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'Archer's Fifth Season Went Delightfully Off Track with 'Archer: Vice'

When Archer got an early renewal for not one, but two more seasons last month, I felt conflicted. Yes, it is currently one of the best comedies on television and more episodes are deserved. But the worrier in me immediately panicked. Two more seasons? How can the show possibly keep being as good? How can the writers keep thinking up new scenarios and, more importantly, new jokes? What if this renewal is just an entry into a slow death rattle? However, now that I've had the time to reflect on the entirety of season five, I'm no longer worried.

Archer: Vice was a huge turning point for the series, [...]

Looking at 'Rick and Morty's Meticulously-Crafted First Season

The inaugural season of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s runaway Cronenbergian monster of a hit, Rick and Morty, wrapped last night, ending a nearly flawless season of ambitious animated television. The scope and complexity of Rick and Morty should be no surprise considering that Harmon is no stranger to ambitious, meticulously-constructed television on his other series, Community. What’s especially worth noting in Harmon and Roiland's collaboration this time around is that Rick and Morty is essentially your only hope to standing up against the unforgiving universe(s) and all of its bleakness.

It’s also a very, very funny show.

'SNL' Review: Princess Anna Kendrick

Whenever SNL producers book a host who seems inexperienced in live comedy, they fall back on a kind of playbook. Stick to popular recurring bits and pretaped videos to take the burden off the host. Give her small, easy stuff that plays to her strengths, then get her out of there. If she can sing, let her sing. The goal is to Bodyguard-cradle the host, letting her enjoy herself while hiding her from the real dangers of the scary sketch comedy world.

Given how little we saw of Anna Kendrick this episode, you'd think Lorne was standing nearby off stage, ready to dive in and take a bullet.

I [...]

About a Girl: Breaking Down the Ending of 'How I Met Your Mother'

It’s always been Robin.

“This is a story about how you’re in love with Aunt Robin and thinking about asking her out and wondering if we’re okay with it,” Penny Mosby bluntly stated to her dad Ted in the final moments of How I Met Your Mother.

About 10% of the hour-long episode stuck with season 9’s setting of Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend, with the remaining 90% of the hour giving us a look into the gang’s future. Barney and Robin’s marriage only lasted three years, solidifying my idea that they were never a believable couple. Barney slips back into his old ways and continues sleeping around with [...]

'Brooklyn Nine-Nine's First Season Lives Up to Its Hype

Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiered with an entertaining-enough premise, a cast that seemed to have a natural chemistry, and some established cred behind the camera in co-creator Mike Schur. When the show and its star won Golden Globes in February, a shift could be felt in the televerse. This was no longer a TV show featuring the work of comedy darlings whose main fan base is readers of a site like this, but now a critically-acclaimed, mainstream, award-winning sitcom. Tack onto that an early season two pickup, and the game had completely changed.

What Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always had to its advantage is an ensemble of talented actors [...]

Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham Are Back and Better Than Ever in USA's 'Playing House'

Over the weekend, the USA network debuted the first episode of its new show Playing House online ahead of its TV premiere next week. Playing House is the second show created by and starring Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair (preceded by their short-lived but critically-acclaimed 2012 NBC sitcom Best Friends Forever), and it's even sharper than the first with a pilot episode that's packed with jokes and an eclectic cast of busy, talented comedy people.

'SNL' Review: Seth Rogen Half-Baked

While watching Seth Rogen host SNL for the third time last weekend, I was reminded of two other three-peat hosts from earlier this season: Paul Rudd in December and Jonah Hill in January. Rudd's episode felt like extended promo for Anchorman 2, with the host failing to capture that lightning in the bottle with cast members that made his previous stints so memorable. Hill, however, seemed to enjoy himself every bit as much as he did his first two appearances.

Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill are, of course, hugely successful alumni from Team Judd Apatow, but their careers have taken diverging trajectories. Rogen and Rudd have [...]

'Silicon Valley's Skewering of the Tech Industry Feels Spot-On

A few weeks ago, South by Southwest offered an advance screening of the first two episodes of Mike Judge's new sitcom, Silicon Valley. It was shown as part of the festival's Episodic section, a new addition this year. Janet Pierson, Head of SXSW Film, stated the decision came after seeing how well the premiere of Lena Dunham’s Girls did in 2012, and she viewed it as a way to broaden the festival’s offerings — and stay vital — at a time when TV is offering so much interesting work. Judging from the reaction of the 600-plus film and tech nerds piled into the Austin Convention Center's Vimeo Theater, SXSW was [...]

'The Humor Code' and the Science of How Comedy Works

Writing about comedy has become a cottage industry in recent years as the swelling popularity of live and online humor has birthed a new audience for comedy journalism, whether it's Jason Zinoman's New York Times pieces or Splitsider's own blow-by-blow reporting on the industry.

But outside of the standup, sketch, and podcast worlds, there's also been a larger, centuries-long search to understand the fundamental nature of humor. It's the sort of quest that electrifies certain comedy nerds while making others wince at the idea of slicing open something as mysterious and subjective as laughter. It also begat E.B. White's famous 1941 quote: "Humor can be dissected, as a frog [...]

The Promising Debut Season of 'Broad City' Nails the New York Struggle

Since premiering in January, Comedy Central's Broad City has been gaining momentum as not just television's funniest breakout comedy but one of the freshest concepts to get the TV treatment in a while. While it has the sketch mastery roots of Kroll Show, the offbeat weirdness of Portlandia, and the Millenial female-driven New Yorker theme of Girls, Broad City has remained singularly new and exciting thanks to the onscreen chemistry and deft rapport of series creators/stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Ahead of tonight's season finale, here's a look at why Broad City killed it this season, and why we can't wait until Glazer and Jacobson get to do [...]

Bearing Down on 'Community’s Triumphant, Challenging Fifth Season

Community’s return this year was one of the most anticipated comedy events of the season. The theme of redemption (always a deep part of the show) seemed especially prevalent, as this season had the tall task of establishing why this show still needs to exist. That it deserves to return after a lackluster (by previous standards) fourth season, that Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna returning as showrunners would be able to steer the show in the right direction, and that a Pierce and Troy-less Community wouldn’t feel like an imitation of itself; that this wasn’t a Scrubs season 9 sort of situation. Not only did the show stand [...]

Diving Into the Cult of Dan Harmon in 'Harmontown'

When introducing the documentary Harmontown at the South by Southwest Film Festival, director Neil Berkeley (Beauty is Embarrassing) described his film's thesis, saying, “The point of this film is not about whether Dan Harmon is a good person or a bad person, but to understand why people are in that room listening to him.” The film follows Harmon on tour with his Harmontown podcast shortly after the embattled show runner's firing from Community in early 2013. Berkeley's remarks make clear it's less a tour doc than a character study, in a similar vein to Rodman Flender's doc, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, which premiered in 2011 also at SXSW. And [...]

Season 2 of 'Inside Amy Schumer' Starts Off with a Banging

Before Broad City exploded onto the scene, comedian Amy Schumer stood alone as Comedy Central's (to steal a term from tonight's Inside Amy Schumer premiere) "feminist-bent on a male-skewering network," serving as both a powerful female force and adaptable demographic-straddler on a channel that has traditionally catered to dorm room bros. Her TV success has depended on — as it often does for girls with a lot of older brothers — out-crassing them on one level then turning that crassness completely on its head on the other; in the first three episodes alone she plays the comic who calls out the objectification of women in fashion magazines then goes [...]

'SNL' Review: Louis C.K. Is Still Hilarious, In Case Anyone Was Wondering

When Louis C.K. last hosted SNL in November 2012, there was magic in the air. A week after Superstorm Sandy walloped New York, with huge parts of the city still without power, it just felt appropriate to see a comedian so emblematic of the New York spirit, with its gritty nature and heartfelt sincerity, serve as the face of the show that week. And to see him kill it as he did, with a hilarious parody of his FX show Louie starring Abraham Lincoln, was a magical moment for comedy nerds, like watching Conan O'Brien hosting the Emmys in 2006 or witnessing Joss Whedon's The Avengers win over both [...]