Seeso: Review of NBC's streaming comedy channel
'The UCB Show' and 'The Cyanide & Happiness Show' are name-brand highlights, though the channel's best selling point might be its exceptional library
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Ever think to yourself, “Man, I’d love to pay for another streaming platform where I can watch new, original TV content”? The Seeso people are hoping so!
After a short beta period, NBCUniversal’s new paid-subscription streaming service goes live to the public on Thursday. The hook? Seeso bills itself as a comedy channel with “a unique, artisanal mix of new comedies, exclusive shows, curated films, and classic stand-up.”
But is it any good? Or at least worth the monthly toll of $3.99? Maybe! One the channel’s best selling points is its exceptional library. The archives include Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Kids in the Hall, and every single episode of Saturday Night Live. NBC-oriented titles aside, there’s also an astounding catalog of top-shelf British shows — perfect for people looking to binge on all the classic/niche/cult U.K. comedies that they were too moral to torrent. There are safe bets (Fawlty Towers, A Bit of Frye and Laurie, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Office) and hip favorites (Nathan Barley, The Mighty Boosh, The World of Alan Partridge). It’s even got the culter-than-thou favorite, Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. (Sadly, though, no Peep Show.)
But Seeso’s hoping you’ll also dive into its original titles. Only five will be available at launch, but there are plenty more slated to debut throughout the year. While we’ll have to wait to check those out (Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ sounds amazing), here’s our breakdown of all the new shows debuting on the service this week.
Dave & Ethan: Lovemakers
This dating-focused sketch series is an expansion on the shtick that partners Dave Adhoot and Ethan Fixell have already been doing online over at Above Average and elsewhere. The central conceit is a goofy faux game show that’s basically a parody of The Dating Game: An eligible single evaluates three romantic prospects by asking questions that turn out to be more awkward than revealing. The questions (written beforehand by Dave and Ethan) include what their porn name would be, what their ISIS name would be, how they would remind their boyfriend to take his “penis pills” — that kind of thing. The results are sort of meh, though Dave and Ethan are pretty good at making themselves crack up, at least.
Also in the mix are sketches, man-on-the-street interviews, and hidden-camera segments, all relating to love and/or lust — similar to those Inside Amy Schumer sidewalk interviews, only warmer and not quite as funny.
Taped performances from the UCB — just like the title says! The show is broken up into 30-minute installments, each hosted by founding members Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. It’s got sketches, characters, improv groups, stand-up — basically anything that can happen on one of UCB’s four stages can happen here.
Highlights from the first four episodes include the always-hilarious James Adomian as an insanely-wigged Bernie Sanders, a sketch featuring Noël Wells as an American Apparel manager looking to hire (“Would you be willing to show your butthole?”), and an ITT parody starring Lauren Lapkus. Perfect for fans of The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail, Comedy Bang Bang!, and, you know, Upright Citizens Brigade.
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Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane
An Australian sitcom about a human lawyer (played by Aussie musical comic Sammy J) and a divorced puppet (Randy) who live together but — wait for it — don’t always get along.
It’s as weird as it sounds. Or maybe weirder! Each installment (which actually already aired Down Under, though Seeso is still claiming it as an original) comes off as an exaggeration of the normcore suburban sitcoms of yesteryear, twisting vintage tropes into whimsical, mischievous hilarity. The moral takeaway of one episode? “Stalking never goes well.” Think Flight of the Conchords, The Mighty Boosh, Perfect Strangers, and Too Many Cooks if they were all thrown into some crazy Australian blender.
The Cyanide & Happiness Show
This is the network’s only original animated offering, at least for the moment. Let’s hope future attempts go better. Made up of 12-minute shorts, the series is based on the popular stick-figure webcomic. Fans of the comic — and there are plenty of them! — can expect the same style of darkly goofy, gleefully juvenile one-shot jokes with no narrative thread (see: the second episode’s strong “Humperdink University” segment). Most everyone else can look forward to a lot of shrugging.
Before the Morning After
You may have seen performers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but probably not like this: Before the Morning After gathers comedians at a bar at 2 a.m., gets them drunk, and makes them tell stories from their lives. Debauchery ensues. Each 15-minute installment features a different host (Jena Friedman kicks things off) with a hand-picked stable of comedians and too many drinks. Shots are downed, anecdotes are told, merry is made. Call it Drunk Personal History.
Before the Morning After