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Real (fake) comedy

4/8/2015

“The Comedians”

Pictured: Key Art (L-R) Josh Gad, Billy Crystal. CR: Frank Ockenfels/FX

Pictured: Key Art (L-R) Josh Gad, Billy Crystal.
CR: Frank Ockenfels/FX

Thursday, April 9 (FX)

“Comedy is like heart surgery — it gets botched all the time,” says Josh Gad (as Josh Gad) in the pilot episode of “The Comedians.” “But, if you keep it loose and don’t overthink it…you can fix people’s hearts.” Gad is the other half of “The Billy & Josh Show,” a fictional FX variety series that was forced upon Billy Crystal (as Billy Crystal) after his one-man-show version was soundly rejected by test audiences, and “The Comedians” is the fictional behind-the-scenes doc — you follow? Even funnier than the idea that FX would buy a dated train wreck like “Billy & Josh” are Crystal and Gad’s clashing heightened-character comedic styles: Crystal plays “Billy” old school and only mildly self-absorbed, whereas Gad goes all-in to make “Josh” a delusional man-child idiot (which he’s played before, but takes to a whole new, creepy level here). “The Comedians” may not fix hearts, but it could fix Crystal’s comedy cred after years of lazy hackery (take note, Steve Martin).

 

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“Game of Thrones”

Sunday, April 12 (HBO)

Finally, “GoT” truthers (“I refuse to watch anything until “Game of Thrones” returns!”) have something to live for once again. You know, there are other worthwhile series on TV — I write about them here every week. But I digress. With Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) none-too-dignified escape complete, Varys (Conleth Hill) provides him with a new mission beyond drinking himself to death in hiding (“Can I drink myself to death on the road?” he asks). Meanwhile, Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) rule in Meereen is being undermined — and don’t even ask about the dragons. Among the questions not answered in the “Game of Thrones” Season 5 premiere: Which will crash first under massive demand, HBO Go or HBO Now?

 

“Veep”

Sunday, April 12 (HBO)

If you thought the country was screwed with “House of Cards” Commander in Chief Frank Underwood, wait till you get a load of Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her SuperCut ascending-by-default to the office of president: She and her staff discover something they’re even more inept at than managing the vice presidency. Which leads to glorious excesses of profanity, trash-talking (“Veep” staples) and a scriptless Selina faking her way through her first speech as president (“I detest jazz, but this is impressive,” quips her strategist, played by the indispensible Gary Cole). Now, it’s up to this motley crew to get Selina elected for real; she’ll be campaigning and “building a roadmap to peace” simultaneously…all of which probably end in more frightening political truth than “House of Cards,” if not C-SPAN.

 

“Silicon Valley”

Sunday, April 12 (HBO)

Speaking of “datageddon” (my new favorite tech-nonsense term, courtesy of “Hooli” CEO Gavin Belson), every venture-capitalist company in Silicon Valley is now courting Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and Erlich’s (T.J. Miller) startup Pied Piper and their compression platform, while thinly-veiled Google stand-in Hooli is plotting to crush them before they can even begin. As he did with corporate culture in Office Space, “Silicon Valley” creator Mike Judge has painted a hilariously real picture of code monkeys as ill-equipped superstars, full of overly lavish (and overly awkward) parties and gone-in-a-nanosecond tech victories. And the stakes are even higher in Season 2 — or at least the jargon is deeper. CV

 

Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast (Tuesdays on iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.

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