If cult television has taught us anything in the last few years, it’s that all the great comedic actors are apparently best friends. Formerly underground sketch groups like “The State,” “The Upright Citizens Brigade” and Second City Alums are all finding work on TV and showing up again and again.
This seems to be more apparent on Adult Swim than anywhere else. The late night block on Cartoon Network started as little more than experimental mind bending stoner–fare, but has grown up slightly, shuffling shows about talking fast food items off the prime slots of their schedule to bring in wildly fun live action programs that tackle every element of modern existence.
It goes back to “Children’s Hospital,” a darkly, bitterly funny parody of “Grey’s Anatomy” melodrama and the overly fanciful and schmaltzy “Scrubs” with a combination of urine jokes, anti–humor, Michael Cera impressions, blood soaked homicidal Patch Adams themed clowns and generally revolting sexual pairings. It’s fun and quirky and could only come from the mind of David Wain, straight man of Stella and one of the writers of cult classic and camp-movie-parodying “Wet Hot American Summer.”
Their newest show “NTSF:SD:SUV,” standing for “National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sports Utility Vehicle” is of a somewhat different breed, but its humor comes from a different place. Created by Paul Scheer, familiar to viewers as Donny the Page on “30 Rock” or as the blusterous Andre on “The League,” the show is more of a parody of overly cliché cop shows, mainly Voice favorite “24” and no-one’s favorite “CSI: Miami.”
The characters are a ragtag group of unexplained clichés, such as a patch–eyed captain, a strangely-focused-on-semen medical examiner, a robot bent on human extinction, a horny secretary of the Navy and a no-nonsense David Caruso parody. It’s a lot of fun, mainly as the cases get stranger and stranger, eventually revolving around Hannibal Lecter–esque dolphins, sex-changing ex-wives and suicidal weapons dealers.
It’s nice to see a network willing to bet on experimental shows like this, even if both only get around 15 minutes, but it allows cooperation between great comedic minds and for that alone, we should be thankful.