Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Human Giant: Season One

Fans like to bemoan the premature deaths of Mr. Show and Arrested Development, but both enjoyed substantial runs and left behind a lasting cultural legacy. A direct line can be drawn between the cult shows of the very recent past and the cult shows of today. Arrested Development found a worthy heir in 30 Rock, while the terrific sketch-comedy show Human Giant serves as a vital link between Mr. Show and the current generation of web-weaned funnymen who made their names posting homemade videos online instead of working their way through Second City, The Groundlings, or Saturday Night Live. The show's central dynamic echoes Mr. Show as well. Like Bob Odenkirk, Rob Huebel boasts the bland good looks of a local TV news anchor, yet there's a spark of madness and rage at his core. Castmates Paul Scheer and Aziz Ansari, meanwhile, take turns inhabiting the David Cross role.


Unlike Mr. Show, Human Giant isn't averse to recurring characters. Popular bits like "The Illusionators" (a pair of David Blaine/Criss Angel-like magical douchebags who are alternately astonishingly lamely mundane and genuinely magical) and "The Shutterbugs" (about intense, hyper-profane children's agents who become the brain trust behind the notorious flop Li'l 9/11) prove that in spite of what decades of Saturday Night Live suggest, the phrase "funny recurring character" doesn't have to be an oxymoron.

Like The Ben Stiller Show before it, Human Giant earns its MTV pedigree by being the kind of hip rock 'n' roll show where guest appearances by Ted Leo or Ghostface Killah are par for the course. In fact, Human Giant may be the only hip rock 'n' roll show left on MTV. The half-hour format suits its short, punchy aesthetic perfectly, but it's fascinating watching more than an hour's worth of excerpts from a 24-hour marathon where the cast of Human Giant and a gaudy procession of big-name guest stars (including Odenkirk) took over MTV and MTV2 for an entire day. It's a testament to the show's addictiveness that the excerpts leave audiences hungry for more. Given Human Giant's web-friendliness, it's also fitting that the full 24 hours can probably be found somewhere online.

Key features: Hilarious deleted scenes, live footage, a preview of season two, and amusing audio commentaries from the cast and selected guest stars.