IFC Ushers in New Age of Parody

Just last month, HBO aired the hilariously absurd 7 Days In Hell, a fake sports documentary following two fictional tennis rivals played by Kit Harington and Andy Samberg. IFC ups the ante by debuting an entire series of faux documentaries with th

click to enlarge Armisen and Hader spoof Grey Gardens in 'Documentary Now!.'
Armisen and Hader spoof Grey Gardens in 'Documentary Now!.'

Mockumentaries — fictional, often improvised and satirical films that are shot and presented like a true documentary — may be popular today, but the term was coined in the 1960s, with The Beatles’ documentary-style scripted comedy A Hard Day’s Night as one of the first films of its kind. Fast-forward to the ’80s when This Is Spinal Tap popularized the genre.

Just last month, HBO aired the hilariously absurd 7 Days In Hell, a fake sports documentary following two fictional tennis rivals played by Kit Harington and Andy Samberg. IFC ups the ante by debuting an entire series of faux documentaries with the new comedy Documentary Now! (Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Thursday).

Bill Hader and Fred Armisen star in the series (so you can probably stop reading now since it’s already guaranteed to be solid gold), which they created with fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus Seth Meyers. Documentary Now! riffs on a different iconic documentary film or style each week. The premiere episode, “Sandy Passage,” spoofs Grey Gardens, with Armisen and Hader playing aging mother-daughter socialites living in squalor. Expect other references to The Thin Blue Line, Vice-style reporting, History of The Eagles and more. Helen Mirren emcees each episode (for real).

Fans of Armisen and Hader might recall their take on music documentaries in the SNL skit “Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros: History of Punk.” The Behind the Music-style sketch about fictional washed-up British Rockers inspired the IFC series, which has already been renewed for a second season.

WEDNESDAY 19

Skin Wars (Season Finale, 9 p.m., GSN) – Positioned in the final three, Newport, Ky. native Aryn Fox makes one last effort to win the body-painting competition and return home $100,000 richer.

Key & Peele (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Undercover Boss, an Outkast reunion, a mom with sick rhymes and more.

Lachey’s Bar (10:30 p.m., A&E) – As the bar’s opening day approaches, the guys search for a perfect bartender. Meanwhile, Drew works on a top-secret project.

THURSDAY 20

Lip Sync Battle (Season Finale, 10 p.m., Spike) – Empire stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard ’sync it out in a one-hour finale showdown.

Married (10:30 p.m., FX) – Russ and Lina skip work to spy on the man living in their guest house.

SATURDAY 22

The Unauthorized Full House Story (Premiere, 8 p.m., Lifetime) – Too-soon ’90s nostalgia featuring a cast that looks just enough like the original to be creepy? Sign me up.

Hannibal (10 p.m., NBC) – The FBI calls on Dr. Chilton to help draw Dolarhyde to them; Will’s empathy for the killer messes with his mind.

Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted (Premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime) – Recorded in Boston this past May, comedian Tig Notaro talks about introducing her fiancé to her parents, bombing in Vegas, her double mastectomy and more very personal experiences.

SUNDAY 23

Fear the Walking Dead (Series Premiere, 9 p.m., AMC) – AMC’s original zombie hit The Walking Dead leaves viewers in the dark about just how the dead came to rise again. This spinoff — set across the country from Rick’s group, last seen in a Virginia neighborhood outside Washington, D.C. — looks to shed some insight on the walker outbreak’s beginnings. Other differences between the too-similarly titled series include a new cast of characters (led by Gone Girl’s Kim Dickens) and an urban setting — while the bulk of TWD’s action has taken place in rural Georgia, FTWD focuses on Los Angeles. Tune into a Talking Dead preview special at 8 p.m. (No plans for the popular after-show to follow FTWD quite yet.)

CONTACT JAC KERN: [email protected] or @jackern

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