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Is 'Christmas Comes to Pac-Land' the Worst Christmas Special Ever?

Christmas Comes to Pac-Land generally finds itself atop lists of weirdest and worst holiday specials. Ignoring most of the tropes associated with seasonal programming, Pac-Land is pretty upfront with its intentions. Essentially a 22-minute commercial for the Pac-Man video game series, Hannah-Barbara must have felt beholden to the game’s central plot, offering Pac-Man little or nothing to do outside of collecting power-pellets, fending off ghosts, and locating Christmas presents. Without any interest in contributing to the tradition of holiday television, Christmas Comes to Pac-Land teaches children to consume as quickly and gluttonously as possible.

In the 1980s, anything from cat-eating Aliens to Adolf Hitler could be turned into a [...]

'The 1/2 Hour News Hour': How Fox News's 'Daily Show' Did to Comedy what Fox News Does to News

The 2000 Presidential election was a mess. Far after the last ballots had been cast, miscounted chads hung throughout Florida, and America was left without a leader for months. Aside from establishing itself as the premiere American fuck up, Florida kicked off a decade defined by political partisanship without a mediator and general stupidity.

The election was ripe for satire, though, and Comedy Central wouldn't miss its chance. A re-tooled Daily Show had begun to pick up steam throughout this yearlong botched display of American party politics. Jon Stewart took aim at the unreasonable and sensationalist rants of the 24-hour news cycle with one target frequently in his crosshairs: [...]

Serious Comedy at Aaron Sorkin's 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip'

In the war of the low-rated backstage-at-Saturday-Night-Live TV shows, there can be only one. And in 2006’s race to viewership mediocrity, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, which spoofed her time as SNL’s head writer, was Christopher Lambert. And we’re all better for it.

Well, everyone was better for it, except for this guy: Aaron Sorkin.

'Where's Rodney?' Was One of the Many Questions Raised By 'Where's Rodney?'

"One, Poochie needs to be louder, angrier, and have access to a time machine. Two, whenever Poochie's not on-screen, all the other characters should be asking 'Where's Poochie?' Three…" — Homer Simpson, "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show"

"Kids, they can see other kids all the time do the things they do but when they see an adult with a childlike sensibility or a silly sensibility that's what kids would love. That's like Rodney. That's why kids love Rodney." — Todd Glass, "The Bitter Buddha"

On a random Monday night in the summer of 19901, NBC for thirty minutes quietly threw Where's Rodney? on the air. It was [...]

'The Michael Richards Show': We Can Cross "What If Kramer Was a Detective?" Off the Wacky Scenario List

"But I could have played Kramer for the rest of my life. That character would fit into every situation. There was a great universality to the soul of that character." — Michael Richards

"Nothing harmonized by a musical bond can be transmuted from its own speech without losing all its sweetness and harmony." — Dante

To mock former NBC CEO Jeff Zucker for trying to squeeze more money out of Seinfeld after the show went off the air because Jerry Seinfeld decided it was time would be ignoring the entire point of capitalism. To mock Jeff Zucker, and the four men credited as the creators of The Michael [...]

The American Version of 'The IT Crowd' That Never Made It to TV

There’s no formula for good TV. Networks and studios shuffle through hundreds of new projects every year, but when it comes down to it, it’s easier remake, reboot, or sequelize. Throughout the 2000s, NBC struggled to bring highly popular and influential BBC television stateside, giving The Office and Coupling, in particular, some love, American style. While Coupling quickly careened off into TV hell, The Office hit the ground, got back up, and found its voice. The show evolved into itself.

It’s interesting to watch those early episodes of The Office. Near line-for-line retellings of its British counterpart, NBC’s The Office never really clicks in its debut season. Michael [...]

Comedy for Dummies: Jeff Dunham's Fall at the Top

My first experience with comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, unbeknownst to me, came from a t-shirt in the mall. I didn’t know what I was looking at, this turbaned skull with bloodshot eyes above the phrase “Silence! I Kill You.” What does this mean? What was it for? Had the tidal wave of Middle Eastern stereotypes extended to cheap-o t-shirts available between the Starbucks and Auntie Anne’s? What the hell was going on here?

It wasn’t until an October, 2009 episode of 30 Rock, “Stone Mountain,” that my questions were answered. In this episode, Liz goes in search of a new TGS cast member, and Jack sends her to find a [...]

Actually, *Pushes Glasses Back Onto Face* the 'Diner' TV Pilot Was the First Show About Nothing

Barry Levinson's 1982 film Diner is a classic. Funny, original, and engrossing, it has been credited with influencing a huge swath of what we consider to be the best comedy in movies and television over the past twenty or so years. It paid attention to the seemingly mundane past-time of young adults in their early twenties bullshitting about everything and nothing, making the art of talking around a topic of dubious significance in circles no longer just for middle aged men (John Cassavetes' Husbands) or specifically for Wallace Shawn (My Dinner With Andre). As S.L. Price noted in his Vanity Fair article about the movie in 2012, it [...]

The Alternate Reality of 'Coolio’s Rules,' Coolio’s Short-Lived Reality Show

Somewhere around the mid-2000s, coincidentally the same time when every TV writer was fired and all good ideas were banished from the Earth, celebrity-based reality television, or Celebreality as VH1 forced everyone to call it, invaded television and all the networks were relieved to no longer call upon such burdens as story and character to sell ad time. NBC, of course, had The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, with Donald Trump's “You’re fired”s serving as a perfect catchphrase for the economic meltdown on the horizon. Not to be outdone, ABC launched Dancing with the Stars, MTV had The Osbournes, and, the reigning overlords of Celebreality, VH1, struck gold The Surreal Life. And [...]

The Pile of $h*! That Was '$h*! My Dad Says'

Sometimes TV shows drag their unfunny, uninteresting, yet highly rated feet across our living rooms for years. “Who let this happen?” we cry in vain. Other times, the powers that be get things right. That’s where Brilliantly Canceled comes in, looking at the shows that didn’t make it past their first season and saved us all a ton of grief.

Writers adapt all types of stories to the screen. Whether they be based on works of fiction, like novels, comics, or plays; myths, handed down from generation to generation; or even real stories that happened to real people. All of them, however, communicate the subtle and not-so-subtle moments of [...]

'That’s My Bush': Inside Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Short-Lived Presidential Parody

By the year 2000, Matt Stone and Trey Parker could do no wrong. South Park was entering its fourth season with no signs of slowing down, and one year earlier, their hit movie version of the cartoon earned them an Oscar nomination. But the greatest sign of their hold over Comedy Central and pop culture came about when they went after the leader of the free world week-to-week.

That’s My Bush, a sitcom about the political and personal shortcomings of George W. Bush, took Stone and Parker’s trust in the viewer further than anything they had done on before. They staged a sitcom that seemed to promise scathing political [...]

The Late Night War Nobody Asked For: Howard Stern Destroys Magic Johnson's Late Night Show from Within

Things weren’t looking too good for Magic Johnson in the summer of 1998. The Magic Hour, Johnson’s late night talk show and 20th Century Fox’s answer to the Late Show with David Letterman and, of course, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, was tanking. Four weeks after its premiere, the show, weighed down by strong competition and Magic’s inexperience, couldn’t withstand the critical beating and steadily declining ratings that terrified affiliates. The Magic Hour had to shake things up and it had to do it fast.

The cards were stacked against Magic from the beginning. The former basketball superstar was admittedly robotic on camera and had neither the standup [...]

Andy Dick in a 'Get Smart' Remake? What Could Go Wrong?

When Get Smart premiered in 1965, its blend of Inspector Clouseau and James Bond redefined TV comedy. And rightfully so. Show creator Mel Brooks designed Get Smart to be different. "I was sick of looking at all those nice sensible situation comedies. They were such distortions of life…I wanted to do a crazy, unreal comic-strip kind of thing about something besides a family,” said Brooks. “No one had ever done a show about an idiot before. I decided to be the first." He succeeded.

Get Smart ran for five years and, later, spawned two movies, the Raspberry-nominated The Nude Bomb and 1989’s made-for-TV Get Smart, Again! While neither rekindled any interest [...]

Talking to Justin Halpern About the Rough Time He Had Turning 'Shit My Dad Says' From a Twitter Account to a TV Show

Two weeks ago, Brilliantly Canceled took us all the way back to that time two years ago when a twitter-based sitcom, $h*! My Dad Says, hit television. A few days later, the show’s creator, Justin Halpern (whose new show Surviving Jack premieres next season on Fox), reached out to me, and after assuring me that he didn’t want to kill me, provided some insight on the history of the show, multi-camera sitcoms, how to tell if your project is going south, and why it was canceled.

How did Shit My Dad Says go from twitter to TV? 

When the twitter feed got popular I got a lot of incoming calls, [...]