NTSF: SD: SUV::: “Lights, Camera, Assassination”
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NTSF: SD: SUV::: “Lights, Camera, Assassination”

Max Greenfield is having a great year. He was the breakout character of the network season as Schmidt on New Girl, and is without a doubt my favorite part of that show. The guy deserves some serious recognition after his roles on Veronica Mars, Ugly Betty, and a ton of guest spots on other shows. So it makes sense that just like Jake Johnson a few weeks ago, he’d show up in an episode of NTSF:SD:SUV::. Unlike his co-star, he’s the featured guest star of the night, playing Alistair McQueen, an action star on the set of a film plagued by a string of slain directors—the latest is Parenthood’s Jason Ritter, playing a director named Chet Bratner, according to the credits.

“Lights, Camera, Assassination” is another episode scripted by creator Paul Scheer, and it’s great to see that in addition to crafting Trent as a hilarious David Caruso-level blowhard, he can write for his talented cast and the guest stars who swing through. Greenfield’s Alistair McQueen rides along with the NTSF agents as they investigate the director murders, and Alphonse bonds with him as they discuss how an NTSF agent should act—and Alphonse needs Trent to point out that he actually is an NTSF agent, so he shouldn’t need pointers from an actor.

On the other hand, Trent seems as blasé about the film industry as he is incompetent about computer technology, holding on to the idea that films are just a passing fad. Not that he would know from experience, since he hates them despite never having seen one—“and that goes double for books.”

The episode ambitiously sends up three aspects of entertainment: actors treated lightly by the criminal-justice system, actors researching roles with law enforcement, and the rise of podcasting. NTSF doesn’t have a big point to make about any of those things, but it gets in a few good comedic jabs at each one.

Kove’s podcast UnderKover is basically an NTSF version of WTF With Marc Maron, since it’s not just an interview show, it’s a spotlight into the inner lives of A-list celebrities. She’s got new merch to sell, pauses to read about the stamp company sponsoring her show, and slings out the catchphrase that she “may be NTSF, but she’s always NSFW.” But Kove doesn’t dish with celebrities during the episode, instead getting Piper to open up about her parents’ divorce and child abuse, and getting Jessie to briefly talk about her Amish upbringing. For any regular listeners of Maron’s podcast, this little arc is a nice send-up, a lot of friendly ribbing without some of the more below-the-belt attacks that are common on Doug Loves Movies and Never Not Funny.

The final scene brings all the threads together. Alistair may be a murderer, but California law clearly states that as a movie star he can’t go to jail, so Kove sweeps it under the rug in exchange for a walk-on roll in his film and an appearance on her podcast. And how did I get this far without mentioning the ridiculous accent that Greenfield puts on once he’s off-camera playing McQueen? That’s hilarious, as is his bipolar act to help Alphonse apprehend him.

All of Adult Swim’s quarter-hour live-action comedies, including Childrens Hospital and Eagleheart, are adept at satire aimed right back at the entertainment industry. Childrens Hospital has its “Newsreaders” episodes, Eagleheart went to “Tinselwood”, and now NTSF:SD:SUV:: has made its skewering statement on actors’ immunity in the eyes of the law and the podcasting circuit.

Stray observations:

  • McQueen is filming an update of Frankenstein called Stein, a perfect title to sound like a douchebag-approved modern remake along the lines of Beastly.
  • “Tonight’s episode of NTSF:SD:SUV:: is being simulcast in stereo on your local NPR station.”
  • I’ve been enjoying the weekly “Coming this fall…” tag in the credits, and the ad for the McQueen movie looked really funny. It’s going to take a lot to top Yo with Martin Starr, though.

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