World History, Part One It’s far from a likable Mel Brooks movie, even if “It’s Good to Be King” is one of the most enduring lines he’s ever written. However, it is he who most needs a supplement. After all, it’s been 42 years since Brooks wrapped up the movie with teasers World History, Part Twowhich was to include the sketches “Hitler on Ice,” “Vikings Funeral,” and, most importantly, “Jews in Space.” Blazing saddles And Young Frankenstein They’re cold classics, but they didn’t promise sequels they never delivered.
Well, now we’re in an age where there isn’t a title that’s too old or obscure to demand a reboot or revival. So even though Brooks is now 96, and his output has been largely limited to voice acting roles for nearly two decades, World History, Part Two It’s finally here, in the form of an eight-episode Hulu series.
It’s forbidden for me to reveal whether the remake finally gives us full versions of “Hitler on Ice” or “Jewish in Space.” What I can tell you is that Hulu feels pretty faithful to the spirit of the movie, for good and for bad.
Where most of Brooks’ movies have tried to create something like a plot in which various jokes about gas and erections are hung and Frankenstein’s monster sings “Putting on the Ritz.” World History, Part One It was just a collection of sketches made during famous moments in human history. And like most comedy films and shows, it was wildly uneven. The musical number about the Spanish Inquisition is one of the most inspiring things in any comic, let alone in Brooks’ catalog. But unlike “It’s Good to Be King,” the sequence set during the French Revolution seems to go on forever and one day.
Broadcast copy is similar to yo-yos in bit-to-bit quality. Some of them are quite funny, while others will leave you wondering how they were approved at all, not to mention why they keep coming back from episode to episode. And even within those, there can be unexpected bursts of fun. One of the most notable ongoing pieces is Ike Barinholtz as Ulysses S. Grant, who is desperate to end the Civil War until he’s finally allowed one more drink. Almost none of them work, except for one. Timothy Simmons cameos in the part he was put on this earth to play: Abraham Lincoln, whose unnatural height turns everyday life into a painful chore.
Brooks is no longer the main creative force here, though he’s a credited writer, does some voice-over narration, and kind of appears on camera in the opening episode. Instead, the main writers are Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Barinholtz, W Mindy Project Alum David Stassen. There are references to many of Brooks’ movies, including Kroll and Pamela Adlon doing their own version of “I’m hysterical!” scene from producers, Some of the actors (Barinholtz in particular) were clearly inspired by the beats of Brooks as an actor.
But the series feels equal parts Mel Brooks and Kroll show. (In addition, a good portion of the cast did voice work big mouth.) Nearly every sketch in some way filters history through the lens of a parody of modern pop culture. And since many of the sketches are repeated from episode to episode, some of them eventually impersonate multiple objects. The Story of Jesus (played by Jay Ellis of Unsafe) at different points oscillating Curb your enthusiasm (complete with JB Smoove as one of the messengers), DiariesAnd The Beatles: Count documentary. And the Russian revolution managed to merge Fiddler on the roofhip-hop, reality TV, social media influencers, and — in one of the most consistently hilarious gags of all — an experiment. donkey Where Johnny Knoxville himself plays the seemingly indestructible Rasputin. (“I am Rasputin, and this is to ‘stab me in the back and throw him into the Neva River!’ he declares at the beginning of one of these events.)
Some of these repetitive graphics land beautifully. I never regretted, for example, seeing Sykes return as leading presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, whose adventures are presented as if they were a star. Jefferson– sitcom with a boisterous studio audience. But in many cases, the biggest laughs came from small parts of one take, like Anna Fabrega Los Espoques As a Central American woman who tries to avoid being a human sacrifice by telling her captors she’s not a virgin, or Sam Richardson as Thomas Watson’s assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, who makes history’s first unorthodox call.
World History, Part Two In other words, more or less than you might expect from a long, long time longA late sequel to the movie. I rolled my eyes when some of the drawings kept coming back over and over again, but I also laughed way too much to be glad I saw it all. And if Hulu considers it a success, I doubt we’ll have to wait that many decades for a sequel.
The first two episodes of World History, Part Two Starting streaming March 6 on Hulu, with two more episodes released daily through March 9. I watched the entire season.
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