Throughout television history, there have been many shows that went the way of the dodo.
Some of them disappeared because they were worthless pieces of shit, but others were like bright, dazzling comets, lighting up the tube momentarily and then vanishing forever. And I really want to share five of them with you because I’m almost certain you missed them. If you didn’t miss these five shows—bully for you, Dr. Cool Penis. But for rest of you culturally sheltered little nitwits, here are five awesome but sadly defunct shows I bet you never saw.
How’s Your News (2009) A news crew made up of developmentally disabled reporters who interview celebrities, politicians and the general public. How could that not be compelling? If you’ve never seen How’s Your News, you could be forgiven for thinking it sounds exploitative, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anyone was being exploited on this show, it was the interview subjects. I loved this show so much. It was on every Sunday on MTV but only ran for a season, which is a travesty. They gotta bring it back. Besides the MTV series, there were a couple of specials (they covered the Democratic and Republican conventions in 2004 and 2012) and also a feature film. Check out ya boy, Sean Costello introducing a piece about Texas. It’s one of my favourite things ever.
Fishing with John (1991) This show ran for one glorious season on IFC, and I wish to God they’d bring it back. Synopsis: actor John Laurie (Stranger than Paradise, Down by Law) goes on fishing trips with his famous mates: Jim Jarmusch (shark fishing in Montauk, NY), Matt Dillon (fishing in Costa Rica), Tom Waits (red snapper in Jamaica), Willem Dafoe (ice fishing in northern Maine) and Dennis Hopper (giant squid in Thailand, double episode). I seriously recommend you binge this one immediately. It’s brilliant. My favorite is the Willem Dafoe episode, but it’s all solid gold. Bring it back, John!
After Dark (1982–85) I wasn’t allowed to stay up late enough to see After Dark because I was still shitting my pants and couldn’t yet pronounce ‘spaghetti,’ ‘chimney’ or ‘cordial.’ Which is a shame—After Dark was awesome. It was like the popular Australian pop music show Countdown, only way cooler, thanks to its host, Donnie Sutherland (OAM). Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum is fine an at interviewing musicians, but Donnie Sutherland leaves him in the dust. Donnie was cool, laid-back, genuinely inquisitive, and got along like a house on fire with his guests—and he had the best guests: Mark E. Smith, John Cooper Clarke, Chrissie Hynde, Jello Biafra, Black Sabbath, Martha Davis, Jonathan Richman, John Cale, etc., Meanwhile, Molly was stumbling over his words with The Little River Band. Sorry, Molly is a national treasure, but Donnie doesn’t get the recognition he deserves (besides the OAM) You can check a bunch of episodes of After Dark (and Sounds, a later version of the show) out here.
The Young Ones (1982–84) The hipper-than-thou twenty-somethings among you will be rolling their eyes and saying, ‘The Young Ones? Duh. Who doesn’t know The Young Ones?’ And I’ll tell you who—half the Monster Children office. Why? Because they represent most young people. Also, their mothers drank Windex during the third trimester. The Young Ones was a surreal sitcom about four undergraduate students (Rick, Vyvyan, Mike, and Neil) living in a filthy, ramshackle share house in north London. That’s the synopsis but by no means the show. I can’t even begin to explain the show. Just know that it was insane, hilarious, and one of the few occasions where television writers had the time of their lives.
The Sifl and Ollie Show (1997–99) Just when you thought our chance had passed, I went and saved the best for laaaaaast. Sifl and Ollie is the greatest show ever made in the history of television. I have a Sifl and Ollie tattoo. That’s how strongly I feel about this show; or at least that’s how strongly I felt that night in 2004 when I drank two bottles of rosé on a bet. Just kidding. There was no bet. The Sifl and Ollie Show is the masterwork of comedy genius Liam Lynch and his best friend, Matt Crocco, who made up stories, songs and skits from childhood into adulthood, and eventually landed this hit show on MTV (the lesson: stay silly and don’t stop having fun). Sifl and Olly are sock puppets. Everyone on the show is a sock puppet. The whole thing is wonderfully low-fi, and I’m sorry about the next eight hours of your life you are about to lose on YouTube. x Crom