Deadshirt is Watching…is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt staff, contributors, and guests sound off on the television shows we’re tuned into, from intense dramas to clever sitcoms to the most insane reality shows. This week: The Librarians, BoJack Horseman, and The Colbert Report!
Joe Stando is watching…
The Librarians, TNT
Episode 4, “And Santa’s Midnight Run”
The Librarians continues to chug along, and it’s still hot and cold. I was a big fan of the Noah Wylie-led film series because of its reluctant Indiana Jones vibe, which has only partially been captured by the TV spinoff. I get that there’s a smaller budget even compared to the made-for-TV movies, but there’s definitely a dearth of interesting locales and setpieces. Castwise, things are starting to gel a little bit more, and Rebecca Romijn continues to breathe life into Eve, who could easily have just been a stock “tough gal.” A Christmas episode would’ve probably benefitted from a little more lead time to get to know the cast (Cassandra, specifically, still feels a little more like a plot device), but hey, you play the hand you’re dealt. This was a pretty fun episode overall, and hopefully a sign that things will continue to improve.
Episode Highlight: As I mentioned before, I’m all about Eve (no, go ahead and laugh, I’ll wait), but this week’s star was unquestionably Bruce Campbell as Santa Claus himself. Campbell is one of those actors with such a defined persona at this point that half the joke is his being cast at all, but at the same time, he doesn’t tend to phone in even the most obscure of roles (say, an episode of a TV spinoff of a TV movie). It was a clever take on Santa, a character so iconic that he gets boring without clever takes.
Jen Overstreet is watching…
BoJack Horseman, Netflix Original
Christmas Special: “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish!”
On this very special episode of Bojack Horseman, Todd (Aaron Paul) wakes Bojack (Will Arnett) for a Christmas rewatching of the Christmas Special of BoJack’s old sitcom, Horsin’ Around. In true fashion of the show’s tongue-in-cheek metacommentary, BoJack immediately launches into a brutal takedown of such holiday specials, describing them as cash grabs by studios and substitutes for meaningful family interaction. Welcome to the BoJack Horseman Christmas Special!!
Cynical as the intro to this episode is, compared to the rest of the show, this episode is an upbeat delight, most of which is taken up by a full episode of Horsin’ Around. Previously in the show, we’d only seen snippets and on-set memories. Horsin’ Around is pretty cliché and saccharine, like the genre it’s meant to represent, though the scenes of orphan tot Sabrina—as played by future party girl wreck Sarah Lynn (Kirsten Schaal)—are notably almost compelling.
Commentary from BoJack & Todd and our knowledge of the rough future of these fictional actors provide a sufficiently dark framework to fit this peppy show into the feel of BoJack Horseman. BoJack is all about the undercurrent of despair running under an entertainment industry, and it’s hard to forget that even with Horsin’ Around’s cheer and laughtrack.
Episode Highlight: Sabrina having crisis of faith about the existence of God Santa Claus is some heavy shit I’d love to see in Full House. Did they ever do that in Full House?
Cameron DeOrdio is Watching…
The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
Season 11, Episode 40
Used to be Monday through Thursday 11:30 p.m., but, now, uh…never
The final episode of The Colbert Report had everything that we’ve come to love about the satirical news commentary show: a giant CGI dragon, the host slaying Death itself during a chess game and gaining immortality, and, of course, that old chestnut, unicorn Abraham Lincoln smoking an e-cigarette.
This was a weird episode. But it was also exactly what the Colbert Nation needed. While it did include a bit of the commentary we’ve come to enjoy over these past ten years, the major focus was a reflection on the show and its impact, as told through Colbert’s bombastic character’s self-aggrandizing monologues. That satirical distance allowed Colbert to thank his fans and talk about how much he’s loved working on the Report without risking sentimentality. It strove—perhaps a little too hard—to keep sentiment at bay, dipping frequently into the absurdity that had often shown up in smaller doses throughout the show’s run. A cadre of celebrities were assembled (including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Smaug, Gloria Steinem, Cookie Monster, George Lucas, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, among many others) for a sing-along send-off that culminated in Stephen flying away in Santa’s sleigh with Claus, Alex Trebek, and the aforementioned unicorn-Lincoln.
Perhaps this finale did flinch from the emotional ending this represents for Colbert and many others, but, in the end, it’s exactly how a show founded on flaunting cognitive dissonance should have ended. And that’s some truthiness I can feel in my gut.
Episode Highlight: In the opening desk segment where Colbert says, “Folks, if this is your first time tuning in to The Colbert Report…I have some terrible news for you.” Golden.
Bonus sing-along highlights: Patrick Stewart’s mere presence. Bryan Cranston legitimately being the only person other than high-as-hell James Franco looking remotely competent at keeping pace with the song.