step ahead of his business rival while being pursued by a relentless Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke) who is determined to track him down. No wonder those eyes look so so sad.

Tuesday

We all know that Tuesday is just another Monday in disguise, but we have just the cure: A double dose of Jason Statham. Starting at 8/7c we have back to back showings of the “Transporter 3″ where you can watch Statham reprise his role as Frank Martin the in-demand driver for those who just can’t work with Fed Ex.

Wednesday

It’s the end of the world as the Mayans know it, and they don’t feel fine at all. We’re showing “Apocalypto” at 8/7c and as the end of the Mayan civilization draws near, a man makes a desperate bid to escape being a human sacrifice and return to his family and the woman he loves.

Thursday

We’re showing “The Spirit” at 8/7c. Watch as Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) a highly decorated cop who was gunned down on the job is resurrected as The Spirit, a masked crimefighter sporting a startling red tie and a superhuman resistance to pain and injury. He faces off against a villain known as the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) in this adaptation of Will Eisner’s comic.

Friday

Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands” airs tonight at 10:30/9:30c. Johnny Depp stars as a deceased inventor’s (Vincent Price in his last role) unfinished creation with scissors for hands and pasty pallor. When the Avon lady comes calling, Edward becomes an instant celebrity when the cheery suburbanite (Dianne Wiest) brings him home.

Saturday

Kiera Knightley stars as a teenage soccer player in “Bend It Like Beckham” at 5:30PM/4:30c. The movie focuses on Parminder Nagra as an Anglo-Indian teenager who just wants to kick a soccer ball and joins a soccer team despite the fact that her tradition-minded parents are opposed to it.

Sunday

Spend your Sunday laughing when we show back-to-back episodes of Bunk, our hilarious game show where the winner is the comedian-contestant who makes the audience –or at least host Kurt Braunohler– laugh the loudest. The fun and games start at 10:15 a.m./9:15CT.

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