Food Party? Whoop-doo!
It's understandable why you might have missed Chef Thu Tran and her all-new second season of Food Party. It's being buried. But like all great cult sensations, this is something that will slowly be discovered by late night creepers deep trolling for interesting fodder they can share with their co-workers vie a viral video the next day. Thu and her hardworking crew are currently reaching that point of heightened genius most great shows discover the further they get into their run. The first season was good. Interesting. Colorful. Very eye catching. If you happened upon it by accident, you'd definitely sit in bewilderment trying to figure out what, exactly, you'd gotten yourself into. That first season played like a transmission from the sunnier side of Hell. Season two is culling everything that was great about that first year, and propelling it forward in amazing and shocking ways.
What is Food Party exactly? It's a celebration of the culinary arts sped through at an accelerated rate. It's a cooking show for depraved foodies with a thread bare attention span and a thirst for new culinary dishes that are so beyond the realm of apolitical thought, you'll want to eat them out of sheer curiosity, yet hold back vomit by mention of their ingredients. It's also a puppet show. A self-reflective comedy of errors. It borrows heavily from Sesame Street, but embraces that conceit. It doesn't shit all over it and turn it into some weird, abrasive shocker like Wonder Showzen or Avenue Q.
Thu herself calls it visual MSG. As a performer, she is equally fascinating. A "mixed media artist" who resides in Cleveland, Ohio and works painting sub shop murals and penning book illustrations, she's not your typical TV personality. Her delivery is untrained. Which makes it oddly unique. She is constantly smiling, and having far too much fun. Its as though she is getting away with something impossible, and gleefully showering this snatch-and-grab attitude upon her audience with abandoned merriment. There doesn't seem to be any interference from IFC as to what she can do. This is her team's vision, and it never falters. It's an enterprise reaching its creative peak as we speak. It reminds me of another ten-minute episodic show that once dominated the Universe. If you like Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Food Party is riding the same Technicolor wave of Ultramodern brevity. Though in terms of quality and entertainment this sprummer season, Thu is smothering Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim under a warm snuggle of chuckles. Yes, she has snatched the torch from their loosening grip on utter weirdness.
Some might find that blasphemous. But Thu is fresh and clean, here in her second season. The boys' shenanigans ran a little dry as their fifth year came to a close this past Sunday with an almost inspired Christmas-in-May thirty-minute special revolving around the gag-inducing idea of "man milk". Their Season Cinco didn't serve up the usual hilarity we've come to expect out of TV's two most unlikely comedy heroes. Their latest episode run was dark and damp. It relied far too heavily on the obtained glory of past sketches. It wasn't funny for the most part. And a lot of it felt rehashed and stale. If you're a fan, and you've discovered the DVDs, you've most certainly watch the deleted sketches that were thrown in the dumpster. Season Cinco, quite shockingly, had a similar look and feel to those discarded ideas. The bright spots were fleeting. And the best parts weren't jokey. Yet rather intense and disturbing. Reflective of a dying culture engorged with its own inability to conjure new thought. It has been a state of the union address on America's love for repetition and complacency in the media. In a word. Its been too samey to be affective.
While putting together their latest ten episode box set, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim were also busy penning their first big screen incarnation Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. Which, if it clocks in at more than an hour and forty minutes, will be longer than all of Season Cinco combined. Of course it got all of their best jokes. Their newest, freshest material. The funniest gags. And the most inspired bits of insanity all to itself. But the boys weren't just taking on the auburn task of creating a show and a movie at the same time. They were also heavily contributing to HBO's funny or Die Presents. They parlayed their talents into Tool Frontman Maynard's vineyard documentary Blood Into Wine. They collaborated with that film's two directors in helping write the screenplay for the recently announced Queens of Country. And they've been helping John C. Reilly spin-off his Awesome Show character Dr. Steve Brule into his own series, which premieres on May 16th. That's not running out of steam. That's squeezing out scentless air farts of nothingness after evacuating the last remains of a huge thought bubble. That's exactly what we can equivocate Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season Cinco too.
I don't want to slam or disregard Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's current output of televised work. Some of it has merit, and its all leading to greater things down the road. Not every Wings album was a smashing success. Looked at as an avant-garde visual display instead of a comedy sketch show, these are still some of the most irreverent artists putting themselves out there today. They create truly original works of spasmodic ickiness. This past batch of episodes just happened to have a huge, grey cloud looming over them. And in turn, it's not the most approachable material being handed down from above. Some might call it the worst season to date. I'd rather look at it as an interesting case study in how far one should push their creative juices when they're already running low on gas.
The most interesting aspect to stem from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! this past season is that it immediately followed Breaking Bad's gasp-inducing crotch-kick of a third year. Bob Odenkirk is offering career best work on that show as lawyer Saul Goodman. Then we get to see and hear him as the grooming shepard of Tim and Eric. His participation on both series couldn't be any more different than the other, and it's amazing to watch him juggle his noted persona between these two very different projects. Anyone not watching Breaking Bad right now is missing out on not only Bob's deft hand at turning in stellar character work, but also on one of the best television series ever produced.
Food Party? Whoop-doo! Join this culinary soiree today! Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season Cinco? Boo! Though I have total faith that the movie is going to rejuvenate their motivational spirit. Breaking Bad season three? Whoop-holy fucking Christ-doo! Best thing on television at the moment. Period. And that about sums up everything going on in the world of Must-See TV at the moment.