Last week, Bwog’s online television aficionado Rob Trump discussed The Burg. Trump returns this weekend with thoughts on Michael Cera’s latest venture, Clark and Michael.
Anyone who recently saw Pineapple Express probably caught the following trailer to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist:
If your reaction to that was, “MICHAEL CERA WHY?” then congratulations, you have a soul.
Michael Cera is a talented and hilarious actor, but I’m a little nervous for him. It seems like he’s basically taken the same role four times now, just progressively worse-written versions of it. (Arrested down to Superbad down to Juno down to Playlist, if you’re keeping track.) I personally am not really tired of that awkward schtick of his yet, so it’s fine by me if he doesn’t start showing range now. But what he ought to do for his career is to only take the really well-written stuff of that same vein.
Or, alternatively, maybe he could write his own stuff. And that overlong introduction brings us to this week’s webseries, Clark and Michael.
Clark and Michael is comprised of ten episodes, about ten minutes long each, that premiered online last summer. It stars Michael Cera and Clark Duke as mock versions of themselves trying to write and sell a sitcom to a network. If that sounds like the self-aware plotline from the fourth season of Seinfeld, well, yeah, it is. And in the first few episodes, there are even quite few jokes that are almost exact copies of the relevant Seinfeld jokes. (If you’re curious as to what I’m talking about, watch the Seinfeld episode “The Pitch”/”The Ticket” and then watch Clark and Michael‘s fifth episode. Cera is Jerry; Duke is George.) The really unfortunate thing about this is that those first few episodes, with the largest presence of the borrowed plot, are the strongest. After that, the plotlines often spiral off into nowhere or dead-end and abruptly ressurect.
But never mind dramatic concerns: is it funny? Yes. It is. If there’s a real take-home from this series, it’s that Clark Duke (whom you know either from his one line in Superbad or the Sex Drive trailer… or Greek?) is absolutely side-splitting and good enough to act alongside Michael Cera and hold his own. Cera’s character is similar to the other stuff he’s done, but darker in a satisfying way. Between the two of them and the rotating cast of A-list indie-comedy guest stars (Mitch Hurwitz, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, and Eric Wareheim, to name a few), the show is likely to get a laugh or two out of you from most episodes, if not all of them.
So is the show good enough to quell my worries about Cera and convince me that he can always fall back on writing his own stuff? Well… no. But it is funny and worth watching. Here’s my final recommendation: if you like Cera’s style of comedy, watch the whole thing, just not more than one or two episodes at a time, or the lack of through-lines gets annoying. If you’re interested in previewing it, episode 4 is probably my favorite. Oh, and if you make it through all ten, your reward is a reference to Columbia in the closing minutes.
Feel free to use the comments to let me know what you think of Clark and Michael or to make suggestions about which web series you’d like to see discussed next week.