With Lars Von Trier as "Pie"
November 6, 2014 3:58 PM   Subscribe

 
.........
posted by naju at 3:59 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


[this is the most amazing thing]
posted by naju at 4:02 PM on November 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


Great find!
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:06 PM on November 6, 2014


I was wondering if there existed a list of all the shows this video was parodying, so I came over to Metafilter to check.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:11 PM on November 6, 2014


I know some of the guys who worked on this, and what I love most is thinking how given that there's like three dozen mostly local Atlanta actors in it, statistically, we're almost definitely going to be seeing at least one of them in a popular show or movie in a few years and be like "holy crap, they were in that thing?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:12 PM on November 6, 2014 [28 favorites]


That was fantastic
posted by das_2099 at 4:19 PM on November 6, 2014


I know some of the guys who worked on this

Ask them about this. It's driving us all crazy.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on November 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


I watched this earlier today, and I was beginning to wonder if it was going anywhere, and boy howdy, did it ever.
posted by dortmunder at 4:23 PM on November 6, 2014


dortmunder: "I watched this earlier today, and I was beginning to wonder if it was going anywhere, and boy howdy, did it ever."

Yeah. It was like a roller-coaster of emotion.

0:30 - Okay, I think I can guess where this is going. But how are they going to fill 11 minutes?
1:00 - Alright. I guess this might work, but how much more can you do?
1:30 - Haha. What if the next 10 minutes was just more and more and more cooks?
3:00 - Oh, I guess they can do a bunch of different ones.
3:30 - Lars von Trier as "Pie"
4:00 through 11:24 - I am so very that glad I am not watching this on drugs.
posted by mhum at 4:36 PM on November 6, 2014 [60 favorites]


I know some of the guys who worked on this

Any chance you could ask what the budget for a short like that is, and how long it took to make? There are a ton of quick, one-off shots involving sets and models and costumes. I can't imagine how much work went into all that.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:41 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Any chance you could ask what the budget for a short like that is, and how long it took to make?

Yeah, and how many people were involved? Were... were there too many cooks?
posted by naju at 4:43 PM on November 6, 2014 [18 favorites]


This is amazing. A maze ing.
posted by brundlefly at 4:50 PM on November 6, 2014


The idea of an infinite, hellish television dimension is very appealing to me. This actually might already be a Hellraiser.
posted by codacorolla at 4:54 PM on November 6, 2014 [17 favorites]


Hellraiser: TGIF
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on November 6, 2014 [24 favorites]


This is so great. I was also trying to figure out how they were going to stretch it out into 11 minutes. I'm glad I found out.

The IMDB Page is nuts.
posted by sauril at 4:55 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


My friend Mary Kraft is in it! You might know her as Crystal from Squidbillies, if that's your kinda thing.

Mark Farley is featured a lot and was in the (sadly) single season of the 'Stuff You Should Know' TV show.

This thing is pretty great and I'm totally jealous that I didn't get to work on it.
posted by rock swoon has no past at 5:08 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Smarf!
posted by Rhomboid at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2014


That was amazing. All hail the new flesh!!
posted by Renoroc at 5:15 PM on November 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


Who was the poor sonofabitch who had to craft that theme song? Did he/she have to sell their soul to the devil?
posted by LN at 5:15 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


i honestly think the first appearance of Smarf might have staved off a for-real depressive episode. I haven't laughed that hard in at least three months.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:17 PM on November 6, 2014 [26 favorites]


Matthew Kody Foster
as
"COAT"
posted by koeselitz at 5:20 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


evidence of absence -- my guess is that, except in certain cases, most of the cast wore their own clothes. Also in addition to the boilerplate house set (under $1000 a day most likely*), you've got a couple of boilerplate offices (easy to shoot anywhere) and a very rudimentary hospital room (ditto), and a couple of similarly nondescript rooms, the only set that really stands out as unusual is the spaceship. And the only really crazy costume is the alien/dinosaur/godzilla thing.

My guess is that the most expensive part of this was the puppetry. You also probably need a fairly large AD crew to handle that much cast, though I guess they could have just paid 50 set PAs $100 each for the day.

Even the VFX is all stuff you can easily do in aftereffects.

*Though from the meta-chase sequence I'm guessing the house is actually on a stage somewhere in Atlanta?
posted by Sara C. at 5:22 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just realized I'd been very softly whistling the theme song to myself for the last ten minutes.

Then that guy snuck up behind me and beheaded me with a machete.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


I was as well, but cortex's Taylor Swift parody helped me shake it off.
posted by brundlefly at 5:36 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I watched this earlier today, and I was beginning to wonder if it was going anywhere, and boy howdy, did it ever.

I knew it was going to get pretty dark when Zizek showed up with that machete.
posted by batfish at 6:06 PM on November 6, 2014 [17 favorites]


Looking... looking... nope, can't find Tommy Westphall anywhere.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:10 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Lars von Spoiler!
posted by Fupped Duck at 6:19 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I found this OnDemand the other day and put it on the background while I was puttering around in the kitchen. I absentmindedly started singing along with it while I was cooking and then I realized it had been going on forever. I could only bring myself to watch it over once, but I loved it.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:20 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


4:00 through 11:24 - I am so very that glad I am not watching this on drugs.

The devil you say! You could say that about Adult Swim's entire lineup!
posted by jonp72 at 6:46 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like how they kept it real authentic to the 80s by not having any latino or asians. That was intentional, right?
posted by cazoo at 6:50 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


That was pretty darn catchy.
posted by carter at 6:51 PM on November 6, 2014


That song is in my head now. I can see the Blurred Man out of the corner of my eye.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 6:57 PM on November 6, 2014


i just watched it with the sound off. even more disturbing
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:00 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was puzzled for a while and then laughed from about 6:30 to the end.
posted by sweetkid at 7:00 PM on November 6, 2014


adult swim is so transparently targeted at stoners.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:00 PM on November 6, 2014 [15 favorites]


I also can't stop giggling at how the final scene used the same stock "sitcom chime" as the start of every episode of The Brak Show.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:14 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


The idea of an infinite, hellish television dimension is very appealing to me

Then this might be of interest as well.
posted by dgaicun at 7:56 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


jonp72: "The devil you say! You could say that about Adult Swim's entire lineup!"

Naw, man. Some stuff on Adult Swim should only be watched when you're high. Or so I've heard...
posted by mhum at 8:25 PM on November 6, 2014


I also can't stop giggling at how the final scene used the same stock "sitcom chime" as the start of every episode of The Brak Show.

As well,it should since Williams Street produced both this and The Brak Show.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:28 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm hoping so hard that the concept gets picked up as a full show, even though I have a feeling it's nearly unfilmable.
posted by codacorolla at 9:39 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Didn't make my comedy nipples leak, but so it goes sometimes.

I found myself wishing they'd hired the LiartownUSA guy or gal to come up with funnier names, but maybe that wasn't the kind of comedy vein they were mining.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:22 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah I mean I dunno this very much has the Adult Swim Patented Tone and is less weird than it thinks it is, but eh, better than Chuck Lorre sitcoms, so sure, why not?
posted by Sara C. at 11:37 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I would watch this show.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:50 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought for sure IMDB would show Vernon Chatman or John Lee involved. It played like a lost Wonder Showzen episode.
posted by Hubajube at 5:23 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Room 641-A: "I could only bring myself to watch it over once"

I don't know why I started it again as soon as it was over but I did and was shocked to see the machete guy appearing as early in the video as 0:33. Re-watching was one of those "Wait, a gorilla walked through the basketball game?" kind of things. He's in four or five different background shots before his first real appearance in the police station.
posted by komara at 6:36 AM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


Sara C., did you watch the whole thing? It's very much as weird as it thinks it is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:37 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


The idea of an infinite, hellish television dimension is very appealing to me

This may also be of interest.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:41 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


stavros: There are a few exceptions, but most of the names in the video are the real names of the performers.
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:48 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Man, that made my stomach hurt. In, like, a kind of good way I think.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 7:27 AM on November 7, 2014


sauril: "This is so great. I was also trying to figure out how they were going to stretch it out into 11 minutes. I'm glad I found out.

The IMDB Page is nuts.
"

Yes - and not only were the literal cooks as jobs in the show at the start, and the idea that there were just too many people writing the script (at least that's what I thought), the IMDB shows that... well... almost all the characters are named COOK!

SO META!
posted by symbioid at 7:42 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Now I have that song in my head!
posted by symbioid at 7:42 AM on November 7, 2014


And yes - you seriously have to watch it all the way through if you think it's just the same joke over and over. I mean it is, but... It most very definitely is NOT.
posted by symbioid at 7:43 AM on November 7, 2014


It's like doubly hipster-ironic when you consider most shows don't have theme songs any more.
posted by symbioid at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2014


Not to dissect the frog here, but I wanted to comment on some of the ... uh ... composition? for lack of a better word. I watched it, and was aghast and amazed, of course. I watched it again and knew that I was looking out for That Guy during the whole thing, and so I had my eyes peeled for him. When the GI Joe sequence ended and a giant version of That Guy ran across the field wielding a machete I thought, "Why in the world did that not register with me the first time?" and I realized it's because the writers said, "Okay right ... NOW! is the tipping point, we've revealed the true story here, and so we need to put the brakes on for a second" and so they show you the Falcon Crest opening four times in a row, something to slow you down and fuck up the pace of the whole thing and totally distract you from the fact that you saw a gigantic cartoon man with a machete ... distract you just long enough that when he reappears you're like OH YEAH

if it had gone straight from GI Joe to Candace Mabry getting whacked it would have felt rushed - GI Joe giant machete man runs up the hill straightintoFalconCrestWHACK

so ... great job, Adult Swim weirdos.
posted by komara at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2014 [27 favorites]


Also it finally occurred to me what this reminded me of - if you want a much more compressed version of regular TV descending into madness I suggest waverlyflams' Pick Up The Phone.
posted by komara at 7:57 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Just saw this, came here to post it if it wasn't already, and the post even uses the same title I would have used.

And it also had a paint roller over a face!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:11 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Don't be afraid of me, but I'm pretty sure this was the inside of my teenage subconscious in video form.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2014


Here's my theory. Fat machete guy is kind of a cross between Deadpool and Morpheus. People get a disease which traps them in television hell. The only way to free them is by murder. But the rainbow cat alien is the representation of the Matrix / TV, and thus cat alien ensures the cycle goes on forever thanks to the reset button.
posted by honestcoyote at 8:16 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


The idea of an infinite, hellish television dimension is very appealing to me.


Relevant SCP.
posted by oneironaut at 8:37 AM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


I was shocked to see the machete guy appearing as early in the video as 0:33.

There's no way to have context for this on first viewing, but he actually shows up a little earlier. You can see his torso on the far right of the frame at 0:24, as Morgan Burch is being introduced.

Arguably his presence is there from the very beginning, as the theme song is about figuratively creating a soup from a family, and later in the video we see him literally cooking and eating them.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:43 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


This is so good. I'm so glad I watched the whole thing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:48 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


"but he actually shows up a little earlier"

Shit, I watched the first minute of the video twice trying to see the earliest appearance and I totally missed that. I will blame fatigue and alcohol.
posted by komara at 8:54 AM on November 7, 2014




After at least five viewings over as many hours, I am still trying to reconcile the killer's place in the Buck Rogers/Space 1999 Too Many Cooks. Is he canon as part of B.R.o.t.H or an interloper?
posted by zippy at 9:19 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hahahaha, now that I'm rewatching specifically to look for The Guy, he actually shows up quite a bit.
posted by codacorolla at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


My god - I can't... Now there's ...

If he's the "Hero" letting the suffering of Intronitis sufferers, then he's actually a cook, yes? He's letting the individuals free of suffering. But if he does it to all the entire universe collapses since it is, in a sense a shared hallucination.

The cat doesn't *reset* the intro - he forces the show to continue.

But in this sense, if the guy at the beginning kills everyone, the show can't go on, so the cat is the hero. But Who is suffering? Everyone? Just the main character? Is it a shared suffering? Is it just the one guy or the cat or both?

What about the cat being blasted to death? Is this similar to cartoon characters who never really die? Is he "god" then? Or is the dead one a clone/robot, and the real one is still alive? Or did he regenerate a la terminator (as imlied by the bot skeleton).

The question is: is the intro the ultimate reality or is it the interloper, and the show the ultimate reality. If everyone is killed will there still be a show?

I thought I read that they're airing this over and over at 3 am? Are the altering it little by little? Removing different people, freeing up space for the main show? Will the "first episode" of the show be the remainder when the too many cooks are killed and the goldi-locks "just enough" are remaining, which leaves enough room for the meat of the show and the intro normalized?

I am really going down a cookhole here, halp!
posted by symbioid at 9:37 AM on November 7, 2014 [27 favorites]


I thought I read that they're airing this over and over at 3 am? Are the altering it little by little? Removing different people, freeing up space for the main show? Will the "first episode" of the show be the remainder when the too many cooks are killed and the goldi-locks "just enough" are remaining, which leaves enough room for the meat of the show and the intro normalized?

I felt like it was slightly different when I showed it to my boyfriend two hours after I watched it, but I also thought maybe I was just being nuts.
posted by sweetkid at 9:40 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


So, in addition to the time I just posted, and the time that Ian A.T. mentioned, I counted him in 9 other scenes before he shows up in the G.I. Joe spoof. It's really brilliant, because he's always in a place that you'd never really look given sitcoms, and their disposable backgrounds and main focus on starring characters. Here's my imgur gallery of Spot the Killer.

On a side-note, it reminds me of what apparently happened to 'Til Death (an execrable Fox sitcom from 2010) that knew it was being canceled, so the writing team made it into a bizarre meta-textual joke. I say apparently, because I never watched it, and have only heard about it on the Internet.
posted by codacorolla at 9:41 AM on November 7, 2014 [17 favorites]


Metafilter: I say apparently, because I never watched it, and have only heard about it on the Internet.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:44 AM on November 7, 2014 [21 favorites]


Apparently I'm a nut job because I noticed capital H Him when he was lurking on the stairs near the beginning. After that I started keeping an eye out for him.
posted by brundlefly at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I initially saw this via John Cusack's twitter feed, of all places; he Tweeted the link, cursing the friend who told him about it and urging the Twitter world to "watch the whole god-damn thing." And I clicked, intending to watch just a few seconds. And then got sucked in, and wasn't thinking straight when it was over, and....well, what I'm trying to say is that this thing actually made me tell John Cusack he was "a magnificent bastard."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also - Ben Peck - looks really really familiar, but yet when I look I see nothing on IMDB but this... Is there another actor that looks like him (he's the guy in the Falcon Crest sequence that's sitting and takes off his hat).
posted by symbioid at 10:18 AM on November 7, 2014


Ask them about this. It's driving us all crazy.

Any chance you could ask what the budget for a short like that is, and how long it took to make? There are a ton of quick, one-off shots involving sets and models and costumes. I can't imagine how much work went into all that.

Chris Kelly and Paul Painter are the creators of the film and are doing an AMA on reddit at 6 PM EST tonight, if you want to, well, ask them anything.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:39 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I am pleased that the actor playing the machete guy is in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as "Someone Else (uncredited)".
posted by dfan at 10:40 AM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


Which reddit???
posted by symbioid at 10:40 AM on November 7, 2014


did you watch the whole thing? It's very much as weird as it thinks it is.

Clearly you've never seen this.

Or even this, which also went viral yesterday.

The first few minutes are pretty weird, but once it gels into a machete slasher thing, it calms way down because you suddenly have context for what you're actually watching. Hence being way less weird than it thinks it is. I mean, the pitch for this -- "what about an 80s sitcom credit sequence that turns out to be about A CANNIBALISTIC MURDERER" -- is like maybe only slightly edgier than your average SNL sketch.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yes, but there's this whole meta thing about who "cooks" and "broth" are and who's good and bad, and it is a giant fucking rabbit-broth hole.

Also? I am now experiencing some serious deja vu -- is anybody else having deja vu now??? Or then???
posted by symbioid at 10:58 AM on November 7, 2014


This is a dramatization of what happened after ABC canceled Twin Peaks. BOB simply moved on to the Fall '91 TGIF lineup.
posted by Iridic at 11:15 AM on November 7, 2014 [16 favorites]


Actually, Sara C. I have a friend who I can't always figure out what he likes or doesn't in this regards... He generally thinks most of the bizarre shit I like (Sealab, (Mr Show?), Tim & Eric, and other assorted Adult Swim type of humor) is dumb. But for some reason he liked this. I asked him why and he said he thinks it's because there's a plot of something, whereas he thinks a lot of that stuff is just being dumb/weird for the sake of dumb/weird.

So, I guess, to some people, having a plot makes it funny. To me it adds layers, for sure. I think without the plot it would have been more SNL, like, OK I get it 4 minutes it, doing the same damn riff. It's the plot that opens it up to new possibilities and ways of thinking.

Somebody just machete me now, because I'm kinda stuck in this thread and I want to escape this threaditis!!!
posted by symbioid at 11:18 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, per komara, I think peak weirdness is definitely in the repetitive Falcon Crest sampling just following the GI Joe parody. Because you think you've cracked the pattern ("oh haha it's a riff on retro TV genres!"), and then it just throws something meaningless in your face. So you're distracted again along the lines of wait what am I even watching...? and then BAM MACHETE GUY.

Everything after Falcon Crest is really just satisfying wad-blowing, as WHUT gives way to some answers about what the hell is going on here.
posted by Sara C. at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Chris Kelly and Paul Painter are the creators of the film and are doing an AMA on reddit at 6 PM EST tonight, if you want to, well, ask them anything.

Yeah, which subreddit? They don't appear on the schedule at /r/IAmA.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2014


Another thing that this reminded me of was Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners. She tells the story of a sort of guerilla Dr. Who television series about a towering, magical library and its inhabitants. The actors change fluidly, it appears to be shot alternately on high production sound stages and someone's living room, it appears on a different channel each time it airs, and there may be months between an airing. There are two stories: the TV show, and the kids watching the TV show. As they both progress, the TV show bleeds into the real life of the kids.
posted by codacorolla at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


I mean, the pitch for this -- "what about an 80s sitcom credit sequence that turns out to be about A CANNIBALISTIC MURDERER" -- is like maybe only slightly edgier than your average SNL sketch.

Again, I ask: did you watch the ENTIRE thing? That's only about halfway down its rabbit hole of surreal WTFery.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:30 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


He generally thinks most of the bizarre shit I like (Sealab, (Mr Show?), Tim & Eric, and other assorted Adult Swim type of humor) is dumb. But for some reason he liked this.

To clarify: I don't think this video is "dumb" at all. It's hilarious and beautifully crafted. It's just not as inscrutable as it seems at first glance. Because the second half answers all the questions the first half poses, and in a very satisfying easily contextualized way (the reliance on the machete killer is especially tired/simplistic*). So, yeah, it's not as weird as it thinks it is. That's not a slight on it, as a thing, at all.

Also, full disclosure, some friends of mine produced one of the other Adult Swim Infomercials, and as much as I think they are talented people and their piece is funny and clever, it's not as exciting as this one, by half.

I don't think something has to be The Smartest/Weirdest/Edgiest Comedy Ever to be good.

*SO MANY comedy sketches end with a violent gory psycho killer blowing everybody away. So. Many. That's basically sketch comedy 101 level "how to end your sketch".
posted by Sara C. at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


"what about an 80s sitcom credit sequence that turns out to be about A CANNIBALISTIC MURDERER"

That's a really inaccurate description of the premise.
posted by brundlefly at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Then again, maybe the machete killer is actually a meta-commentary on that particular sketch comedy cliche?

WHAT IF THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE STOCKPOT
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


That's a really inaccurate description of the premise.

Not really. That's the 10-second elevator pitch of "what kind of Infomercial do you want to make".

Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, but I am 100% positive that this is how it was initially pitched.
posted by Sara C. at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2014


I stared at it until the cop show part started ( I think) and then laughed right through to the end
posted by sweetkid at 11:34 AM on November 7, 2014


I kind of doubt how that's how it was pitched actually. The slasher guy was just one (prominent) thread in a much, much stranger whole. If that's how it was pitched they went really, really far afield. But, whatever. Either way it's a ton of fun.
posted by brundlefly at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reaction to this feels like the final 2 seasons of Morel Orel all over again. People think there's this thing going on because it's from Adult Swim so it's all drug humor and pop culture parody, but it's so much more than that. Maybe not a groundbreaking work for the ages but pretty fucking fantastic for something that's coming from a major media outlet.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:38 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


tl;dr It's not just trying to be funny.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:38 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


It feels like drug humor and pop culture parody, but you don't HAVE to be high to get into it I don't think. I also think I got extra into it because my boyfriend is into showing me obscure 80s self mocking things (like Sledgehammer, which had to have been an inspiration/reference point)
posted by sweetkid at 11:44 AM on November 7, 2014


SO MANY comedy sketches end with a violent gory psycho killer blowing everybody away. So. Many. That's basically sketch comedy 101 level "how to end your sketch".

But that's not how this ends. That's what happens at the midpoint or just past it. There is around 40% of the film left when that happens. After that, there's still a bit where it turns briefly into a sci-fi show, and then after that, the entire fabric of its reality spasms. Characters start showing up in previous scenes in the wrong combinations, with cute preteens yelling at rogue cops from their captain's desks, aliens at the office, etc.

And then, most most memorably, the actors and their names switch places with odd beings made from the actor's names re-enacting scenes, captioned not by more names, but by the flailing, horizontal, tortured bodies of the people. Then the alien cat, with his dying breaths, pushes a secret button to reset their entire existence.

If any of that is commonplace in the television you watch, WE ARE GOING TO NEED SOME LINKS. Because you live in a more interesting world than we do.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2014 [46 favorites]


Not only is this short film not built of fairly standard SNL-like elements, it exists on a plane of disturbing and surreal so far beyond such shows that it cannot be measured on any scale shared with them. You have to break out the Tim & Eric scale for weirdness on this, and even then, you're pretty much redlining the needle.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:51 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


there's still a bit where it turns briefly into a sci-fi show, and then after that, the entire fabric of its reality spasms. Characters start showing up in previous scenes in the wrong combinations, with cute preteens yelling at rogue cops from their captain's desks, aliens at the office, etc.

Sure, but the psycho machete guy still features in all of that. He's there till the end. He's the one constant for the whole video.

The concept gets bigger than psycho killer 80s TV, but there is no part of the video that doesn't fall under that rubric. Even the resolution, which involves a distinctly ALF-like puppet as the machete killer's counterpoint. So, still a riff on 80s TV.
posted by Sara C. at 11:57 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, re what out there is weirder, or makes this look "not that weird" in comparison, I provided several links above.

I'd also add:

Twin Peaks

A lot of Broad City (which doesn't go off the rails in the way this did, but really the off-the-rails-ish-ness is the least weird part since OH I DUNNO JUST MAKE IT REALLY REALLY CRAZY is another standard "how to end your sketch" cliche)

Rick & Morty

Those TV specials where Adam Scott & co recreate classic 80s TV opening credits (also arguably more creative for not going off the rails/resolving with gory murder)

Yacht Rock

off the top of my head.
posted by Sara C. at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't think either side of the "this is crazy weird" vs "this is not that weird" debate is going to convince the other, so maybe it's time to move on.
posted by dfan at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh, and Party Down, too, probably. And a lot of British stuff, of which Peep Show and Getting On come immediately to mind.
posted by Sara C. at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping so hard that the concept gets picked up as a full show, even though I have a feeling it's nearly unfilmable.

I think it's better this way. However, I would buy Too Many Cooks action figures.
posted by sweetkid at 12:09 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Those are shows that have surreal elements at times. This film had nothing but. I consider calling those things practically the same to be along the lines of saying buffalo wings have some spice so they are essentially the same as a soup made entirely from ghost peppers, but whatever. Agree to disagree, I guess. We'll agree you're wrong and you can disagree about that. (I KEED.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the "how weird is it?" debate is silly, but stylistically it reminds me of Sex House, Lake Dredge Appraisal and Porking Across America (so, all of the Onion's web shorts). Sex House especially.
posted by codacorolla at 12:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I never intended to get into a "How weird is it?" debate. I just thought Sara C. was making pronouncements on the show being ordinary that seemed based entirely on the less weird opening and middle segments. (I would hope I can be forgiven for wondering if she'd seen the entire thing when she spoke of "the ending" referring specifically to something that happened around the midway point.)

If I'm wrong and she saw the whole thing and still finds it ordinary, I won't give her any more crap over it. Peculiar though that opinion may be to me personally, it's her right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:15 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Actually, the "it went weird mid-way" thing kind of reminded me of the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared series....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lucky for me that I watched the whole thing before I saw this thread. Part of the fun was wondering whether they would really turn the crank one more time.
posted by Flexagon at 12:22 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


For future re-watching pleasure, Adult Swim has posted the video in 1080p on their YouTube channel.


I̩̲̩̤̣͓͔t̹͉̪̟̩̙̒͗͑ ̝̰̝͓̐ͪͧ͊̉͐t̙̲͇̫̘̤ͥ̓a̽͐̈ͩ̌̏k̒̓ͮe̟̣̼͔̭̟̮̽̓̄̏̔͒́s͖͆͌ͯͯ͂ ̥̞̝̯̟̠̱ͥͮ̈́ͬ̑̈̿1̱̊̎ͦ̐̒0̋̏̎8̦̇ͦ͑͒ͤ̔0̫͙̓̆̐p͎ͪ̒͊̿ ͕̗̺̈́̔̍͗̔ͣt̹͈̰̰̦̕o̡̭ ̷̤̤̙͖̫͚̲m̮̓̉͢a̡͕̦̝̪̽ͩk̻ͯ̋̇ͬ͆̊͟e̋͏̯̯̙̮̥͚͓ ̟̔̃ä͎͓͕͓́̏ͬ̅ͮ͡ ̳͇͓̅̏s͍͈̜̰̬̠̏͛̾ͦͩ͡t̜̪͙̒͋͑e̴ͪ̌͛̊̑w̡̪̱̮̠̺̉
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy at 12:59 PM on November 7, 2014 [30 favorites]


"This is the story of C.O.O.K.S. - Cybernetic Operational Optimized Knights of Science"

omg the silent "k" kills me.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


For answers to some burning questions before the AMA, here's an interview with creator Casper Kelly
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Someday someone will write a thesis/dissertation about the weird shit adult swim aired.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:11 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


A friend writes:
In the end, machete guy replaces the father in the photo. He was the father all along? Throughout, the father can never quite show up in any of the family photos. but when he finally does, we then see who he really is.
Not sure how this fits in, but on my fourth (!!) viewing, I realized the patient in the doctor scene is the father.
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:14 PM on November 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


Ok guys I've been watching this on loop for a while now and if you look really carefully the guy actually appears right from the start as a reflection in your monitor scre
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:16 PM on November 7, 2014 [45 favorites]


Another thing that this reminded me of was Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners. She tells the story of a sort of guerilla Dr. Who television series about a towering, magical library and its inhabitants.

Good call, it very much has the wry slow-burning macabre feel of some Kelly Link also. Kelly Link by way of 200 Motels maybe

Sara C., I think you've got it backwards. Tim and Eric is paradigmatically not as weird/psychedelic as it thinks it is, and "Catherine" is just the idea: what if David Lynch hygiene film stuff without ever the satanic eruption.
posted by batfish at 2:25 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


in twenty years there will be an academic paper written called 'too many cooks: the pop-culture oroboros of the mid-teens and American culture's search for a new identity' about the cannibalization and obsession with old stories, tropes, and pastiche.

it will go unnoticed, until someone thirty years later is skimming through old academic journals for their future-tumblr blog dedicated to re-discovering the work of forgotten academics in the mid-thirties.
posted by Tevin at 2:37 PM on November 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


Guys, it's a gritty remake of Stay Tuned
posted by The Whelk at 2:42 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well, I hope you're all happy. My neighbors hate me.

♬ Too Many Cooks (too many cooks) ♬
♬ Too Many Cooks (too many cooks) ♬
posted by Room 641-A at 2:48 PM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


codacorolla: "Another thing that this reminded me of was Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners. She tells the story of a sort of guerilla Dr. Who television series about a towering, magical library and its inhabitants. The actors change fluidly, it appears to be shot alternately on high production sound stages and someone's living room, it appears on a different channel each time it airs, and there may be months between an airing. There are two stories: the TV show, and the kids watching the TV show. As they both progress, the TV show bleeds into the real life of the kids."

By the way, this short story, and the whole collection it's from (also called Magic for Beginners, is so, so, so good. Magic is a good word for it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:53 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Vulture scored an interview with creator Casper Kelly, asking all the questions inquiring minds want to know (e.g "Were you or anyone involved high during the process?").
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:22 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Here's the AMA.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:44 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


From the AMA:

EDIT: 6:48pm Atlanta time. Thanks everybody for this wonderful wonderful time. Once in a lifetime thing. I love redditors so much and this was so fun. Paul is going to hop back on later tonight and answer more questions. I am going to get blackout drunk.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:47 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am going to name my next cat Smarf.
posted by exogenous at 4:53 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's a very similar MadTV sketch from 2003. It doesn't push the premise into Adult Swim gonzotude, but the start and end segments are conceptually identical.

There was a recent SNL riff off of old sitcoms that was also pleasantly strange in its own way.
posted by dgaicun at 5:09 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


That was genius. And I don't use that word lightly.
posted by zardoz at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2014


Ian A.T.: "There are a few exceptions, but most of the names in the video are the real names of the performers."

This is true. Which means that the cool kid at 1:14 is really named Gwydion Lashlee-Walton. Gwydion. Lashlee-Walton.
posted by mhum at 5:44 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Were you or anyone involved high during the process?"

god, what a boring question
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


I mentioned to Nickthetourist this morning that it reminded me of some of the weird shit that was on MTV back in the 90s like Sifl and Olly or The State.
posted by fiercekitten at 6:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


'i am smarter than this bit of media' is a children's game, and the idea that this video is a riddle to be solved (or that it possesses an integer Weirdness Score straightforwardly compared to other videos' scores) is silly. is surrealism not a thing that people know about anymore?

great stuff, this.
posted by waxbanks at 7:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


Neither is it mutually exclusive. It can be enjoyed and appreciated for its surrealism AND analyzed for deeper meaning and context, and in a meta-sense the realization that this analysis for deeper meaning and context is itself a realization of surrealistic futility.

And yes, great stuff, this, quite.
posted by symbioid at 8:42 PM on November 7, 2014


The number of people asking straight boring "but what happened when...?" and "what is the exact nature of...?" questions about events easily visible to anyone who has seen the video is making me irrationally angry. I had no idea the average redditor was really that dull.
posted by Sara C. at 9:02 PM on November 7, 2014


This is a pretty cool detail, though.
posted by Sara C. at 9:05 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


♬ Too Many Cooks (too many cooks) ♬

Speaking of this ear worm, are we certain this video isn't like The Ring and that hearing the song over and over again isn't actually going to turn us all into the guy with the machete?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:10 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


Also, yes, I was 100% right, it was pitched very simply as just a TV opening sequence that goes on forever. They initially didn't even pitch the machete killer part:
I think it was a shower idea - just simply the idea of a show sitcom open that doesn't stop. It made me laugh. But I didn't think it could work for 11 minutes so I didn't do anything with it. Then my coworker Jim Fortier (Squidbillies) told the idea to Mike Lazzo (head of Adult Swim) at a party and he laughed. So I decided to go for it. I told Mike I wasn't sure it could work for 11 minutes - just adding actors. Mike said even Andy Kaufmann would only do that for about 4 minutes - and then I needed to start zigging and zagging. He was right.
In general from reading the AMA it doesn't seem like any of the highfalutin interpretations we've come up with were intentional. Even the repeating falcon thing was apparently a mistake and not an intentional palate cleanser.

But, dude. The machete guy is in the frickin painting. How cool is that? I love that these dudes were so committed to this idea. I think it's what makes this Infomercial rise above the others Adult Swim commissioned.
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


No - if anything, MCMikeNamara, it would propagate as your name hovering near you as you find a camera, look, and smile. Just... beware a lurking man with a machete.
posted by symbioid at 9:14 PM on November 7, 2014


It is noteworthy that Cartoon Network has taken bigger risks to produce cutting edge comedy than Comedy Central (It seems like CC has mostly pulled away from Strangers With Candy-like experimentation). It's safer to go with @midnight than anything vaguely influenced by Andy Kaufman.

If you're interested in similar humor, another David Lynch inspired Adult Swim horror-comedy was The Heart, She Holler.
posted by dgaicun at 9:58 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also, yes, I was 100% right

Were you though?
posted by codacorolla at 9:59 PM on November 7, 2014 [22 favorites]


Yes in that this was not pitched to Adult Swim as a delicately crafted surrealist masterpiece. It's exactly what it seems to be: a funny gag expanded out to fit a pre-determined time slot with the use of two very common sketch comedy tropes: the Psycho Killer and the Everything Goes Off The Rails Ending.

Is it extremely cool? Yes. Did the guys who made it do an exceptional job, committing far more to the project than most half-baked ideas like this ever inspire? Absolutely.

But at the end of the day, yeah, it's a comedy bit and was pitched as a comedy bit and anything else you take from it is lagniappe.
posted by Sara C. at 10:08 PM on November 7, 2014


from it is lagniappe

Is it though?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:11 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you know what the expression "lagniappe" means though?
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 PM on November 7, 2014


¯\_(ツ)_/¯

just bustin' chops :)
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:23 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C., you know we can go upthread and see what you said there, and compare it to what you said later, right?
posted by nushustu at 11:58 PM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


My favorite comment from the reddit AMA.
posted by zippy at 12:00 AM on November 8, 2014


For those trying to identify the various inspirations, the short-lived 1990 sitcom Going Places looks like the source for most of the first half. (Its Wikipedia entry features an amusingly detailed account of the opening sequence.)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:14 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


It was like that dream where I can't get out of the mall because it just keeps going.

Only a lot better.
posted by mimi at 4:36 AM on November 8, 2014


I feel like I'm 14 all over again but with added hallucinogens.
posted by h00py at 4:58 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


this was not pitched to Adult Swim as a delicately crafted surrealist masterpiece. It's exactly what it seems to be: a funny gag expanded out to fit a pre-determined time slot with the use of two very common sketch comedy tropes:

You don't have to defend a super radical theory of interpretation to think meaning isn't straightforwardly fixed by authorial intent. But look, this comment says it's not a "delicately crafted surrealist masterpiece" because that's not how it was pitched to Adult Swim. But the same comment acknowledges it's delicately crafted, and it is manifestly surrealist, so... what's the good faith argument that it doesn't support richer interpretation?
posted by batfish at 5:07 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's still early here on the west coast, but I got up and started making coffToo Many Cooks (too many cooks) Too Many Cooks (too many cooks) Too Many Cooks (too many cooks) Too Many Cooks (too many cooks) HOW DO YOU MAKE IT STOP??

I've stopped singing the upbeat, cheerful version; now it's the slowed down, ominous one.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:38 AM on November 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am going to name my next cat Smarf.

Fuck that, I am going to rename one of my current cats Smarf.

This was brilliant. And I daresay it was even better if you lived when the shows they spoof were actually aired. (I'm guessing most of you are not old enough to remember.)
posted by desjardins at 7:21 AM on November 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


Masterpiece.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 7:31 AM on November 8, 2014


Oh god - that Going Places theme was fucking absolutely execrable. I don't ever recall seeing that show.

I oft-times miss the grand theme songs of yesteryear, cheesy ones like "Charles in Charge" or awesome ones like "Knight Rider"... A-Team, WKRP, Bosom Bodies, Greatest American Hero...

I then think - man, I wish we still had theme songs. But that Going Places them makes me think that maybe removing theme songs was a good idea overall, sure we lose some great tunes, but perhaps nostalgia makes me only remember the good, and forget the horrible turds out here.
posted by symbioid at 8:14 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes in that this was not pitched to Adult Swim as a delicately crafted surrealist masterpiece. It's exactly what it seems to be: a funny gag expanded out to fit a pre-determined time slot with the use of two very common sketch comedy tropes: the Psycho Killer and the Everything Goes Off The Rails Ending.

It's weird and dumb that you set up delicately-crafted masterpiece and comedy gag as different and possibly-oppositional things.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:46 AM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


i hate to be contrary but i think there are exactly as many cooks as are called for
posted by COBRA! at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


I've had the Going Places theme stuck in my head for 20-some years now. I thought I was the only one who remembered that show and now I find that Wikipedia has the whole damn thing mercilessly described. I guess the Internet never truly forgets.

Going places / brand new faces...
posted by Servo5678 at 9:23 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can we stop using David Lynch as a catch-all for anything surreal on television? This isn't Lynchian in the least. Neither is most of what people call Lynchian.

What's more, this whole tedious "I am a Comedy/Filmmaking Auteur and here is my Objective Proclamation About This Work" that some people are bandying about in this thread is hands-down the most tedious way to talk about art, let alone television, let alone FUNNY television. An 11-minute production-heavy short is gonna exist along more than one or two axes, and talking about the one or two that you know as if they're the only ones that matter only reveal to the rest of us how shallow and precious your understanding of this sort of craft really is. It's a slog and it achieves nothing and it is really sort of bumming me out to read.

I really enjoyed this, on first watch. Now to watch it a bunch more times.
posted by rorgy at 9:36 AM on November 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


Do you know what the expression "lagniappe" means though?
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 PM on November 7 [+] [!]

By far, the funniest thing in this thread.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:03 AM on November 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


Also how did the killer character get the name "Bill" in his imdb credit, and does being (almost) the only one name character mean that his genesis is from Home Improvement's Wilson, the character no one sees, finally grown unable to contain his frustration and going on first a photobombing run and then a homicidal spree?

Too many cooks? Too many cooks
posted by zippy at 10:05 AM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


>This isn't Lynchian in the least.

Actually, it is.

posted by Catblack at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can we stop using David Lynch as a catch-all for anything surreal on television? This isn't Lynchian in the least. Neither is most of what people call Lynchian.

I can only speak for myself, since I did call this "Lynch inspired". As well as The Heart, She Holler. I could offer similarities for you to nit-pick, but that is unnecessary since the creators of both shows have both explicitly said that David Lynch was an influence.

Casper Kelly: I love [David Lynch] so much it has to be an influence. And Andy Kaufmann. Charlie Kaufman. Beyond the Black Rainbow. And of course Small Wonder.
posted by dgaicun at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Reading through this discussion has crystallized for me how much I dislike critiques that take the form of "not as [funny / interesting / smart / edgy] as it thinks it is," not because it's not fair game to point out that something isn't so smart or interesting (though I'm not sure anyone uses "edgy" except sarcastically these days, so that's a separate rant), but because there's usually something dishonest about measuring those qualities against an imaginary sense of how good a piece (somehow) perceives itself to be.

Because ultimately critiques that take this form aren't really criticizing a piece for not being smart/funny/etc. enough, but rather accusing the piece of a form of vanity. (And I'm not sure that supposed vanity can ever really be located in the text/object/piece itself?)

(An exception might be when it's clear that people performing are having more fun than their audience, or the sort of group cheering/applauding scenes that can read directly as narrative self-congratulation. I think the Battlestar Galactica reboot was often guilty of the latter?)
posted by nobody at 12:47 PM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


I have GOT to get some of this music on my ipod somehow.
posted by freakazoid at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that supposed vanity can ever really be located in the text/object/piece itself?)

Oh man, e.g. the smarmy vanity of Jimmy Fallon's humor? Granted, when he fake cracks himself up, that's intertextually increasing the smarmy vanity of his whole oeuvre, but it's not just that.
posted by batfish at 1:00 PM on November 8, 2014


I woke up this morning with this in my head, it won't go away. Please help.
posted by SarahElizaP at 1:07 PM on November 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I finally got my roommate to watch it, and watching someone else's first watch is almost as magical as your own first time.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've seen a lot of people say they can't watch past about the three minute mark. I think this video could be used as an ADHD assessment tool.
posted by desjardins at 1:31 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


This isn't Lynchian in the least. Neither is most of what people call Lynchian.

I don't know, I mean it's not exactly like something that Lynch would make, but certainly the machete guy owes something to Robert Blake's character in Lost Highway in terms of being used as a simultaneously menacing and comic figure who jumps around from framing story to framing story to provoke a sense of surreal unsettlement in the viewer.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:06 PM on November 8, 2014


The Button also reminds me of The Box in Mulholland Drive. Certainly the pacing and direction takes more cues from sitcoms than Lynch but there are certain narrative tropes that feel Lynchian to me, like the dreamlike quality of it and the implied circularity of it.
posted by speicus at 2:20 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is when exactly the name "Too Many Cooks" occurred to them. Along with the premise? Before? After they'd written a chunk and realized how much crap they were throwing in? It's such a genius theme -- really speaks to mass media as creative-death-by-committee.
posted by gusandrews at 4:04 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig MetaFilter?
If at first you don't succeed at becoming Wonder Woman, spin, spin again.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:35 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I see that the link was already posted upthread, but the HD version also has closed captions for my deaf/hard of hearing friends.
posted by desjardins at 6:52 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


The idea of an infinite, hellish television dimension is very appealing to me.

Then you need to rent "Stay Tuned". Or, er, one might find it on the You of the Tubes. If one were inclined, y'know.
posted by WCityMike at 7:27 PM on November 8, 2014


Rick Porter @Zap2itRick: Looking forward to Adam Scott re-creating the "Too Many Cooks" credits on Adult Swim in 2019.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


The idea of an infinite, hellish television dimension is very appealing to me.

This was the whole premise of Marvel Comics' Mojoverse! And actually, now might be a really great time for a Marvel Films adaptation of Longshot.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:51 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


"MAGAZINE: The Magazine. In this issue, Ways To Turn Articles Into Words On Glossy Paper"
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:59 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Buzzfeed has a decent article up: What’s Behind Our Obsession With “Too Many Cooks”
posted by desjardins at 8:31 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've seen a lot of people say they can't watch past about the three minute mark. I think this video could be used as an ADHD assessment tool.

Or a measure of a particular brain's ability to protect itself from memetic viruses.

For those trying to identify the various inspirations, the short-lived 1990 sitcom Going Places yt looks like the source for most of the first half.

I can't even watch that intro without being on edge about what fucked-up thing is going to happen next.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:34 PM on November 8, 2014


At around 7:00, I thought maybe that the whole thing was Machete Guy's fever dream, and that when he tries to put himself more firmly in that world, even in his own mind, he can't... quite... fit... in...

And then it went into Smarf's thing, and I realized I should just let it all unfold before trying to make sense of it - or that I shouldn't try to make sense of it, period.
posted by droplet at 9:41 PM on November 8, 2014


Speaking of Lynch, his own nightmarish twist on network TV: Rabbits!
posted by codacorolla at 7:34 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, now see, THAT was Lynchian. Too Many Cooks not so much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:46 AM on November 9, 2014


Oh, and has anyone done a canonical list of all the "Where's Waldo" moments with the machete guy?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on November 9, 2014


EC, codacorolla started an imgur gallery, but I don't know if it's canon. YET.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:26 AM on November 9, 2014


There are certain elements that I would describe as being similar to Lynch's work without making a direct comparison. The use of sound design to evoke horror - first, because the theme song goes on way longer than we're comfortable with a sitcom intro going on (look at how many people turn it off at the three minute mark), second the way that the soundtrack warps, skips and breaks down as the narrative breaks down. I would say that the sound design is definitely the strongest element of the work.

It's also doing some Blue Velvet stuff, with looking at archetypal American life and finding the disgusting elements beneath it. Most directly it's comparable to Twin Peaks, where it's taking an accepted cultural form and "weirding" it. Sort of how Lynch and Frost have their soap opera characters existing in the same world as the show-within-a-show Invitation to Love, directly paralleling events that have happened and are about to happen in the top-level narrative of the story.

With both Twin Peaks and this short, I think the goal is to look at how weird the reality of a sitcom (or any broadcast television) is. A sitcom is about bad stuff constantly happening to its characters. If Drew Carrey doesn't have a constant, belittling conflict with his boss's secretary then we have nothing to laugh at. It would be boring to see Drew come into his open floor plan office and actually get work done for fifteen minutes, have a satisfying lunch with Oswald, and then go home content. Instead bad stuff is constantly happening to Drew. It always gets resolved, granted, but his life exists as one disaster after another, taking place (mostly) in the same four or five locations with the fourth wall cut away so the camera can watch.

In film, at least, the conflict is usually resolved at some point and the characters have some release from their staged existence. The sitcom exists like a parasite, constantly subjecting its characters to terrible events so long as that's profitable, for the purpose of selling cleaning products to a barely interested god-like third party.

As Too Many Cooks breaks down, and we see the sorority girl running down the seemingly endless sound-stage universe, it's less creepy that there's a machete wielding cannibal, and more creepy that these beings exist in a staged universe of constant calamity for the entertainment of others. Bill is the element that causes the Too Many Cooks machine to break down, but from the perspective of the sitcom as a meta-parasite, he's maybe even the hero. Smarf resetting the machine so that it continues could arguably be a much more vile act than chopping up the family.
posted by codacorolla at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh, another point of comparison is the cruel and strange reality TV show, Joe Schmoe, where a single man was planted in a vast, pre-staged hoax targeted specifically at him. If you can stomach the premise of fucking with a single man's view of reality for fun and profit, then it's worth watching.
posted by codacorolla at 9:37 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is Marc Farley related to Chris Farley, or is the resemblance coincidental?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:58 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


first, because the theme song goes on way longer than we're comfortable with a sitcom intro going on

This reminds me of Comedy Bang Bang, when Scott Aukerman used to play the really long version of the "Would You Rather" theme and made everyone sit through the fanfare until it finished. Here's a slightly shorter version, but very often guests who were unfamiliar with it would eventually start talking during it and Aukerman would always ask them to wait. In this case it's more absurd than discomfiting but it certainly made me twitchy.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:08 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


The earliest I've seen the machete guy is at :24 where he's standing over Morgan Burch's shoulder. I keep looking for him in the kid's drawing on the Dad's drafting table, but he's not there.
posted by sweetkid at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is Marc Farley related to Chris Farley, or is the resemblance coincidental?

I had the same question! The resemblance is uncanny. I even thought maybe it was a meta(meta)joke of some sort.
posted by naju at 10:51 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


On second viewing, 'Too Many Cooks' is about the death of the monoculture and the rise of the fractured (post-internet, post-ironic, post-kitsch) media landscape.
posted by naju at 12:06 PM on November 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Things we have decided there are too many of, today:

Books
Rooks
Crooks
Toques
Brookes
Kooks
And copies of Look magazine.
posted by The Whelk at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Okay, the damn song has been stuck in my head for a solid day. I actually begged people on Facebook to Rickroll me so it would stop.

(Actually, though, the best remedy for earworms is LOW RIDER. Which I am listening to on repeat right now.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 PM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


My list of serial killer background appearances with time & the main thing on screen:

00:24 Morgan Burch
00:30 family photo (he's on the stairs)
01:15 Ginny Gibbons (baby in highchair)
01:37 Gregory Rose
01:55 Mark Farley
02:04 box on head
02:24 family photo (on the stairs again)
03:03 Ali Froid (cop)
03:15 police crowd
03:17 Eugene Jackson
03:40 end of GI Joe-style sequence, first time as a main element
04:12 Candace Mabry (in the painting behind her, before really leaning in and attacking her).
posted by harriet vane at 9:49 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


re: vanity, I think that's a good word for the charge and I think the AMA linked above disproves the charge. The creators just wanted to make something surreal and funny, and it took off beyond their expectations. They weren't trying to make a masterpiece, or set new standards of comedy or whatever. They seem surprised (but pleased, obviously) that so many people find it as funny as they did when they made it.
posted by harriet vane at 9:55 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re: Action figures...

Funko is probably trying to secure the rights for the Reaction line right now. Look for a special edition Snarf in your December Loot Crate.
posted by drezdn at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2014


Also how was this not out before Halloween? It might have inspired me to actually put effort in.
posted by sweetkid at 10:36 AM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Okay, the damn song has been stuck in my head for a solid day. I actually begged people on Facebook to Rickroll me so it would stop."

"Oh... oh... oh dear god, no... Somebody Rickroll me. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RICKROLL ME NOW!"
posted by symbioid at 12:25 PM on November 10, 2014


drezdn: "Re: Action figures...
Look for a special edition Snarf in your December Loot Crate.
"

PSA:
This is Snarf.
This is Smarf.
Any questions?
posted by symbioid at 12:28 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


PSA:
This is Snarf.
This is Smarf.
Any questions?


...Actually, yeah - is it just me, or do Smarf and Snarf seriously look a lot alike?

(totally serious, just noticed that now)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Snarf is to Smarf as Chris Farley is to Mark Farley
posted by exogenous at 3:35 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Which Too Many Cooks Character are You? asks Buzzfeed.
posted by codacorolla at 3:38 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


See, I think that quiz might just be telling everyone they're Smarf no matter what they pick.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 PM on November 10, 2014


Hey so... I just thought of something.

They need to release a "Where's Waldo" style book, where you search for all the appearances of Bill (The Machete wielding guy) you can find.
posted by symbioid at 9:48 PM on November 10, 2014


Well - I got Lars von Trier!
posted by symbioid at 9:51 PM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


This thread is making me feel like a character in House of Leaves.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 10:09 AM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Vox's Todd VanDerWerff does the Vox thing on TMC, calling it an "ultra-grim rumination on the rotten core of most nostalgia".
posted by batfish at 12:21 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Todd Alcott has a good analysis with some points about sitcom intros I had never considered:
Typical of the shows it’s imitating, the characters in “Too Many Cooks” is introduced with the yellow title underneath each actor’s face (the names, if you’re curious, are the actual actors’ names) forces each character into a kind of embarrassed acknowledgement of the camera’s attention. This is a kind white, middle-class American noblesse oblige — no one is proud, exactly, to be caught on camera, but they’re willing to grin and bear it. The purpose of a device like this — the actors looking into the camera during an intro — is to invite the viewer into the show’s world. How can we look away when the characters have already acknowledged that they can see us? Not only can they see us, but they are humbled by our presence? It’s not a mere curtain call, where the actors face the camera as though to present a portrait of their characters; we’ve snuck up on them, and while they’re surprised to see us, they’re glad we’re here and chagrined that we didn’t catch them at a more heroic moment.
posted by komara at 12:31 PM on November 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


Took me long enough to place it: the endlessly spinning superheroine might be a nod to Dara Birnbaum's "Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman," an early piece of video art.
posted by Iridic at 1:29 PM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


🎶 Too many cooks 🎶
posted by Pronoiac at 10:35 AM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Chiptune version

PSA:
This is Snarf.
This is Smarf.
Any questions?


Whither Squanchy?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


And now, because everything needs a SesameStreet/Muppet version: "Too Many Cookies", starring... well you know...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:09 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


See, I think that quiz might just be telling everyone they're Smarf no matter what they pick.

Nope. It says I'm T̵͔̬̙͙̺̝ͪ̃̋̋̓̒ͬȟ̃ͤ͘e̒̂ͫͬ͡ ͦ̇̀K̛̳̊̓ͫ̆i̒̔l̠̰̠̮͇ͯ̏ͬ͛ͦͥ́͟l̩͓̝̘ͤ̐̒̆̆e̷̩̮͔͍ŕ̝̱̱̳̤ͯͥ̚͞.
posted by brundlefly at 11:06 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


and in episode 2, guest star Henry Winkler jumps the smarf...

BTW, there are already tshirts...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:05 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't call me obsessed, but last night I dreamed the start of a sequel, a "Too Many Cooks 2000" from the more recent 'Seinfeld Era' when the long opening sequences were eschewed in favor of running credits over the first several minutes of plot, only instead of actual plot, the multitudinous characters all make an entrance with overlaid actor credits to either canned canned applause or canned laughter as they utter their 'catchphrase', first in the living room and kitchen, including 'wacky neighbors' poking their heads through the windows (this was where I awoke and started continuing things consciously), then at the office, where a line of characters enter the boss's office, then we learn that the coffee machine is broken, so one is sent out for coffee to a coffee shop where the barristas are introduced, then call out for pickups by a dozen more characters (all getting their names wrong), then a uniformed cop picks up coffee (and doughnuts) to take back to the station, where a Hill Street Blues-style meeting introduces a bunch of cop characters (with cutaways to crime scenes where victims and perps get "Special Guest Star" credits), then to a hospital for 'Scrubs'-style rounds introducing a group of doctors and patients in Intensive Care (also "Guest Stars"), then back to the sitcom home where characters mention absent relatives and friends as "Also Starring", "Featuring" and "With" credits appear, everything with superficial short expository trivia. But if you've seen the first few minutes of any recent shows, you know it doesn't stop there. We then start with a long litany of "Producers", "Executive Producers", "Co-Producers", "Co-Executive Producers", "Associate Producers", "Consultants", "Creative Consultants", "Executive Consultants", then "Created By", "Developed By", "Based On", "Inspired By", "Adapted By", "Written By", "Original Story By", "Screenplay By"... which should be when things go off the rails, not with the serial killer like the original, but maybe with one of the kids walking in as mam says "Why home from school so early, Billy?" "Teacher sent us home... because the war has begun!" So the Producer/etc. credits can be shown over scenes of stock-footage massive destruction and frenzied mobs (led by bloodied show characters via bad green screen) and a final shot of the sitcom house in ruins with either "Directed By" or, for truly classic TV cliche-ness, "A Quinn Martin Production".

I think I need a job at Adult Swim... or just have my meds adjusted..
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:36 AM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Have you ever seen 'New Numa - The Return of Gary Brolsma'? You gotta leave well enough alone, otherwise you're courting tragedy. This is a dark path you tread, friend.
posted by komara at 10:45 AM on November 13, 2014


oneswellfoop: "And now, because everything needs a SesameStreet/Muppet version: "Too Many Cookies"

Too many cookies - are being eat in the dark.
posted by symbioid at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2014


Goddamn that chiptune! So amazing!
posted by symbioid at 11:00 AM on November 13, 2014




Dammit.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:02 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The only thing on the first page of YouTube search for "too many" that isn't TMC-related: "Too Many Addies" (and part 2). No, 'Addies' is not using the offensive slang for ADHD sufferers.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:13 AM on November 13, 2014


There are too many spies, titled nobility, and crazy people in here.

That's right, Too many spooks, dukes, and kooks
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 AM on November 13, 2014


...also too many cucumbers (cukes), thieves and burglars (crooks), chess castles (rooks), racist references to Vietnamese (gooks), catchy musical themes (hooks), bound printed volumes (books), Barnes & Noble e-readers (Nooks) and morons in Scorsese films (mooks).

But none of us have given too many fucks.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:00 PM on November 13, 2014


You people have a really faulty sense of what rhymes with 'cooks'.
posted by komara at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


They're probably Scottish or something.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:18 PM on November 13, 2014


What, like ... they're Scoots?
posted by komara at 12:23 PM on November 13, 2014


Too many Smoots.
posted by The Whelk at 12:36 PM on November 13, 2014


Too many Cloots
posted by Iridic at 12:43 PM on November 13, 2014


I'm still waiting for the porn parody...
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:46 PM on November 13, 2014



I'm still waiting for the porn parody...

Too Many Co-oh I see what you did there
posted by The Whelk at 12:49 PM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


You people have a really faulty sense of what rhymes with 'cooks'.

Honey, I think that's not true.

(Too many hoots.)
posted by Iridic at 12:54 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


It takes a lot to buy a country
A pinch of graft and corruption too
A scoop of money to add the spice
A media blitz to make it nice, and you've got
Too many Kochs!
Toooo manny Kochs!
posted by codacorolla at 1:19 PM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm still waiting for the porn parody...

it would just be "THIS AIN'T TOO MANY COOKS! XXX" like all the others. Porn parodies are creatively bankrupt these days.

Uh, a guy told me.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:37 PM on November 13, 2014


"TOO MANY COOKS: THE XXX PARODY"
posted by brundlefly at 3:12 PM on November 13, 2014


I'm still waiting for the porn parody...

A man and a woman walk into the living room of an upper-middle-class residence. Judging from the nice view in the window over the sofa, they are somewhere in southern California. They are in the middle of a conversation, from which we learn - the man brings it up for some reason, though of course they both already know - that the woman is the man's sister's best friend, and that they are in the man's sister's house. The woman has just come back from a long backpacking trip in Europe. She wanted to surprise the man's sister with a visit, but his sister isn't home. Why the man is there is not established.

As they continue to talk, the woman sits in the sofa beneath the window, the man on another sofa placed perpendicular to it. It turns out the woman broke up with her boyfriend while in Czechoslovakia; coincidentally, the man is single.

They proceed to have a long, boring, extremely awkward conversation that keeps going, and going, and going, and eventually the man's sister shows up and the man leaves.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:59 PM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


As a large, bearded, balding man with a machete and a fondness for sweaters, I'm totally chuffed. I've already done a set of "Bill" selfies.
posted by wotsac at 3:51 PM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Too many Smoots.
posted by The Whelk

Too many Cloots
posted by Iridic


Too many Groots?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


🎶 Too many poops 🎶
posted by Pronoiac at 4:50 PM on November 14, 2014


How the heck do we not have a Too Many Swedish Chefs video by now? I AM DISAPPOINTED IN YOU, INTERNET
posted by desjardins at 4:06 PM on November 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


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