Posts Tagged ‘adult swim’

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 52!

July 15, 2016

The BLAH Salon: Adult Swim’s Jason DeMarco

Our special interview series returns at last! This episode, Sean & Stefan are pleased to welcome Jason DeMarco, Senior Vice President/Creative Director for Adult Swim On-Air. Jason’s worn many hats at the venerable nighttime animation/live-action/surrealist powerhouse: He’s the co-creator of its anime/action block Toonami, the person responsible for the network’s distinctive promos, and the unofficial “musical director” for both Adult Swim’s on-air sound and the albums and singles it’s released from a variety of hip-hop, electronic, and rock acts. He’s also a longtime fan of both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones. Jason joined us for a wide-ranging discussion of the books, the show, the network, the seismic changes television has seen during his 20-year career, the connections between animation and comics, how those fields are viewed in America, Japan, and Europe respectively, the difference between European-American fantasy and its Japanese-genre counterpart, and much more. Cue up your Run the Jewels records and listen in!

Download Episode 52

Additional links:

Jason on Twitter

Jason on ask.fm

Adult Swim

Sean’s article on the legacy of Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Adult Swim

Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour

Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com).

Our iTunes page.

Mirror.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.

“This House Has People In It”: Inside Adult Swim’s Latest Horror Masterpiece

March 18, 2016


Home is where the horror is. That’s the underlying logic of This House Has People In It, which debuted with little fanfare at 4am Tuesday morning as part of Adult Swim’s elusive “Infomercials” initiative. The network, a ratings powerhouse which nonetheless airs some of the most ferociously experimental stuff on TV, used this horror-comedy-parody umbrella project to launch a genuine viral hit with last year’s smash sitcom satire Too Many Cooks. But its successor, Unedited Footage of a Bear, was the best and most brutal of the bunch—a send-up of medication commercials that rapidly devolved into one of the most frightening works of doppelgänger horror this side of Mulholland Drive, as well as an emotionally upsetting vision of how severe mental illness can hold entire families at its mercy.

Now AB Video Solutions and Wham City Comedy, the overlapping Baltimore art, music, and performance collectives who unleashed Unedited Footage, have returned with This House—an even more ambitious stab at the horror genre. Constructed as an assembled collection of surveillance-camera recordings of a seemingly ordinary blended family, the 11-minute movie takes place on the day of their son’s birthday, when his older sister’s…condition, let’s say, threatens to shatter the suburban tranquility forever. But the story spills beyond the confines of the video, into a website for “AB Surveillance Solutions” that’s packed with hidden links, videos, text files, images, and audio recordings that further flesh out the family’s plight. We don’t want to spoil the sick surprises, but they involve a mysterious ailment called Lynks Disease, a kids’ cartoon character named Boomy the Cat, an amateur sculptor with a hankering for clay and a dark secret, a whole lot of screaming, and a very special houseguest who’ll keep you from feeling comfortable in basements, bedrooms, and backyards for a long, long time. Sure enough, Reddit sleuths have been working round the clock to unearth every hidden horror.

We spoke with This House co-writers and executive producers Robby Rackleff, Alan Resnick, and Dina Kelberman—all of whom played multiple roles in its creation alongside fellow ABV members Ben O’Brien and Cricket Arrison, with Resnick making a cameo and serving as director, cinematographer, co-editor, and effects supervisor, Rackleff co-editing and co-starring as the family’s father, and Kelberman providing web design—about the video(s), the site(s), the superfans, and the reason suburban families provide such fertile territory for terror.

I wrote about This House Has People In It, which you should watch immediately, and interviewed its co-creators Alan Resnick, Robby Rackleff, and Dina Kelberman, for the New York Observer.

The Phantom Fame: “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” Secretly TV’s Most Influential Show

October 7, 2015

The new age of late night has dawned. Last week, Trevor Noah took over The Daily Show, the slaughterhouse in which Jon Stewart EVISCERATED liberal bugbears on a nightly basis. This comes just after Stephen Colbert crawled out of character to occupy the throne vacated by David Letterman. And this is just the latest of the seismic shifts that have made television — broadcast or broadband, cable or streaming — the medium of the post-millennium.

The Sopranos started it all, or so the legends say. The canon of shows that launched TV’s postmillennial renaissance begins before HBO’s mafia masterpiece, of course: Twin Peaks paved the way, and David Lynch has been cited by countless showrunners as the John the Baptist to David Chase’s Jesus Christ. Tony and Carmela’s own network already had a breakout hit in the form of Sex and the City, which proved that people would tune in for original programming on channels that mostly aired movies. The Wire and Deadwood cemented the prestige drama’s place on the small screen. Arrested Development, meanwhile, created a parallel track, establishing the single-camera sitcom as the “prestige comedy” format of choice, while The Daily Show made similarly Peabody-worthy waves in the talk-show format.

But all the while — long before, in fact — a shadow revolution was under way. For this sea change, space was the place. Few people afford Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network’s strange, seminal comedy, its rightful place in the pantheon. But from its bargain-basement launch in 1994 to its place at the center of the wildly popular Adult Swim lineup in the 2000s, it helped introduce cringe comedy to the American viewing public, deconstructed the idea of the talk show beyond repair for a generation of comedians, and changed the look and feel of the entire animation art form.

I wrote about the strange history and pervasive influence of Space Ghost Coast to Coast — and Adult Swim, the network it spawned — for Grantland.

The Horror of Adult Swim

December 19, 2014

The most terrifying television show of 2014 debuted without fanfare at four in the morning the other day, and like the dead lady in The Shining’s Room 237, you had to pass through layers of comforting illusion to uncover the horror within.

Unedited Footage of a Bear starts out as just that: a static shot of a big brown bear, soundtracked by the cameraman’s whispered enthusiasm about the critter’s size (and, for some reason, his ears). After thirty unassuming seconds, an equally innocuous ad for what looks like a prescription allergy medication starts up, with all the usual tropes. A loving but harried mom in a bucolic suburban setting lives in an adenoidal fog, unable to attend to her plucky rugrats, until some pharmaceutical magic wipes away the haze. It’s soon clear this isn’t the real deal — the kids are too shrill, the mom too sickly, and the side effects too numerous for this to be anything but a parody. After all, this is Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s nighttime block of largely bite-sized shows for adult audiences with the audiovisual munchies. Riffing on commercial culture is what they do.

But before you can say “Happy Fun Ball,” the music slowly fades out, the mother’s smile cracks and fades, the yellow police tape of a crime scene looms into view, and the nightmare begins. What follows is eight minutes of pure dread, involving menacing phone calls, crazed doppelgangers, terrified children, attempted vehicular homicide, an ear-splitting soundtrack, and the most harrowing portrayal of psychosis this side of Titicut Follies.

If that bait-and-switch sounds familiar, you’re likely one of the millions of people who caught Too Many Cooks fever a few weeks back. Like Unedited Footage and saccharine drug commercials, TMC took an overfamiliar airtime-filler, in this case the opening credits of a late-‘80s sitcom, and slowly skinned it alive. Lurking within the corny comedy is a machete-wielding killer who stalks his countless castmates through their credit sequences, and eventually remakes TMC’s tv-reality in his own dark image, as if his evil is strong enough to warp the videotape used to capture it.

Too Many Cooks became a viral sensation, and put Adult Swim’s “Infomercials” initiative — an entire series of satirical stand-alone short films by a variety of AS-associated writers and directors, all of them dropped on unsuspecting viewers in the small hours without so much as an official slot on the schedule — on the map. And it cut to the heart of one of TV’s strangest secrets: Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s live-action stoner-comedy block, is making great horror on the regular.

I wrote about Unedited Footage of a Bear (the scariest TV show of 2014), Too Many Cooks, Tim and Eric, and the new wave of Adult Swim horror for the New York Observer.

Works cited: Twin PeaksMarble HornetsThe Philosophy of Horror by Noël Carroll, Pim & Francie by Al Columbia, and Sam Peckinpah’s Salad Days.