When you’ve got midterms coming up and every waking minute is scheduled for studying or paper-writing, it’s tough to set aside an hour of “me time” for your favorite show. How can you possibly satisfy your brain’s craving for mindless pleasure? Try out one of these quirkier offerings—short, sweet, and weird enough to divert your attention without leading to extended amounts of procrastination. The best part: all of these tasty TV treats are conveniently packaged in Internet form.
“Archer” A slick and sly animated spy series incorporating retro dialogue, pop culture, and a deranged comic book style. Agent Sterling Archer bungles international operations while maintaining a totally inappropriate sex life and tense relationships with his mother and colleagues. Notable for featuring the excellent voice talents of several “Arrested Development” cast members and a strangely fascinating visual style that draws heavily on exaggerated 80s graphics.
“Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!” Only enjoy this show if you’re enjoying…other things at the same time. “Tim and Eric” is literally impossible to comprehend in a sober state of mind; it barely makes sense otherwise, but being intoxicated will at least help you enjoy the bizarre visual stimuli. This is a hodgepodge of nonsensical sketches poking fun at both celebrities and real-life situations, frequently featuring the total absence of punch lines. Or set-ups. Or basically jokes in any recognizable narrative form. Check out my favorite clip, “Paul Rudd’s Computer,” a shocking take on what the cute leading man does online in his spare time.
“An Idiot Abroad” If you’ve ever taken part in a study abroad program or plan to soon, you’ll love this unmistakably British take on the perils and surprises of traveling. Stodgy BBC radio host Karl Pilkington, a hapless man who has no interest in seeing the world, is sent on trips around the globe by devious host Ricky Gervais (the comedic mastermind behind “The Office”). Karl’s awkward interactions with native citizens and dry observations of the local customs make for constant hilarity.
“The Boondocks” Like the original printed comic, “The Boondocks” creates comedy out of very real clashes between races, socioeconomic classes, genders, and generations. Elderly African-American curmugdeon Robert and his two grandsons, Huey and Riley, navigate the odd peacefulness of suburban life after their move from the South Side of Chicago. The series is filled with smart meditations on ideas like Afrocentrism, gangsta rap, and the disputed innocence of R. Kelly, all delivered with sharp wit and at its core, warmth and honesty.
“Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy” Originally released during the season four mid-season break of popular sci-fi program “Battlestar Galactica,” this online incarnation was nominated for a number of Streamy Awards, which actually exist in order to honor outstanding webisodes. I know so many fans of the regular show that it seemed wrong not to include this standout web series, which features the main cast in three- to six-minute clips set immediately following their discovery of Earth. A must for fans craving additional adventures, foreshadowing, and all-around space drama.
“Web Therapy” Gifted comedienne Lisa Kudrow carves a niche for herself in the Internet era, capitalizing on her kooky “Friends” persona of Phoebe Buffay in a sharper, more mature form. Kudrow portrays impatient, selfish Fiona Wallice, a therapist who believes that traditional hour-long meetings with patients allow too much time to discuss trivial matters. She conducts all of her shortened sessions on iChat with a variety of disturbed clients, a format that guarantees laughs simply by virtue of its setup. Watch this one to enjoy Fiona’s unorthodox style, surprising guest stars, and a bevy of kinky psychological issues.
“Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog” It’s like someone entered my television fantasies and wrote down all the essentials: Neil Patrick Harris, gorgeous musical arrangements, romance, tragicomedy, superheroes and villains, all in a half hour or less. “Dr. Horrible” fits the bill exactly with three charming segments, each only 15 minutes long. NPH shines as a fiercely ambitious villain, short on weapons and marketable skills but big on heart. He struggles to balance his bid for the Evil League of Evil, his rivalry with the macho hero Captain Hammer, and a budding romance with local do-gooder Penny. Enjoy this musical comedy-drama again and again.