Critic's Pick

TV Picks: 'Bajillion Dollar Properties,' Prince online

"Bajillion Dollar Properties" (Seeso). This spot-on mocking of a Bravo-style serve-the-rich workplace reality series comes to you from Seeso, NBCUniversal's relatively new all-comedy subscription service. (Other offerings include the "The UCB Show," a sketch anthology shot at the improv empire's Sunset Boulevard West Coast HQ; stand-up specials; next-day airings of the NBC's late-night shows; a heaping helping of British sitcoms from "Monty Python" to "Nathan Barley" -- the cognoscenti nod approvingly -- and full runs of "Saturday Night Live," "The Kids in the Hall," "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation.") The mechanics and melodramatics of reality television are so codified and well understood by now that the form typically runs on an edge of self-parody; it takes only the slightest push, the merest breeze, a wafer-thin mint to push it over the line, and for the most part "Properties" mocks the rules by playing them straight. (It always looks exactly, handsomely right.)

Here, Paul F. Tompkins plays a high-end Los Angeles real estate mogul who declares to his brokers that he has decided to make one of them a partner, precipitating aggressive competition among an already aggressively competitive staff. Created by Kulap Vilaysack (Nurse Kulap on "Childrens Hospital"), the show is semi-scripted -- like reality television itself, one might say -- which works or it doesn't from moment to moment and line to line but lends the series an authentic air of uncertainty, of its characters not knowing exactly what they're going to say. The performances run from the as-good-as-real to Tompkins' lordly, velvet-jacketed chairman, who seems to believe that he has invented real estate -- "The idea of buying and selling bits of the earth, can you imagine the hubris? And yet, here we will stand."

The less familiar, though certainly able main cast is abetted by an impressive list of comedy alt-stars, including Adam Scott, Casey Wilson, Andy Richter, Gillian Jacobs, Cameron Esposito, Andrew Daly, Patton Oswalt, Jim Rash, Matt Besser, Jason Mantzoukas, David Koechner (as a broker who "has sold ice to Eskimos … there was a full tray of ice in the refrigerator; he added it to his commission"), Thomas Lennon and Scott Aukerman. The last two are also executive producers; Aukerman is in addition married to Vilaysack.

Prince (YouTube). Oh, Prince, Prince the unpronounceable, the artist, "The Artist," the Artist Formerly and Always Known as Prince, the Purple One, the man of many names and not-names, of many hairstyles and high heels, who wore his influences on his billowing sleeves yet made them all his own. He is gone, unbelievably, awfullly, and the world turns to the Internet to find -- not much. Under the quite accurate claim that the Internet routinely deprives artists of income, encouraging a wider culture of digital shoplifting, Prince and his representatives kept and apparently will continue to keep a close watch on his intellectual property, with the result that the global video-sharing that constitutes how we grieve now has been short-circuited; besides having no officially available video of "When Doves Cry" or "Thieves in the Temple" to repost, you may also find that that low-res clip you linked to last night of Prince performing "Purple Rain" at First Avenue, has been blocked by the morning.

But Prince was an internationally famous performer in an age of television, and he left traces in the ether; you can't erase them all. Here are some (as of this writing) surviving clips, not all of them musical, to get you through the sad days between denial and acceptance.

Start with the NFL's documentary look back at his thrilling, literally stormy 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance ("Can you make it rain harder?" he asked when the question of the weather was raised), the mark against which all succeeding halftime performances must be judged. (It was preceded by an astonishing pre-Bowl "press conference," whose statement comprised a medley of "Johnny B. Goode," "Anotherloverholenyohead," and "Get on the Boat.") Move on to a "BET Awards" tribute to Chaka Khan, in which Prince appears alongside Stevie Wonder, India Arie and Yolanda Adams; move back to a January 1982 concert at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, N.J., in low-resolution black and white, but offered whole.

Though the rarity of his appearances on talk shows was mentioned every time Prince appeared on a talk show, he went on them and talked, if softly, about God and music and the godforsaken music business. Your first stop should be this 2014 all-Prince edition of the revived "Arsenio Hall Show," which along with Hall's interview ("If you weren't Prince what would you do for a living?" "I think I'd want to teach in some capacity") and questions from fans ("Have you ever bought anything off an infomercial?" "What household chore do you do that people would be surprised by?"), includes performances backed by 3rdEyeGirl and the New Power Generation. You can find him as well sitting down with George Lopez on "Lopez Tonight" ("I find that this show represents all people and I see all kinds of guests on here"), on the "Today Show" with Matt Lauer ("I always dig coming and talking to you; you're a cool cat"); paying more than one visit to "The View"; getting down to the nitty-gritty for 37 productive minutes with Larry King ("He's rock! He's shock!"); and talking with Tavis Smiley about the business ("In the future it'll be unconscionable to even think you can even take somebody's creation and claim ownership of it"), chemtrails and the eight presidents that predated George Washington. "Prophecy is what we all have to go by now," he says.

Also of interest: A 1997 appearance on "Muppets Tonight"; a brief cameo on "New Girl": a Spanish news conference from 1998, with then-wife Mayte by his side; a interview on Dutch television with Larry Graham ("And it's 1999 now," the interviewer says, "that means something special to you doesn't it -- the party is almost over"); and a cut of Prince's multiple wins for "Purple Rain" at the 1984 "American Music Awards." (Presenter Madonna to presenter Huey Lewis: "Well, Huey, 1984's been a really good year for both of us, huh?" Huey: "That's true, Madonna, but it's been an even better year for music lovers because they've had an earful and a year full of these three nominees for favorite black album.") The artist not yet but only temporarily not known as Prince stays mostly taciturn, but leaves a little bit of wisdom for the room: "For all of us, life is death without adventure, and adventure only comes to those who are willing to be daring and take chances."

Follow Robert Lloyd on Twitter @LATimesTVLloyd

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