IFC clearly knows what it is doing. The network that brought you Portlandia (and also Comedy Bang Bang!, if that is your sort of thing), has just announced its green-lighting of two new shows; Spoils of Babylon and The Birthday Boys. The former will be written by and star Will Ferrell alongside long-time writing partner and former head SNL writer Adam McKay, while the latter will be executive produced by The Ben Stiller Show buddies Ben Stiller and Bob Odenkirk. Er, we mean, Saul.
And whoa my gosh, do they look great.
Spoils of Babylon, which will be co-produced by Funny or Die, sounds exactly like the epic British comedy, Garth Marenghi’s DarkPlace. Which is a very good thing:
The Spoils of Babylon is a television adaptation of a best-selling epic novel by fictional famous author Eric Jonrosh (played by Ferrell) and will feature an ensemble cast to be announced later. The blowsy century-spanning saga chronicles the sexy and dramatic lives of a family who made their fortune in the oil business. IFC has ordered six, half-hour episodes to premiere in late 2013.
“This is a crazy and maybe even a stupid idea,” says Will Ferrell. “IFC is either really courageous or really stupid which makes them the perfect partner for us,” he added.
In the vein of The Thorn Birds and Winds of War, the epic story of The Spoils of Babylon spans three generations, taking viewers from the oil fields of Texas to boardrooms in New York City, through world war battlefields and velvet sheeted bedrooms. As the story unfolds, the booze, the passion and the heartache lead to illegal arms deals and international espionage with the Shah of Iran not to mention the creation of the doomed sub-prime market./blockquote>
Seriously, DarkPlace you guys:
Boom! Exactly. Now, the Odenkirk/Stiller collaboration is a bit different, as they are taking a UCB Improv troupe with the name The Birthday Boys and are financing their full half-hour television comedy.
“The Birthday Boys are too good to just be making viral videos. They are funny enough to fill time between episodes of Portlandia,” said Ben Stiller. “I’m thrilled to be working with Bob Odenkirk again on a TV project. We try to do something every 20 years or so.”
Said Bob Odenkirk, “The Birthday Boys are a super funny and fresh new comic voice. I will try not to slow them down.”
The series is in the classic vein of absurd/silly/smart/funny variety shows (Mr. Show, Monty Python), featuring sketches that twist real-life moments and cultural touchstones. An early episode tackles such issues as eggs, toilet paper and computers.
The Birthday Boys comedy group includes Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell and Chris VanArtsdalen—whose combined credits include Parks and Recreation, The Office, Conan, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Portlandia.
If you want to check out their stuff online, here’s one of the Birthday Boys’ web videos:
Yeah, exactly like Monty Python. But who knows, maybe we’re just jaded by Comedy Central’s Workaholics, you know? In any case, these are good moves for IFC, which keeps building an awesome repertoire of comedy shows so that we all forget that its name technically stands for the Independent Film Channel.