Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Richard Dunn, David Liebe Hart, James Quall
Release Date: May 17, 2011
To watch Adult Swim’s Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! is to subject yourself to an experience akin to sitting in the audience of a lethal injection while dwarves in clown makeup throw individually-wrapped slices of cheese on the walls and floor-mounted speakers blast out the immortal eardrum-bleeding ditty “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim at different volumes and various revolution speeds. When it’s all over you will find that you’ve laughed, cringed, recoiled in stark horror, and sat in front of your television set wondering just what the fuck that was all about. This is a show that the late comedy writer Michael O’Donoghue, a.k.a. Saturday Night Live‘s Mr. Mike, would have found immensely entertaining. After all, what is O’Donoghue’s Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video if not a Tim & Eric prototype, only much stranger?
I’ve been reviewing DVD season sets of the show for Geeks of Doom since 2009 (you can read my reviews of season 2 here and season 3 here), but the latest season of Tim & Eric has got to be the strangest and most repellent thus far. Yet I still laughed a great deal. Appropriately titled Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season Cinco not just because it’s the show’s fifth season, but also because of the higher than usual amount of mock commercials for the Cinco Corporation, their ever-present manufacturer of every product that would fit the needs of the lazy and gormless consumer, once again creators Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim subject us to 11-minute blasts of their own special brand of comedy. A brand of comedy, mind you, that transcends the boundaries of traditional comedy, even most of Adult Swim’s Sunday night line-up. Comedy that comes to us slathered in boundless sleaze and irony-free mirth. It’s the kind of humor that speaks to my dark soul, a show that can find hilarity in the unlikeliest of subjects (child murder, financial ruin, watching your friends sleep). That’s why Tim & Eric has become one of my favorite comedy shows of recent years and the amount of laughs I get from one 11-minute episode is more than ten times the amount I get from a 90-minute episode of Saturday Night Live.
But as I mentioned before, Season Cinco takes the show into a dark realm where you would have to be pretty brave to follow. I was reminded of a passage in American Scream, the autobiography of the late comedic genius Bill Hicks, in which Hicks was performing one night in front of a rapturous nightclub audience that was laughing at all of his signature stand-up bits and generally having a great time. For a moment Hicks realized he was in danger of becoming a preacher to the converted, another hack comic who had to suffer the indignity of having their material so ingrained in the minds of their audiences that they would come to every show knowing exactly what to expect. So in a moment of inspiration Hicks introduced the crowd to a new character of his: Randy Pan the Goat Boy. He then proceeded to describe in graphic detail Goat Boy’s sexual appetite for young girls and his desire for them to “let Goat Boy wear you like a feedbag” if you know what I mean and I think you do (in the words of Joe Bob Briggs). Needless to say, by the time Hicks had put the goat away for the evening most of his audience had vacated the premises. Mission accomplished.
That’s the feeling I got from watching this latest season of Tim & Eric. The show’s experimental format remained but most of their more familiar characters had been jettisoned such as Jan and Wayne Skylar (Channel 5’s Only Married News Team), Spaghett, the Beaver Boys, and the endearing yet sadistic office romance between Carol and her horrible boss Mr. Henderson. Dr. Steve Brule, played by the show’s most famous regular John C. Reilly, isn’t as much of a fixture as he once was but that’s most likely because of the character recently getting his own spin-off show Check It Out! At least they brought back Casey Tatum, the eczema-plagued basket case who makes frequent appearances on Uncle Muscles’ (“Weird Al” Yankovic) show to perform songs badly and who supposedly died at the close of the second season in an explosion. In “Re-Animated,” the third episode in this set, Casey’s remains are found in the woods and delivered to his grief-stricken brother, who then promptly brings his dead brother back to life only to have Casey’s limbs start falling off during their latest performance on Uncle Muscles’ show.
One episode has Heidecker announcing his departure from the show to pursue his dream of being a writer only to reveal that his first book is a relentless falsehood-riddled attack on his friend and creative partner Wareheim. The two go through the requisite friendship troubles and just when it seems they resolved their differences Eric disembowels Tim and then saws his head off. The last words from Tim’s severed head are, “Well I suppose I deserved it.” In a sense Season Cinco is all about breaking down what has made the show endure so far and then kicking those elements to the curb and taking off for darker territory. Perhaps this season is one long metaphor for the journey we must all eventually take, putting away childish things and moving on to the uncertain future of adulthood.
In the words of Theodoric, Barber of York, “Nahhhhhh!”
Season Cinco is still imaginative and most importantly funny as fuck, with some genius bits thrown in with the show’s trademark lampooning of greasy, low-rent television and the creators’ tendency to make everyone on camera look like bridge trolls with lots of extreme close-ups and weird makeup. They attempt to fill the holes left by the abandonment of some of the show’s more well-established characters, but new recurring sketches like Morning Meditations and All Dolled Up must have looked better in conception than in execution because I could only recall chuckling a few times during those bits. Dr. Steve Brule does manage to put in a occasional appearance and thanks to Reilly’s flawless comic acting his presence makes for a much welcome respite from the darker conceptional material that tends to fall flat. Steve Mahanahan returns with another commercial for his Child Clown Outlet, with Will Ferrell making an appearance as his competitive father Donald. Patrick Duffy, the Dallas star who Bill Hicks once said would be one of the Tonight Show guests that made Jay Leno introduce the barrel of an Uzi to his mouth, shows up with Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet) shilling a product called Man Nip. Series regulars James Quall (a really bad impressionist) and David Liebe Hart (a really bad ventriloquist) team up for a new cop drama called Quall of Duty, with Danny Trejo, fucking Machete man, on guest star duty (and he’s hilarious just playing it stone-faced straight).
The schlock killer bird flick Birdemic: Shock and Terror gets lovingly spoofed in the episode “Crows” with pecked-out eyes and shitty CGI galore (and a guest star turn from Marilyn Manson). Pretentious actor Tairy Green (Zach Galifianakis) gets a tap water-powered vending machine containing his every film and television appearance hocked on an informercial program where we also get to see clips from Greene’s classic films “Little Dancing Man” (co-starring LeVar Burton) and “Little Danson Man”. In the latter actor Ted Danson gets accidentally miniaturized and must figure out how he can go on with his life and career all while his agent (David Cross, made up to resemble movie producer Scott Rudin) froths with the money-making possibilities. Tim and Eric hold a competition to see who’s the most handsome and Tim’s video presentation for the judges ends up looking like thinly-veiled gay erotica. Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) shows up in a commercial for the Cinco product the Diarrheaphragm (one of the grosser bits in the season). We also get guest appearances from Corbin Bernsen (Psych), Wendell Pierce (The Wire), William Sanderson (Blade Runner), Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces), Michael Gross (Tremors), Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show), Paul Rudd (Knocked Up), and Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder). Peter Cetera and Richard Marx both get to croon power ballads for the movies of Tairy Greene.
I won’t say much of the season finale “Man Milk” except that I think I turned away from my television watching this episode a great deal more than when I first watched the animal killing scenes in Cannibal Holocaust. Those nipples….Jesus H. Christ. I shudder just thinking about them now. That’s just the sick highlight in a season that included Tim drinking a power shake mixed with some pubic hair from Eric’s massive bush so that he’ll hit puberty soon and people having their own liquid fecal matter coming out of their pores. Sadly the Chrimbus special from last December was not included in this set as it’s currently being sold separately at the Adult Swim website.
The audio and video quality of this set is top notch as usual. The show is presented in its original 1.78.1 widescreen broadcast ratio with strong English 5.1 Dolby Surround and 2.0 stereo surround audio tracks. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are also included.
As with every Tim & Eric set the special features included a blooper reel (7 minutes) and a healthy selection of deleted (7 minutes) and extended (21 minutes) scenes. Included among the cut footage are alternate versions of the “I-Jammer” and “Italian Massage” sketches, more Galifianakis as Tairy Greene getting harassed on the red carpet, and a show about celebrity nightmares featuring The Room director Tommy Wiseau. Karaoke videos (9 minutes) and a short video tribute (6 minutes) to cast member Richard Dunn, who passed away shortly after the filming of the season finale, round out this collection of bonuses.
Despite this season’s tendency to repulse me more than amuse me (and more than usual) Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! remains one of the funniest and most audacious comedy shows on TV. If you’re looking for the right time to jump into this show it may be best to start with Season Cinco and work your way back. Then the first four seasons will look pretty tame in comparison.