Documentary Now! Season 2

IFC, Wednesdays at 10/9 Central

Sep 27, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Helen Mirren is back! The second season (or as Mirren tells us at the beginning of each episode, "Season 51") of Bill Hader and Fred Armisen's mockumentary satire series for IFC, Documentary Now! comes highly anticipated. Season One left off with the unparalleled 2-part episode "Gentle & Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee" that brilliantly spoofed the rock-dock genre.

Season Two's source material is decidedly more obscure, picking up with Hader, Armisen, and writer Seth Meyers' take on D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus' 1993 political verité doc, The War Room. And then there's the heady "Location is Everything", in which Hader plays a Spaulding Gray-esque weirdo in an experimental, 20-minute one-man monologue. The episode is a test of endurance but saved by writer John Mulaney's particular talent for representing that unique breed of New York eccentric/neurotic (see: his latest Broadway show, Oh, Hello). 

The most accessible episode will probably be the surprisingly touching "Juan Likes Rice and Chicken" in which Armisen delivers a tour de force performance as the son of a celebrated chef with big shoes to fill (see: Jiro: Dreams of Sushi). But it's the nearly shot-for-shot remake of the Maysles Brothers' 1969 classic Salesman, swapping out door-to-door bible salesmen for globe salesmen and calling itself "Globesman" that is truly a masterpiece. It is so spot on, the result is more awe-inspiring in it's precision than it is traditionally "funny." But not to worry, if their latest appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers as the Talking Heads parody band "Test Pattern" is any indication, Season Two isn't purely a high concept exercise in direct imitation, there will also be plenty of LOLs. (www.ifc.com/shows/documentary-now)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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