How documentary now! lost his stars and embraced his true self

If you ask Seth Meyers to give you a lift tone for Documentary now!two things become obvious. One of the reasons is that, as the lead creator and author of the series, Meyers has obviously thought a lot about this issue, explaining how the series relies on a unique hybrid of comedy skits, real documentaries and a deep dedication to mimicry to create something terribly human out of his non-fiction movie parodies. The second is that after three seasons, he is still not quite sure what he and his fake documentary comrades have actually achieved. "This is essentially parodies in love with existing documentaries," suggests Meyers when he is asked to summarize the show in one sentence. But backtracking comes quickly, adding additional words to the definition: "Anyway, even when I say that, the parody does not sound very good," he said to himself. "This is the word closest to my vocabulary." Later in the conversation, he will address the subject and dismiss the words "recreation" and "satire", before urging, "Come on, we can do that! What's the word?!"

Contributors to Meyers, Alex Buono and Rhys Thomas – Saturday Night Live alumni who have completed each episode of the IFC series and who Late at night The presenter often describes the institutional soul of the program – have a stronger explanation: "It's a fond tribute to documentary. For specific documentaries, for the idea of ​​making a documentary film, "says Buono, speaking with the tone of someone who was to quickly and clearly describe the series, several times, to his recent influx of stars invited to renowned. "It's not a parody. It's not a sketch comedy. We do not make fun of anyone, "he adds, highlighting a sweetness that has grown in the series since its debut of violence Gray Gardens riffs and disposables VICE Dweebs. "We are not here to laugh at no matter who. "

Meanwhile, ask everyone who watched the first two seasons of the series – or rather its 50th and 51st, as Lady Helen Mirren would tell us quickly – and you may get a simpler answer (and less accurate, in many senses): "This fake documentary show where Fred Armisen and Bill Hader play all the main roles."

For his first two years of broadcasting, Documentary now! was, essentially, The show of Fred and Bill; while the occasional episode could only present one or the other member of the couple, comedy-comedy veterans were ubiquitous, serving as comforting and repetitive presences for a passing series of comic-comedy skits. Gothic horror to a comforting family drama in a full-fledged concert movie. every week that passes. In the process, Armisen and Hader acted as a repertory company composed of two people, playing everything from soulless political fixers to Al Capone's fellow imitators, to slightly doped chicken chefs. (Armisen), a cadaverous student of Robert Evans (Hader) and vicious assassins (more than once).

Which is part of what makes Documentary now!Third season: first night with the sect Pastiche "Batsh * t Valley" – so radical. It may take a minute to notice, with famous faces like Owen Wilson and Michael Keaton flooding the screen, but the new reality of the series will eventually take hold: no Fred, no Bill, to see . And while seasoned viewers of the season will watch a handful of episodes from Armisen – three in total, out of the six fake documents on display – the recent Emmy winner, Hader, will never show up for the third season of the series .

The absence of Hader is both understandable and expected; Barry is a huge success in HBO Land right now, and Doc now! It has always been a kind of hubbub or work of love for just about everyone, from the Meyers host until nightfall, to the endless, prolific Armisen, to John Mulaney, who , if he has not written several episodes per season, is one of the greatest comics on the planet. There is a reason why the series did not broadcast new episodes in more than two years and it is not because the people involved did not want to broadcast it.

"When we designed the show for the first time, we always thought it could be its future," says Meyers of the decision to replace Hader and (to a lesser extent) Armisen by a rotating team of famous stars for this year's edition. shows. Discussing the inevitability of change, Meyers, Thomas and Buono all deplore the loss of Hader, a natural chameleon that can switch from lovable to lizard at any time. Although the hottest moments of the series often come from "Fred" episodes – the three cite the seasons of the season "A Town, A Gangster, Festival" and "Juan loves chicken and rice" as favorites personal, and the closest to the series ever come to capture their ideal version of Documentary now!The humanistic atmosphere of Hader is a wild quality that has always prevented the series from swinging into outright sentimentality, whether it's a vampire Runner Up, or going all the way through the Spalding Gray riff. "Parker's Gail's Location is Everything".

Looking at the third season of the show, it's not hard to see the spaces where a performance of Hader could "fit"; it would be easy to imagine sliding in oversized sunglasses as Necar Zadegan embodies a malicious cult spokesman in "Batsh * t Valley" or assume the prodigy of Michael C. Hall bowling in "any Saturday afternoon". it would also be a mistake to consider these new releases as a series of recycled episodes of the second season, with a few flashes of Wite-Out splashed on their casting pages. Stripped of one of the essential components of his identity, Documentary now! also loses one of these aspects that define it, for better or for worse; Although they are careful not to speak in laudatory terms of their friends and colleagues, Buono and Thomas are obviously delighted to move away from a "constraint" that limits the types of stories that the series could tell. As Buono says: "When we realized we could not have Bill, it became an interesting problem to say," So we can not have all the episodes of about two white men out of two men. "

Sometimes this evolution is as simple as applying the show's considerable talents to non-Hader or Armisen obsessions, such as Mulaney's technically ridiculous tribute to Sondheim's "Co-Op". Pennebaker's Company: Registration of the original distribution. A celebration of Doc now!Endless dedication to the flawless execution of a mercilessly clumsy idea, this episode is accompanied by performances invited by Broadway stars Renee Elise Goldsberry, Alex Brightman and Richard Kind. A.P. BioPaula Pell, and an original score of incredibly humble songs, of which at least one is destined to be the show's flagship show. This is a nearly perfect catalog of Mulaney's particular bindings – much like "Gentle & Soft: The Blue Jean's Story" captured the soft rock solipsism of Armisen and Hader – and he thriving partly because there is no familiar face that takes a look to break the illusion of its perfect pastiche.

Speaking to the creative team of the show, a common chorus emerges: Documentary now! is aggressive do not comedy sketch. When Meyers expresses his persistent discomfort at the end of the first episode of the series, "Sandy Passage", he describes it as "a very realistic idea of ​​comedy". Buono (who, with Thomas, was working SNLFilmed Video) clearly shows that the series is dedicated to creating emotions and narration of emotions as what sets it apart from a "two to three minute skit". SNL aspect has always been his reliance on Armisen and Hader. It is mainly the advantage of the series that allowed him to draw on the work of two of the most accomplished comic actors on the planet as they infuse the inner life to a series of ridiculous, engaged and often disturbed men . But no matter how well Armisen and Hader go, there is always a predictability that ends up infiltrating the ten or so times you see them appear in a talking head. And there are parts – and stories – that they simply are not equipped to play.

Cate Blanchett, two-time Oscar winner, performs a variation of performance artist Marina Abramović in "Waiting For The Artist". Armisen and Hader both demonstrated that they could play against women. It is a level that defies easy labels like "parody," but it would still be difficult to swallow a story. Feminine artistic empowerment like this – especially an extremely white and masculine creative team – without a woman skilled at commanding in the lead role. And since we've never seen Blanchett play any other character in the series, he shunted the little voice behind his head that whispers, "It's a part of Hader" every time it appears on the screen. Instead, she simply is Abramović – or rather, Izabella Barta, creator of masterpieces of modern art such as the series "Bucket" that blatantly damages. (It is not offensive that Blanchett is gifted to feed the foolishness of the artistic ideas of his characters without ever sacrificing his dignity and humanity.) Buono and Thomas frequently discuss withdrawing their writers from the desire to make series cavalcade jokes, ruining the reality of his carefully crafted worlds. Blanchett's role as an actress produces a similar effect: by forcibly renouncing the comforts of Hader's comics, the third season of fake documentaries in the series seems more "real" than anything that has been before. .

"The ones I am most happy with are those where you forget that it's based on something and that you care about those characters," Meyers told the question about his favorite episodes of the series. "The best episodes are when you enter an unknown landscape," notes Thomas, echoing the sentiment expressed in a separate interview. By losing one of his two most recognizable faces – and rationing the other to a handful of coins only –Documentary now! is heading officially to unexplored territory. All parties are convinced that if free time becomes infinite, they would like to welcome the original stars of the series again, even if they would probably continue to integrate them into the wider list of talents currently available to them. For now, however, the drive wheels are off: Documentary now! It may not be easy to define, but anything makes sense – and when you talk about a show that was already one of the best and most interesting TV series, it's something that deserves to be celebrated, no matter what has been lost.

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