Critic’s Pick: ‘Bookaboo,’ ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ series finale
Bookaboo (Amazon Prime). Reading and being read to are necessary delights. And television has long paid reading its due, going back to “Ding Dong School” and up through “Reading Rainbow” and any number of hosted children’s programs. “Captain Kangaroo” was, for me, a gateway to the works of Robert McCloskey (“Make Way for Ducklings”) and Virginia Lee Burton (“Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”).
Amazon’s new “Bookaboo,” which revives a British series from 2009 (earlier revived in Canada), features a puppet puppy who is also a rock drummer — but one who can’t play until he is read a story, making every show night a crisis. (“A story a day or I just can’t play” is Bookaboo’s motto.) After some introductory folderol of an appealingly clever and goofy sort, sometimes involving band mates Paws and Growler, a human star of pop culture — not necessarily known to small children, but the appeal is, of course, to the parent — appears conveniently at the door of Bookaboo’s tour bus with a picture book. Readers in Season 1, which is available in its entirety to stream, include Michael Sheen, Stana Katic, Paula Abdul, Hannah Simone, Emily VanCamp and Guillermo Diaz, along with WWE wrestler Adam Copeland, Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown, and astronaut Chris Hadfield.
“Comedy Bang! Bang!” series finale (IFC, Friday). If the fact that Scott Aukerman’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!” going off the air has anything to do with my not writing about it often enough, or in a while, I am sorry, as it has been good to have around these five seasons. A deceptively ambitious series whose humor ranges from sideways puns to elaborate formal parodies, it fractures its studied air of extreme normalcy with attacks of surreal weirdness. The structural simplicity of the show — Aukerman in a chair, guests on a couch, bandleader (Reggie Watts, Kid Cudi and Weird Al Yankovic in succession) over yonder — provides a foundation in which anything can happen, and does; typically, things start sunny, get dark and wind up in some sort of temperamental twilight. Action turns on a dime, Looney Tunes style.
While there may be no new episodes coming, the old ones will be around to stream, on demand from IFC or via Netflix; there are DVDs, too. But one beautiful thing about “Comedy Bang! Bang!” is that for a talk show — real conversation does take place in bursts and flashes — and even for a semi-improvised sketch comedy in more or less the shape of a talk show, it doesn’t particularly live in the present. Aukerman himself, in his many sweaters, seems to have been beamed in from some earlier era, or Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, in a transportation that might have addled his brain. (Time travel was a favorite device in the series, including last week’s episode.)
This madness should remain fresh for a good while.
Follow Robert Lloyd on Twitter @LATimesTVLloyd
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